On the ADHD Brink
Endless ADHD generated chaos doesn’t do it for me. As a parent of a child with attention deficit disorder, I need time to myself to take care of myself and the household.
I’ve been feeling more overwhelmed than usual for the last few weeks. It’s been a solid week since I’ve posted to my Parenting ADHD Kids blog, and that’s just one of the many things I’ve neglected.
My hair is three weeks past needing to be cut, and let’s not even talk about gray roots. I think I’m running my car out of oil again. I filled up with gas at 9:15 last night, on my way home from work, because the dummy light came on, but I couldn’t make myself check the oil. I haven’t spent a second on the presentation I’m supposed to have ready for a meeting that starts in one hour. I don’t have all the kids’ school supplies, and school starts Thursday. Natalie’s new glasses are broken, and need to be fixed by Thursday when school starts also. We’re all dangerously close to running out of clean clothes, and we’re already out of our household staples — milk and ice cream. Shall I go on, or do you get the idea?
Natalie, with her ADHD, is both a leading cause, and a prime victim of my recent mood. I know that, in order to go out into the world and enjoy the challenges of work, writing, parenting, and being a social being, I need certain things from my home base; my foundation. I need peace; organization. It’s sort of a feng shui thing. Endless ADHD-generated clutter doesn’t do it for me. In fact, it makes me crazy. But right now, the best I can do to fight it is to pick up the toys, blankets, clothes, stickers, markers, and garbage and throw them in a pile in Nat’s room so they’re out of my sight.
I’m also not in a good place to respond to Nat’s constant neediness. I reach my limit with Nat’s knees-and-elbows-wiggling-clinginess much sooner. I lose my temper, not just with Nat, but with her friends. (I said no screaming, Casey. Scream one more time and I’m calling your mom.)
My husband pays the price too. After 13 years of marriage, I’ve learned that I have to tell him when I’m feeling this way — it doesn’t show the way I think it does. Then he tries to give me a break now and then — 20 minutes to read, lets me be the one to leave the house to buy groceries. He fills the dishwasher. He asks, cautiously, if I mind if he plays racquetball in the evening before confirming his plans.
I’ve been here before. I know what I need to do to get out of my funk. I need to ask Don if he and the kids could go to his parent’s house for Labor Day weekend without me. Maybe I’ll pay someone for extra help (I don’t miss the Exorcist, but I sure do miss the clean clothes and sheets). I need to finish a couple of lingering projects, feel the satisfaction of crossing them off my list. Schedule one evening per week of respite services. Go for a walk once a day, whether I have time to do so or not.
This morning, as I was worrying that maybe I’m less able to tolerate life than other people, I ran into my friend Rob. He and his wife Sarah don’t have kids, but hosted various nieces and nephews at their home throughout the summer. He couldn’t believe how hard it was, he said. And they were all really good kids. But they eat 8 times a day! And they need entertainment and company! He doesn’t know how people with kids do it. It made me feel so much better to hear that. Maybe I’m not crazy after all! Not only do I have kids, I have a kid with special needs.
Sometimes, Rob, parents can’t do it. Sometimes the best we can do is to live through it.