The whole transition thing sucks! For my son, every day is a transition - he wakes up in one house and sleeps in another, just about every single day of the week. He has two days in a row every week alternating between his dad's house and mine, so he never settles in. Sundays, perhaps because they lack the structure of weekdays with school, are the absolute worst.
He's a handful on a good day. He thinks and acts like a three-year-old because of his disability, cerebral palsy and possibly mild autism. It gets to be a bit much after six years, to still only have a three year old. I'm tired and frustrated and feel like I'm running from one crisis to another (the chicken scratches him, he's spilled chocolate milk on the carpet, chewed through the mic cable on the karaoke machine, dumped the cat food all over the laundry room floor, etc...). Kids with out disabilities move through the trying developmental stages just in time to avert a mental breakdown in the parents. Kids with disabilities don't.
It's hard on Pooka's older sister when he's having tantrums, pounding on her door, constantly screaming when she and I are attempting to have a conversation. Everything has to wait until he's at his dad's - even basic dialog. Just trying to exchange a few sentences takes a super human patience and the ability to tune out non-stop interruptions of whining, crying and acting out.
Observers frequently don't get it - just be more strict. I've been a parent for 17 years - I get how to set limits. It's different with a disabled child. They don't respond in the predictable, well studied ways that a typical child would whether it be to discipline or positive reinforcement or other behavior modification efforts. It isn't helpful when people tell me I ought to be tougher or to spank him or "just say no". It is a continual process of finding balance, maintaining my sanity and reinforcing rules. Sometimes rules have to be redefined or re-invented. Something works for awhile and then it needs to be tweaked. And I have to rediscover my balance.
We had a horrible week last week. Just horrible. My son was out of control, I was so stressed out that I could barely function and then I felt like a bad mommy for yelling and being generally cranky. Then I picked myself up and re-stated the rules to my son (after a particularly horrendous night in which he cried for a few hours because I gave his sister my old computer printer). Since then, things have been looking up but then it's sunday again. The morning was stressful but not terrible. After I dropped Pooka off at his grandmother's house, I forced myself to go to the gym. Then I returned home with my headache from the morning still pounding away. I decided I would read the NY Times in bed for while and then take a nap in the hopes of recovering from my headache and having something left to salvage of the day. Then Pooka's grandmother called and said his dad was stuck due to weather and I needed to come back and get my son. My head felt like a tom-tom drum on the inside. I got in the car, grabbed a quick cup of expensive coffee and picked up my son. He's been home about an hour or so and so far, so good. Wish me luck!