Gabe and I had our big night out last night. Dante will have his night out with me next week.
I don't know how often we'll do this, but I think at least once every couple of months - and if we're able, maybe once every month, especially based on how much fun Gabe and I had last night.
We went out to dinner at one of his favorite local restaurants, and then went bowling. He was so cute. He was sooooo excited, from the moment we left the house. He didn't stop talking the entire time we were out, and many times during the night, he hugged me and told me that I was the best mom ever. The only real problem with all of this is that, when we got home around 8:30, he was so excited and wound up that he stayed up for hours. When I went upstairs to get Carmine in the morning, Gabe's bed was full of Legos and paper and markers, and stories that he had been writing. I have no idea how late he was up, but his little brain was clearly in overdrive!
Anyway, it was just so apparent that he was thrilled to be out with just me. No Dante. No Carmine. No Daddy. Nothing taking my attention from him. And now that we've done this once, I can see how important it is that we make time for outings like this, regardless of how busy our schedules are.
Gabe has made a lot of progress in school this year, behaviorally, and they're doing an amazing job managing the problems that had crept up as a result of his ADHD. And we've been working really hard at home to replicate that success, and we've definitely seen improvements at home, too.
The biggest change for me, though, has been with my attitude and my outlook. I used to feel like everything with Gabe was a challenge or a struggle. I know parenting isn't easy, but with Gabe, it always felt like it was a lot tougher than it should be.
But I don't see it that way anymore. The ADHD does add a different level of challenge to parenting him, and requires different tactics and techniques. But if you can figure out the right ways to approach a situation, and you're prepared for the things that can (and usually will) go wrong, it's so much easier to remain calm and collected.
Having that approach has changed everything for me, and it's definitely changed the relationship that Gabe and I have. I've always loved him to pieces, and there was never anything really 'wrong' with the way we related to one another, but in some way, for a long time, I felt like there was a black cloud hanging over us. It was almost like some annoying background noise that just wouldn't go away - that sense that it was always a struggle, and always would be. It frustrated me, and exhausted me, and made it hard for me to focus on what a great, awesome, sweet little boy he is.
And, intuitive kid that he is, I know that he picked up on that vibe, and I won't go so far as to say that it damaged our relationship, but it did have an affect on it. But fortunately, that cloud is gone, and I don't feel like its affects were lasting.
So having some special one-on-one time with Gabe last night seemed extra special. We didn't talk about anything momentous, but it was so great to hear him talk - and to really hear him, instead of trying desperately to hear him talking above the sounds of a baby crying or a 5-year-old yelling. We just chatted and enjoyed each other's company - and had a few giggles when I made some typing errors putting our names into the bowling scorer, and his name ended up as GXAE, and mine ended up as OMMY. He called me "Ommy" all night : )
Definitely a fun time, and I'm looking forward to taking Dante out next week.
And since Carmine is completely done nursing at night now, it's a lot easier for me to do stuff like this with Gabe and Dante. Which, I suppose, is a good thing, and although it still makes me a little upset, I'm feeling a little less sad about it than I was earlier this week.
What's got me feeling melancholy, though, is how much he's acting like a big boy now, in so many other ways.
When we go to the gym, he insists on walking in, and he likes to carry his little snack bag. He's so ridiculously adorable walking down the hallway carrying his little bag. He stops and waves to people, and goes marching right into the childcare room and goes over to his favorite friend - one of the women who works there - and reaches to be picked up so he can give her a hug.
He's super snuggly and huggy, just like Gabe was (and still is). And as he gets older, we see more and more of Gabe in him - both his appearance, and his personality. He has a lot of the same mannerisms and facial expressions that Gabe had - I almost do a double-take sometimes, they look so much alike - right down to the little curls at the back of Carmine's neck, that are identical to how Gabe's hair looked at this age.
Carmine also walks with us out to the bus stop every morning and every afternoon, and he gets so excited when he sees the bus pull up. He waves his arms and yells and smiles : )
It's so cute, and so fun, to see him starting to really figure out his world and beginning to understand how things work - but so bittersweet, too.