There's a silver lining to my daughter Natalie's ADHD: the moms of other children with attention deficit, who understand and support us on our journey.
by Kay Marner
When Penny Williams first got out of bed on Saturday morning, she couldn’t figure out why her sides ached. She thought back to Friday -- had she done something unusually strenuous? Then she realized the sore muscles in her midsection were from laughing so hard the night before!
Penny (mother of Luke), Adrienne Bashista (mother of LittleJ), Kelly Miller (mother of Javi), and I are online friends who blog about our kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD). Last weekend we got together for a moms’ getaway in Pittsboro, North Carolina, where Adrienne lives with her family and which is the site of DRT Press, her publishing company. I traveled from my home in Ames, Iowa, to meet with Adrienne for a couple of days of collaborative work on our upcoming book, Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories (release date: October 2011). I stayed two extra days so that Adrienne and I could meet up with Penny, who drove from her home in the western part of North Carolina, and Kelly, who came from her home just a few minutes away.
Over the course of the weekend we did a few touristy things -- browsed in some shops, drove around Chapel Hill and the UNC campus, and ate some great meals (as the sole lifelong Yankee in the group, I enjoyed trying grits, hush puppies, fried green tomatoes, and authentic North Carolina barbecue). But our primary activities of choice were relaxing and talking, and the main topic of conversation was life with our ADD/ADHD kids.
We discussed our kids’ experiences at school, our kids’ ADD/ADHD medications, and patterns of behavior -- both our children’s and our own in response to theirs. We talked about how they’ve grown and changed and about our hopes and dreams -- and fears -- for their futures. We talked until we were hoarse and then talked more. We laughed like crazy fools.
Believe it or not, all four of our families got along without us. My husband, Don, almost forgot to give Natalie her meds one morning before school, but before it was too late he remembered. He almost had to take Natalie to the ER when her friend Harry, who also has ADD/ADHD, sprayed eyeglass cleaner and air freshener in her hair and the excess ran down her back and burned her skin. Thankfully, a long soak in the bathtub cured that. We all managed to get back to our families before winter storms hit our respective parts of the country. It was great to have a break from the stresses of daily life with a special needs child, but returning home felt even better.
Many of us turn to others -- family, friends, teachers, therapists -- for support, advice, and encouragement in raising our ADD/ADHD kids. But there’s nothing quite like talking and laughing with other moms of kids with ADD/ADHD. After all, they’re the only people who really get it. If there’s a gift in Natalie having ADD/ADHD, it’s the new friends that the ADD/ADHD community has brought to me.