There are some words that lift you up and send your spirit soaring. Others make your heart stop and everything else around you disappears.
My one and only child is amazing. For 16 years I’ve been intensely proud to be called “Mom”. There’s never any trouble getting them to do their homework, doesn’t smoke or drink, keeps their word, volunteers for service projects, is thoughtful, considerate, and so on. They have so many gifts – art, music, writing, creativity, courage – that my hopes for the future have been bright.
Things began to change when they began high school. I knew that transition would be hard. I know The Kid’s propensity for perfectionism and the extra pressures at the high school level would be a tough combo … but they’d already been through so much. A rocky marriage, divorce, my remarriage, adapting to having a step-father, and then the birth father’s death – all that was before they even turned 9. With prayer, counseling and hard work, we both came through – a bit dented and scarred, but still kicking and hopeful for the future. Even still, the first couple of months of freshman year seemed to be weighing on them extraordinarily.
One night in November 2015, my generally optimistic and fun-loving kid looked at me with tears in their eyes and said “I can’t do it anymore.” “I’m thinking about suicide a lot. I even have a plan for how I want to do it.”
We’re lucky. I’m grateful The Kid spoke up and trusted me enough to get the desperately needed help. Resources were immediately available. I’m incredibly grateful for the support of family and friends. I’m unendingly thankful for God’s grace and love, which steadfastly remains. After weeks – now months – of therapy and care, those eyes to show flickers of hope and joy again.
As the parent, it’s an ongoing concern. Anyone over 18 knows that life continually tosses challenges your way. I have to watch myself and not let worry take over, but it’s always there. They made it through today, but what about tonight.. what about tomorrow? They seemed upset earlier and now they aren’t answering their phone, has something happened? Are they showing any signs of relapse? Am I missing any signals? Are we giving them the ongoing support that they need? Are they learning the coping skills they will need for the last 2 years of high school and beyond? And .. will they ever be able to see themselves as I see them – full of talent, promise, and love. Because you, my child, are amazing.
A few months ago, there was another deep bout of depression as some big questions have arisen (ergo the awkward attempt above to keep things gender-neutral). Those topics are for a later time, but life is continuing. Each day is a victory.
Truly every day is precious.
Keep hanging in there, baby. It gets better.