“ADHD manifests itself in different ways. Some people are more inattentive; others fidget more. I’m a certified space cadet. Sometimes it’s the blurry, just-beyond-the-horizon feeling of something missing. Other times it’s the smack-into-a-glass-door hit.”
It took me three trips back into the house to leave the driveway. That doesn’t count the original trip out with the kids. Three times, I got in the driver’s seat only to remember I’d forgotten something: a drink, snacks, a cellphone, medication. There’s the old joke: You’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached. I need a duct-tape necklace.
ADHD manifests itself in different ways. Some people are more inattentive; others fidget more. I’m a certified space cadet. Sometimes it’s the blurry, just-beyond-the-horizon feeling of something missing. Other times it’s the smack-into-a-glass-door hit: I walk into a room and know I’ve come in for some reason, but I can’t recall why. Other times it’s that blissful, lotus-eater fuzziness. My husband swears it’s cute, which is sort of demeaning, but I’ve had to learn to live with it. I have brownish-blondish-reddish hair. I have blue eyes and short legs. And I can’t remember anything.
This can be innocuous. It means that, being a mom of three small boys, my diaper bag is either drastically underpacked or dramatically overpacked. Either I’ve forgotten wipes entirely, or I’ve intentionally not cleaned my car so I have two extra outfits per child, three packs of wipes, a changing pad, and enough diapers to outfit a daycare center. I’ve learned to stash stuff as I need it. But if my packrat tendencies have overlooked it, forget it. I’m out of luck (and whatever it is I needed).
Family vacations are the worst. It’s almost a game to figure out what mama forgot this time. Usually, I don’t remember something stupid but necessary, like toothpaste or baby shoes or facial powder. Other times, it’s dire, like the time I left my entire suitcase sitting on my bedroom floor. God bless Target and my in-laws for the emergency wardrobe.
God bless my iPhone calendar, too. If my phone spontaneously combusted, I’d lose my bearings for the rest of the conceivable future. Or, rather, there would be no conceivable future, because I’d be unable to conceive it. I have to make events and reminders for the smallest events, like “play date at Becky’s.” All doctor’s appointments, birthday parties, and major life events go into my phone-with reminders. Because otherwise I’d have no idea where I was supposed to be when.
[Self-Test: ADHD Symptoms in Girls and Women]
Once in a while my forgetfulness scares me. My oldest has an anaphylactic bee allergy; I have to carry an EpiPen for him at all times. Many are the times that I fell into a panic when I realized, halfway through a hike, that I’d left the EpiPen in the car. It’s terrifying, and times like those make me want to permanently tie the pen to my wrist.
I’ve developed some coping strategies. I overpack the car, and I try to run through checklists in my head before I leave the driveway: drink for me, drink for the kids, snacks, EpiPen, cards, and phone. Have I taken my medication? Have I remembered to brush the kids’ teeth? I keep pre-packed bags in the car: one for snacks and drinks, one for extra clothes. Each of my kids always has a warm shirt in the car. I may not remember the baby’s shoes, but, damn it, they won’t be cold.
My kids don’t suffer that much. They know to hand mama her phone whenever they see it sitting somewhere, and to never, ever touch the car keys. I might forget to buy Play-Doh, and I usually manage to feed them on time. Luckily, they don’t seem to have inherited the forgetful gene. They’re young, but I’m hopeful. My husband remembers things. I am hoping that our kids will grow into adults who recall basic details of life. Until then, I’m shackled to my Apple calendar. At this point, I’m hopeless. But maybe, one day, they won’t be.
Parenting with ADHD: Next Steps
- Download: When You Have ADHD, Too: 18 Tips for Parents with ADHD
- Read: A Survival Guide for Parents with ADHD: Strategies from Preschool to High School
- Listen: Moms with ADHD, unite! How to Shape a Peaceful, Organized Life for You and Your Kids
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