Navigating life with a teenager….who happens to have bipolar disorder

Since I have been writing, I have chronicled the journey my son and I have taken for the past 14 years.  What I haven’t spoken much about was the fact that 5 years ago somebody showed interest in joining that journey….and 4 years ago, he officially did.

Following my divorce, I was very cautious about people who I brought into my son’s life. Not only for my son, but for the men involved as well.  When you have a special needs child, it can be overwhelming for people to handle. Dating is hard, dating as a single parent is harder and dating as a single parent with a special needs child is near impossible. I dated a handful of men over the course of the next 8 years, but my son only spent time with a couple that I thought had staying power.  

About 6 or 7 years ago, a co-worker of mine met a man on-line and they had a wonderful romance that resulted in marriage and a baby.  Following this, she and some other girlfriends tried to convince me to try on-line dating.  I was wary…….it took them months to get me to create a profile. So I tried this on-line thing.  I met a couple of nice people…..and some really horrible ones.  After about a year, I told myself it wasn’t worth it and it was time to shut down my profile.  The day I logged in to shut it down, a message had popped up, a message from Michael.

He was way outside the distance radius I had given myself, but he had family in the next town over and was willing to travel.  We got to know each other via email, facebook and phone calls for about a month before we met.  He drove the 3 hours between our homes in NY for our first date.  He tells me that he knew he loved me before we met….but I was still being cautious.  Towards the end of our first official date, we sat on a swinging bench at the park over looking the river.  He put his arm around me and my head rested on his shoulder. In that moment something just clicked inside and I knew this would be forever.

We still waited about another month and a half before we met each others boys.  He was calm and patient with CJ. He took the time to understand him and the challenges I had faced in raising him. Once they met, everything seemed to fall into place. We usually spent time together every other weekend. When we weren’t together we usually spent the evening, after our boys were in bed, on the phone.

I used to be an extreme romantic, but over the years that side of me had faded.  Michael brought the romance back to my life.  He wrote me poems, played me music, sang to me.  Leading up to Christmas that year, we were out exploring some shops and came across these really neat Santa Fairies.  I am a Christmas junkie (last year I had 3 trees) and I love fairies… it was like the best of both worlds.  Since we were there to shop for others, I didn’t buy something for myself….but I am sure that I talked about it the whole way home.  The next week, Michael started sending me pieces of a poem called ‘The Santa Fairy’.

Gently and gingerly the Santa Fairy goes
Over veils of wispy flurries abiding everywhere.
Daintily and delicately his sparkle he bestows 
With respect to worthy couples love wishes to declare.

Arrival of the Christmas Day heralds end to winter’s power.
The Lover endeared to his Beloved melts icy bonds away.
Spritely sparkles hand to hand embracing brightly shower
Kindling all the brilliant radiance her joy might betray.

Gently and gingerly the Santa Fairy goes
Over beds of blooming flowers abiding everywhere.
Daintily and delicately his sparkle he bestows 
With respect to worthy couples love wishes to declare.


On Christmas day, CJ and I traveled to Michael’s to celebrate the holiday with him, his boys and his mom.  While opening gifts, Michael handed me a box.  Inside was my Santa Fairy, holding an engagement ring and the rest of the poem.

The prince awaits before assembly to receive his bride.
This day stands high above all others hoped for through the years.
The princess strides boldly merrily: beauty personified.
Forever vows exchanged with glory and celebration tears.

Gently and gingerly the Santa Fairy goes
Over twinkling candle lights abiding everywhere.
Daintily and delicately his sparkle he bestows 
With respect to worthy couples love wishes to declare.

Since that day, my life has changed so drastically.  I am no longer a single parent raising my special needs child.  Over the years, I have had help and support from family and friends, but nothing compares to having a true partner to share in the laughter and the tears. He holds my hand and supports me through all of the tough decisions that I have had to make regarding CJ and his illness. He tells me all the time that I am amazing and that gives me strength when I think I have no more.

So today, on our anniversary, I wanted to take the time to thank the man who is taking this journey with me.  With him I am a better person and a better mother.


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