When we think of ADHD, we think of young kids being hyperactive. Kids who are unable to sit still. Kids who are impulsive. But there are a growing number of adults who are diagnosed and living with ADHD. Never was my ADHD so apparent than when I became a mom who had to successfully juggle multiple schedules and tasks at one time.
My ADHD has always been there, starting in elementary school. I was too chatty, bossy and inattentive to my handwriting and spelling. As I got older it had a bigger impact on my education. I would read a chapter in a book and not remember what I just read 5 minutes previous. I got kicked out of class for talking too much. I bombed every grammar and proofreading activity ever handed to me. I would lose my train of thought in the middle of answering a teacher’s question. I did not read, and understand, a full book until I read The Great Gatsby in 10th grade.
But, once I hit my adult life I was able to compensate remarkably well. I immersed myself in things I was good at: talking. I was in research and public relations which allowed me to not only hyperfocus on something that interested me, but then talk about it. Perfect combination!
Then, I got married and had kids. Holy moly. Talk about the walking definition of hot mess. There are lunches, schedules, schedule changes, meal planning, budgeting, doctor’s appointments … everyday was a new surprise of something I had either missed or failed to plan for.
But it is what it is. I’ve embraced the fact I’m wired differently and I know on some level my ADHD impacts my kids … here is the good, the bad and the ugly of mom being the one with ADHD.
Road trips, new and exciting adventures, spontaneous fun activities! Impulsivity can be a parent’s friend. Dad’s away and the kids want ice cream for dinner? Why not?! Holiday lights on a school night? You only live once! Summer vacation and a trip to the beach suddenly strikes your fancy? Let’s do it! My ADHD allows me to spontaneously engage in fun activities with the kids.
The general feeling of being overwhelmed all.the.time. Except I think most moms can identify with this in general. I’m overwhelmed by too many options in the grocery store so I religiously shop at Aldi. I also religiously forget my list at home. I double-book myself because I have appointments written down in too many places and then feel so badly for having to cancel.
I have events or social gatherings I forget to tell my husband about but I then *insist* I’ve told him. Only I thought about telling him, and then got distracted. Forms go unsigned, money owed for lunches is late. The teacher either gets classroom snacks the very next day or never. There’s no in between. It like playing whack-a-mole every single day with the things that pop up and the things I’ve failed to do.
Exhausting. But, I am getting better.
We have a master family calendar where I write everything down. I rarely immediately say “yes” anymore when presented with a social event. I now say “I may already have something on that day, let me check my calendar.” Baby steps of progress to bring predictability to the family has made a big difference.
The changes in schedule. I once brought my kids to their dentist appointment 24 hours early. The next day (the day of their real appointment) we were sitting in the movie theater and I remembered the appointment (again) and dragged them out of the movie theater in order to go to the dentist (again). I’ve been so focused on making dinner that I’ve driven right past their aftercare program, only to turn around 300 yards later. Christmas cards? Haven’t sent them in at least 4 years.
I look at other moms who seemingly have it all together and I am jealous. One calendar, seamlessly moving from one event to another. Handling schedule changes with grace and poise.
I instinctively know I will never be that mom.
Christmas cards that not only get addressed, but stamped AND in the mail before December 25 … it downright amazes me. Until then, I’ll be the mom that makes you feel like you have it all together because I’m the walking disaster who never has her act together. You can thank me later!