Without hesitation, I can say that 6 has been most difficult. There was a lot of hype about 2 that just never came to pass. And while there were sensitivities at 3, we dealt with them in stride. Four had it's moments for sure, but still in the course of everyday life, we managed without prolonged stress. Five was relatively uneventful.
Six has been so very hard. Tense, INtense, sassy, unpredictable, explosive, rebellious to the point of putting himself in danger, food has become an issue for the first time, sensory issues are heightened, stomachaches have increased, I could go on (and on). DS is clearly at odds within himself, and then also with me. He wants desperately to be independent and yet, still needs me. If I offer that something he's doing could be dangerous, "let's find a way of making this safer." he'll sound off his frustrations (oh so sassy!) and continue on. OTOH, If I opt to hold my tongue and allow him to experience natural consequences, and he does happen to fall and scrape a knee? Yep, you guessed it, ALL my fault! "Why didn't you tell me it was dangerous?!" I read in the Ilg and Ames book (Your Six Year Old) that the 6 year and his mother are often "embroiled." Yes, 'embroiled' hit it dead on.
However, for however hard he's been on me, DS is hardest on himself, "I'm so stupid." "You wished you never had me as your kid." That last one said said in frustration at having to stop playing and go with me to the bank--we'd been playing ALL morning. I told him of our plans and gave him ample time to transition. I expressed some frustration because of his dawdling (because we were under the time gun), and he decided that I must never have wanted a kid because hey, if you did you would make darned sure that the world revolved around me!
The drama of this age knows no bounds. I believe the Ilg and Ames book described it this way, "The 6 year old is an egomaniac as all the ages that come before it. The difference at 6 however being that YOU are no longer the center of his world, *HE* is. Yes, this resonated with me.
The most difficult part of all of it though, has been my extreme difficulty in maintaining my attachment with DS. I have to work harder than I ever have and in DS's eyes I'm rarely doing enough, or the right things. It used to be a matter of just making time, plopping down and playing with him, letting him take the lead. Voila, instant reconnection. But at this age, even my surefire reconnection approach only helps about 1/2 the time, if that. At some point during this tumultuous year, I finally said to myself: I'm just going to do the best I can, relax as much as I can, try not to be too hard on him (or me!), and most importantly, continue trying to maintain the connection between us.
DS is 6 1/2 now. Things are easing. Very much so in fact. I think we reached a peak about 2 months ago and I'm seeing DS coming into a new way of being. More centered, more calm. Our relationship is on more even ground, and we're finding new ways to connect as he is forever changing and growing. There was a time not so long ago that we couldn't get through a day (an hour) without drama and I'm realizing it's been a month or two with relatively little.
My best advice? Take a deep breath, hang on and hang in there! Yes mama, this too shall pass.