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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Man Down.

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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.