Or perhaps it would be my daughter herself calling, crying for me to help her.Whenever I heard a ringtone — anyone’s ringtone — my adrenaline would spike, my heart pound, and my brain freeze.
A hospitalization followed, and we learned that he was suffering from bipolar illness, a thought disorder that impairs cognition and the processing of external information. Our children are not related genetically: We’d adopted our daughter as an infant, and our son had been a surprise pregnancy.
The door to his academic life seemed to close with a slam. In the midst of his suffering, my son turned a sympathetic gaze on his parents. I had let go of vicarious ambition and trivial matters.
“I guess you wish that you had other kids instead of us,” he said. I told him no, that there were no imaginary, ideal other kids out there whom I preferred. When your kid is coping with mental illness, you get to the bottom line fast: He’s alive.
If you have that, you can start feeling ambition for the child to be healthy and then happy. My selective silences ended abruptly at my 40th reunion.
Also unsettling, especially to parents, is the fact that our kids are no longer minors, and the health-care system allows them to choose whether to participate in their own treatment and medications. ) Every developmental instinct these young adults have tells them to push aside authority and go their own way.
Only with maturing may young adults be better able to accept responsibility for their own health and act on it.
I’d tell him how my daughter, at the mercy of dark moods, periodically would overdose on prescription medications and how my son had suffered an unexplained breakdown at college.
Some days my son couldn’t get out of bed, yet he had resisted engaging in treatment.
I’d seek out my friend — standing in the crush at the edges of the Parade — the one classmate I could talk to each year at Reunions who would understand.
We’d turn our backs to the line of marchers and whisper under a tree the latest updates about our young-adult kids.