The Motherload

I walk into the house after eight hours of internship.  I brush sweaty, freckled child cheeks with a quick kiss hello and I’m off.  I begin emptying back packs and carrying soggy, musty towels to the washing machine to begin a load—how can they smell so bad after only one use?  I empty lunch bags, mine included, and load the dishwasher with seemingly endless containers sticky with residue.  I make sure to get the AM dishes in there too, you know, the ones that were left haphazardly in the sink from the chaos that is morning.  If I leave them any longer, the dried food glued to their sides might become permanently affixed.  With empty lunch containers in front of me, I immediately begin to repack them for tomorrow. Some random child calls from across the room; she doesn’t want that sandwich, she wants a different one—the kids have barely looked up from their post-camp television haze to acknowledge my presence, yet they sense that I am doing lunch wrong and promptly put a stop to it.  I usher one child into the bath and as I turn on the water I’m acutely aware of the fact that I haven’t gone to the bathroom since lunch.  I try to go but absentmindedly sit down on naked child who has beaten me to it and now the opportunity has passed.  I head across the hall and gather the requisite uniforms for campers attending two different camps. I’m lucky, it’s picture day at both of their camps so I only have to remember this fact once—two different picture days and it’s a guarantee that at least one of them would not be wearing the required camp t-shirt.  A blood-curdling scream comes from the tub; I think maybe she’s gotten shampoo in her eye.  I run, dropping the clothes on floor of the hallway.  When I get there, I realize it was just her rallying cry. She’s very proud that she has shampooed, conditioned, and gotten out of the tub to dry off all by herself.  Upon closer inspection I realize she actually hasn’t, that half of her head is still covered in shampoo—I let it slide. I continue on my way, there are still so many things to do…

 

The Motherload…

Run to the supermarket, we’re out of… everything.

Drop off the dry cleaning.

Pack Man’s lunch.

Pack Lady’s lunch.

Pack my own lunch.

Get to class on time.

Is it early drop off for camp today?

Don’t forget to call the auto body shop to order new tires before you have a massive blowout on the highway.

Pack camp bags—does she swim twice tomorrow?  Better toss in two suits just in case…

Wait, go back upstairs, you forgot it’s stuffed animal day and you need to pack Carrotty Bun Buns for her.

overwhelmed_woman

Get your own school assignment finished, it’s due soon.

Sign the kids up for Fall dance classes.

What day of the week is it?

“MOMMMMMMM, can I have some water?”

Get back on that school assignment, it’s still due soon.

Sunblock the kids.

Prepare to run group tomorrow at my internship.

Speaking of internship, am I doing a decent job, because it kind of feels like I suck at this.

When was the last time I walked the dog?  Was it today?

Return library books.

Pick up ant traps, it’s getting ridiculous in here.

Go back to the hardware store, you forgot the Draino.

When was the last time I ate a meal sitting down?

“MOMMMMMM, there’s no more toilet paper!”

Is the air conditioning working? Better call for an appointment before the next heat wave.

“Man, eat your dinner!”

Double check that Lady’s play date is still on—am I dropping her off or is she getting picked up?

Shit- unpack Lady’s camp bag so you can put labels on all her clothes.

Go to internship.

“MOMMMMMMMM, can you help me tie my shoes?”

Do it all.

Do it all with perfectly flawless skin.

Do it all without cellulite, while looking hot in those jeans.

Do it with manicured fingernails.

With a stylish outfit on.

While getting a nutritious dinner on the table every night by 6:30.

With a smile on your face, a skip in your step, and without missing a beat.

 

What any mother can tell you is that this is just a fraction of what runs through our minds daily.  It’s called The Motherload.  It’s intense and it’s a bitch.  It’s the never-ending mental list that streams on a loop in our heads, always.  It’s our theme song- our anthem- the beat to which we march.  It’s with us in the shower, at the dinner table, at work, on line at the CVS, when we are driving, even when we are sleeping…or not sleeping because The Motherload is keeping us awake.  It’s a million tiny balls all up in the air at once; if one falls, they all fall, raining down heavily upon us leaving us battered and bruised.

I have been crushed by The Motherload lately.  With the recent loss of our babysitter coinciding with the start of my graduate internship and summer school—a time when my satanic professors feel It’s important to cram 15 weeks of work into just six short weeks.  And as much as it pains me to say this, I have brought part of it on myself.  I told my husband that I didn’t need a new babysitter until the Fall, that I would be just fine for the summer with work, school, and the kids all by myself.

What the fuck was I thinking?

I was thinking I could handle it.

No, I was thinking I should handle it.

There is a significant difference.

As mothers today, we are made to feel we should do it all.  We can have that fantastic career, thriving social life, happy, seamlessly operating home, and lovely, well-raised, children along with our sanity completely intact, all tied up neatly with a bright red ribbon.  Somewhere, some little voice in a remotely accessed corner of my brain screamed, “You don’t need any help, you should be able to do it all!!!”

This, my friends, was where I was wrong, because I can’t do it all on my own, not without being leveled by The Motherload.

Mothers unconsciously carry so much of the load and I fear it’s because we feel we have no other choice.  However, I’m beginning to see that the harder I work, the less I should be doing.  I need to unload, to give up on the idea that it all must get done, done well, and done by me.

When Sensory Eating Turns Into Failure to Thrive: A Horror Story

As a student of Mental Health Counseling, I often think of a diagnosis as a tree trunk.  There is one, solid stable disorder planting its roots and from the symptoms of the disorder, a branchlike network of additional challenges and diagnoses blossom.  I have discussed Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) before (Imagine Your Child With Sensory Processing Disorder), this diagnosis has planted a giant Redwood like tree trunk in our front yard.  There are a multitude of symptoms that have allowed additional problems and disorders to branch and bloom, casting a large shadow over our entire house.  One such symptom is sensory eating, and from this symptom a tangled grid of branches has formed to develop a new and even scarier diagnosis, Failure to Thrive (FTT).

In my post, Sensory Eating and Picky Eating are NOT the Same (Picky Eating and Sensory Eating Are NOT The Same! A Guide to Improving Feeding in Sensory Eaters), I discuss the differences between a picky eater and a sensory eater.  The major difference, the most significant and frightening, is that sensory eaters would rather go hungry than eat a food that would disturb their bodies fragile peaceful state.  Man is a sensory eater.  Most people assume that that means that he can’t eat certain textures.  We all know people who can’t eat tapioca pudding or cottage cheese without having a visceral reaction.  Personally, I couldn’t eat shrimp until well into adulthood because that rubbery crunch gave my body the heebie-jeebies.  But for Man, it’s flavor intensity.  He cannot eat foods that have too much flavor.  When he was three-and-a-half he mistakenly grabbed a garlic flavored cracker off the counter and before he could even finish chewing the first bite he broke out into a cold sweat, his eyes began to water, and his entire face turned bright red.  His body was literally rejecting the flavor.  He couldn’t eat for the rest of the night.

Years of having such extremely intense bodily reactions to flavors have naturally resulted in extremely poor eating habits and dread around food and mealtime.  I mean, if every time you put food into your mouth it made your body feel pain, would you want to eat?  In our house, mealtime brings fear and anxiety, not pleasure and excitement.

You see, from day one, every bite of every meal that has gone into his mouth has been prompted by me.

“Eat, Man.”

“Take that bite, Man.”

“No, you’re not finished yet, Man.”

I can remember when he was younger, I would bring him his breakfast on a Monday morning and think, “Here we go, 21 meals and the week will be over.”

Meals can take upwards of an hour-and-a-half.  He laboriously chews each tiny little bite, bites small enough that he really won’t have to actually taste the food, while I would stand there, trying to stay calm, encouraging and supportive.  If I walked away, he would simply not eat.  I’ve tried everything, and there have been times of improvement.  He does eat some new foods, but ultimately, the quantity he eats remains the same; poor.

After many years, I decided that I did need to walk away and just let him be.  Mealtimes were causing me such stress, anger, fear, and resentment that I didn’t want to be around him at all anymore.  I forced myself to accept that he was going to eat what he was going to eat and that was going to have to be ok.  I couldn’t help him in any way if I was internally fuming and freaking out three meal times every day.

That tactic worked for a while, he wasn’t growing a lot, but it was steady growth at his own slow rate.  That was until our most recent visit, where we found out that he has begun to lose weight.  Now, a seven-year-old boy that only weighed 38 pounds, was a mere 36.5.  This has brought out the anxiety that I have tried to keep in check for all these years.

When we heard the news, it sent me into a frenzy and I yelled at him.

No, I screamed, I threatened, and basically tried to instill a fear in him that would force him to eat better, that would allow me to remain in my protective “Man eating bubble.”

I am ashamed, and it brings tears to my eyes and an ache to my heart to know that I made him cry so much about something that he really has no control over.

I vowed to get my fear in check and help him in a calm and loving way.  And that worked… for a few days.

Can you imagine what it feels like to have to remind your child to take every bite of every meal that he has ever eaten in his entire life?  It’s exhausting.

Can you feel the anxiety through the screen as I even type those words?  It’s palpable.

Like an alcoholic picking up a drink after a period of sobriety, I picked up my anxiety about his eating right where I had left it.  It has now intensified to such a severe level where every morning I’m yelling in a way that humiliations me to admit.

Every meal I look at his gaunt body across the table.  I see the dark rings of malnourishment under his eyes. I watch him pull up the pants that are sized for a child half his age as they slip down while he trudges across a room and I yell.  I yell out of fear.  Fear for his health.  Fear for his growth.  Fear for my own sanity.

Mostly, I just feel and incredible guilt every day.  This is obviously my fault because I can’t handle making sure he adequately eats each meal.  This is obviously my fault because I’m not finding the magic cure that will make this all better.  I’m obviously only making it worse by revealing my anxiety and fear to him in such a loud way and angry.

I just wish I could find a chainsaw strong enough to cut the branches of FTT off at the root, because right now, I’m terrified that this tree will fall and crush us underneath it’s weight.

FTT

Your Child is Too Smart for an IEP

“I have good new for you!  We are declassifying your son!”

This statement was recently conveyed to a friend by a member of the Special Education Department at her child’s school… and it was decidedly NOT good news.

This has been a running theme with many of my friends and fellow special needs mama warriors lately: declassification from Special Education and the removal of their child’s IEP because recent test scores show that they are “too smart for an IEP.”

It’s infuriating.  If you think about the way the ADHD brain functions this statement doesn’t even make sense!

This very concept has struck a chord of fear within me.  Am I going to walk into Man’s next meeting and fight to maintain the Special Education services that he desperately needs just because he happens to be producing grade level work?

Most children with ADHD and other behavioral and emotionally manifested disorders are, in fact, quite smart.  We had Man tested recently and, as expected, the scores show that he is NOT intellectually disabled.  They indicated that his IQ is adequate to maintain age appropriate, grade level work, if not work that even is somewhat above grade level.

However, his ADHD makes that impossible.

My incredibly smart and gifted son can program a computer yet can’t find his way out of a paper bag.

Why?

Because the ADHD brain lacks executive functioning skills.  This means he can’t organize his classwork, he doesn’t know where or when to start an assignment, or how to pace himself so his brain doesn’t fatigue a third of the way through.  He can’t remember the materials he is supposed to gather, or if he was supposed to do it in pencil or crayon.  He can’t plan each step out or problem solve if he get’s himself stuck.  Therefore, it doesn’t matter what his IQ is, he cannot use his intelligence effectively without the help of the Individualized Education Plan that creates goals and accommodations to account for his lack of Executive Functioning.

My incredibly talented and smart child has a command of math that is beyond his years, but some days he can’t add 2+2.

Why?

Because the ADHD brain lacks the ability to regulate emotions.  This means that if he is feeling too anxious, his brain might just shut down.  If he is extremely angry or sad it can affect him to the point of being unable to complete classroom work that day.  If he is tired or overwhelmed simple tasks begin to seem insurmountable and he just gives up and walks away.  Therefore, his excellent math skills don’t matter, he cannot use them effectively without the help of the Individualized Education Plan that creates goals and accommodations to help him with emotional regulation on the days when he simply cannot do it for himself.

Some days, all you see is Man’s ADHD.  It’s worn like a badge, displayed like an eye sore across his chest.  Everything he does, everything he touches, is affected by it.  Without an IEP in place every day the bad days wouldn’t just be bad, they would be disastrous.

Some days, Man’s ADHD is imperceptible.  A mere hint showing itself at random, innocuous moments, leaving him undisturbed and highly functional.  Without an IEP in place every day these great days would only be somewhat satisfactory.

The only thing consistent about ADHD is its inconsistency.  Frustratingly, its symptoms will come and go without rhyme or reason.  Some days its sufferers will be super-starts, far exceeding the expectations of those around them.  Other days, they will be deceived by their very own brains, and even the simplest of tasks will seem impossible. Therefore, the accommodations and support that an IEP provides must be a constant.  The solid steadiness of that IEP is a vital guide for grounding these fragile, ever fluctuating students and their teachers.

No parent wants their child labeled or “classified.”  If we could fix our children and make their brains function perfectly, we absolutely would.  However, you are not calling us with “good news” when you tell us that you want to eliminate the services that they rely on to manage school successfully.  You are essentially removing their lifeline to victory.

Being intelligent and being able to effectively use that intelligence are two entirely different things.  Intelligence is so much more than just being “smart.”  It’s a combination of a thousand distinctive characteristics that must all be operating in synch with one another, like a well-oiled machine.  ADHD takes a huge wrench and just gingerly tosses it into that machine.  It doesn’t matter how “smart” a child is, an IEP works as a tool to eliminate that wrench so our children can effectively use their intelligence.

I understand that a 504 is a valuable resource.  It makes sense that schools want our children to thrive in the least restrictive environment.  However, academic demands change drastically from year to year, as does a child’s social and emotional growth.  The rush to declassify, an act that is virtually impossible to reverse, prior to a child demonstrating long-term, consistent success across a few grades seems drastic and irresponsible.  We should be more cautious with our children, as even the slightest inkling of failure and struggle can have dire consequences with this population.

So no, I refuse to accept that any child is too smart for an IEP.

Child with learning difficulties

Parenting: One Part Helplessness, One Part Hope, And The Rest, Blind Faith

“Parenting doesn’t come with a manual.”

 

When I hear this sentiment uttered, it evokes an image of an elderly grandmother as she glides past a mother and her prostrated, screaming child in an aisle at Target.  The child is having a full blown meltdown and the mother, exasperated, is attempting to do everything in her power to just get that child up off the floor and the hell out of the store.  The grandmother, an “all knowing” smile on her face, chuckles to herself as she walks by while whispering this statement to the mom.

 

milliemeltdown

Did someone order a massive public meltdown?

We have all been there.  You know—those terrible and terrifying moments of parenting when all you can think is, “I have no idea what I am doing, but I hope to God it’s the right thing.”

 

I recently wrote a post called  https://manvsmommy.wordpress.com/2016/10/03/adhd-how-my-son-is-already-failing-the-first-grade/.  Many people commented, but even more people sent me private messages or approached me personally.  The circumstances of each person’s story varied, but the feelings shared were all the same, those of utter and complete helplessness.

 

“I work on her reading every night with her, but she’s not improving at all.”

 

“I’ve taken him to every feeding specialist there is, but he’s just not eating well.”

 

“I tried a new psychologist yesterday, but she seemed like all of the rest.”

 

“I tried a new medicine, but her asthma attacks are still so severe.”

 

The desperation in their accounts is palpable; it is laced with a sense of helplessness and a desire for a renewed sense of hope.  As parents, we try everything for our children. No stone goes unturned.  No book, pamphlet, webinar, or podcast is missed.   We are willing to listen to people screaming from atop their soapboxes if it means that there might be some answer to the challenges we face with our kids.

 

Feeling helpless as a parent has become as much a part of me as feeling like a successful one.  I do all I can for my children; I am trying my absolute hardest—but at times it seems insufficient.  I can read the books, study them, highlight the important passages, and then put their suggestions into play.  I can talk to the doctors, see new doctors, and take suggestions from other parents in similar situations, but nothing appears to change.   At one point, we just have to accept that we have done all we can do and let our faith do the rest.

 

Parenting is one part helplessness, one part hope, and the rest, blind faith.

 

As helpless as I feel, I have faith.  I believe that although I might not see immediate change, the fact that I am doing everything I can is enough.  I know that my heart is in the right place, it is with my children every day.  I understand that I will not feel helpless forever, and that there will be times where I feel completely ahead of the parenting game.  I trust that my best is good enough and that as long as I keep fighting things will continue to keep moving in the right direction.

 

The periods of time when I feel most helpless are also those that require me to have the most hope and the largest amount of blind faith.  I do not do it alone.  I count on my husband, my family and my support network.  It doesn’t just take a village to raise a child; it takes a village to raise a parent.

ADHD: How My Son Is Already Failing The First Grade

*I will preface this blog post by stating that I adore Man’s teachers, his school and our school district.  They have been completely supportive since the day we began our journey.

 

The phone rings and I see the number of Man’s school pop up.

 

My heart begins to beat faster, my chest tightens, and an overall feeling of complete anxiety fills my body.

 

“What happened now?” I think

 

I toy with the idea of ignoring the call.  Maybe if I don’t answer it the problem will go away, magically disappear into the vastness of my voicemail, left to be dealt with at a later time when I feel more up to it.  That thought is shoved out quickly and replaced with, “I have to deal with this right away, or I might never call back.”

 

“Mrs. R, this is Mrs… the assistant principal.”  I wonder why she even bothers to introduce herself at all anymore; she calls more often then my best friend or some family members.

 

“Man is…”

 

That blank is often filled with information on some physical altercation or some refusal to do his work all day, thus a removal of some important activity has occurred.

 

This same information comes almost daily in the form of e mails from his teacher, the school psychologist, or the special education teacher.

(*I will add that all of these women are lovely ladies dedicated to their jobs and helping Man. He does not make it easy.)

 

Man has ADHD and SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder).  Many people are misinformed, or just have some preconceived notion of what ADHD is, so here is a very brief description-

 

ADHD is NOT:

Just being hyperactive and unable to sit still.

A behavior problem.

Caused by poor parenting and lack of discipline.

Magically treated by medication.

Something small children just outgrow.

Treated with sports or other physical activities.

Just a child being lazy.

 

ADHD IS:

The inability to regulate one’s emotions.

An inability to identify and pick up on general social cues.

An inability to filter out the input around you, therefore, causing extreme distractibility.

An inability to control impulses.

Abnormal levels of activity.

Difficulty organizing and staying on task.

 

This is just a brief overview of some of the characteristics associated with this disorder and a child can have some, many, or all of the characteristics.  Additionally, any one of the symptoms may be more present and cause greater challenges than others.

 

Man has begun first grade this year and the transition has been TREMENDOUSLY difficult.  In kindergarten he was able to have some freedom to play and roam; the expectations were not as high.  Now, in first grade, he is expected to sit still for longer periods of time, do much more class work and pressures have increased one hundred fold.  In many ways, he is crumbling under these pressures.

 

When Man crumbles, it isn’t into pieces — it’s into a fine dust, a total and complete meltdown.

 

There are days when he absolutely just. Can’t. Sit. Still. long enough to do any work.  He refuses.  He must suffer the consequences accordingly.  There are rules of the classroom and he is given plenty of leeway, but at some point, something has to give and his work must be completed.  It often is not.

 

readpic

 

There are days when he calls out so often that no other student can get a word in edgewise.  He is so enthusiastic, so excited about the information in his head and he wants the class to know his thoughts.  When Man is an active participant, which is every day, he is truly an active participant.  But you can’t cut people off; you must give others a turn.  You have to raise your hand and wait patiently to be called on, as do all the other eager and smart students in the class.  He often cannot.

 

There are social situations that Man seems to perceive or interpret incorrectly.  He often uses his words once, but then if a student does not immediate do as he has asked, he will use force to get what he wants.  My sweet child (and I don’t say this because I am blind, he truly is the sweetest, most sensitive child you will meet) sees this as a slight or an insult, has absolutely no impulse control and goes right to pushing or hitting.  He uses the method of a child half of his age to get what he wants.  It happens so fast, so quickly that even when someone tries to stop it, it often does not happen in time.  He feels terrible when these events occur. Yet he cannot control them.

 

The phone calls and e mails begin to flood in.  Man had a difficult day; he refused to do his work all day.  He comes off the bus looking neutral.

 

“What was the best part of your day, my love?”  I ask, praying for something positive.

 

“Seeing my friends at lunch.”

 

“What was the worst part of your day?” the silent prayers beg that he doesn’t burst into tears for the third day in a row.

 

“They took away recess.  I had to go to the assistant principal again.  Bad kids go to the assistant principal.”

 

“You have to try and do your work,” I explain, “I know it’s hard to concentrate.  And you’re not bad.  You’re having some challenges and we are going to work it out, I promise.”  I make a promise I’m not sure I can keep.

 

“I can’t focus, mom,” he cries, hysterically, “Help me.  Help me be able to concentrate.”

 

Other days the conversation goes more like this:

 

“Man, I got a call that you hit someone today.  You KNOW you can’t do that.  You MUST respect personal space.”

 

“I know mom, but they…”

 

The explanation as to what the child did is irrelevant.  What is relevant is that in his mind, he truly believes he was slighted in some way.  Or, in some situations, he uses his words to try and mediate once, and then the impulse control takes over and he just takes care of the problem physically.  This is UNACCEPTABLE.  I imagine a long list of parents who assume my kid is an asshole, a bully, an undisciplined, unmanageable, jerk who just goes around hitting and kicking.  I know I would be thinking the same thing.  However, this is just NOT the case.  He does use force, and it’s a huge challenge, but it’s not because he’s a bully or just a mean and nasty kid.  It is because he literally has no impulse control.  He has no impulse control in many other areas as well (think calling out in the class, taking someone’s turn during gym or music class, etc.) it’s just that in this area, other kids get hurt.  I want to call all of these parents, apologize to every one of them.  Give an explanation of the situation.  I’m not sure that would do anything.

 

I want to help my sweet boy.  I want him to feel smart, for he is truly brilliant.  I want him to feel socially accepted, for he is the nicest, kindest, most loving child.  I want him to feel happy every day, because that is what a six year old deserves.  I’m not sure I know how to do that right now and it terrifies me.

 

I wish society understood just how difficult this disorder truly is.  I want parents to understand that it’s not that our children are undisciplined or lazy; they actually work twice as hard as a typical child to function day to day.  I want schools to get their act together and begin to design programs that work for children who are wired this way.  Why is my child made to feel less than every day because he cannot fit into the mold of the current educational expectations?  We have to do more for children as a whole.

 

man1stday

A smile for the first day of first grade

Will Someone Tell Me How I Can Do More?

I spent this past weekend away, while my husband remained home with the kids.  While away, yet another confusing, senseless mass shooting occurred at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.  When I arrived home this evening, my husband and I traded stories and caught up on each other’s weekends.  The shooting was near the bottom of the list of things we discussed.  I noted our numbness, our easy acceptance, our lack of surprise and shock.  We discussed it with banality.  There was a deafening tone of acceptance that this was no longer a unique occurrence.  It was discussed with such dullness that one would never have guessed that we were talking about what is now the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.

 

Something feels different this time.  Something inside is not sitting right.

 

I haven’t shed a tear or watched hours of coverage into the night, something I have often done during past tragedies.
Following both Sandy Hook (Man AND Lady Vs Mommy. Written in Memory of Those Murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary) and Paris (Bombs of Kindness) I immediately wrote reaction pieces- my sadness and fears emptying from my heart and into posts.  This time, my heart is silent.

 

I haven’t changed my FB profile picture, or posted any memes in memoriam.

 

pulese

I haven’t dedicated any posts containing heartfelt sentiments and prayers for the victims and their families.  (Though I did share one post on my private page that I found summed up the impact of the tragedy on the LGBT community rather nicely.)

 

I haven’t read article after article soaking up any information that could possibly help it all make sense.

No calls to action or petitions have been signed or shared.  I have barely even attempted to shoot down angry trolls with my witty and condescending rhetoric.

 

Nothing.  Not. One. Damn. Thing.

 

Why, I ask myself?  Why can’t I hop on the grieving bandwagon?

 

It’s because in doing so, I feel like a fraud.

 

With every passing tragedy, I talk the talk, but the truth is I have no idea how to walk the walk.  I am so tired of absolutely nothing changing, nothing getting better.  I cannot make my profile picture, a temporary, memorial meme; if that is the only thing I am willing to do to bring about change.  Expressing outrage via FB and other social media outlets isn’t doing a damn thing, and I want to do something.

 

What more can I do?  I have signed all of the petitions.  I make phone calls to my congresswoman, whom already supports a ban on assault weapons.  I vote in all of the elections for representatives who share my beliefs.  But really, this does not seem like much.

 

I, like all of you, am outraged.  I am disgusted that so many hundreds of adults and children have died, and likely hundreds more will have to die, for people to understand that guns ARE part of the problem.  I am confused by how people think that hate and bigotry is not at the root of all of these mass shootings.  I am exhausted of the finger pointing and the bickering among politicians and political parties shutting down any chance for change.  I am sickened by the divide in this country that grows deeper with every tragedy.

 

These atrocities will continue to happen, and, unfortunately, I feel that part of the onus has fallen on us, the citizens of this country.  I implore you, how can I help more?  Please, share in the comments section any ideas on how we, as individual citizens, can do more then just share FB posts.  It is up to every one of us to do something, or none of us have the right to express outrage and sadness when something like this occurs again.

Bad Mom? When Being A Parent Isn’t Enough

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.

 ADHD Wonka

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.

 

messyman

What? I wasn’t supposed to empty all of the toy bins at once?

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.

 

fam adhd

Loving our Man.