I’m writing this while sitting at my son’s basketball practice, dodging the occasional stray ball that lands in the bleachers just inches from my head. Before climbing to the top row and feeling the burn in my legs, I passed a fellow Mom on the way in who told me ‘you look tired.’ No argument there. I AM tired, though I could probably have gone without the reminder that the bags under my eyes are, in fact, visible.
We’re all tired.
Some would even say exhausted. And for good reason. Parents of kids with ADHD don’t just pack lunches, do loads of laundry, and sit in the carpool lane, wondering if we actually plugged in the crock pot that morning only to be interrupted when Suzy-in-a-Hurry honks for you to pull forward.
Slow your roll, Suzy.
All of that is a job in itself, but we do much more. Parents of children affected by ADHD can easily add a variety of other roles to their parental business card…
We also become self-appointed mini-doctors, minus the important and required certification, digesting various medical terms, processing all of the possible medications, journaling side effects or progress and googling remedies to help our children fall asleep when nothing else we’ve tried has worked. Then for the love of all things necessary, we pray they stay asleep long enough to give us the stamina to face a new day. We’ve also become so knowledgeable of ADHD symptoms that we can spot a child who may have the same struggles in a crowd and feel an instant, yet invisible, connection to that child’s parents. Sort of a like a secret club where you’re an instant member but you didn’t want to join.
Parents of children with ADHD also learn the ropes in the field of education without earning our degree, tossing around words like IEP’s and 504 plans, and offering up suggestions to schools on the environment our kids will best thrive in, all the while knowing that taking away recess for bad behavior is the worst possible outcome. Sometimes it’s taken away anyway. We know when homework is important and when it’s worth it to close the books and step outside for some fresh air because one more math problem might be the difference between a good night and one that ends in tempers flaring and pillows thrown.
And if parents of children with ADHD were paid to worry, we would be swimming in Beyonce-money. That’s code for ridiculously rich, folks, because we worry about our kids more than the average parent. We worry that they will never make a connection with a true lifelong friend who accepts them for their differences, that they won’t notice other kids posting about sleepovers and birthday parties on social media (they do), and we worry whether our parenting is helping or hindering our children. And if we are doing enough. And we worry if that time (or times!) we completely lost it means we are failing or human. We worry when the phone doesn’t ring because no one is inviting our kids over, and we worry when it does, because it’s likely the school calling with yet another complaint.We worry whether our kids feel like a part of something bigger, or like an outcast, and we hide the pain in our eyes when they tell us they wish they were ‘normal.’
We are doctors, educators, worriers, and most importantly, advocates. We may not understand the job we were given and some days it seems all too taxing, yet we do the job and we do it well. Others wouldn’t come close if they tried because they don’t tuck your kids in to bed each night. You do. We can’t take away ADHD, but we can love our kids unconditionally. So we help them find their way and we look for the good. We praise when possible and serve as their guide on an often lonely and confusing journey. Kids with ADHD need someone in their corner, and that’s us. You don’t have to be perfect at the job, but we owe them the effort to try. To get them to their destination in life, though the trip may not come with a map or easy directions.
Parents, keep on keeping on. I’m telling you, you will get there one day. At our worst, I didn’t think we would make it. But, nearly 10 years later, my kids are thriving and I know it’s possible. It may not be tomorrow, or next month, but it will happen.
Yes, we’re tired. But, for good reason.