Monday, October 24, 2011

a tighter hold...

i sat on the end of his bed while he laid there.  he asked to hold my hand.  we held hands.  after a little while, i loosened my grip, just to see if he had fallen asleep yet.  he wiggled his fingers, and his hand started to get restless. "that's enough, honey," i said, "it's time to sleep."  "but why do you keep opening up your hand?" he asked.  so i tightened my hold again.  and i felt his body relax.  he was at ease.

our family is in a period of adjustment.  from a family of three to a family of four.  the little boy who had all of our attention, now is learning to share not just some of it, but a lot of that attention with his little sister.

we're trying to be flexible.  give him time, attention... the things we think he needs to get used to the changes.

but there are moments of struggle.  meltdowns.  tears.

there is a constant battle within me...

   he needs us to be flexible... should i be flexible right now?

   he's getting used to all of this... i need to understand where he's coming from.

   he needs routine... should i stick to our "normal" routine?

   my answer is no... is it a reasonable no, or does it really matter?

and when i say a constant battle... i mean constant.  a dialogue in my head that is continually searching for the "right" answer.  the one that will hopefully allow him to be well adjusted... understanding... not resentful...

and then we had a rough night.  so many "no's"... so many tears... so many inner dialogues...

and i finally just sat at the end of his bed, after what seemed like hours of him trying to fall asleep, and just sat with him.  and the story above followed.  and this time they were my tears that flowed.  and i realized that he was begging for that tighter hold.  as much as i assumed he needed us to be understanding and flexible, what he needs even more, are the boundaries that for three years, he's relied on.

with those boundaries, he can know what to expect.  how far he can go.  with those boundaries, he can understand that even within our growing family, not everything has changed.

in reading this article the other day by janet lansbury, she refers to an analogy made by janet gonzalez-mena...
Imagine driving over a bridge in the dark. If the bridge has no railings we will drive across it slowly and tentatively. But if we see railings on either side of us, we can drive over the bridge with easy confidence. This is how a young child feels in regard to limits in his environment.
when i let go of his hand, even just a little bit, his little fingers don't know where to go.

yes, he needs our understanding.  yes, he needs our attention.  and yes, he desperately needs boundaries.

the constant inner battle i'm sure will remain.  but i can at least feel confident in my decisions, and in my heart, that by holding just a little tighter, he can be at ease.


  1. This post totally got me choked up. I remember the first few weeks after our daughter was born and how difficult they were for all of us. It was so painful to see our son, who was normally happy and easy going, turn into a much more primal little being - lots of tears and demands to "put that baby down!". My husband and I talked about how we felt (like we were managing to screw up our once sweet boy) and tried to balance it with what our logical brains thought they knew (that he would settle in and would return to his old self - which he did, and that one day he would be happy to have a sibling - which remains to be seen, but hopefully we will have been right on that one too). Having that second baby is amazing but gut wrenching at the same time.


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