It was a really hard week, for Natalie, with her ADHD, and for me, her crabby mama.
by Kay Marner
Was it her or was it me? All I know is that it was a really hard week, for Natalie, with her ADHD, and for me, her crabby mama.
Natalie was needy, I was irritable. I had stuff to do, Natalie had two snow days home from school. Natalie wanted high-energy, the-excitement-never-ends, 24/7 entertainment. It was too cold to play outside. The neighborhood kids couldn’t play--Lindzey was in Florida, Kate at daycare, Bekah just didn’t want to play. What’s more, one of our respite providers, Hannah, was also in Florida (celebrating her engagement to Adam—congratulations you two!) and another, Allie, was snowed-in at her parent’s rural home. This left me, and only me, to drop everything, and be On! On! On! Turns out I just wasn’t up to the challenge.
Natalie became a devil child, and I turned into a monster mom. I couldn’t stand to be with Natalie, and she couldn’t stand to not be touching, hanging on to me for a single moment. She whined incessantly. I yelled. I started having desperate, stupid, unrealistic thoughts (I have to call somebody and ask for an emergency foster-care placement. Or, I’m going to put her in the car and drive her to (my sister) Ann’s house—90 miles in dangerous road conditions--and tell Ann that if she wants to continue to have a niece, she’d better keep her for a few days. (Those thoughts are by far the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever revealed in this blog, but sadly, they’re true. This would be a rather extreme over-reaction at any time, but was especially stupid given the fact that my husband would be home in a matter of hours to help out.)
How did things get so bad last week? Here’s my theory. From Nat’s perspective:
• Winter break ends, Nat starts re-adjusting to school
• Her re-adjustment is interrupted by missing school and seeing a new social worker, as described in my previous ADHD Parenting blog post, and the stress continues to impact her behavior throughout the rest of the week
• Nat’s routine changes again when a snowstorm leads to two days off school
• Nat panics at facing two days without the structure of school, and without friends to play with
And from my side of the situation:
• I’m looking forward to time alone at home when kids return to school, after a day and a half, Nat’s home again
• I’m thinking of stuff I have to do, but Nat wants and needs 100% of my attention
• Our respite schedule has been off all of December, so my reserves are already low, and there’s no chance of respite until at least the end of the week • Nat’s behavior has been so much better since she started taking Risperdal, it feels doubly hard to go back to uncontrollable naughtiness and angry outbursts • I’m feeling irritable as heck anyway
I desperately needed help, and finally, I found a way to get it. A neighborhood girl, Rachael, came over and played with Nat while I hid out in my room. (When Nat heard the doorbell ring, she went from monster to angel in 3 seconds flat!) Allie put in a few hours of respite the next day, coming over the minute the snow plow finally opened the road to her house.
Yesterday, Nat spent most of the day at her friend Harry’s house. Don has been around this weekend to help out. More time with Rachael this afternoon, while Don and I work at a coffee shop.
Natalie was hyper as hell today, but I think I’m okay again. As long as there aren’t any snow days next week, I should be able to stay that way.
This whole nasty experience just go to show, once again, that consistent structure is vital to kids with ADHD. Regular respite is important for their parents. And, when a kid with ADHD has a mom who’s a coping-wimp, that ol’ village we’re always hearing about (the one it takes to raise a child) is most important thing in the world.