All children need attention, and they all express their need in a different way. I always wondered why some children expressed it with bad behavior, and figured it was due to immaturity or delayed development. Now, I know that’s not the case.
My two younger children require us to be in therapy in the mornings, then we eat lunch and take naps, and the day is pretty much over. This is a depressing schedule, especially for my oldest son who isn’t stimulated at all during that time. I’ve signed him up for activities, to give him something to look forward to, like small group and kids’ choir. His behavior is proving his needs are not being met. Unfortunately, his activities are not concurrent with the therapy, but are after nap time. So, his activities actually elongate an already very long day. And the end of the day is a very long time to wait to do something fun.
Frankly, as beneficial as my oldest son’s activities are, educationally and socially, they are not filling his biggest need. What he really needs is attention from his mom.
What is heart-breaking is that all I have wanted in the world for the last five years has been to spend hours upon hours with him, and just him. But I always had to work full-time, and now I have to do therapy full-time. Somehow the stress of it all is robbing me of sleep, so I have to at least attempt to sleep during the day to make it through the second half of the day. And that leaves nothing for him. So he is sad. And I am sad.
I don’t think it’s so much the daily events that stress me to the point of sleep-deprivation (which really could, in and of themselves), but more the awareness that this isn’t going to end. I’m not sleeping, and there is no “weekend” where I can sleep in and catch up on sleep. There is no “sick day” when I get a day off to recuperate. There is no day in sight when therapy will be reduced to a level where I can schedule in time with my oldest son.
I’ve been in survival mode, trying to meet everyone’s most basic needs for health and development. I’m stressfully tolerating a messy house, poor behaviors, and lack of fun activities. I thought it would be a short period that we would quickly forget.
I’m hitting the wall as my baby turns one and I realize it’s been this way for a whole year. My baby’s first precious whole year of life has been spent racing from one appointment to another, without proper face-time or feedings. My almost five-year old is almost school age, and I’m still chasing the six-month-old inside him, whom I always wanted to spend all my time with. I feel like he’s growing up and I’m losing him.
My oldest son has no idea how profound my love is for him. He just knows his situation sucks and he can’t do anything about it. I don’t think he understands that I can’t either.
Also, what’s hard is, as smart as he is, he doesn’t seem to know he needs attention. He doesn’t utilize the time we have together. He remains frustrated that things aren’t going the way he’d like. My heart breaks as I try to engage him in an activity and he turns me down.
Now, when I have a moment to play with him, I make a point to announce that it is our special time. He totally looks at it differently, and is more apt to take advantage of it. Next, I want to schedule time together, but am fearful of the many circumstances that may cause us to cancel. I shouldn’t let that stand in my way, though.
Thankfully, my littler boys both seem to know when they need attention and can express it. My middle son will come hold my leg, ask to be held, hug a little longer, or tell his therapist he wants his mommy. I’m able to give him long hugs, carry him for a while, read a story, say a prayer, or sing a song with him and he’ll feel recharged for a while. My baby will also reach for me or put his head on my shoulder and I know he needs to be held for a while.
I pray this season doesn’t last much longer and God will feed my children through it. I still have hope for mornings rolling around on the carpet with three babies tackling me.