These were the words uttered to me by my 16 1/2-year-old son. They were in reference to my repeated direction that he get off the sofa and go eat or begin his schoolwork. I wanted him off the sofa where he was so clearly falling asleep. That was over an hour ago. As I write, he is out cold on the sofa.
“I’ve got this, Mom!” is his repeated refrain when I continually coax him out of bed in the morning. He says it again when I ask him to get up off the bedroom floor and move into the bathroom to shower. Yet again, he says it when I ask him to get out of bed after the shower and get dressed. He says it over and over again. It continues throughout the morning.
Today, I got tired. I’m tired of being the energy for two people. I miss being able to get up in the morning, work out if I want to, see an early patient, grab tea with a friend, or go grocery shopping with confidence that my teen will carry on with his daily activities. And that is why, this morning, after working to keep him awake and going for two hours, I gave in.
“I’ve got this, Mom!” came the frustrated remarks from the sofa.
“No, you don’t. You’ve fallen asleep on this sofa several times already. Get up. Go eat breakfast. Study at the table. Either way, get off the sofa.”
“I’m not going to sleep.”
“I’m done arguing. If you fall asleep, I am not waking you.”
I add this last part because he also consistently becomes angry if no one wakes him when he does fall asleep.
And, here he is now, fast asleep on the sofa. No slamming doors or sounds of the vacuum cleaner wake him. It’s 11 a.m. now. Who knows how long it will go on for today? Until 11:30? Noon? Three p.m.? Part of me wants to shake him awake and get him on his way. The other part of me is stopping myself.
“You said you wouldn’t wake him if he fell asleep again. You have to keep your word.”
So I sit, for now, feeling like a failure as a parent. Yet, something in me knows this is bigger than my parenting. Major depression. That’s what the people I’ve consulted have said. Major depression concurrent with obsessive-compulsive disorder. I’m not just sitting on my laurels. I’ve put a call into a psychiatric clinic at a major university that’s within an hour of our home. But, the nagging fears are there again. What will they see? What will they say about me as a parent? And what will they think when they learn I’m a psychologist who works with teens? Will they tell me I should have known better?
The boy on the sofa is stretched out on his side. From behind, you would think he’s reading English Literature. From the front, you can see he’s deep in sleep. This is no way to spend the day when you’re 16 1/2, talented, bright, sensitive, and plain amazing. Come back to the world, Blake, We need you.