Forget and Forgive?
The forgetting part of ADHD never goes away, but I am trying not to be so hard on myself.
Once, when I was a kid, I locked our front door with a skeleton key (it was an old house). We were supposed to hang the key on the nail next to the door, but I forgot. I set it on the couch without thinking, and went off to do whatever kids do at that age. My father went to unlock the door, saw the key was neither in the lock nor on the peg, and went ballistic. “Where’s the key?!” he demanded, breath hot in my face. “Where’d you put it?”
I had no idea and told him so, tearfully.
We scoured the house for hours. He wouldn’t let me stop searching, wouldn’t let me quit looking. Finally, we discovered the lost key: It had fallen off the arm of the couch between the cushions.
This was one of the most dramatic occasions of me losing something, because my dad got so angry. It wasn’t the only time. I once went to a horse show without my saddle. I showed up at Catholic school in a prom dress, on a regular uniform day. I kept leaving textbooks at school and needed to go back and get them. That’s no big deal when the school is three doors down and your mom’s a teacher; it’s a bigger deal when it’s 25 miles down winding country roads. I had to write down every assignment. I could never find a clean uniform shirt and skirt.
This forgetful tendency continued when I had children. I was terrified I’d forget to my feed my oldest son, but luckily he let me know when he needed to nurse on demand. I had to set multiple phone alarms to remember his doctor’s appointments. And mine? I figured that I didn’t need to get seen at six weeks postpartum.
Newborns are good about reminding you of things. They scream, you pop a boob in their mouth. They scream and/or smell stinky, and you change their diaper. We used convertible car seats, so I never accidentally left them in the car; I needed to slot them into a car seat before we could go into Target. I did, however, always forget wipes, sometimes diaper covers (we used cloth), and occasionally, diapers themselves. Most of the time I just forgot the whole diaper bag.
As the kids got older, they started to have social lives of their own. And it fell to me, as the stay-at-home parental unit, to keep their social calendar. I inevitably double-booked play dates, which is embarrassing because you have to cancel one and admit you had already made plans. Or I’d make a play date on the same day that they had a regular, once-a-week-every-week homeschool co-op class. I’d tell someone I could watch their kid, only to recall a day later that my kids had Swim and Gym at the YMCA. Or worst of all, I’d tell someone they could come over and completely forget about it, only to suddenly realize it that morning when they Facebooked me.
Unlike babies, you can forget to feed big kids. Big kids need breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, and dinner. You cannot omit the snacks or their blood sugar falls and they get crazy, especially if they have ADHD like my sons. But sometimes my kids don’t ask for food, and we all get wrapped up in something — because we all have ADHD — and the snack is forgotten. Eventually, the rage sets in, and it takes some raging before I realize, “Crap, my kids are just hungry.” At that point they’d rather rage than eat, so I have to coax them to the table with wonderfully delectable snacks, like Oreos. I wish I could give each of them a food pellet in the morning and forget about it.
The forgetting part of ADHD never goes away. I used to forget homework. Now I lock my keys in the car (or the house), leave my cell phone on the park bench, and forget to grab extra clothes for my potty-training three-year-old. It’s one of the most annoying symptoms of my primarily inattentive form of ADHD. I try to use calendar and phone alerts, but mostly, all I do is live with it. It sucks. I know I’m not alone.