Tuesday, September 6, 2016


I've been some version of "that"--as in "yeah, that daughter", "oh, that daughter-in-law" and "you know, that room mother"--all my life. The "that" is always the emphasized word; often there's at least a hint of derision there, too.

It's usually said in a hushed tone by people who think I've suddenly become deaf to any language spoken ten feet away but it isn't always. Once in awhile, someone will slip up . . . "Oh, you're that one," before turning beet red and stuttering to apologize.

Such was the case at the fortieth anniversary celebration of my husband's parents.

What sacred social convention did I trample to earn my "that" stamp? Take your pick:

  • I am an atheist in the Bible Belt.
  • I am a social liberal in a decidedly red state.
  • I am the parent of an only child--by choice.
  • I am a working mother in a family where Woman's role is to serve Man.
I became none of these things on a whim. I've known from the moment I came to understand I was alive that I could never be at the mercy of someone else's finances; the struggle to believe in a higher power was played its death knell after a summer spent in Christian bookstores, with me desperate to find something--anything--to silence the little whispers of doubt I'd heard throughout my twenty years on this planet. I care not one whit what two consenting adults do behind their own bedroom door and I can't imagine any thinking, compassionate adult even wanting the authority to deem one behavior "acceptable" and punish another as "damnable".

The decision to have an only child is another post altogether--but even it was a deliberate choice made after months of careful thought.

Someone referred to me as "that one" recently. It was the first time in a long time and I immediately realized it no longer bothered me. Perhaps it's age or experience or just the thick skin of someone long-accustomed to having her work judged by strangers. I don't know. 

What I do know, is that I can tell you everything I stand for and why. And so the label no longer matters.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Today Is A Year

In about 6 hours I will observe the anniversary of the day I did something no parent should ever be asked to do. One year ago today I took a loaded handgun from my own son's hands after he threatened to kill himself.

Perhaps it seems overly dramatic to commemorate an occasion that ultimately resulted in no actual bloodshed but that was the day my dreams of a normal life for me and my son were finally put to sleep for good.

Every parent has a vision for how we want our kids' lives to play out. Some imagine the most minute details of the kids' lives; some wish simply for their kids to be healthy and emotionally fulfilled. Most, I suspect, fall somewhere in between.

This blog is the most selfish thing I've ever done, for it will not be about my son's journey. No, I will be using this blog to share my own healing, as the parent of a deeply ill adult child.

It will not be easy for me to write or you to read. Some people will be left angry; some will protest I should not air "dirty laundry".

Frankly, I don't care. If being painfully honest about my experience helps even one other parent, it will be worth it. If I can provide one other person with a safe, judgement-free arena in which to share, I will take comfort in that.