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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Man Down.

Someone recently shared the statement with me, that you are only as happy as your unhappiest child. Can that be true? That seems stupid, and co-dependant to me. How about... You are as happy, if not happier, as your happiest child?  

Well I am the mother of a sad teen. People, I will tell you, this world is HARD on teens. Teens are, frequently, very, very sad. Oh my god, are they sad.

Lately, I am sad, too. I am surprised by just how sad I am, when my son is sad. Sad is like happy: simple words for un-simple emotions. To say I hurt because my children are hurting is like saying the ocean is big. Words fail me. Words have failed me all year. My son is struggling with sorrows beyond bearing. I am sure he thinks he won't ever be happy again. He has genuine struggles. Sometimes even I feel hopeless but I have lived long enough that I know it isn't true. But right now? It feels true to him.

I have spent sleepless nights weeping into my pillow. The dumb, ridiculous phrase came into my head in the middle of the night and I thought, "I AM only as happy as my unhappiest child." And I rose from bed, walked to the kitchen, and (metaphorically) slammed my head, repeatedly, in the cupboard door. The one the I keep the sak√© in.  I am stronger than this.  I got back into bed and used my aching head to form intelligent, well reasoned arguments against the cliche'.  I sorted out all the reasons why a semi-intelligent adult could still live a happy, fulfilled life while sympathizing with her struggling son. Happy adult to the right, sad teen to the left.

I wish it worked. I almost talked myself into it. I know the difference between sympathy and empathy. I embrace the idea that the cornerstone of good parenting is stability.  I know that my child's successes and failures are not MY successes and failures. But this year is different. This year my son is sad. This year I am sad, too. This year I understand the statement.