“Please Don’t Take My Sunshine Away”

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll never know dear how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.”

This is the song I used to sing to my son when he was little. I would look down at his little face in awe and couldn’t believe how much I could love another human being. As he moved into his toddler years he would always have a smile on his face, do goofy things and was full of love for his mommy. We knew he was a smart little boy that was very observant and had great eye-hand coordination, which became even more apparent when he started playing T-Ball and joined his first bowling league. By the time he was around 7 years old, T-Ball turned into Little League baseball and his athleticism really began to show. This kid had one heck of an arm and when it came to bowling he could knock out those strikes and spares like the bigger kids could. 

Of course, there were times when I would see the frustration in him when he couldn’t hit the ball or he bowled a gutter ball, but we were always supportive and tried to explain to him that it was okay. It was just a game, after all. It was more important to us that he has fun.  

This frustration carried over into school. My son struggled, a lot. We didn’t see the signs and neither did any of his teachers. We all chalked it up to the fact that he was a restless boy that hated school. We knew he hated school because that’s what he would tell us all the time. Somehow he got through and successfully graduated elementary school.  Shortly after this happened in 2016 we had made the choice to move from New York to Atlanta. We talked it over as a family and my son seemed good with it. We told him how they play baseball all year round and how we would be living closer to his aunt and his new baby twin cousins. He seemed good with it. 

We enrolled him in his new school, settled into a rental until we could find a house and signed him up for baseball. But slowly he began to change. He didn’t want to get out of bed. He seemed sad all the time. He was 10 years old and was struggling. We tried to reinforce we were all in a better place, he would make lots of new friends. Instead, he shut down. This was not the same little boy that would always wear a smile. Over the next couple of years, as puberty started to kick in, there was pre-teen boy living in my house I no longer recognized. He was disrespectful to teachers and to us. He would get detention in school. He would experience fits of rage and not fear any consequences. He would lie and steal. We were scared, not for us, but for him. We already knew that he had ADHD, which unfortunately did not get diagnosed until we moved to Atlanta. But there was something else going on.  Words like anxiety, depression, possible bipolar 1 disorder swirled all around us. 

Things are still uncertain. We have found some medications that have helped a little bit and the exact diagnosis is still unclear but one thing I have learned is there is definitely a stigma attached to mental illness. I didn’t want to face it or believe it. Part of me still doesn’t. It’s hard to know with kids these days. The pressure is immense, puberty is changing their bodies and minds, the internet, and video games are overwhelming. All we can do is fight to get them the help they need and be as supportive and understanding as possible. 

As a mom, I suffer in silence most days. My little boy is angry. He will curse at me, call me names, and directs much of his anger towards me. But then there are times in which that ray of sunshine comes beaming through in little ways. Every now and then, I will get a hug out of nowhere. When I drop him off at school, he always leans his head toward me to give him a kiss before getting out of the car. The other day he came to me on his own and apologized for yelling at me. And when I let him go to the movies with his friends for the very first time, he came home and said, “Thanks for letting me go, Mom, I know that was hard for you.”

My emotions, much like his are on a roller coaster ride I wish I didn’t have to be on in the first place. But, no matter what, I will hang onto that roller coaster for dear life because this is my son and no amount of gray skies will ever take my sunshine away.


  1. You are such a strong advocate for your son and an inspiration. My girls had ADHD and are still in grade school. I worry about the pre-teen years often.

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