Posts Tagged ‘bipolar’

The big bad conversation.

September 10, 2015

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Suicide prevention day.

To me, and many it’s not a day.
We don’t just talk about it for a day.
It’s life. It’s semi normal conversation, albeit a crappy conversation. But a real conversation that must be had.
It’s a conversation we find vital, and as important as any other. It’s a conversation that must be had.
It’s not just a conversation, it’s so much more. It’s a touch, a hug, a tear, appointments, meds, doctors, frustration, anger, heart break and unimaginable sadness, it’s support and love, smiles and laughter. All in the hopes of keeping suicide at bay. Or yes ultimately preventing it.

Yes it’s a difficult subject to talk about but one we must have. For so many reasons,and one that should be had by more people.
So many have been touched, but it’s still such a taboo topic, and those who haven’t been affected simply don’t, can’t understand. So the conversation is important. Don’t tell me it’s not. Suicide is a topic that in my opinion should be discussed, as much as diabetes and cancer. To take away the shame, the blame and the non accurate assumptions and the judgement, the all mighty judgement that goes along it.
So start talking. Today gives you the perfect opportunity.

Our reality, the hardest of all realities for us to understand or accept is: we don’t know. We don’t know how long our loved ones will be able to fight, battle, suffer and try before they can’t anymore.
All we can do is support, love and guide. All we can do is hope. Every single day we hope we can some how prevent the tragedy that so many, to many, suffer.
And to accept that we’ve done all we can, and will continue to do so and acknowledge and accept that sometimes we can’t prevent suicide.

But please remember those who die of suicide or are thinking of it, haven’t just had a bad day.
A day didn’t bring them to the last resort as a day won’t stop it.
Prevention is everyday, not simply a day in September where we band together. But if it can get the conversation started, and  resounding voices around the world, I am all for a prevention day.

http:// https://bestkids.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/lets-talk/

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From caterpillar to butterfly.

August 18, 2015

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Just like that, those 8 seconds are gone. I’ve missed writing, but so enjoyed those moments of just being.

As my boy plugs through this life that so “kindly” cocoons at every corner he turns, I’m amazed often at how he works desperately to knock them off and fly.
His life is a constant caterpillar /butterfly effect. And that quite frankly sucks. But the beauty is so worth it. Those moments of anguish and pain are out weighed by those of pure and simple joy.

I look back 10 years ago, then 5, then 3, heck even that many months and I am amazed at where we are today.

Don’t get me wrong, bipolar definitely still lives here, anxiety and ptsd still reside in our walls, they’re not going anywhere. What amazes me is his acceptance, understanding and knowledge of each and how damn hard he works to overcome them. And how doing so has changed not only his life but ours.

For a 14 year old those things are astounding.
The fact that he can now tell us what he needs (to be left alone, a walk, to talk etc) depending on his mood has been a huge shift! The fact that he is able almost all the time to describe his moods (and if they’re just a bad day or cycles) is monumental in our world.

Often this summer I’ve watched him battle, literally you can see it on his face, to overcome and ultimately conquer things he would have easily avoided in the past.
It’s exhausting for him, and it’s heartbreaking for us to let him break those walls without being able to help. Wishing so bad that it could be easier, wishing so bad he could conquer the things that are so minimal to most, yet monumentus to him.
Watching the cautious steps he takes forward in his unsure steps makes my heart smile.

A lot of it has to do with having accepting and kind people around (even strangers!) while he’s taking them. The little words of encouragement from those who don’t even know our story, the family that just simply let’s him be until he figures it out , no pressure, and the people who actually make an effort to see past an illness that a) makes first moments sometimes a bit shaky and b)even when or if they don’t understand  they make no assumption or judgement based on an obviously big kid full of nerves they’ve never met but instead of an odd look they give a smile. And those that do know our story and don’t care, or do care enough to look past it, and realize there’s so much more to the kid than an illness.   His knocking those cocoons off isn’t nearly as difficult with you along the way.

But he continues to overcome the caterpillar and soar, and we’re proud. As so many parents are proud of the trophies and medals, we are proud of the simple things taken for granted.

Typically after the “butterfly” moment, we endure a week of the return of the “caterpillar”. But I will take all the caterpillars in the world for an hour with the butterfly!

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PTSD, bipolar or both? I hate choices!

May 16, 2015

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http://www.bullyonline.org/stress/ptsd.htm

Above is a good link to explain ptsd. I highly suggest taking a look before reading this post.

When you have a child with multiple diagnosis sometimes it’s extremely hard to determine which you are dealing with at any given time, if you’re dealing with more than one at a time and how the hell to decide.

This week I found myself feeling like a pretty good failure in the mom department. Because it took 7 days of dude having panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares and irritability for him to finally be able to explain enough to me to understand what was going on.

We have all heard of PTSD. I often write about our experiences with bipolar disorder and our son. But instead of dealing with our typical right now we’re dealing with one of his diagnosis that only creeps forward every so often.

Often we think of PTSD only affecting front line military vets, police, emts or the like. If we think of it in children we think environmental or abuse. We don’t think of it in victims of bullying.
But it most definitely can be a cause, one people would rather not acknowledge because we don’t think of bullying as severe as war or abuse. Yet it is a form of abuse,and can be utterly devastating to the victim.
And like everything, some people can cope with it or shrug it off better than others. And some it continues to effect for year’s. And please if you are thinking, it’s gotta be something else, or, PTSD from bullying what a joke, either stop reading or open your eyes.

Dude was diagnosed while hospitalized 4 years ago (aged 9). The diagnosis was not made on a whim, in fact it was made only after he’d been there 3 weeks and it was determined by the doctors what was going on was not a result of his previous diagnosis, or that a medication adjustment was needed. This particular stay (his longest to date)  was a direct result of the hell he had gone through. During his stay and following he had specific and intense therapy.
For the most part he trucks on without allowing panic, anxiety and flashbacks to take hold. But with PTSD like most mental illness, there’s triggers that bring it crashing back adding current rational and unrational fears along with it.
At this moment, years later, because of events happening in our world, I have a child whose petrified to leave the house or be alone, which is not fun . It’s days full of phone calls while I work and nights full of nightmares. It means falling behind on schoolwork because he’s trying to overcome panic instead of spelling. It means a lot of conversation and reassurance.
Thankfully he’s older and able to express his fears and understand logic better than in the past. But the anxiety and panic are very real and very scary to him.

And this last week because I wasn’t on the top of my game, I found myself frustrated and confused by the what. What out of the choices are we dealing with, and finding myself digging through the vault of my mind to quickly shift gears and remember the appropriate way to handle it. And some days I wonder why the heck we have to have choices! Wouldn’t one be enough? And then I look at my boy. And I remember the hell he’s been through, and will continue to go through. And I remember to hold him tight, love him and support him and fight FOR him instead of against him. I am not the one living through it, I’m just a bystander and I’ll be dammed if I won’t help him through his hellish days so he can enjoy the beautiful ones.

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PTSD, bipolar or both? I hate choices!

May 16, 2015

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http://www.bullyonline.org/stress/ptsd.htm

Above is a good link to explain ptsd. I highly suggest taking a look before reading this post.

When you have a child with multiple diagnosis sometimes it’s extremely hard to determine which you are dealing with at any given time, if you’re dealing with more than one at a time and how the hell to decide.

This week I found myself feeling like a pretty good failure in the mom department. Because it took 7 days of dude having panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares and irritability for him to finally be able to explain enough to me to understand what was going on.

We have all heard of PTSD. I often write about our experiences with bipolar disorder and our son. But instead of dealing with our typical right now we’re dealing with one of his diagnosis that only creeps forward every so often.

Often we think of PTSD only affecting front line military vets, police, emts or the like. If we think of it in children we think environmental or abuse. We don’t think of it in victims of bullying.
But it most definitely can be a cause, one people would rather not acknowledge because we don’t think of bullying as severe as war or abuse. Yet it is a form of abuse,and can be utterly devastating to the victim.
And like everything, some people can cope with it or shrug it off better than others. And some it continues to effect for year’s. And please if you are thinking, it’s gotta be something else, or, PTSD from bullying what a joke, either stop reading or open your eyes.

Dude was diagnosed while hospitalized 4 years ago (aged 9). The diagnosis was not made on a whim, in fact it was made only after he’d been there 3 weeks and it was determined by the doctors what was going on was not a result of his previous diagnosis, or that a medication adjustment was needed. This particular stay (his longest to date)  was a direct result of the hell he had gone through. During his stay and following he had specific and intense therapy.
For the most part he trucks on without allowing panic, anxiety and flashbacks to take hold. But with PTSD like most mental illness, there’s triggers that bring it crashing back adding current rational and unrational fears along with it.
At this moment, years later, because of events happening in our world, I have a child whose petrified to leave the house or be alone, which is not fun . It’s days full of phone calls while I work and nights full of nightmares. It means falling behind on schoolwork because he’s trying to overcome panic instead of spelling. It means a lot of conversation and reassurance.
Thankfully he’s older and able to express his fears and understand logic better than in the past. But the anxiety and panic are very real and very scary to him.

And this last week because I wasn’t on the top of my game, I found myself frustrated and confused by the what. What out of the choices are we dealing with, and finding myself digging through the vault of my mind to quickly shift gears and remember the appropriate way to handle it. And some days I wonder why the heck we have to have choices! Wouldn’t one be enough? And then I look at my boy. And I remember the hell he’s been through, and will continue to go through. And I remember to hold him tight, love him and support him and fight FOR him instead of against him. I am not the one living through it, I’m just a bystander and I’ll be dammed if I won’t help him through his hellish days so he can enjoy the beautiful ones.

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Bipolar awareness, love from a mother.

March 30, 2015

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This will be short. Because for those suffering today is just another day of battle and unknowns.
This illness is not one prone to going away, there is no cure.
My favourite quote regarding this is

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I know that I don’t live with bipolar, but having a young son who fights every single day, it has taught me more than I thought possible.

I urge you to read previous posts on this blog, I urge you to open your mind and heart, and simply understand this illness is not one of ease, that these individuals suffering are not less than us, they are not ill for your humour.

I ask that you simply, and quite easily break down the stigma and stereotypes that so many seem to accept and tolerate in regards to bipolar.
You must understand bipolar is like a snowflake, each one is different, which makes treatment that much more difficult.
I ask that you refuse to tolerate jokes, jabs and cartoons at bipolars expense.
I ask that you think long and hard about how you would feel if you, your child, your spouse or parent fought hard every day to stay here with you, and that yes sadly sometimes they succumb to the illness but until you walk the road don’t you dare say that they’ve chosen it.

I ask that as you wouldn’t scoff at treatment of cancer or heart disease you don’t scoff at that of bipolar.
I ask that you open your eyes and accept and understand this is a real, life or death, chronic illness.
I ask that even if you don’t understand it, you don’t judge it.

And if you are suffering, I ask that you trust that you are loved, valued and appreciated. You may have bipolar but bipolar isn’t who you are!
You are so so much more! You are talented, and kind.
You are stronger than most, and courageous beyond measure.
You are you. And that is enough!
Don’t let close mindedness and ignorance determine who you are.
You are as good as anyone else walking, and better than some,but definitely not less because of your illness.
Be proud, and be strong. Be yourself and hold your head high.
You are loved, and those who don’t get it don’t matter.

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Nothing funny about it.

March 11, 2015

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There’s one thing I’ve never, nor will ever understand. And that’s finding humour in others pain, illnesses or struggles.
Our world is so full of humour, if you choose to see it.  Laugh at things circumstances, hell even yourself.
But don’t laugh at others, or stereotypes of others.
I will not carry others ignorance, stigmas and judgements. I refuse to allow them to drain me of the fight I fight. But it still angers, hurts and frustrates me.
I will always advocate for the underdog, especially the underdog that is mental illness.
I will continue to chip away the little pieces of the stigma I can, in hopes one day my child will not be laughed at because of the stereotypes surrounding his illness. So many that are so inaccurate it’s ridiculous.

Yesterday I found myself flicking onto social media, and my feed was full of the “you’re in a mental hospital”  joke.
You know the one that tags your friends, ones running naked, ones licking windows, ones rocking in a corner, ones in a straight jacket and so on.
I am not sure my blood pressure has spiked that high in quite some time.

Are you kidding? And don’t for a second say I’m over reacting, I bit my tongue, but I’m allowed to share just how inappropriate things like this are, and why. And so I will.
I am a mother, a mother to a child who has indeed been hospitalized.

First of all.
Would it be appropriate to share a similar “joke” about a cancer ward? A cardiology ward? A palliative ward?
No.  Every single person I know would say that is not appropriate. Being on one of those wards isn’t funny.
And they’d be right. It’s not.
We don’t make jokes and fill up the Internet with jokes of iv bags, hospitals and chemo.
So why, why do we think it’s appropriate to do so for mental illness? Especially using derogatory, out of date stereotypes?
So we can make light of people who actually need these facilities, to save their lives? So they are made to feel inferior, and less than you because they have an illness? That’s exactly how you’re making their feel.

People with mental illness are not a joke. They are not suffering for your pleasure.

Second. Go visit a psychiatric hospital. Do it. If you think it’s funny or this is what you see there.  Heck take your child, try leaving them there without you for a period of time, and try to laugh about it. Hilarious right? Ya that’s what I thought.
Go. I beg you. 
First you will find its not a place like the 50s movies portray. Second you’ll notice, yes there may be some restraining, but do you know why? Because that patient just tried slitting their wrists, or jumping to their untimely death. Or are lost and confused and scared to death.
You will not see patients running naked, etc.  You will see pain and hurt, and hear heart wrenching stories.
You will see very young patients, middle aged mothers, grandfather’s and everything in between.
And I promise you won’t walk out the locked doors laughing. And if you do, I’m sorry your the one with the problem.

I know many that mean nothing by sharing the  “crazy”  jokes, I know many that mean no harm.  But you are. You are flaming stereotypes that many are trying desperately to put out. I know it’s all meant in good humour, but it’s not good humour. It’s hurtful, derogatory humour, that so many assume does no harm. You’d be wrong.

I may not be able to control others, I may not be able to change the world. But I can change who I allow in mine, and I will not continue to shrug it off. I will however continue to love my loved ones the best way I can. And one of those ways is not laughing at their pain, and by using my voice and heart to fight for them and others to scared to speak up.
I may not be able to control these kinds of things, but I damn well won’t tolerate them either.

Gotta do what you gotta do…

February 25, 2015

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And fight we will!
If you follow my blog, you know life has been a bit of a roller coaster as of late.
I have had a brain that just won’t stop. Because when you are dealing with a high needs child, it would appear life likes to keep you on your toes, all the time.
Just when you have a smooth day you hit a huge bump, and that bump requires changing tracks.

Though dude’s recent crash has subsided and the meds seem to be levelling out and he amazes me at thirteen with the knowledge and insight he has into his anxiety and bipolar, and he fights every single day with himself to do what is needed, mainly school, we find ourselves at a crossroads. 

Where do we go from here, when everything is going well, except for one huge, ginormous trigger?
How long do we push the trigger for  before it potentially blowing?
And why the hell do I care or worry about what other people who aren’t in our situation think?
The truth is I need to let that go.

The truth is that only we know what we need to do, and yet I question it.

I question it not just for the opinion of others, but as with any changes we make in hopes of finding a solution for our child, we can only hope it’s the right choice. Because do we ever really know? Isn’t parenthood a whole lot of hoping and crossing the fingers that you’re doing the right thing?

There’s no bubble, there’s no get used to it, there’s no gotta be/do this that or the other when you’re simply trying to get your child through the toughest years of his life with bipolar and anxiety. The bubbles and the this that and others of typical children are not the main concern. The main concern is teaching, guiding and supporting while they grasp and learn to live with the turmoil that encompasses them everyday and their reality of living with it the rest of their lives, encouraging them to be the best them they can be, and to push them as far as you can without pushing to far.
Because they’re not your typical children. Because sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to get through the day let alone years, without feeling judged by general society. I truly wish I would stop being told that I can’t put him in a bubble. I wish it could be understood that’s not what it’s about, and even if I am putting him in a bubble, if it meant keeping your child healthy and alive, would you not bubble yours? You gotta do what you gotta do, period.

You gotta hope and cross the fingers and hope to hell it works!

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Big breath…

February 15, 2015

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It has taken me the last year, since dude’s diagnosis, to accept the fact I won’t ever have the why as to his illness. Now I must accept I can’t control the illness and certain things it causes.
And both suck!
I am a person who needs to know and more than that I am a person who hates not having control more than almost anything.
The last few months I have almost physically felt the pressures of having a bipolar kiddo who is in a crash.
By that I mean the pressures I put on myself.
Get him to get up and to school more than once a week, because how does it look if I can’t even get him to do that? Because God knows what everyone is thinking when a thirteen year old gets to stay home so much.

Mom’s lazy, mom’s to easy, mom’s not trying hard enough.

The only way I can describe our morning’s, because it’s impossible to, is that if my boy could claw his skin off he would, he’s that uncomfortable and overwhelmed.
I am none of these things, far from it.

Every night I go to bed wondering if I will play the role of bad cop, or good cop  or will I even have to put on a uniform in the morning?

I mentioned at our meeting this week, my goal was to get him a) to school 4 days a week and b) through grade nine in his current school. The psychiatrist looked at me and asked  “that’s fine, but what’s HIS goal?”

Just like that I knew neither one of us can control his disorder. Sure we can manage it, but we can not control it. 

Then there’s the pressure I feel when people question our plans for highscool.
“he has to face tough things in life”
“you can’t put him in a bubble ”
” needs socialization “….
Here’s the blunt truth.  I believe the majority of social skills ARE NOT learned in high school, except a few ones that really could be done without.

I also know that these next few years are going to be the hardest. And my job as a parent is to keep my child as stable and healthy as possible, and if we can keep him alive through these years, that’s all that matters!

I’ve realized that we as parents helping our children who are on this road,  don’t need to justify our actions to anyone. We are the only ones who know what we deal with.

I am also trying to learn to be in this moment.  I am a planner, and there must be a schedule . Not just for dude, but I myself have major add, and I need to know, to yes control my own mind and world. My family laughs that if I don’t know what is happening 5 years from now, I can’t handle it!

Yet here I am a mother trying to plan and schedule a disorder in my child I can’t, I simply can’t and that I have to accept. And this is plain hard, I want to know he’s going to be OK, I want to know exactly what days are going to be hard and exactly what that will entail.

I was told by dude’s psychologist that we must be in the moment, don’t think about tomorrow morning, or yesterday morning and definitely not the morning five years from now! And more truth could not be spoken.
I suppose dude’s not the only one trying to retrain the brain.
I suppose I will do my damdest to accept I can’t control everything, and I need to ease up on myself, and remember….
It is what it is!

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Kindness for Christmas

December 20, 2014

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The most wonderful time of year is upon us. Well for me anyway.
I love Christmas and all it means, no not the money and the stress, because there’s lots of both. But I make a conscious effort to limit both. Because for me it’s about family, traditions and kindness.

I speak a lot about acceptance and kindness year round, yesterday dude was shown just those things, and at the most perfect time.

Dude had a crash last week, which led us to extending his Christmas holidays. We hit the point of “remove all outside triggers and stress until he sees the doctor”  mode.  No we aren’t putting him in a bubble, but when things aren’t balanced we must do whatever we can to prevent the crash from becoming worse. School is a trigger on a good day and the festive season is often another with all of the excitement and schedule changes, so after discussing with teachers and his psychologist we decided to prevent a complete breakdown he would stay in his comfort zone.

Upon his early leave from school with our permission and more importantly his, his grade and the grade above (he’s in a small school)  were given a brief description and discussion on not only bipolar disorder, but mental illness. The response of the students was incredible in itself, but the true meaning of the story brings us to yesterday.

It was the last day before break and a few of the students asked for his email address, and emailed him Christmas and get well wishes. Just as they would a classmate in the hospital or away from school for a length of time with a physical illness.
I was left speechless.  Not often does that happen!
To top it off two of his friends handpicked a Christmas gift and sent it home with his sister.  I can’t begin to describe the look on his face as he unwrapped it.  I can’t imagine how the emailed words made him feel.
The support and compassion and acceptance that surrounds my son continues to amaze me.
Even before the discussion of mental illness, he was accepted. But now with the knowledge that he has an illness, one he can’t control I think his peers can make sense of it all, having a name makes it easier to understand sometimes.
The compassion, patience, empathy and understanding of his peers and the staff makes my heart full.
I believe no matter what is under the tree this year, his best present will be knowing he is supported, cared about and valued.

My Christmas wish is this for any child or adult struggling with illness. For each and every one of you to know you are loved, you are cared about, you are valuable. My other wish is that those who don’t suffer to extend kindness  patience  understanding and compassion to those who do.

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Good grief, indeed!

December 14, 2014

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Ahhhh good old Charlie Brown! Sums up this week perfectly!
As I’ve mentioned this is an extremely busy time of year for myself, I’ve also mentioned that this isn’t the easiest time of year for dude.

There’s been a few signs here and there the past few weeks, that that ever so touchy balance was starting to tip.
  But I’m going to be honest, I just kept thinking they were still only a few, it’s Christmas season and I’m not sure I have time to deal with anything other than work right now so I let those signs not necessarily ignored but definitely not front and centre either because I really don’t have time for appointments, phone calls and I am dog tired to boot. Does that mean I’m a horrible mom? I don’t think so, I think any parent of a sick child sometimes just wishes positive thinking will be enough, I know I’m notorious for that, and in the meantime I miss signs that looking back I wish I hadn’t, enter all the mom guilt possible.

Apparently no matter how hard I try to pretend things are fine, sometimes they don’t listen or follow my schedule dammit!

One sign things are tipping is dude feels sick all the time, his stomach has always been a physical radar for us to use, but with flu season upon us, gallons of milk being drunk it is also sometimes hard to read the cause.
Another tell tale sign is his telling his head to shut up. For most of us we self talk in our heads, but when things are particularly tough he will voice it.
The sniffles are back, a sign he’s stressed to the max.
The rapid mood cycles hit late this week, along with crippling panic.
Then there’s the paranoia, it’s not full blown, it’s something most wouldn’t even pick up on, but thank God his teachers know these subtle signs.
Needless to say that this week I am grateful for a phenomenal team supporting him, it’s crucial we all communicate because we all see different pieces of the puzzle.
The teachers who alert administration (also Nana in our case), administration doing an assessment and comforting and contacting his psychologist who be lines for the school and spends the morning with him until I can get there, the doctor who rearranges schedules so we can see him next week instead of next month. How important the communication is  is more than I can put on words.

Apparently bipolar gave two shits about his mom’s schedule and made one of it’s own. 
Surprising, not really. Inconvenient, yup.
Does it matter  nope.
What matters is not only we caught this spiral before it was deeper and that dude himself has found an awareness about his illness that makes the break a bit more manageable on his part. His knowledge that this is just part of his illness brings him a bit of comfort I think.  Though he’s repeatedly said this week he wishes his life wasn’t full of ups and downs, mostly downs. He wishes he could just be normal. And one of his friends upon an explanation to the class asked if there was a cure, would he ever be better? And there’s nothing more my boy would love, it brings him peace knowing that this to shall pass.
What matters more than a few hours missed work is that we have support and a plan to get through this down slide.
What matters more than absolutely anything is that dude knows he is loved, that he is never ever going to travel these roads alone.
And what makes each and every ounce of frantic running, rearranging and super early mornings to fit in Christmas at the shop, and turmoil at home?
When I get home from a day of teaching Christmas classes, I’m bone tired and dude meets me at the door with a hug out of nowhere and says, “mom thank you for always being there for me, especially when I really need it”.

The kid is worth it all and more, but I still think Charlie’s nailed it…. Good grief!