As I went to wake my son up this morning, I noted that his bed was empty. We had had a huge blowup last night, and at first I thought he had left early for school. But something in my gut said no, he was here, and I needed to find him. After a few minutes, I found him curled under the bed, covered with blankets and pillows, his wily hair peeping out.
I tried to wake him gently and at first he responded as angrily as he usually does, grunting and telling me to go away. Today, for whatever reason, I didn't go away, and after another few minutes he began to cry. Ten minutes later I persuaded him to come out from under the bed, and he, now bawling, pressed his face against my shirt as I held my grieving, depressed boy on his birthday.
He didn't want to go to school, and his mood quickly flipped from horribly depressed to horribly angry. "I hate you!" he screamed at me. "You're pathetic! You can't even tell when your kid is upset! You don't even care!" I ignored the words and waited for him to be ready for school. The ride to school was full of angry words from him, ending with, "Thanks for ruining my birthday, Mom."
For whatever reason, those tears lit a fire under me. When I got back home, I called to arrange for him to see a different, more competent psychiatrist. I consulted for intensive in home therapy. I called his school to insist on a 504 plan, since they denied him an IEP. For once, I felt powerful again; I felt motivated to improve things for my child.
And we had a good birthday after school. We got him presents for his hobbies. He got a gift card and another present from his grandparents. We all wished him a happy birthday and told him how much he was loved. And he thanked everyone and smiled before returning to bed.
And a bit later, the doubts returned and I found myself wondering what I could have done to cause this problem. How did I make it worse? Did I cause this? Logically I know he came to me with fetal alcohol effects and attachment disorder. I know that if he is indeed battling bipolar disorder, it is genetic and I did nothing to cause that. And yet I feel I failed him.
I hope one day he knows how very much I tried, and how very much I love him. This disorder, or combination of, is truly bigger than us.