To the 28 Year Old Me

He Will Be Okay
October 12, 2015
Our Son Had a Positive Transition to High School
October 27, 2015

To the 28 Year Old Me

You are about to meet the most adorable little boy who will make you a mother. His smile and laugh are the best. He gives hugs like no other and his inquisitiveness is infectious.  Your first few weeks of being a mom will mostly be wonderful. The first sign that things aren’t as amazing as they are meant to be is when you find yourself crying in Zellers in the sock aisle because no one has taught you what size of socks a 3 year old needs and there are so many choices. But don’t worry. No one saw you cry. That will come later. I probably don’t need to tell you that the crying over socks isn’t really about the socks. It’s about things being much harder than you ever thought imaginable. And that’s ok.  Be kind to yourself.


Take my advice – don’t go back to work early. Stay home with him and don’t send him to Junior Kindergarten. Believe me it will be better for all of you.  When your parental leave is up ask for a leave of absence – he does not belong in child care – home or centre based. He doesn’t know who to trust yet so keep being the person he needs you to be – firm but loving, calm and attentive.

School will be challenging when he does go. Stay calm at all times. Call Windsor Essex Family Network so you can learn about Special Education and how to best advocate for him. Note I did not say fight I said advocate. Remember that through it all he will be okay. He will learn from you how to self advocate.

People will watch you as you try to deal with his outbursts. Ignore them. They don’t know what he needs. He needs you. He’s trying to learn how to regulate and he’s going to learn it from his parents. When you are home don’t put him in his room and hold the door shut. Instead go in the room with him and just be there. Wait for him to settle and to come to you.

Don’t wait for your boss to recognize you might need to talk to someone. Go to her right away and get those names to call.  Then call – sometimes therapy will be the only relief that you feel.  Adam will nickname him Special K and it will become apparent over the years just how much talking to him helps buoy you.

Hire a worker to come to the home and spend time with him. Use this time to do your research online about ADHD and Tourette’s and everything else life has thrown your way. Stay away from talk on the internet about attachment – there is a whole host of ill informed “treatments”. Instead google “Circle of Security”, if its not on the internet yet just remember it and google it every so often. It is what will work for him and for your family.  If you can, do your research while sipping a pumpkin latte or while in the library. Take it slow and don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. I know you hate to hear it but you need to take care of yourself. Those doctor and dentist appointments – they matter. If you don’t take care of yourself you will end up with Diabetes.

While he sleeps at night – thank god for sleep – don’t spend all the time researching. Instead, open a bottle of wine and spend time with your husband. Connect about your son and about life in general. Once a month go out together – you need to keep your relationship alive. If you don’t you will regret it later – particularly in 2009 when it all comes to a head and you seriously consider a divorce.  Also, watch him sleep. While you watch him sleeping you will build up your resolve for the next day.

You need to sit for this next part. Things seem hard now. They are going to get really really bad. Progressively worse from year to year until things come to a head resulting in Corbin being admitted to residential care out of the city in 2010. What can I tell you?  Strengthen friendships now and going forward. When you are invited to attend parties and events – Go!  You are going to need these people when life gets so hard. You can’t put it all on one friend. It’s too much. Build a community around you the same as you will try to build around Corbin as he ages.

A very smart friend will tell you not to waste your time on people that don’t believe as you do or who purposefully stand in the way to what you need for your child.  Move around them or over them, keep logs of all your conversations and use their words with their superiors to get what you need. Get to Child & Parent Resource Institute (CPRI) as soon as you can. They will help you immensely over the years. You are ahead of the game for local treatment centres. They don’t know what to do with you. They don’t do Collaborative Problem Solving or Therapeutic Crisis Intervention and they aren’t interested in learning. Write a letter about your disappointment in their services and then move on.

I think what I can say the most is be kind – to yourself, to your husband, to Corbin, to school personnel. You name it, just be kind. Kindness can take you a long way


Your 41 year old self

Tina Szymczak
Tina Szymczak
Tina Szymczak is a 40-something mom and wife with two spirited boys. She has worked in early intervention and as an advocate resource for families with a loved one with a disability. Now she also writes a blog about raising children with complex needs, trying not to lose your sense of self as you parent, and her struggles with mental health.

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