With graduations and promotions in abundance, I know I’m not the only one feeling exceptionally emotional. I know so many of you have babies that are graduating high school, even college (high five to you!!) that an eighth grade promotion is really just a blip on the radar screen. But today is a very big blip for me, for my B (our youngest son). This eighth grade promotion isn’t just a pathway to high school for me. It’s just what every one of his milestones is to me. It’s special. It’s special because when that child was born and even until he was about 2, I wasn’t sure I would get to witness it. It’s special because HE is special.
At the risk of sounding super dramatic, there were many moments that I simply thought I wouldn’t be around for the special moments in my children’s lives. I wasn’t physically sick, but (as many of you know) I was a different kind of sick. I was clinically depressed and it was dark…very dark. I had everything. I had a wonderful, helpful, engaged husband, a great support system, a home, two very beautiful and healthy sons that I was blessed to stay home and raise, and I was still depressed. How? How can that be? It can be because depression isn’t about circumstances (although they can certain help or hinder the condition as I’ve learned). Depression (whether it is postpartum or otherwise) doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, married or single, Christian or Muslim, black or white, good or bad, Giants fan or Dodgers fan, or you have an innie or an outie. It does not discriminate. When it comes, you are not ready or prepared and you feel helpless. How do I know? Because I’ve felt that way too many times, even in the face of great circumstances, I have felt helpless and, worse yet, hopeless.
After having B, depression made its way back into my life (I struggled with it after my oldest friend was murdered when I was 12), into our lives, in a very clear and profound way. It wasn’t because I wasn’t happy about having kids…I was. It wasn’t because my marriage wasn’t solid…it was. It wasn’t because I did anything to deserve it…I didn’t. It just WAS. It became part of the fiber of the fabric that my life was woven from and it was terrifying. My husband had to support me emotionally like he never had before, as did my parents, my grandparents (on both sides), my sister (she’s really my cousin, but don’t tell us that), a few of my very best and most treasured friends, and my doctor. That’s right. I saw a doctor. And I was medicated. And I don’t care about anyone’s opinion on psychiatric medications…they saved my life. They gave my children and my family their Danielle back. I will say it again. They saved my life. I fought taking them (please don’t ask me why) and I curse the days that I wasted by fighting. They. Saved. My. Life.
If we are being 100% honest (seriously, how can you think I’m anything BUT that after I’ve over-shared so much of my life with you?), there are big parts of B’s first 2 years or so that I simply don’t remember. I remember bigger moments, like first words and steps and teeth and sleeping through the night, but some stuff is just dark…black, in fact. I used to feel the worst kind of guilt over it, but today I feel like it’s God’s way of saying, “I’m gonna spare you some of that, my girl. I’ll let the people who love you fill you in on those deets” (because that’s totally how God talks to me). But I will tell you something. That darkness has made me see how bright and colorful my sons are, both of them. Technicolor is probably the best description for them boys.
But today is about my B, so we’re laser-focused on him right now. That child is different. He is special. One more time…both my boys are special (I’m seriously not going to say it again, ok?) but this is about B. That kid consciously sets goals and DESTROYS them. He looks for the logic and the purpose in everything and when he can’t find it, he creates it. He is funny and witty and brilliant and sarcastic (wonder where that comes from) and honest and loyal and mighty and fierce and I wish I had 1/1000th of his confidence. We all tell our children that they can accomplish anything they really work for. And I believe to the depth of my core that this is true. But you just watch my B blaze a trail. HE has actually shown ME that anything worth having is worth working your tail of for and that some stuff just isn’t worth having.
There have been projects that he has worked on 100% without me ever seeing him do so and he gets perfect scores on them. He has studied for finals without me even knowing (unlike his brother who has to do so in the middle of the kitchen) and aced them. He has earned straight A’s this year with ZERO pressure from his parents…he put enough of that on his darn self. And I have no doubt that he checked the grade portal 50 times as often as his dad or I did. When he had a bump in the road, I watched him iron it out with very little help from us (by his own request). It has been nothing short of amazing to witness. It is inspiring. And again, it is special.
Tonight we will say goodbye to middle school and head next door (no, literally, next door) to high school, to the real world where it doesn’t matter if your mommy calls your teacher, they want to talk to YOU; where everybody DOESN’T know your name; where you get to be whomever or whatever you want from day 1. While I am incredibly emotional about having two kids in high school simply because it means that we are that much closer to them leaving the safety of the nest we have all built, I am so excited for this kid. I am so excited to see him grab the world by the
balls horns and show it who’s boss. I am excited to watch the rest of the world, starting with that little high school, get the amazing opportunity to see who this child, this miracle, this absolute trailblazer (that I have had some very small part in producing) is. And, though I have shared very tiny parts of the battle I waged against depression with him, I’m excited to tell him what a true miracle he is…how truly mind-blowing he is. One day. Not today, but one day. Because today is different. It’s special.
Watch out, world. My B is coming for you…and he ain’t playin’.