Guest Blogs

ADHD Makes Me (and You) a Cool Mom

I’m not your average mom.

Sometimes ADHD means lost keys, forgotten bills, and missed appointments. But ADHD works great for other things. We can destroy a Netflix queue faster than you can say House of Cards, for example. And while ADHD might make some parts of parenting difficult, like remembering doctor’s appointments and mealtimes (kidding, don’t call social services), ADHD helps make me the cool mom. While ADHD might lead to me forgetting my diaper bag, ADHD helps me rock this parenting thing.

Here’s proof:

I’m always game for messy art projects. Other moms can’t handle finger paints. My ADHD family flings acrylics all over the kitchen and tie-dye in the bathtub. I’m used to living in chaos, so why not add some color to it? Yes, the sink might have a semi-permanent rime of paint flakes, but, damn, that painting was a blast.

I’m more adaptable. Other mamas might flip out when plans change. Not ADHD mamas. If something different comes up, we roll with the punches. Gymnastics closed? We’ll go for a hike! Can’t find paper to cut? Let’s chop up some straws (try it — small children find it endlessly fascinating). We can always find something else fun and exciting to do, because, hey, it’s hard to focus on just one thing!

My preschooler and I share the same attention span…meaning that if it’s something we love, we can use our laser-like focus to obsess over it for hours. I know lots more than the average person about Cretaceous period fauna. But if it’s not too interesting, well, we’re both ready to move on in a few minutes, because it’s bor-ing.

I don’t judge clutter. Yes, the kids have added an extra layer of primary-colored detritus to our household. But that just means I’m far less likely to judge anyone else’s mess. No one worries about inviting me over for a play date: They’ve seen the floor of my car.

[Self-Test: ADHD Symptoms in Women and Girls]

Speaking of the car, eat it in all you want. Some mamas might freak out about car nibbles. Not me. What’s another Chick-fil-A wrapper in the minivan? My car is knee-deep in piles. You could probably open an actual Chick-fil-A in there and I wouldn’t notice. But before you judge: I always have a straw and a snack.

I sympathize with small-child forgetfulness. Kids lose their shoes again? I’ve already lost my keys and my cell phone — twice — and it’s only 10 a.m. I can’t tell off the kids for forgetting their karate uniforms. I forgot to wash them in the first place.

I’m easygoing, out of necessity. If I took seriously the small losses — like lost left shoes, unwritten memory books, and misplaced dino toys — I’d live in a constant state of anxiety and paralysis. I had to learn to let go of things, like one kid wearing his brother’s pants because I forgot to do a wash? Roll the cuffs, kid, and put on a belt. Life’s too short.

I can tune out tantrums-sometimes. ADHD gives the gift of obsessive focus on certain things. If someone’s screaming for cake they can’t have, I can pick up the phone and retreat to my own private Facebook universe. In Facebook, children don’t shriek. It’s the adult equivalent of putting my hands over my ears and singing, “La la la, I can’t hear you,” without being a total jerk.

[Free Resource: 22 Clutter-Busting Strategies for Adults with ADHD]

I lost my “sancti-mommy” early on. I’m too busy looking for shoes to worry about whether or not you breastfeed. Aside from that, ADHD keeps me aware that I screw up all the time. I make choices and compromises I didn’t mean to. So who am I to judge what decisions you make for your family? Formula-feed away, dude. My kids watched three hours of Daniel Tiger yesterday.

I can obsess like only someone with ADHD or a preschooler. My three-year-old lives to spread the gospel of Spinosaurus. Next week it’ll be Star Wars. I understand the urge toward obsession. For me, this week it’s loom knitting, and, next week, it might be sewing. My own ADHD gives me plenty of patience to indulge their obsessions while they last, and even join in sometimes. If that leads to an entire family serial-watching the original Star Wars trilogy, well, it’s cultural education.

[Sister. Wife. Mother. Living with ADHD.]