As some of you know, the last 14 months have been challenging, to say the least. My older son is known as what’s called a “strong-willed child”. In addition, he also suffered a trauma, for lack of a better term, after being mistreated by a caretaker. [Insert unimaginable amounts of mom-guilt here.]

Instead of boring you with the details of our “Operation Get Our Sweet Jack Back”, I’ll share a story about how I think I’ve gained back the 10 years of my life I’ve lost in the process.

For the first time in over a year, Jack asked me to stay with him until he fell asleep tonight. Not only did he ask me to stay, but he also asked me to rub his back while he held my hand against his face while he fell asleep. I never wanted the moment to end. For the majority of the last 14 months, it has been like running a marathon every night to try and get him to bed. We’ve gone through phases of hysterics, tantrums, needing to drive him around until he falls asleep, me having to leave while my husband puts him to bed and many other shenanigans. Most of my days I spent feeling anxious about how bedtime was going to go. Recently, however, something has changed. Bedtime has actually become enjoyable, as it should be.

He is back to wanting to read books before bed, puts on his pajamas without a fight (most nights), wants to be tucked in, happily brushes his teeth and says “good night and I love you”, both of which melt my heart each night. But tonight was different. It’s like a major wall came down. It’s like he trusts me again. It’s like he believes in his heart again that I do really love him. I think he now knows that I will protect him.

I have spent the last 14 months dedicating myself to connecting with him in hopes one day he would trust me again. Trust the world again. Some days I have more patience than others. Some days I want to yell “screw it, this isn’t working at all!” And some days I yell. At him. And then I feel guilty because no child deserves to be yelled at. Then I use those mistakes as opportunities to be better the next day. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. But at all times I am so full of love for my son. The pain I feel seeing him in pain ignites a fire within myself to keep moving forward. I suppose the fact that I’m a perfectionist who doesn’t function well in chaos helps a great deal as well!

We still have a long road ahead, but tonight there was a breakthrough and I’ll cherish it.