There are moments when a mom gets affirmation that what she’s doing is the right thing. Sometimes those moments come after a very long time and it can be hard to keep doing what needs to be done, while waiting for that moment to come.
For example, our Kindergartener was really struggling with life two years ago. A psychologist friend of mine observed him, listened to me, and suggested that I was dealing with an adjustment disorder in my son. All an adjustment disorder means is that a person is struggling adjusting with a change life has dealt that person. Well, two years ago, we had moved again, and my son – being three at the time – was not adjusting. He was short tempered, violent, and quick to overreact to any “offense” he perceived. He also couldn’t transition to different tasks without triggering a violent episode. Probably too much information, but the background is important.
Anyway, we started working with him, a lot. We didn’t see a professional counselor. We just worked on adjusting things at home. Believe me, if we hadn’t seen improvements, we would have been visiting a counselor.
We adjusted our schedule so that it was very consistent. Breakfast was at 7:45, snack was at 10, lunch was at noon, snack was at 3:30, and dinner was at 6 – everyday. And for a long time that eating schedule didn’t change for anything. We also developed a very set bedtime routine with bedtime being at 7:30 p.m. During the day, our activities were also very scheduled. We had specific times for reading together, for computer learning time, for gross motor movement, and for directed free time. We gave all of our children specific chores with specific times for those chores to be worked on and completed. And I spent two years making sure he felt safe, secure, loved, and listened too.
It was a lot of work. There were some days that were just hard. After year one, I became pregnant with our fifth child. But we still had to keep to the schedules and routines. We didn’t have babysitters who weren’t family members for 18 months to help this child feel safe. Some days went just fine, and sometimes I just wanted to cry. Sometimes I did cry.
Tonight, though, it all paid off. He has been able to adjust to this move almost more easily than any of my other children. He follows his morning routines, and knows what comes next, and what he is expected to do. He can handle a disruption to his schedule. He isn’t as sensitive to “offenses”, and he is able to play productively with others.
And the icing on the cake — tonight, about six weeks after another move, my Kindergartener said he wanted me to sleep next to him. My heart melted at this request. I even teared up. This is a normal desire for four and five year olds to want. It means he loves me, and feels safe. It means that everything we’ve done as a family, and I’ve done as a mom, has finally succeeded.