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St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
April 02
chief instigator
don't tread on me
I'm not dead yet


Ladyslipper's Links
OCTOBER 27, 2010 11:04AM

The Boy, In Brief

Rate: 19 Flag

When he was nine, he wrote poems that made me weep.  

When he was ten, I found pornography in his room.

When he was twelve, the fistfights began. His grades dropped precipitously. He spent most of his time at school wandering the halls or sitting in the principal's office.  He did not graduate with his his class; even the special-ed classes he attended to help him cope with the illness that was diagnosed too late did not help him achieve the grades he needed.

And now he is getting A's in college.

School and soccer are the two most important things in his life. He loves Barcelona, and has gotten me hooked on following Messi and Puyol and their astonishingly fine team. Watching them is like watching an athletic form of ballet carried out on a grassy pitch. Watching them, I can understand why the rest of the world calls soccer football.

His own pitch is a field full of stones and mud, with ragged nets through which the ball slips through and he must go chasing after it. He is the single player on either team: the manic team and the depressive. But that does not deter him. He runs. He struggles. 

He once punched a hole in the wall because he had forgotten a payment deadline and had been dropped from the classes he had registered for. It is a hole the size of a man's fist. I think of him as a boy, but he is not. He is twenty-one years old.

And I suppose I must tell you that he has never held a job, does not drive a car, and has only online friends. But he sees his therapist once every two months, his nurse clinician every three months, and is compliant with his meds. He is a gentle, compassionate soul who gives what little money he has, the cash he earns from doing raking or mowing the lawn or washing the car for us and for the neighbors to earthquake relief and food for the poor. 

I will mention that his school is a community college. Some people look down on such schools. I see it as an opportunity to grow academically in a safe environment, with a diverse but largely mature student population and a disabilities counselor.

You may judge me as you will. I am sure I have not been anywhere near the perfect mother, or the semi-perfect mother, or even the good-enough mother. I did not see his disease coming until it hit me like a Mack truck. 

Of course I worry about him. I worry that he will be living at home at age forty, his life having stalled where it is. But I think that as he transfers to the University, as he is edged into what is known as "the real world" by some, things will change. I hope he will learn to cope with his illness. I see the meds at work, the therapy helping him come out of his room more often. I know how difficult bipolar disorder can be to cope with, having lived with it every day of my adult life and my adolescence and possibly my childhood as well. I push gently. I try not to nag. I am not the overachiever I hoped to be at this point in my life. But I take one step at a time, and I hope he can do it as well. 

Barcelona lost to Hercules a couple of weeks ago, 2-0. I thought he would be upset, but he was resigned. It is early in the season, after all.


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I cried when I read this.. I have a similar child.
rated with hugs
Linda, hugs to you. I wonder if there is a sisterhood of mothers like us out there, trying to do what we can.
No matter the grief they cause us, we love our children. I know you did your best.
He sounds like a good kid.
I have a niece just a little older than your son with the same isn't easy, for you or for him, especially in our culture, with our accepted timelines for certain accomplishments, our non-diverse expectations. And yet, what a fine young man you have, making his way through the world on his own terms.
A beautiful portrait of a son and his mother.
Some fruit only blooms after years of resting. You are a great mom. I lost mine.
My Dear Lady, this makes me sad to know that this haunts you, "I am sure I have not been anywhere near the perfect mother, or the semi-perfect mother, or even the good-enough mother."

No one with any sense at all will ever judge your mothering except to say he is blessed to have a mother like yourself. And furthermore, those of us with troubled children understand and empathize with extraordinary understanding and love for our sister mothers who know what it takes for us to love and offer daily care and support to a child who, as you say, may never grow up to be as independent as mothers dream for their children. You are absolutely a loving mother, and we do our best, with some days better than others, but we do as best as we can, all things considered, and sometimes we get that love back from a child with problems they can't surmount on their own - and sometimes, we never will. Your persistence in the face of crushed dreams and daily struggle is all the love your son will ever need, it's the strongest thing on earth. WE will tell you, and tell one another, even when our children aren't able - you are a great mom and we support you always in that.
People who look down on community colleges have nothing better to do than look down on everyone. Community colleges do a great service in this country. If someone doesn't like or isn't intelligent enough to go to a four year college or more, they can learn a trade that makes great money. I know welders who went there and make over 80 thousand a year. I've know a few bi-polar people and the mood swings can be dramatic, especially if they don't do their meds. But the proper meds can make them as good or better than the people who look down their noses at others. Great Post!
Eloquent and bittersweet.
Beautifully expressed. As moms, all we can do is be there. You are are definitely 100% THERE, never doubt it.
The Boy, In Brief. Your boy. Your gem. I love to see him through your eyes and I long for the day when all see as you see. Who should judge you who give him life hour by hour and day by day? I see and hear only love for who he was, who he is and who he will be. What greater gift do we have to give? I hear your hope for his future and I hope with you.
I think that the fact you see improvements, is a very good sign. You never know what will happen, and your son seems like he's on the right path. Your love and support make you an excellent mom. Good luck to both of you. R.
i have so little understanding of the disorder, that this all sounds mysterious to me. i hear the love and pride, the worry and the hope, and i know that - together - you both will forge a path of your own. thank goodness he is adult enough to take his medication and see the counselors. he is more mature than so many who neglect those gifts.
He's generous and compassionate and that is something that is rare and that you should be very proud of.
Very touching piece. Warmest wishes to you both.
Thank you for sharing this
For a moment or two ,
I thought I was reading about my little brother..
Sarah, I do.

Julie, he's a great kid.

sophieh, thank you.

alfred, I am honored.

tg, I am so sorry for your loss.

Abby, what a lovely thing to say - your response is making me cry. Thank you for understanding.

scanner, I have great respect for community colleges, their students, staff and instructors. You are right - they rock!

rita, thank you.

blue, I appreciate it.

anna1liese, how wonderful you are. Hugs to you.

Alysa, thank you.

dianaani, he is talented and wonderful, and I hope he never neglects his gifts.

fernsy, thanks.

stephsalive, I'd like to hear more about your brother.
lady slipper, your compassion shines through. what is a perfect mother, anyways? it is so hard to know with these illnesses. like you say it "hit you like a Mack truck." o

I am going through some diagnosis with my daughter. MD, Bi-polar, next ADD... it's confusing for us parents everywhere. I love that you are sharing love for a game with each other. It speaks of a greater over underneath which shines through here. xo
Mothering a child with mental illness takes a very special mother indeed....never think it was your fault. I tend to blame "genetics" and feel guilty at times....but then, if we did not have these children, we would not have had these precious children. Life goes on.
Since you're human and don't get to be perfectly perfect, I think perfect has to be defined as doing your very best for him, giving him as much as you can that is good for him and loving him like mad. So I beg to differ, you sound like the perfect mother. But I understand the feelings when you find out that life has very hard things in store for that perfect jewel of a child and you have no control over that. Every one of them is different and every one of the goddamn stupid evil ugly disorders the human organism can produce is also different, but I'm here to tell you that it can turn out very well despite all that. It sounds like your remarkable boy is well on his way with your support. (And if he's still living at home when he's 40, well, it could be so much worse. There are as many different paths as there are people.)
You can't see this disease coming. You are a loving mom. You have done a good job.
So tender and loving! I am so behind in reading and I am so moved. ~R