Lately, my ADHD parenting cope-o-meter has been hovering dangerously close to the “Danger: About to Self-Destruct” reading.
I had a real fuse-blowing, smoke-coming-out-of-my-ears, tears-running-down-my-face, sobbing-with-breath-hitching meltdown just last week. I threw a fit to rival Natalie's Top Ten Best of the ADHD Fit-Thrower's fits.
When I'm asked what my greatest stressor is, I always say it's parenting a special needs child. But it's really much more complicated than that. Thus, I discovered my cope-o-meter: a highly sensitive measurement of my ability to cope with everyday life. It's predicated on caring for Natalie, but factors in every aspect of my existence.
Take my job, for example. I work part-time at a public library, and have been there for nine years. When my children were young, this job was a pressure reliever. Going to work was a "vacation" from stuff like changing diapers, filling the dishwasher, and hearing the Barney theme song one time too many. I could be creative and social. I could think and contribute. It energize me--I created a hugely successful early literacy outreach program. I even wrote and published a book, which was released complete with a plush-toy tie in of the book's main character. Cope-o-meter reading: Highly satisfied, reaching lifelong goals, very nice balance between work and family.
The whole structure and culture of my job has changed in the last two years or so. I'm no longer allowed to contribute, because I'm part time, in too low of a job classification, don't have the correct degree, and because comp time has been outlawed. Or maybe it's really because they all hate me, I don't know. Cope-o-meter reading: Work is now a drain on my reserves--it sucks up my energy.
On the other side of the scale, writing this blog is cope-o-meter nirvana. Getting a good night's sleep, having a glass of wine with a friend, taking a walk in the sun: all coping pluses.
Cope-o-meter pressures include winter, a messy house, parking tickets, cancelled respite weekends...you get the picture.
I wrote a letter to my boss on Sunday, requesting one week of unpaid time off because I'm so stressed out by my ADHD child. I am...but it's not the only factor giving me a dangerously low cope-o-meter reading. I hope I get the time off, and I hope it relieves some pressure.
If not, anyone want to start a pool about when and where I’ll self-destruct? Or should we just start the countdown? Ten, nine, eight...