He Made it to 12! (and so did I)

Mitch turns 12

…and POOF! He’s 12!

Almost a year ago I wrote about my boy wanting to die and “lay in a grave so I can have some peace”. I’ve been asked many times over how he’s doing and where things are at for him these days. Well, today is his 12th Birthday and we’re still here!

Right before Christmas we were driving in the car and had a guest with us. Somehow the topic got around to ‘remember when’, and all of a sudden Mitch blurted out, “Remember Mommy when my sister had to sit on me and hold me down because I was holding a pencil to my neck? And remember all the knives all over the kitchen floor?” He was 9 when that first incident took place. Can you imagine being THAT guest in the vehicle, not knowing any of the history? Yah, me neither! Navigating the conversation utilized some tricky skill so as not to downplay it with my boy listening, but also to take a moment to honour how far we’ve come. Being calm, cool and collected in that particular moment was dicey for this mama!

It has been an emotional journey to say the least, but for anyone needing a ray of hope I would love for our story to provide just that. I know it’s a tough subject to discuss, read or think about but it’s our experience and it’s something neither of us want to hide, nor do I want to feed the shame that often comes with revealing the tough stuff.

What I love about my son is that he lays it all out there. He’s open. He has a deep and caring heart, wants to do what’s right, and he knows he is not alone in his struggles. Over the course of the past several months we have spent countless hours at the counselor’s – where he felt safe and supported. We both participated in the process and I learned so much myself, in how to help him but I also learned things I’d never have considered otherwise. It opened my eyes to new ways of doing things I hadn’t done before. My boy got to express himself in ways he hadn’t fully been able to and there was much, much healing as we drove back and forth every week.

What I’d like to offer other families dealing with a child who expresses suicidal tendencies is that there is hope. You are not alone, and there are many resources in place to help you walk through the valley. If you want the help. If you are willing to put yourself (and your child) into a vulnerable setting. If you are teachable – yes, I said you – parent.

This past year has not been one of handing him off to the professionals hoping they’d fix him, or just praying that it will all get better (albeit there was lots of that!). It has been one of full participation, doing whatever was necessary for the good of my boy, despite what it felt like or what it looked like to others. In the end I’m responsible for my inner dealings, the peace of knowing I did my best for and with my son. Here’s what I know…it was worth the fight, the hard work, the sacrifice. I’m a much better person for it – and my son is doing remarkably well. The tools that have been placed in his hands are ones that can and will carry him through adulthood.

Is every day a good day? No. Do I still have moments of distress, wondering how we’re going to get through the next 5 minutes? For sure. But those days and moments are getting less in number, and we’re having more good days than bad. The lessons? Don’t be afraid to ask for or receive help. Don’t isolate yourselves or live in shame, it only elevates the issue. Do NOT ignore your child’s cries for help. Put yourself in their shoes, seek to understand. Do take a whole bunch of deep breaths. Do take action. Do revel in, soak up and celebrate the happy moments!

Last night Mitch and I definitely had a moment. We both teared up as we talked about his birthday, how special it is to celebrate it. He teased me that next year I’ll cry when he turns 13 because I don’t want him to grow up. He’s right. But for now, I want to enjoy this moment, this victory, this 12th birthday that signifies so much.

Think About It…

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? ~ Mary Oliver


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  1. #1 by oawritingspoemspaintings on January 18, 2013 - 4:08 am

    Your post is a beacon of light and hope to all those around, what courage and beauty of the souls, yours and your sons!

    • #2 by shandracarlson on January 18, 2013 - 8:58 am

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and for your kind words! Hope is such a life-giving force that we all need at times, hey?

  2. #4 by Brenna on January 18, 2013 - 9:24 am

    Hey lovely, what a year you’ve had but certainly birthday’s are always a thing to celebrate!! You’re an incredible momma who has awesome kids and it makes me so happy to hear that things are on the up-swing for you guys 🙂 Enjoy this day with your boy; a birthday is definitely an accomplishment that shouldn’t go un-celebrated! Cheers to you girl!! xoxo

    • #5 by shandracarlson on January 18, 2013 - 9:46 am

      Thanks Brenna! You wanna know what crossed my mind as I’m reading this?? No, nah, nevermind….Oh all right. This weekend marks a big one for you, and it hit me that I’m old enough to be your mom too!! Bahahaha! 🙂 xoxo

  3. #6 by Cheryl on January 18, 2013 - 11:09 am

    Shandra, I love your blogs! You are still as inspiring as ever. And a very Happy Birthday to Mitch!! I had some rough times with mine and I certainly understand the stress, worry and doubt this kind of situation creates. There is no better person I have ever known equipped to deal with, well frankly anything, than you. Take care my dear friend, I hope we truly get to catch up one day.

    • #7 by shandracarlson on January 18, 2013 - 4:50 pm

      Thank you Cheryl! We do need a good catch up…next time I’m headed that way I’ll let you know. Such great memories of days gone by hey? ❤ PS – I can never think of karaoke without you crossing my mind…..

  4. #8 by this mom's got something to say ... on February 10, 2013 - 12:13 pm

    Little Mitchy isn’t so little anymore. It was obvious that God had a seriously awesome life planned for him way, way back when. I KNOW that HIS story is going to affect many peoples lives someday. His struggles and challenges are going to become nothing but steps to something bigger. You done good Mama, he’s an awesome “little” boy.

    • #9 by shandracarlson on February 12, 2013 - 12:55 pm

      …and a plan to work on my character and patience I might add!

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    "Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do." ~ Jack Kerouac
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