Sunday, August 24, 2014

Retiring Baby


It’s the night before the first day of school. Everyone is in good spirits, some more excited than others, but it’s good enough. My youngest sat in bed, cuddling his little blue bear, “Baby”. I smiled as I remembered the first time I gave him that bear. He was a small guy, maybe 3 years old. He was going to bed and experiencing his typical nighttime anxiety, not wanting me to leave the room until he was fast asleep. I sat at the edge of his bed and picked up the little blue bear and put it into his arms. He quickly cuddled it. I told him that he needed to be brave to take care of “his” baby. From that day on, “Baby” became part of the family.

As a mom of three boys, this teddy bear was uniquely special. None of my other boys owned a special doll or stuffed animal. It never crossed my mind that all kids didn’t do this, that is until I had all boys.

I remember the panic I felt when we first lost Baby. I thought he dropped him in a craft store while I pushed him and Baby around in the cart. But later that night, I was so relieved to find him safely tucked at the bottom of a closet. I think I cried I was so happy. This bear had become such a precious symbol of my youngest son’s childhood. It had become a treasure.

Fast forward to the night before school this week when my youngest calmly got out of his bed and carried Baby to the closet. Next, he reached up onto his tippy toes and placed Baby on the top shelf of his closet. Then he walked back to his bed, announcing that he was now retiring Baby since he was going into the 4th grade.

And just like that, the little blue bear was put back onto the shelf. He was dirty and worn at the edges, but he represented a job well done, helping my little one feel safe at night for all those years.

My husband heard of this big announcement and declared that we needed a special ceremony to properly retire Baby, so he pulled the little blue bear back down and asked us all to place a hand on him as he spoke sweet words. All the boys giggled at the silly ritual, but I couldn’t help but cry.

My little one was growing up.

I too, no longer had my baby.


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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Summer Bipolar Cycles

Summer is coming to an end. Thankfully the boys did better than expected. I have to say it’s been our best summer yet, especially for my oldest. But we still experienced some highs and lows in what appeared to be bipolar cycling over a period of about 1 week.

It all started when my oldest son woke up in a really great mood. He was so happy about his latest computer interest. He talked excitedly about it, following me around the house, chatting up a storm.

That should have been my first clue.

My oldest isn’t usually this “up”. At one point, he didn’t even skip a beat when I closed the door in front of him to go to the bathroom. He continued on in a very excited tone telling me about all his incredible ideas. Throughout the day he continued to update me about his project like an excited child on Christmas morning.

Then day two started with a big shift.

Hello irritability.

My oldest became very argumentative and was irritated by everything we did. As his mood progressed down this path, I started to see old behaviors. Blaming others, initiating fights, threatening us. It was sadly familiar from his younger days that often ended with rages. As I tried to navigate his behaviors, I kept reminding him that this wasn’t him, but his moods being off. Understandably for him, none of that mattered since it felt real. Mood or no mood illness, he was in a mood to fight.

As the day progressed, I tried to help him identify his feelings as they related to his actions. In a calmer moment, he clarified that, “Everything and everyone is bothering me!”

His mood continued for a handful of days. Thankfully he never escalated into a rage. But after a few days we had a light bulb moment.

My son’s sleep patterns had changed during this time. Instead of sleeping in as he normally did all summer, to our surprise, he was waking up early every day because he no longer felt tired. It even surprised himself.

He was cycling.

Once it dawned on us, it put everything into perspective.

He went from a stable, easy going kid who slept in, to a kid who woke up early every morning and cycled between being too happy, to being very miserable.

It really helped once my husband explained this to my son. I think for the first time my son could see proof of his illness outside of his moods. “It’s all connected Mom! I’ve been getting up early every day that my mood has been bad.”

And just like clockwork, the very first day my son slept in, the planets aligned and I had my son back to normal and he’s been doing great ever since.

Even my son recognized the difference when he shared, “I’m feeling better today, my brother was leaning on me and it didn’t even bother me!”

It made me think of all those years and all those rages so long ago.

He was cycling then. 

It was harder to tell since I saw very little stability to know what “normal” looks like for him, but seeing this recent cycle and the return of old behaviors in such contrast to what we have come to now know as “normal,” has validated for me our decision to medicate.

You may laugh and think, “Validation? You still need that?”

Unfortunately yes. I don’t think I’ll ever stop asking the question, “are we doing the right thing?”

But tonight I can rest in peace knowing that, yes, we are doing the right thing for our son.