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Happy Mather’s Day — Flaws and All

The experts tell us that we act as our kids’ external executive functions right through high school because, by nature, kids with ADHD struggle with planning and organizing. What does this actually mean? It means buying Mother’s Day gifts and cards on behalf of all four of your kids, who then proceed to botch the final detail.

It’s Saturday night, and the kids and I are putting the finishing touches on Laurie’s Mother’s Day gifts. We’ve got the menu planned and all the groceries bought. We’ve got gifts, flowers, and a card. I’ve spent the last hour gathering and organizing everything. Finally, we’re almost done.

“I just need the card,” I say.

A child hands me an envelope on which someone has written, “Happy Mather’s Day.”

“Guys!” I say. “C’mon are ya’ll serious?!”

Each of them takes a turn denying culpability, which of course only raises my blood pressure further.

[Your Free 13-Step Guide to Raising a Child with ADHD]

On days like this, I get the kids as involved as possible. I help the kids organize their allowance money, drive them to various stores, and help them choose their gifts. When we get home, I help them organize their gifts and cards. Of course I spend way more than they do so I don’t drain their spending money, but I think getting them involved is important. Plus they genuinely enjoy spending their money on her, and they take pride in what they choose and buy. In years past, their misspellings and messiness were cute. Now that my oldest is in high school, not so much.

I’ve been working long hours and didn’t have time to take the kids shopping this year — I was also feeling like the kids’ bickering was becoming a real nuisance, to be honest. Back when they were elementary age, I considered their petty arguments amateur. But now they’re adolescents and pre-adolescents, and they’ve gone pro. Add in their attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) and other diagnoses, and an epic battle can go down in a matter of a few seconds. Simple processes like getting their allowance money squared away is so exhausting, “That’s MY penny!!!” that I can’t even fathom getting them in the car, much less taking them shopping, picking out gifts, completing the purchase, and organizing everything at home.

So this year I planned everything and did all the shopping. I got reservations for brunch and planned the schedule and menu for the rest of the day. I bought each of the kids’ gifts and cards. So the night before, I gathered each of the kids in the kitchen. “I want you each to get a piece of scratch paper and write a first draft of a letter to Mom. I want you all to say thank you for specific meals and special things Mom has done for you over the past year.”

I went over the menu with the kids, and gave them all instructions on their role for the meal prep. Then I directed them to organize their gifts, gift bags, and tissue paper. I had every last detail planned out, and for the most part the kids cooperated. There was almost a brief throw-down when someone took someone else’s seat at the dinner table, but I was able to de-escalate. Everything was fine until I saw the envelope to Laurie’s card that read “Happy Mather’s Day.”

There’s no way to fix it and I’m too spent to drive to Walmart for another envelope. So I say the heck with it because if I know that, if I leave the house, I will come home to a new disaster. Someone will have used the pink tissue paper to wipe their nose, or someone else will have opened the box of chocolates. I convince myself that Laurie will love everything. She’ll be excited for her gifts and find the flaws adorable. We’ll all have a good laugh about it, and enjoy our Mather’s Day together.

[Me and My ADHD Family — Happily Imperfect Together]

Updated on May 29, 2019

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