ADHD Moms & Dads

“To My Kids: A Love Letter from Your Scatterbrained, Unpredictable, Truly Lucky Mom”

“My executive functions may fall short, but I exceed at keeping it real, adding a bit of unpredictable spice to every day, and giving bear hugs.”

A parent and child with ADHD have fun with hair curlers and sunglasses
A parent and child with ADHD have fun with hair curlers and sunglasses

I have some neurotypical mom friends and, frankly, I don’t get them.

They have dedicated junk drawers filled with a couple of errant paper clips and their coupon folios; I have junk closets, stuffed with unfinished craft projects, Happy Meal toys, and detritus from the early 2000s. Those mythological moms seemingly float through life with their clothes right-side-out, and they never so much as drop a cracker out of their pants during yoga class. Yes, they are a mystery. But other moms with ADHD? I get them, and they get me.

We are smart, savvy, and resourceful — just out-of-sync with the neurotypical crowd. Like so many other moms with ADHD, I bump and rattle through life, and my mothering style doesn’t quite qualify as mainstream but I’m no less (or more) a parent.

I Am a Default Chauffeur Driver (and Not Very Good)

Of course, my kids are routinely late for school. How am I supposed to know where my car keys are every single day?! But I also may deliver them pathologically early — because I get overly anxious about them never being on time. Those patient-as-Job boys also arrive at unanticipated times to unanticipated places. A 3.5-hour trip to Chicago can easily stretch into a 6-hour trek, past Grandma’s house and up to Wisconsin. No rhyme, no reason. It just happens.

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Dinner Is a Crapshoot

My mom always put a hot, food-pyramid-compliant dinner (for nine of us) on the table by 5:30 p.m. sharp. In my house, the food groups get tossed out in favor of tepid plates of whatever sludge I can dig up. The dinner window spans from about 4:30 p.m. until 9ish — and things get even more interesting if I zone out and forget that providing an evening meal is part of my job description. We call those “scrounge” nights, where every man, woman, and child is on their own.

I’m Not My Kids’ Personal Secretary; They’re Mine

I can’t remember many things – and my boys know that. (Simple verbal reminders lose effectiveness when I daydream about beach rocks or cage fighting or how good fabric softener smells.) My boys tape permission slips to the light fixture above the kitchen table, and they always check their lunchboxes before walking out the door – to ensure I have not packed them a can of condensed soup or my wallet. Again. I’ve trained them well.

After so many years of kicking myself, I am somewhat at peace with my ADHD-inspired foibles and peccadillos. After all, I have had this brain for 55 years, and it’s not going anywhere. My boys, though? They haven’t had a half-century to become acquainted with my mental meanderings. I’m sure they compare my brand of ADHD mothering to that of other moms — the ones who don’t forget to pick up their kids at the end of their first day at a brand-new school.

I know these near-men have learned a few things by having me as their mom. I pray they understand (or grow to understand) that nurturing and loving is not in the details. My executive functions may fall short, but I exceed at keeping it real, adding a little unpredictable spice to every day, and giving bear hugs. Equally as important, I hope they realize what took me so many years to grasp: Every brain is different, and a scattered one is just as lovely as any other.

Parenting with ADHD: Next Steps

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