Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My Place in the Puzzle

Yesterday was a busy day. It started with an early summer program drop off for my super six year old so that the persevering preschooler and I could make it to his 8am occupational therapy appointment. The mom taxi was in full swing after that as I dropped my youngest off at daycare, raced home to clean the kitchen, work, and make dinner,  and then headed back out to pick up the youngest for his second therapy appointment of the day, behavioral therapy. When we walked in the door last night, tired and hungry, I was greeted by my oldest son, who ran over to me, practically knocking down his little brother, asking, "Mommy! Did you plan this dinner? It is so delicious! Thank you so  much!"  Wow. What a wonderful greeting! And it came at the end of a pretty good day. A very good day, in fact.

Sure, it was busy, with two different therapy appointments and work and all the "stuff" that comes with daily life. But it was good.

On the walk last night from the therapist's office to our car my persevering preschooler presented me with an outstanding meltdown. I am unclear as to the details of this but it appeared as though, even though he had been perfectly behaved inside the office, where we were all talking about his behavior, he felt the need to be carried to the car. Which I would have done, if he had just been  able to wait one minute. Just one tiny minute while I dug the car keys out of my purse and I would have scooped him up. Not having that need met he moved on to another need, the need to squat down in a busy parking lot to look at a rock. This need literally stopped traffic. This time I did pick up my son, and because I am not an ogre I picked up the rock as well. For that I was thanked with screaming and hitting, both activities I had just told the therapist that he rarely does these days. I kinda hope they were watching us out the window...

Even after stuffing him in the car, holding him down to buckle his car seat, removing his shoes so he couldn't throw them at me and offering him a snack, he continued to scream for a while. I climbed in the front seat and smiled. I smiled.  I can do this, I thought, because we have some answers. I can do this, I thought, because we have some help. I can do this, I thought, because I am not alone.

On the drive home, after my youngest had calmed down and was happily playing with the helicopter he picked out at the gift shop of the Dayton Air Force Museum, I started thinking about the these past two years. All of the "what ifs" came flooding into my mind. What if we had found these particular therapists earlier? What if we had begun this process last year? The year before? What if.....

Our journey has been typical. Our struggle was not unique. Many families bring their internationally adopted child home only to slowly find concerns and issues blooming before their eyes. I remember those first months, thinking his behavior was normal for what he had been through. And much of it probably was. I remember the remainder of that first year, thinking we just needed to find the right discipline approach while continuing to bond. I remember waiting to be placed in the special needs preschool, sure that these professionals would be able to help. I remember the counseling appointments on attachment, and the one on parenting approaches. I remember the diet changes, the supplements tried. Some of these approaches helped, some didn't. Some are still working and some have been abandoned. Narrowing down the issue and then treating it does not happen overnight.

I can't continue to allow the "what ifs" into my brain. I cannot imagine the child I saw two years ago even being able to sit through a therapy session, let alone get anything out of it. I can't imagine the mother I saw in myself even last year wanting to put her feelings of anger aside and learn to parent better through play therapy. But now, I am ready, and he is ready. And God placed in our hearts and minds the tools we need to move forward on this journey. He gave them to us when we were ready, on his timeline.

Last night the behavioral therapist asked me what I had done to bring my son to this point, where he now doing so much better. To this place where he rarely hits or spits. To this place where he feels like my son, and not just an angry visitor in my home. I started listing everything we had done and I suddenly had a hard time remembering it all. It was a hard two years. How can I not remember? As I was struggling to list things like wearing him, playing eye contact games, letting him remove every item of food from the refrigerator, it all sounded so less than. Less than what it really was. Less than what it felt like at the time. "What you did", the therapist said, "was not give up." Wait, what is that feeling? Pride? Peace? Ahhhhhh.

my happy boys at the lake

I will have weeks that are amazing, and weeks that are not so good. We will see regression in our son and moments of absolute joy. This week my super six year befriended a bully who had been picking on him and proudly announced at dinner that he and Bully were "friends now". He also talked this new friend into building a rocket out of legos at day care so they could sell it for a trillion dollars and give the money to children's hospital. What do you know, they are listening and watching what we do! My perserving preschooler helped me bring in the groceries from the car and began to actively play with friends at school. Not next to them, not near them, with them.  We had a successful first trip to the lake and spent a beautiful day outside, relaxing. We have a diagnosis to add to his issues that helps to explain the hyper activity and we have two brand new therapy programs in place. We lost our house cleaner, but we will buck up and scrub our own floors this week. (Well, let's not get carried away here!) This week was an amazing week. It was a week where we got the chance to see a little bit more of that larger than life puzzle our God has fit us into. There will be worries, setbacks, and challenges ahead. But right now I am enjoying my place in the puzzle.

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