There are days when parenting gets the better of me.
Hell, if I’m being honest, it’s more like weeks, maybe even months, where being a parent takes every last bit of inner strength I have. I’m positive that there are days most parents have felt this way. Days when they feel like one more little thing, one more whine or “no” out of their sweet child’s lips they will absolutely lose it.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, that feeling like this for a day here and there, well, that’s normal. However, feeling like this more often then not, that seems excessive. I used to take pride in the parent I was, my skills, my way with my children, my ability to handle the things they threw my way. Now, I feel like a shell of my former SuperMom self—more like the villain battling SuperMom for control of the parenting realm. At this time, I am less then ideal.
How did I get to this point? When did this happen? Can it be fixed?
I am plagued with these questions hourly. The only answer that I can conclude is Man’s ADHD.
What comes along with this diagnosis, I truly wouldn’t wish on any parent. I am at a loss daily as to what to do for him, how to help him, how to help myself. ADHD turns my sweet, delicious, brilliant, happy Man into a ticking time bomb, and no one—I mean NO ONE—will swoop in at the very last second with the secret code to stop it from exploding. While Man was out of control out at dinner with friends this evening, I looked at my fellow mom friend, sobbing, and just said, “What do I do? I have absolutely no idea what to do with him anymore.” Her answer was perfect, “I don’t know,” she said supportively, “I think you’re doing everything you can.”
Yes, I am doing everything I can. Therapies, charts, doctors, reading and learning new information, working with his classroom teachers, providing him safe opportunities to play and learn—we do it all. But it comes at a high cost—the cost of my patience, my happiness, and my sanity.
I have a half of a blog post written busting the many myths about ADHD. However, I think there are only two real myths that require clarification. The first is the myth that ADHD is not real. Seriously people, it’s real; it’s very real, and it’s very difficult. I don’t really give that much of a crap if you think it’s real or not, but I need you to keep it to yourself. I don’t have the time to explain to you that my son’s actions are not due to my poor parenting skills and that no; he does not need a good dose of punishment to teach him.
The second myth is that ADHD is simply when a kid can’t sit still and pay attention. If you believe that, I’m happy for you, because you have not experienced what it really is, which is so much more.
For Man, ADHD means having no impulse control. Oh, that doesn’t sound so terrible, you might be thinking. Let me explain what having no impulse control means. It’s the inability to stop, think, and reason before performing an act. Any act. Especially the scary ones. So your child spots a random ball in the street; most often they stop and think: “Are there cars coming? Mom said not to run into the street. I will stay here and ask her to get it.” If they are old enough, they will stop, look both ways, and if the coast is clear, go and get the ball. A child with no impulse control would be out in the street getting that ball before I was even finished typing this sentence. Just this evening, I watched Man fill up his straw and spit it at his friend across the table. “All kids do stupid things like that,” you may be thinking, so what makes Man so different? The difference is that even after being reprimanded and punished and provided with an explanation as to why that was not proper behavior, he did it again no fewer then five minutes later. If we hadn’t upped and left the restaurant, he likely would have done it again, and again. No impulse control means NEVER EVER stopping to think prior to engaging in an action.
ADHD also means having difficulty processing and controlling one’s emotions. Thus, once you have passed down the sentence, the punishment, the discipline that everyone thinks is so lacking in parents of children with ADHD, Man goes berserk. Again, you might be muttering, “My kid does that too!” Does your kid do that for 45 minutes at a time?
Let’s recap a small picture of what I have shared. A child with no impulse control, who does almost everything without thinking, then breaks down for an excessive amount of time over the punishment given. This happens all day, every day, from morning until night. I save him from himself, I attempt to teach him why he can’t do it again, I discipline the behavior, and then I stay calm as he has a tantrum for an excessive amount of time. I watch as my discipline fails. He will never be able to internalize, stop, and think, before doing the same action again and again. This is a small peek into my day with Man.
Did you know I have two children? I read recently that the siblings of ADHD kids are called “ghost children.” It is so true. At times, she is so invisible that when I realize she has been standing there, or that in leaving a destination because of Man’s behavior means she has to leave too even though she was perfectly happy and appropriate. I don’t have enough for my Man, which means that I have less than enough for my sweet Lady.
This has left me feeling like a less than perfect parent. How do I help him? How do I keep my cool? How do I give them both my all without emptying myself out? I have to be doing something wrong. It should be easier then this. I should be happier. I should feel better about myself at the end of each day.