He has my eyes and olive skin. We share the same birth month and a love of quirky humor. Our curiosity will force us to read about whatever new interest until we understand. I have known my son before I even met him, feeling him first move inside me when I Harry Potter dueled Voldemort, their wands power meeting with so much intensity even my baby was affected by the adrenaline.
And this is how intrinsically linked he and I are, the sensitivity we feel to the world around us, our sensitivity becoming so overwhelming at times that it is hard for us to even manage. The joy and love I have for motherhood grows increasingly burdened by the guilty weight I also carry as I witness even more of me in him. Not only does he struggle with our mutual inability to speak mathematics, he also becomes fluent in depression and anxiety. Rationally I understand the process of genetics; I know I didn’t give him these. Depression and anxiety weren’t gifted to him just as I didn’t gift him the freckle on his cheek that I love and he hates. Emotionally, however, I tell myself another story.
When my eyes trace the self-inflicted scars he has from cutting, I tell myself I did that to him. I should have known he would do that himself, I should have been more aware, I should have been awake, I should have thought of the combs when I went through his room and removed his collection of pocketknives. Each time he and I spoke about his depression, we should have talked more. I should have spent more time with him. I think of the time before his depression hit and wonder what I missed, what did I miss? that I should have caught and didn’t. How did I allow It to creep in and take my son?
I can’t help but feel as if I have broken the promise I made to him in the quiet moment all those years ago when, after almost losing both our lives in childbirth, I held him in my arms and told him I would always protect him from anything that would hurt him.
I will go to hell and back to save my son from depression, will take the cuts he inflicts on himself, so that he won’t see the road himself. Yet it’s naïve of me to believe I can prevent him from doing this without the pain, in fact he has to do this himself. I am not a believer in parenting by denial, thinking that if I deny anything is happening that my children’s problems will somehow cosmically self-correct. However, he doesn’t have to do this alone. The road is wide enough for two.
Each weekly therapy appointment is a victory we enjoy together. Every night he teases me about making him “meditate” is a new ritual to enjoy. Our daily conversations about school and what went well mean more to us and hold more promise. We laugh more. My son is slowly coming home to me where I am waiting for him even as I travel with him at the same time.
I find myself making new promises to him as my heart holds him in the quiet moments each night. I promise that I will always listen and help him help himself. I promise I won’t be disappointed or angry at any relapses. I promise to not discourage any small efforts. I promise I know this world and understand this side of the moon.
We share the same eyes that see the same distortion; I promise, I will guide him through.
After writing and illustrating her first bestseller in second grade, “The Lovely Unicorn”, C. Streetlights took twenty years to decide if she wanted to continue writing. In the time known as growing up she became a teacher, a wife, and mother. Retired from teaching, C. Streetlights now lives with her family in the mountains along with their dog that eats Kleenex.
You can follow C. Streetlights on Twitter as @cstreetlights as well as like her author page on Facebook, follow her Instagram, and check out her boards on Pinterest as C. Streetlights.
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