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After years of being jilted out of the joyousness that comes along with holidays, birthdays, and special occasions, it appears we may have finally rounded a corner. (I am literally knocking on at least 15 things of wood when I’m done with this post.)

If you have shared in our journey, you may recall my first Mother’s Day. I was sooo excited to finally be a mom! I laid in bed, wondering if there would be breakfast coming to my door, gifts, flowers… I was so excited to read sweet cards and have a day of doting, just for me. After all, I deserved it, right? I mean, raising two little children with RAD ain’t exactly a walk in the park!

But as I look back, I realize that I should’ve expected that instead of breakfast in bed, there would be fecal smearing. And in lieu of doting, there would be aggression and pointed remarks about the children’s birth mother.

And so goes the rest of our holidays and special events from that day forward. Whereas our days of fecal smearing, peeling paint, climbing on the roof, and holes in the walls have faded, we still usually face the less destructive (but equally frustrating) holiday behaviors: lying, extra bed-wetting, manipulation, sibling rivalry at its finest, followed by poor behavior at school for the next several days (complete with suspensions or detentions for my oldest).

As you can imagine, I no longer get all that thrilled with holidays or the like. Generally, I feel things more along these lines: “Ugh, this is going to be exhausting,” or “When will the train wreck occur,” or “It’s not even worth it this year, is it?” And despite all the secret planning so as not to over-stimulate or excite the kids, we usually made it through these “special times” by the skin of our teeth and in need of a good month-long hibernation.

That’s why this Thanksgiving has been extra special to me. I didn’t get my hopes up, as usual. We planned a simple meal with few people, but there were two days of family events. Nervous about the back-to-back engagements, I held my breath.

But where were the all fireworks and the tears? Where were the fights and the stealing? Sure, there was some normal kid behavior… we had our time outs when things got a bit excitable, and yes, my son did duct tape his cousin up… but another cousin was also in on it, and their mother assured us this was normal, so I have to take her word for it (because… well, Boys, right?).

What I wasn’t expecting was the hugs. The un-prompted ‘I love you’s, The calmness.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy my kids this holiday.

And I did.

Friends, progress is slow, but it is still progress. One day we’re cleaning up poop from the walls, and the next, we’re actually choosing to set up ALL the Christmas decorations and not just the tree because our kids are controlling themselves more than they were before.

I’m not saying there won’t be a fall out. There may very well be. School begins again tomorrow and that could mean a slew of new posts coming your way! But what I can say for sure is this – I love my kids. This holiday, they made me proud. They were helpful, polite, and thoughtful. They weren't RAD kids, they were just kids.

For this, I am extra thankful this holiday season. Hold out hope, Mamas and Papas…. Change Is Possible.