I’ve been working on gratitude for a while. Every week for the past year, I have posted what I’m grateful for with photos of the week on social media. I plan to continue sharing my gratitude because it helps me see the light when things are hard. Gratitude has been my word and the theme of my life. It helped me when I was in my most desperate moments. After the worst losses and when the anxiety gets bad, I try to look for the good.
I went into 2023 thinking that my word for the year would continue to be “Gratitude”. Not that we need a word. A year is a year. But I like having something going into the new year. A few goals to work toward. I realized a week ago that while gratitude will continue to be a theme in my life, I have something else I need to work on this year.
My life HAS NOT been balanced. 2022 was spent worrying and being anxious about what was going to happen next. I did not give myself time to do anything but be a mom. It’s safe to say I’ve not been very good at balancing things in my life for the last six and a half years but last year was the worst. I felt like I was the ONLY one that could deal with my son and I had trouble trying not to control it all. I’ve lost bits of me over the years. This year, I’ll find myself again with more balance.
The fact is, I cannot control my son’s ADHD. By trying to gain control, I lost control. This year, it’s less about control and more about balance. I need to balance all aspects of my life. Writing, friends, mom life, and finding out who I am when I’m not a mom. If I recall, when I’m not stressed out and full of anxiety, I’m able to laugh more. I’m able to be a better mom. I’m able to spend more time creating, learning, and being social. Letting go is hard but I need to.
It’s a slow process but I’m working at it. I’m making sure to do small things for myself. I’m letting myself spend more time away from my son and trying to worry less about him. Even writing this is a little bit of self-care. I used to write for myself all the time. In the past year, all I’ve done is bounce back and forth between parenting and fitting in work writing when I could. My Sunday balance includes no work writing and something for me.
2022 was probably the hardest year I’ve had in my 6 years of parenting. Now that we’ve got a diagnosis to work with, I’m spending time learning about my son and his ADHD. I don’t know if ADHD will be the only diagnosis but it’s been nice to give myself time to learn about what makes his brain work. I’ve got all the books.
The break between Christmas and school starting back up was good. We had a few battles but it’s been nice watching him smile and have fun. We’ve had so much pressure that it feels nice for both of us to breathe again.
I’m so happy to be with my boy lately. These past few weeks he’s been happy, full of stories and creativity and he makes me laugh all the time. He’s still working on emotional regulation (and probably always will) but this week, he’s been able to pause and take a breath even after his first instinct to yell or show his anger. (I’m also working on my emotional regulation because yelling is an instinct I need to fight as well.)
I think he goes through phases and I have no doubt we’ll have bad weeks again but I know how much I love the good times. And how much I love my kid, good or bad moments. I haven’t been pent up this year, worried about what he’s going to say next or if he’s going to get mad and be loud or physical. As I said, 2022 was rough. Maybe we’ve found a new way of dealing with life. A calmer way or maybe life is full of ebbs and flows and the hard bits will be back but I do think he’s learning and I’m learning with him.
I’m trying to stop telling him I’m proud of him and instead explain why he’s impressing me. His job is not to make me proud. Instead, I’m letting him know how great it is that he’s trying so hard, thinking about how to react… Things like that. I want him to be proud of himself. I am proud of him. I’m always proud of him. I read that by telling him that makes it more about me than him and I agree. Me being proud is not what’s important. He needs to see the good in himself without worrying about my reaction to the things he does. He’s trying SO hard and I am proud of him but I am going to spend my time telling my son exactly how he is amazing.
My son has been in his new school and his new class for two weeks. It’s been good so far. He told me he lost his cool one day and yelled at one of the EAs and he felt so incredibly bad about it. She told me he got over it quickly and apologized. That’s the only thing I’ve heard. He’s working hard on so many things but so are the other children in his class. When I first sent him, I was worried about him being around so many emotions and personalities. In fact, I was still worried about it until this very moment. I just thought of something he said to me in 2022 when he was in his first school. He said, “Mom, I just wish I was like the other kids.” It hurt my soul to hear him compare himself to others and know that there was something about himself that he couldn’t quite get control of. I never want him to be like all the other kids but I also don’t want him to feel like he’s not okay because of his differences. Maybe – just maybe, being around other kids that have some of the same struggles will let him see that he isn’t alone in this world. He’s not the only one who has to learn how to stop and breathe. Maybe these other kids that are in his class will help him see that it’s okay to be unique and it’s okay to not always be okay.
Boy – I’m really glad I decided to write tonight because I needed to figure this out. Once again, writing has helped.
I continue to wait anxiously next to my phone during the hours he’s been in school because I’m so used to the phone ringing to ask me to pick him up or to talk about his behaviour. Maybe, by the end of this year, I’ll be used to it not ringing.
December was not a great month for us to get outside. We were sick and it was cold. This January, we’ve been trying to change that. My kiddo and I have been snowshoeing and trying to get fresh air. Being outside helps us both with our mental and physical health. We are pretty good at being lazy but we also really enjoy getting outside and laughing. 2023 will be a year of continued adventures.
January has been full of beauty and we’ve made sure to pay attention to it and appreciate what surrounds us. I’ve made time for myself – not a lot but more than I’ve been used to. I caught up with a friend and I had a photo shoot that was all about me, writing and books. I don’t know if 2023 will be my year but it’s going to be an amazing year. It will be what we make it.
But so far so good and I will take the good with the bad. That’s what life is about.