My sweet girl,
Things have been rough lately. I’ve been harder on you than I should be. I’ve said things I shouldn’t have out of frustration. I wish I was more patient, more understanding. I’m afraid the emotional instability associated with my own ADHD gets in the way sometimes.
This morning was particularly rough and I cried after I dropped you off at school (I also got a parking ticket when dropping you off, so my tears were partly for that – but mostly for you).
I don’t think I realized, when you and I were both diagnosed with ADHD eighteen months ago, just how hard it would be. Because it IS hard. I listened to a TED-X talk the other day about ADHD, and heard some sobering statistics about how hard having a child with ADHD can be on the parent. I didn’t expect to be so frustrated all the time with your energy levels, with your difficulties organizing yourself, with your “how is it even possible for an 11-year old to have such a short” attention span. I know it’s because you have ADHD, but why can’t I remember that in the moment?
I suppose because it’s easy to have a young child with those tendencies, easy to assume it’s only temporary because “she’ll outgrow it.”
But it’s harder with a tween, because it becomes evident it’s not going to be just “outgrown.” It’s so hard for me to remember that your brain is wired differently and you need a little more support than a neurotypical 11 year old would. And I’m sorry I get frustrated and can’t remember that, and expect more than you truly can give sometimes.
Last weekend, your brother described you as a “Joynado” and it stopped me in my tracks. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a better description of you. You are JOY. You have been from the time you were little. Your love for learning, for new experiences, is amazing and draws so many to you. You’re not afraid of getting dirty, of getting messy – as long as you’re living life. And life, my dear, is absolutely meant to be lived. A lot of people forget that. It is such a unique quality and one that I so wish I, too, possessed.
But it’s it’s only one side of your coin. All of that, the joy, the excitement, the love – all comes in a tornado of energy and whipping winds that often leaves a path of destruction in your wake. Usually, that path includes clothing, school supplies, dolls, books – or anything else you were embracing in the moment. You can get up and walk away from a big mess and not even notice it. Apparently, for kids with ADHD, everything literally blends into the background and you truly don’t notice the messes. I believe it.
I get it.
You live life in the moment better than anyone I know. You embrace the moment. And, when you’re embracing the moment, it’s hard to stop, look around, and pick things up.
But it’s hard to parent sometimes because of it. And I get frustrated having to repeat things, forgetting that your brain didn’t even process it to begin with. With ADHD, it’s often really hard to differentiate between willful ignorance/defiance and your brain not processing something. I’m often at fault for assuming the former. Sometimes in my quest to have things orderly, I come down harder on you than I should. I’m so sorry I’m often so focused on the tornado part that I don’t always see the joy. Kind of like missing the forest for the trees.
I worry that your internal soundtrack from your childhood will be mom nagging you to pick things up and stay more organized. But I don’t want that to be how you remember your childhood.
I want you to remember how profoundly you were loved.
So let’s try changing that soundtrack.
Because my sweet, beautiful girl, you have SO MUCH to offer the world.
You are joyful. You are energetic. You feel so deeply. You are so creative.
When I’m focused on the tornado, I want you to remember this: I love you, just the way you are. Even if you never figure out how to get more organized, learn to do your laundry regularly, follow a to do list, remember which assignment is due when, or clean up the way I’d like, I still love you.
Let me be clear: If the tornado is the price we pay for your joy, it’s a price I’m willing to pay a thousand times over.
But, I think we can keep figuring this out together, figuring out how to make the tornado a little smaller, without dimming your joy. Because a lot of times, the world won’t see the joy if it’s in the middle of a crazy tornado. And this world? It needs your joy. So desperately.
So, you and I, we’ll figure it out. (I know, an ADHD mom leading an ADHD daughter – it’s sort of like the blind leading the blind, right? But what can I say? It’s all I got…)
As we figure this out together, I want you to remember this:
In its love of organization, the world will want to dull your shine. Do not let it.
In their quest for normal, your peers will want to dull your shine. Do not let them.
In its desire to see girls be demure women, people will tell you to “grow up.” Do not let anyone set your timeline for you.
In our discomfort with chaos, your father and I will want to unintentionally dull your shine. Do not let us.
This world need you, my sweet girl. All of your shine and all of your joy. So let’s make sure the world gets to experience you.
Amy is a part-time accounting consultant and a full-time mom to two kids, one born with a critical congenital heart defect – and both with ADHD. Diagnosed herself with ADHD at the age of 40, Amy brings a unique perspective of humor and “barely hanging in there” honesty to her blog at www.hopeforbabybennett.com. Although she holds both her JD and her CPA, most of the time now, she’s just trying to hold on to her “world’s okayest mom” title. Amy loves her husband, her kids, and sleep – not necessarily in that order.