I was recently formally diagnosed with Inattentive ADHD at the ripe old age of 33. This has been a very long time coming. For more than two decades, I knew that I was not like others, but this became painfully apparent once I gave birth to my first child. I did not understand why I didn’t enjoy taking care of him like other mothers did. Once the post-partum depression subsided and I really began to bond with my beautiful child, I was still not quite the same as other moms. (Yes, I did call my OB/GYN’s office and yell at her nurse saying something to the effect of, “I want my life back!!” I admit, not my proudest moment.)
Although I was in my twenties, had finished college, and gotten married, I was still somewhat miserable as a mother. All of the proverbial “boxes” had been checked, so why was I struggling with this so much?!
As I look back now, almost a decade after my journey into motherhood began, and I can say that my ADHD played a very, very big role. Typical of most people diagnosed with ADHD, I could barely take care of myself, let alone another human! I’m sorry, son, but Mommy can barely wake up on time to get to work, and you want me to feed you at 3:00 am? No can do.
This kid also expected to be changed and fed and bathed and played with and…the list goes on and on…and all of this had to take place EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Oh, and did I mention, that I still had to feed, change, and bathe myself too? How is one (or even two) people supposed to balance all of this? AND DERIVE JOY FROM IT?! Doesn’t seem plausible.
So, I went on day after day, and actually (wait for it…) had TWO more humans that needed me! That’s what young married people do, right? If it’s right for you, then awesome! If it completes your life and you enjoy motherhood and caring for and teaching your sweet babies, even better! More power to you!! I, on the other hand, felt like I was drowning. Drowning in chores, drowning in depression because I was not enjoying what most women seemed to enjoy most. All of this caused me to drown in shame and guilt that I wasn’t enthusiastic AND organized. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that those are the two main qualifications to be a great mom. (Sarcasm)
The house must be clean, the baby must be kicking butt and taking names on those monthly milestones, and you must have the most perfectly packed diaper bag in town! Everyone will just know that you are an awesome mom if you have a perfectly packed and organized diaper bag, right? Well, I would desperately try, only to end up with no diapers in a DIAPER bag, only enough formula for one bottle, a non-sterilized pacifier, but enough baby wipes for everyone at the park!
Well, babies #2 and #3 didn’t really change me very much. I believe that most friends and family would agree that I really just got more and more disorganized and overwhelmed.
Well, here’s the silver lining to all of this: I have spent my last 8-10 years teaching my kids NOT to rely on me. They know that they can’t count on Mommy to pack their lunches, sign their reading log, keep up with every assignment and fundraiser and picture day! I refuse to clean their bedrooms, and only help them occasionally if they are really struggling with something specific. Yes, I made them start taking showers by themselves at age 6. I do anything that I can in order to be able to delegate mundane, monotonous tasks to them if they are capable to do them on their own. This means that I work hard to focus on the things that will matter to my kids 10, 20, 30+ years from now.
If there is a class party that is important to them, then I’m there. If I can’t be there due to work, my mom will go for me so the kids have family showing up for them. If one of them is struggling to grasp a concept in school, then I make worksheets with plenty of practice problems or questions and grade them. If any one of them is sick or sad or hurt, Mommy is right there consoling and loving on them until they are better.
I teach them manners, life lessons, political views, pray with them and for them. They rarely miss church or school. They know how to get their homework done without someone checking behind them, to clean their bathroom, load and unload the dishwasher, properly put away laundry, etc.
Being an ADHD mom means teaching my kids responsibility and accountability for themselves at a young age. They know that good grades are not rewarded, but expected. If they are having a problem in school then they need to come to ME, because I’m not going to check their grades unless they ask me to do so, or hand me a report card.
They know I’m not the helicopter mom that most of their friends have, but they know that I love them and I will always have their backs. Most importantly, they will be prepared for this harsh, demanding world where they must be responsible and accountable at all times.
And isn’t that the end goal that all mothers want for their kids?
For once, I am included when I say that “EVERY mother does.”
***Last but not least, if you are the judgmental helicopter mom that thinks “little Johnny” can do no wrong, and I’m just way too hard on my kids…watch it, lady. Johnny will be employed by one of my children someday….and my children will work poor Johnny to death! I suggest you stay in good health so that you may help him with his meal planning, laundry, and cleaning since Johmny will be clueless as to how to suck it up!