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When My 4-Year-Old Asks, 'Mommy, You Happy?'

Wrapping paper is crinkled in balls of red and green around the tree. Scotch tape and plastic bows are strewn about. My son is surrounded by toys, puzzles and family. On this joyful morning, he only asks one thing: “Mommy, you happy?”

“Yes, buddy, Mommy is happy.” Lies I tell my little one. He is 4 and more perceptive than even I notice at times. I experience rapid cycling bipolar disorder, and I grow exhausted so very easily as I cycle through fury, despair and manic happiness all in one morning.

I am not always able to do the things he loves as much as he would like to. We snuggle in bed, and I read him stories. We watch his favorite cartoons as he lays his sweet head on my shoulder. The guilt strangles me. I do not know how to explain that Mommy doesn’t feel good. He kisses me and tells me I’m all better now. For a minute, I am. I fear for him as he grows older and realizes the extent of my limitations.

Oh, little one, how I love you. Even as my body is exhausted and I desperately need to rest, I will always try to read you one more book. Even as I feel anxiety stopping me, I will try to take you to the playground and watch you slide. In your smiles, your hugs, your love, I find a strength. Mommy will always try.

For you.

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Thinkstock photo by Ingram Publishing