I’m 38, I have ADHD and two kids–one ASD and one ADHD. Ain’t going to lie, there are challenging days. O struggle a lot with executive function and I sometimes forget to make dinner and I’m a terrible house keeper. I’m still trying to figure out balancing job and family and that’s been hard. But here’s the thing. I’m really awesome at the things that matter. What are those things?
1) I’m super loving and affectionate
2) I’m fun
3) I understand my children’s challenges
4) I’m deeply empathetic
5) I’m fun
6) I find my children interesting so I pay a lot of attention to them…yay hyperfocus!
7) I’m a really hard worker. I’ve had to be to get this far. And I keep trying no matter how many times I screw up
8) I’m fun
9) I’m really good in situations that require flexibility and fast thinking, like kids being hurt or sick, or dealing with hurt feelings, or simply trying to find something to do that doesn’t involve screens
10) I’m smart, so I have built coping mechanisms into my day that help me parent even when I forget stuff
11) I’m fun. Seriously, this is so important for kids
12) I am good at teaching my kids to be independent
13) I’m good at expressing my feelings to my children, so they know they are loved. And I’m good at making criticism about behaviors and not people, and treating my kids the way I wish people would treat me.
14) I’m incredibly fun and my kids (ages 12 and 7) love to spend time with me!!!!!!
Guess what? All those things are related to my ADHD. Yeah, it’s got challenges and I feel overworked and overwhelmed a lot. But I’m hyperactive and inattentive, so I have more energy and flexibility than anyone I know. It makes me creative. It makes me a good mom.
I do have to admit, I have a supportive partner who accepts my ADHD without judgment (though he finds it exhausting–he’s ASD :). Chris, I’m concerned about your partner situation as you’ve presented it. While I’m positive you’d be a great parent, I’m not so positive your partner wouldn’t criticize any ADHD children you have the way they criticize you. The last thing you want is to raise children with someone who will heap that kind of damage on a young, defenseless spirit. You should be a parent…your partner? Maybe not so much.
Here is what I think. ADHD is actually a great asset for a parent as long as you accept yourself for who you are and do the work to create a life that works with you, not against you. This is very, very doable. If you’re concerned about your ability to cope, find a coach or an understanding friend who can help you work out how you want your life to look and what changes you can make to get you there.
The truth is, no matter how prepared you are, parenthood will kick your butt. That’s normal for EVERYONE. And you will figure it out and get through it. The important thing is loving your children so much you’re willing to do what it takes for them to thrive. While it’s impossible to predict what that will look like, I promise you that your ADHD will actually help you more often than it hurts you, whether or not you can see it.
You’re both good enough. Yeah, there will be bad days. Many of those bad days will be brought on by all the people who come out of the woodwork to judge your parenting for no reason. Being a mom is like being a hater magnet…you have to grow a thick skin. But you will survive. And eventually, you’ll thrive. Our ADHD makes us warriors. And if we forget that sometimes…well, that’s just ADHD.
Be encouraged. You have everything you need.