Henry et Steve, “Playing”

Just as it is in the fashion world, Autumn marks the beginning of the new year for the New York City parent; the season shifts, classes start, early bedtimes commence, and the impending holiday anxiety and reinventing begins. For this mom, the season for worry, reflection and the inevitable “parental review” begins now. Soon I will be a year wiser (Ha!) and for 2013 I am piling on quite a few extra resolutions, other than the usual ‘I need to eat better, watch less reality television and be nicer to my husband.’ The past year has been a tough one for our family. We gave up our beautiful rent controlled apartment and spent thousands of dollars relocating to California, only to move back to NYC 10 months later. Upon arriving, we found ourselves scrambling to make a place for ourselves again, and regain some sense of normalcy after such a volatile year. My husband quickly found work; we landed a great apartment, and found our city groove again. However, I continue to carry the stress and regret of yesteryears’ woes till this day, making my transition back very a difficult and bittersweet one. It has taken me a while to feel like myself again, and I’m still not quite there.

Our son, Henry, is resilient and my saving grace in the madness that is our life. He provides me with such a sense of purpose and comfort, and exudes so much positivity and enthusiasm for everything. Aside from the occasional and understandable toddler meltdown, he is generally a very happy and loving child, so it is no surprise that when asked during his first check up with his old pediatrician how he’s handled the move and all the changes, I immediately replied “Fine! Just fine!” But, as time goes on, I keep revisiting that question…how is Henry doing? He is approaching his 4th birthday, and so it is difficult to make the distinction between what could be re-adjustment issues and what is just crappy toddler behavior. When handling our cats, what used to be forceful pats have become closed-fisted blows. No matter how much or how often he is punished for it, which is A LOT, the kitty abuse resumes moments after he is released from solitary confinement. Small tasks, like putting on shoes and teeth brushing have become all out wars. He has trouble focusing, wakes up several times during the night and constantly makes references to other dwellings, including the home we had in California which he believes is just a short train ride away. He seems to always be dissatisfied with wherever he is at the time, always looking onto the next thing. It could be that he’s just an adventurous kid…or that he’s an anxious one. It’s one those situations where this kind of behavior could mean nothing, or it could mean everything. I can’t help but wonder if maybe his sense of security is shot, or if he has attention deficit issues, hyperactivity, or, even anger problems. Kids his age like to know to what to expect, they need structure and routine in order to feel safe and secure. As his parents we feel we that provide all of those things to the best of our ability, although it is apparent that something is still lacking in the happiness department.

Henry recently ran off while we were at the playground, completely leaving the grounds and running out into the street at lightning speed. I ran after him as fast as my legs could carry me and luckily caught him just in time.  I broke down and completely lost it, leaving him in hysterics. We both had major meltdowns that day, from which I am still recovering. I do believe that an active child is a happy child; they need to run free, burn all that crazy energy as well as socialize with friends. But, when your trips to the playground, and anywhere else, become extremely unpleasant, stressful and sometimes even scary, what are you supposed to do? Lately our little excursions are few and far in between, and I feel really bad about it. My husband always tells me that he just needs more discipline and outside stimulation, making me feel as if I am throwing in the towel too quickly. Perhaps I am. This brings me back to the New Year and the desire for change and resolution that it brings. As much as Henry has some things that he needs to work on, change begins with me. As a parent, I know in my heart that I could be doing more for him, for me. I know that I need to be stronger, undaunted and more optimistic…Resilient, just like my little man. It is important that I maintain a positive and healthy attitude, not to mention work on my patience level. Communicating with my child in a way that doesn’t involve threats or bribery is imperative and a pressing goal of mine, as is having the ability to tune into his wants and needs with more compassion and understanding. I just want to be an overall better version of myself for everyone across the board, something my child will definitely benefit and learn from. Additionally, I must learn how to budget my time to allow for a more active lifestyle so that I can have the energy to deal with life’s surprises…apparently since they will involve the occasional 100-yard dash.