A Love Song for ADHD Parents
Inspiring lyrics from one pop tune taught a mom of a child with ADHD to be her daughter’s guardian angel for the rest of her life.
Even if we’re breaking down
we can find a way to break through.
Even if we can’t find Heaven,
I’ll walk through Hell with you.
Love, you’re not alone,
‘cause I’m going to stand by you.
-Rachel Platten (“Stand by You”)
People have a wonderful way of identifying with music and relating the lyrics to their own lives. When I was younger and boy-crazy, it was all about love songs. Now that I’m a mother, I find myself identifying with songs in many different ways. When I first heard Rachel Platten’s “Stand by You,” I immediately thought of my six-year-old daughter who has attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD). In fact, I identified with the song so strongly that it brought me to tears. The song perfectly described my feelings, thoughts, and emotions about her.
What do these powerful lyrics mean to me? What goes through my mind when I hear this amazing song?
It is no secret that children with ADHD struggle on a daily basis. Despite their best efforts to focus, their brains are wired differently. While having ADHD gives many children the ability to think outside the box and show astounding levels of creativity, it is difficult for them to behave the way society expects them to-sitting nicely, listening well, not calling out, and so on. My daughter goes to behavioral therapy and takes medication for her ADHD. Her teacher makes accommodations for her in the classroom. I use positive parenting techniques and provide her with unconditional love, guidance, and support (as well as an enormous amount of patience I never knew I had).
Despite all this, she still has difficult times. It seems like no matter how hard kids with ADHD try, they can’t succeed, which makes them feel like they shouldn’t bother trying at all. (Sound familiar?) Some children with ADHD feel like they are bad kids or there is something wrong with them, which couldn’t be further from the truth. These children don’t recognize the many great qualities we have always seen in them.
My daughter once said that I deserved a better daughter and that she wished she was never born. I felt like I was shot in the heart when I heard that. The only reason I was able to hear her say that was because she was too young to have private sessions with her therapist. She didn’t confess to me. She confessed to her therapist. I had no idea she felt that way, and although it hurt me so much to hear those words, I wished she had told me directly.
That was my most difficult moment as a mother. My daughter was only five years old when she said those words, and it broke my heart to know that she had such horrible thoughts and feelings. She hadn’t lost a tooth yet, and she already had deep emotional scars. Sometimes, the thoughts and feelings our children have are so strong and painful that they don’t want to share them with us. They think it will make us sad, angry, or disappointed. It’s easier for them to confide in others, like their therapist.
My wish is for my daughter to know that she can always confide in me and not worry about what I think or feel. I want her to be able to tell me anything and to know that I’m always there for her. If she is going through hell, I will be by her side in the flames helping her until we’re able to put the fire out together and get out. We may not be able to reach heaven, but being able to help her get out of the hell she is in is all that matters. That is what she will remember when she looks back on that difficult time in her life.
It hurts to see our children in pain-physical or emotional. Physical pain can be treated with a “band-aid” and a kiss. Emotional pain is more difficult to treat. If we could take away their pain, we would do it in a heartbeat. As parents, we have already been through the hell of being teased or bullied and feeling different, but we learned to be strong and not care what other people think of us. Sadly, most of our children are going through that hell right now, and they need an angel to get them through it.
In case you didn’t know, that angel is you. I feel like God has given parents the most amazing gift – a child for them to love, teach, and nurture for the rest of their life. God has also given parents the power to be angels on Earth for our children. We need to be there for our children every step of the way, so that they feel like they are never alone in this. They may already feel like they are alone at school, whether it is because they have a difficult time making friends, they are teased for being “different,” or they are constantly getting called to the principal’s office for “bad” behavior they can’t seem to control.
They don’t need to feel like they are alone at home, too. When they are having a meltdown, we need to be there to acknowledge their feelings, empathize with them, and just hold them. As much as we want them to feel only good emotions, we need to teach them that it is OK to feel bad emotions, too. It is part of life. Some children are too young to understand what or why they are feeling a certain way. We need to be their voice of reason and help them through the difficult times.
If we do our job as parents, our children will feel like they are never alone. When they are at school, they will feel our presence and love in their heart. They will hear our kind and positive thoughts and advice in their minds. They will learn to handle whatever life throws at them because of the wonderful job we did raising them. It’s going to be rough, but I know we can do it.
Life will never be perfect, and we shouldn’t expect it to be. Even though we set goals for ourselves and for our children, we need to realize that we may not reach those goals the way we planned. Although I had a hard time realizing it, I learned that it is OK to be different and do things differently. My daughter taught me that. Instead of trying to make our children conform, we need to accept and encourage their way of doing things. The voyage is more important than the actual destination.
How did you get to your destination? Who helped you get to your destination? These are the things your child will remember. When it comes to my daughter-or your daughter or son-I have no doubt that they will reach every goal they set. It may not be reached in a way that their peers would use, but honestly, who cares? If our children are happy, we are happy too and we are proud to stand by them.
Many more obstacles are headed my daughter’s way, but I am ready to help her break through them. Not only will she rise, she will soar like the amazing angel she is. All of our kids will.
Cristina Margolis has been blogging at My Little Villagers (mylittlevillagers.com) since her young daughter was diagnosed with ADHD. Cristina wants to help document her daughter’s life with ADHD and spread ADHD awareness in children. Her work has been featured on The Mighty and Scary Mommy and her blog was voted “Best of the ADHD Blogs” by CHADD. In addition to her blog, you can connect with her on Facebook (facebook.com/mylittlevillagers) and Twitter @MyLilVillagers.