Monthly Archives: September 2015

Hello Little Son, I’ve Missed You

My blog is full of stories about my 12 year old son with ADHD.  My Facebook page, twitter and personal journals, are filled with stories, frustrations and worries about him too. My friends and family ask how things are with the boys and I always start off with what is happening with him. Life has been hectic in my world lately and in thinking about everything, it dawned on me that I also have another son, who gets so lost in his brother’s shadow, I often forget he needs me too.

Little Son, I’m sorry, I’ve missed you. I’m sorry that you often have to yell even louder than your brother in order to be heard. And then, because you are being so loud, in frustration, I yell at you to stop. Because with Big Son around, it is already so loud and chaotic and when you chime in, my world goes dark and I need it to stop. I’m sorry that Big Son is the one I talk about most with friends and family and that you most likely hear this. Granted, the talked is usually about how frustrated/worried/stressed/overwhelmed I am, but I doubt in your 7 year old world that matters much.

I’m so sorry that homework time is usually you doing your work all on your own, while I wrestle, cajole and spend my evening arguing with and helping Big Son. You sit like a little champ and do your math problems, reading and spelling review. And I don’t often take the time to praise you for what a good job you do, because I am so worried that Big Son will hear and feel bad about himself. I let my fear of his reaction keep me from gushing about your greatness.

I feel so guilty that you often have to endure my bad moods in the mornings, because I am at my wits end trying to get Big Son out the door. You go upstairs, get dressed (with socks AND clean underwear!!), brush your teeth and try to brush your hair. I come up and see Big Son playing with the dog, in dirty underwear only, no socks and with the mask from his Halloween costume on. I yell. You look at me with your big, blue eyes and I can see that you’ve noticed. You’ve noticed that I DIDN’T notice. You see that once again, my focus is on Big Son.

I’m sorry Big Son is so mean to you. I wish I could explain the sibling thing, but being an only child, I’m at a loss. I am told the fighting is normal, but I see how much you adore your brother and how when he is mean to you, your little face falls, your eyes look down and you deflate a little. You’re not stupid (in fact, you’re super smart), you’re not a baby. I think you’re amazing. But I don’t say these things, because I worry Big Son will think I am comparing you two and he’ll see the comparison is unequal, tipped greatly to your side. He might feel worse about himself and that might make things even worse for you. I try hard not to compare you two, because I know you are different people, with different personalities, struggles and strengths. In my not comparing, I also have not given you the praise and attention you need. You DESERVE!

But I think the time has come for me to realize it is not ALL about Big Son. You need me too. You need validation, praise, rewards and thank you’s, independent of Big Son and you need this whether he gets the same or not. You need to know how amazing you are, how kind, funny, and wicked smart. You’re in 2nd grade and reading and doing math at a 3rd grade level. You’re so flipping coordinated in basketball (and most sports for that matter) that I am blown away when I watch you. Then my heart aches when I tell you how talented you are and you look sad and say, “I’m not any good.”

YOU ARE GOOD! You are more than good; you are amazing. And while I have said I have the goal of helping Big Son navigate his way through a non-ADHD world, my goal is helping you navigate your way too. I want you to feel seen, heard and proud of everything you bring to this world. Because you bring a ton Little Son.

There will be no more shadow for you to get lost behind. I want the light to shine on your wonder, your greatness and your beautiful strawberry hair and gorgeous blue eyes. I want you to KNOW and FEEL this light. You’ll never walk in the shadows again.

I love you.

Dear Wife – How We REALLY Feel About Your Friends

My wife is always trying to talk to me about her friends. What they are doing, what they said, what they wore. She got mad the other night when I did not pick up on her hostility about something her best friend recently said to her. Which made me realize, I need to provide women some insight into how we, as your husbands, boyfriends or “wanna-be” boyfriends, really feel about your girlfriends. Our feelings (like so much of what I say) are simple; we don’t care. We don’t care that Tina just broke up with the third guy this month and can’t seem to keep a man. We don’t care that Holly lost her job and might have to move back in with her mom. We don’t care that Monica is going to Hawaii with her boss on a “business” trip. We….don’t…..care.

Ok, now that said, there is one small caveat to this, we don’t care……unless your girlfriend is smoking Hot. Then we don’t mind hearing how she broke up with her boyfriend, lost her job and is boning the boss. It feeds our imagination.

Now I know the women reading this are thinking “PIG!” but I am not lying when I say this is pretty much universal ladies. Your man may listen to you as you detail how your ugly friend Trisha’s mom has cancer and he may even provide a sympathetic head nod, but what he is really thinking about is more along the lines of “what’s for dinner” and “will you be putting out tonight?” If he does seem really interested in your friend story, then he is thinking about the latter and hoping his attention will ensure you’ll be putting out tonight.

It’s not that we are insensitive, self-absorbed pigs as I so often hear. It’s more that your friends have no positive impact in our lives – unless they are hot. They don’t cook for us, they don’t sleep with us, they usually don’t have anything interesting to say to us so we choose to not occupy brain space with any useless information about them. Now, if they are the Hot friend, then they do play a positive role in our lives. They give us infinite fodder for fantasies.

Now before you go getting all huffy about this this does not mean we don’t love YOU. It doesn’t even mean we would ever try and sleep with your Hot friend. It just means we are visual creatures and enjoy the view when she is around. And on nights when you have a headache, we might indulge in a little fantasy about you and Hot friend getting it on. But we still love you. We still think you’re hot, and we still want you in our bed at night. But, if you ever have the desire to bring Hot friend with you, we won’t argue.

An Open Letter To Me; I’m Sorry

Dear Me –

I’m not sure where to start, but it feels like a heartfelt, “I’m sorry,” would be good. I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately and I feel shameful for the way I have treated you. While I know (better than anyone), how hard things are at times, I’ve still sat in judgment of you – constantly. I’m so sorry.

I live your daily struggle with Big Son; I see how hard you work to help him manage his ADHD and processing disorder. I know you spend countless hours researching, reading, trying new things and worrying. But I still chime in each day, telling you how you have not done enough, how you yelled this morning (which you KNOW is the worst possible way to communicate with your ADHD child), how the laundry is still not folded and you let the chicken sit in the fridge and ordered pizza. I remind you, these actions are the actions of a mom who is NOT doing her job right. I tell you this is what “lazy” moms do, moms who don’t care. I’m sorry.

Last week you spent time volunteering at Big Sons school and filling out countless back-to-school forms. You got school supplies, new clothes, all of Big Sons medical forms filled out, signed by Dr. and into school with his medicines. But, at the end of the week, I chastised you for being too tired to work out (your pants are getting snug) and forgetting to make an allergy Dr. appointment. I’m sorry.

On Saturday, after you’d taken all 3 boys to the trampoline house, to the store for a treat (which I let you know later was not the best idea – sugar is the devil, I said), then cooked dinner and finally got the laundry done, I made you feel bad for not watching that mind-numbing cartoon when Little Son asked and for having that second glass of wine. I’m sorry.

And those are just the recent things I am sorry for. I think back to the past 12 years with us being a mom and I cringe at how I have treated you. I’m also sorry for making you feel shame when you had to go to work every day and drop Big Son at daycare when he was little. I know you needed to work, but I still made you feel horrible. I told you all the other moms were judging you for not making it to every class party, field trip or concert. I sat in judgment of you when Big Sons dad had to work late and you let him zone out in front of the television (screen time will rot his brain, I said), while you cooked and cleaned up. I’m sorry.

When your marriage crumbled and you were a shattered shell of a human, I said you were ruining your children’s lives by being selfish and wanting out. I told you they would someday hate you. I told you everyone you know would judge you too. I watched you stay for a year and a half and struggle. I watched you lose yourself and I judged you – I shamed you. I’m sorry.

Each time you’ve allowed yourself to be even a little bit human, to feel overwhelmed with the day, overwhelmed with the noise, the fighting, the pee on the floor, the messy rooms and refusal to eat the healthy dinner you cooked, I judged you. I reminded you that YOU chose to have kids and I said you needed to step up and overcome those feelings. I told you other moms did it and I shamed you with, “Why can’t you?” I chastised you for not being perfect, for being human. I’m sorry.

I want to change for you. I want to support you in this crazy, joyous, scary and often times, overwhelming journey of motherhood. I want to be your biggest cheerleader when you’re successful,(Big Son finally puts new underwear on each day – yay!) and your safety net on those dark days, when it all feels like it is too much, and you’re not sure how you will cope with one more school detention for missing homework. I want you to end each day hearing me say, “You did the best you could today. You’re Awesome!” I want you to know that I mean it, I do. Because I KNOW how hard you try. I KNOW how deeply you love. I KNOW how difficult it can be.

So, my dearest me, I am sorry for the past. I am committed to you, to our journey through motherhood and to supporting you in being the best possible mom and human you can be.

You’re Awesome!

My Square Peg

I’ve been waking up every day a failure. I’ve started my days with a host of hopes, plans, good intentions and patience. I’ve ended my day’s hopeless, behind on tasks, forlorn and impatient. Why? Because I am a mother. I have 2 young sons who are full of life, big ideas, vibrant energy, questions about the world, frustrations, energy, fears and a little more energy. And one of my boys is different. I remember the first time I read an article in a magazine and it referred to the writer’s situation (the same situation I am in) as raising a child with “disabilities.” I was shocked. I was taking a bath after having put the boys to bed and relishing in having some alone time to read. I had been looking forward to the article on the cover, hoping it might offer some insight or hope for my situation. I ended the article indignant that the author had called my child disabled. Disabled? I had never in my sons 12 years thought of him as disabled. He’s completely normal, all 12 years of awkward teeth coming in, bad haircuts (that he refuses to comb into a good haircut), mismatched clothes and gangly limbs. Normal. But as I sat soaking, I began to think about “normal.” Was he normal? My body lit up and I could feel the shock in my blood, as my mind screamed, “No!” I had goosebumps sitting in the warm water.

My son is different. He is silly and playful like most 12 year old boys, but he does not know when to stop. He sings a song – repeatedly. Again and again and with each iteration, his voice gets louder, shriller, until whomever is nearby harshly demands he stop. Which most times leads him to look up, perplexed and ask, “Stop what?” He does not sit still; constantly moving, shaking his legs, humming – anything that involves the opposite of stillness. He cannot concentrate on most day-to-day tasks like brushing his teeth, homework, cleaning his room, or school. He hyper focuses on other things like television, Lego’s, or the idea of going to buy a new toy. He is unable to sit and listen to a conversation without interrupting, asking questions, making comments or changing the subject. He wants to make people laugh more than anything, but he does not know when to stop. When the laughs stop, he does not. He’s just “too.” Too loud, too fidgety, too silly, too unfocused, too rude, too oblivious for most people. He’s the quintessential square peg in a round world. Jagged edges, hard to grasp and a little clunky.

I am constantly told by people and family, “He just needs more…” Their more translates to rules, discipline, consequences, restrictions, schedules. And I am left feeling like less. Less of a good parent, less of a disciplinarian. Less of a whole person because my son is normal, with disabilities. If they only knew how we have tried those things. Repeatedly and without success. Clamping down just does not work for him.

ADHD is talked about so much these days; everyone has heard of it, everyone has an opinion about it and yet, I am having trouble finding people who understand what it is like to live it. What it is like to watch this little person, who you are responsible for raising into a functioning big person, struggle. Every. Single. Day. To watch them consistently be told they are not doing it right, not doing enough, lacking, and failing, simply because he is himself. To be the parent of someone who you love almost more than your next breath, but who constantly takes from you. Who just by being themselves, leaves you a little less whole. Who requires so much time, energy, constant giving from you, that you end your day as a self-perceived failure. “If only I’d…” and the only’s stack up, daily, and leave you so weighted down, sometimes all you can do is take one single breath at a time and hope it’s enough.

But lately there’s a shift in me. The more I read and experience with my son the more I think I’ve had it all wrong. I lay in bed at night and think back on our day, the week, the whole time I have had the privilege of being my sons mother, it’s hit me, “Disabled my a*&!!” The older he gets the more I find myself hating “normal.” I get to laugh with him and explore this BIG world he lives in and I know – my son is what this world needs. Creativity, a big thinker, someone who is not happy just mooing his way blindly in the herd. Someone who wants and wants BIG. Someone who cares for others in a way that at times, makes me cry with shame. Because he is showing me all the beauty and goodness of him and his world and it’s a world I have not been living in and may not always understand but it’s a glorious world. A world where learning can happen standing, hopping or humming. Where learning history could move beyond writing about it to being an epic movie created on his iPad. Or a drawing complete with a small dragon in the corner because hell, why not?? Where humming while he eats, with his leg up on the chair, does not have to mean he has no class or manners. It could mean he is processing his day and making connections with what he learned and the song he is humming. OR, it could just mean he is humming. But in the end, it does not mean he is lacking.

He shows me the beauty and chaos of being a kid with ADHD, someone who doesn’t always fit in. Someone who challenges the norm. And someone who has so much to offer this world, I get chills thinking of what he could teach ME. What he could teach us. My square peg might not fit in this round world, but he’ll find a way I believe, to make his way. And I am seeing that I should count myself one of the luckiest mother’s in the world to get to watch him and learn from him. He’ll soon make his sharp corners an asset and maybe even, the norm.

 

The Fidgles (Inside ADHD Me)

I’ve said it before and I will say it now

My body has been taken over somehow

I am racked with a disease or malady of sorts

I wiggle and shake and make funny snorts

I can’t sit still and my hands roam around

I fidget and hop, up and down up and down

Sitting is horrid, like being tied to a bed

My head’s filled with songs and important things to be said

I MUST get them out, before I forget stuff

But I’m being shushed and told it’s enough!

I’ve named this disease, this malady I have

It’s Fidgles and so far the only thing that works

Is to give in to wiggles, fidgets & shouts in short spurts.

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