I’ve gone back and forth about writing this post, I even journaled some of this even before my site went live. As I am sitting here looking at the paperwork and preparing to test another son, ironically during ADHD awareness month, I am deciding to bare it all and open up about how it affects our family.
When our second born turned three, we were absolutely puzzled at his new behavior. Imagine “threenager” but times 20! Our usually quiet, loving, self soothing child was giving us a run for our money. At first, we thought that it was due to baby #3 making his entrance… except he didn’t outgrow it and he just got worse. When he turned 4, my mom and sister suggested that I ask our pediatrician if we could start our road to a possible diagnosis as ADHD runs on our side of the family and it is genetic. Our pediatrician said that she wouldn’t entertain the idea of doing any testing until he was at least 6. We endured two long and hard years of impulsiveness and hyperactive behavior. A trip to the store turned into a stressful meltdown of trying to keep my child contained and still so that I could pick up the things that we needed. Defiance was at an all time high with him and I wanted to cry inside because people stared and made ugly/snide comments.
Nothing about our first experience with ADHD has been what we would think is typical. We thought, we have exhausted all homeopathic options, they will just prescribe us something and we will be on our merry way. Boy were we dead wrong! Medication that helped him get through the school day made him full of anger and rage. Tweaking one medication means that there is a possibility of him having to start at the beginning and find a new medication route. We walk a tightrope when it comes to tweaking his medication and trying new supplements. Only one family of medication works for us. The second that we turn a huge corner, ADHD throws us a curveball. We go through times where it seems as if we are on a roller coaster of defiance and anxiety… yep lets add anxiety to our list because he was with me when our home was struck by lightening and we now have to get ahead of situations before that spirals during bad weather.
Parenting a child with ADHD is not easy, especially when you have neurotypical children as well. Boundaries are being pushed on both ends, discipline proves hard because what may be an uncontrolled impulsive behavior with one is intentional with the other. Tears! The tears! I cannot tell you how many tears that I have shed on this journey. From judging eyes watching your child impulsively melt down in the middle of a grocery store because he is overstimulated and his medication has worn off. New sensitivities that pop up now that he is medicated, tags… yeah those now have to be cut out of every piece of clothing. Watching him struggle for friendships because he is slightly more immature than the neurotypical child and struggle because he knows that something is off with his brain and he just wants to be a “regular kid.” I still get anxiety when I am approached and asked if I am his mom. My first reaction is “what did he do,” and “I’m sorry if he did anything.” I still have that walking on eggshells feeling and I don’t want him to be “that kid.” Because, at one time we were and hopefully we never are in that situation again. Please, I’m begging you, the next time you want to shoot ugly eyes at a mom who has a child melting down in her buggy, grant her grace. Grant her grace, because you don’t know the why behind that behavior. Not every child who acts that way is being naughty on purpose and she is doing the best that she can.
All of the trials and tribulations above are part of our family journey. I don’t know what is ahead for us with another possible diagnosis, but I can tell you that this journey has been emotional, yet amazing. You see ADHD may be a challenge but it is also a superpower. I’m so proud because I see my child look at a problem and watch the gears start turning. He put his first four cylinder engine kit together with his dad at the age of 7. Those million little Lego pieces scattered around the table, he’s going to create something amazing with it. Give him cardboard boxes and duct tape and what he creates is nothing short of spectacular. Hand that boy a bat and pitch him the ball and he is totally focused on getting that hit. He works hard and loves even harder. We always speak of the day that he overcomes his adversities and how one day he may be medication free. I also have to give him all of the credit for making us stronger parents. We are a team when it comes to fighting for his needs, we hold each other up when we feel like crumpling to the floor after a bad day and we take advantage of our date nights so that we can keep our relationship strong in order to face what may be ahead.
So to all of you in the trenches, hang in there. You are not alone. I think about those who are in and have been in our shoes constantly. I am a huge advocate for more knowledge when it comes to this disorder. I don’t think that people really know everything that ADD/ADHD could possibly entail. Heck, we have been on this journey for 4 years and I am still educating myself. My favorite go-to is Additude Magazine. It has been a wealth of information when it comes to ADHD and all of the other secondary diagnoses that may come with this disorder. And if your child needs a little pick me up, this book of affirmations is a wonderful tool to help pick them back up!