First, I live in a crazy house. I have a 15yo, a 13yo, and a 12yo who thinks she’s 14 so really I have a home with insanity built in. As you know the Teen is a unique animal that is capable of changing from “It’s cool” to “Nothing works and life is awful!” within the space of an hour. I am surviving the madness though and believe me it’s a unique challenge to do this with bipolar. My inclination is to push back and away, to keep the madness of their mood swings from getting too close. I did that once before and it cost me dearly for years. I am choosing to do it differently now but it’s not all sunshine and roses, I assure you.

There are days when all I want to do is put in earplugs and hang a “The Mom is Not In at This Time” sign around my neck. However these things tend to have a detrimental effect on our relationships so instead I listen. To everything. The arguments, the laughter, the seemingly endless video game sounds that permeate anything I’m trying to do.

I make sure the kids know if I’m having a bipolar mood swing. Generally they know before I do and at least the oldest (at home at least) will ask me what’s up, which is a good cue that something is off. I swear I take more time outs than I ever gave them when they were little. I find my most effective solution is taking time away from the never ending stream of noise and activity (which I would much rather have than the opposite) by sitting in my room listening to soothing music. You know, something like Metallica on speakers, turned up to 11 of course.

Some day these kiddos are going to be gone and I will be conflicted, feeling both freed and sad at the new distance. I know because I’ve been there already. My oldest is already married and off across the country pursuing his dreams, something that makes me proud as heck but breaks my heart on occasion.

As it is they are each already moving past me and I see the distance forming as if it were a slowly moving fog shifting its way between us. I can sense their individuality increasing and their abilities to function without my intervention constantly surprises me. They are often stronger than I give them credit for and manage to successfully bounce back from challenges faster than I ever could.

In the end I am surviving the teen years by remembering that they pass all too quickly and practice gratitude for the moments I do have. Yes, even the cranky ones. Someday I know I will give anything to return to these days so I try to be present for the time being and appreciate the smiles and hugs when they are given (rare occurrence in the average teen) and save the earplugs for another time.

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