Saturday, February 22, 2014

Joy

This blog has had its fair share of bummer posts over the past year or so, but thankfully, this will not be one of them.  I am hesitant to post it for fear I will jinx things, but I have to do it because it has been such a relief.

I think I've mentioned that Jacob's behavior has been better for the past week.  We'd had a really bad run prior to that, for no apparent reason, but since last Friday, things have evened off again.  It's hard to explain what that means, exactly, but all I can say is that I think that our moments in between meltdowns are what "normal" people live like.  To be clear, this is still not a normal life, but there have been far more normal moments in the past week than I can remember in a long time. 

We still have meltdowns and moments where things are far more difficult than they should be.  He will still argue about clothes for far too long, he will give us a hard time about eating certain foods, and something like getting bloodwork done this morning can throw him off-kilter for an extra long time.  But if we can weather those storms, the time in between can be lovely.  And it's been a long time since I've been able to say that.  At times we couldn't say anything to Jacob without it turning into an argument, and something as simple as a request to come to dinner would turn into a major battle.  We may still have to push him a bit now, but it's not like it was.  He'll play nicely alone, but will ask nicely to have you join him.  We can have actual conversations.  He can be so funny, so insightful, so charming...and for a while that was all hidden behind a brooding, mouthy façade. 

For so long it was so hard to bond with him.  He wouldn't let me near him for as much as a hug.  He didn't want to talk to me.  Every interaction turned into such a battle that, honestly, it wasn't worth it.  I eventually became more nervous about making things worse that taking the chance of making things better seemed too risky.  As a mom, it was absolutely heartbreaking.  I'd look back at pictures of my sweet baby boy and think back to how inseparable we used to be.  That image became even more vivid once Carter came back into the picture and I relived a lot of my experiences with Jacob.  The contrast was shocking and sad.  To know things could go so downhill made me worry about my future with Carter.  Obviously everything was complicated further by having to spend a lot of time with Carter, between the limits on my time to Jacob's jealousy (even if he'd never admit it).  The connection I had with him felt so broken.  And when his behavior went downhill badly at the end of the summer, things got even harder.  While I will always love him, liking spending time with him was such a challenge. 

But over the past week or so, things have been so much better.  He'll let me hug him, we can have normal conversations, and he can be really reasonable and cooperative at times.  He can be so sweet and charming when he wants to be.  He'll tell me things about his day.  He's even acknowledged Carter.  I still can't say he's accepted him, but he has moments where it looks like he can almost see a future where things could be okay.  We can go on outings without expecting a full-on tantrum about something, and I'm less scared of our weekends without Craig because so far they've been perfectly manageable. 

I don't know what caused the change, but it could be a lot of things.  Perhaps his week off of school let him relax a bit.  Maybe Carter's birthday helped him realize that not only isn't Carter going anywhere, but he's getting older and will get more fun.  Maybe because Carter's getting older and Craig has been on the road a lot, I'm slowly but surely getting more opportunities to spend one-on-one time with him again, and he realizes that I do still love him and want to be with him.  Or maybe after nearly four months, the Celiac disease is getting a little more under control and the effects of the gluten are wearing off.  People have said that the behavior issues can take six months to ease up, so maybe we just got to a better point.  Who knows, but I don't care what it is as long as it continues!

Don't get me wrong, we still have a long road ahead of us.  It's still clear that he's got some things going on.  His obsession with certain things is undeniable.  His inability to focus in a classroom setting is problematic.  He's still prone to acting out physically when he gets upset, and he gets upset probably more than most, in a way that's usually disproportionate to the problem.  But to see him be able to act normal more often than not gives me hope that we can crack the code and find ways to help him.  It gives us a little mental break and gives us a chance to show him what we've been telling him for so long--that the better his behavior, the easier things are and the more fun we can have.

But the overwhelming sense of joy that I feel when I can finally bond with him again is the big story of this post.  I can't describe how happy it makes my heart that I can give him a peck on the cheek again, or hold his hand, or give him a hug.  I can cuddle with him, talk with him, and do everything in my power to remind him how loved he is, without getting the immediate resistance that used to bog us down.  To be able to spend time with both of my boys (sort of--it's still limited but there are glimpses) is exciting, and I hope this trend continues.  All of the prayers must be working, so please keep them up.  But throw in a "thank you", too, because this week has been darn-near a dream come true!

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