“A Promise to My Son with ADHD”
One mom has more to learn from her son than she can ever teach him.
Most of you don’t know that my son has ADHD. You wouldn’t know because, until now, I haven’t told many people. Not because it’s something I’m embarrassed about. It’s something very personal to my family. In sharing my story, maybe there will be one less mom out there who feels alone and isolated.
Every school year, my son’s teacher told me a similar story: Jack doesn’t sit still, and Jack doesn’t focus. I chalked it up to Jack being a typical “hyper boy,” and shrugged it off, thinking that we would work on those things at home. Honestly, I could not get over the audacity of these teachers to expect so many things from such a small child. After all, was it not their job to teach him these things?
Truth is, in my heart, I’ve known that my son was different for a long time. I’ve known it from his first time on the soccer field, when he was more interested in chasing butterflies than playing the game. The hard part was admitting it to myself, saying it out loud, and embracing all that comes with this diagnosis — and ignoring the naysayers, who don’t believe that ADHD is a real thing, and all of those who think that I medicate my child so that he will be easier for me to deal with.
According to the CDC, 11% of children (ages four to 17) have been diagnosed with ADHD. These numbers are rising, from 9.5% in 2003 to 11.0% in 2011 (approximately 5% per year). Boys (13.2%) are more likely to be diagnosed than girls (5.6%). Nine out of 10 children diagnosed are treated with medication and/or behavioral therapy, both of which are well-researched ADHD treatments.
My husband and I didn’t make the decision to medicate our son lightly. In fact, it took years of going to different doctors, trying alternate treatment plans, new diets, and even holding him back from kindergarten for an extra year (though he was eligible). It was a gut-wrenching decision. I researched every medication on the market, saw multiple doctors, and attended ADHD seminars, before giving our son a single pill. I gave him that first pill with tears running down my face. I watched his every move, as a predator stalks his prey. I followed him to the bathroom, watched him as he ate/slept. I waited for signs that my boy was no longer himself. I was prepared to retreat at any point during this process, but the thing is, I didn’t have to.
Ultimately, these pills brought out more of my boy that I love so much. For that, I am grateful. We stayed firm in our decision to medicate, and I no longer hold back my son from thriving due to my own fears. It’s not what I envisioned for him, but it’s what’s best for him. That trumps everything.
Despite all of the negative things I’ve learned on this ADHD journey, I’ve also learned that I wouldn’t change the way Jack is for anything in the world. My boy is sensitive, caring, smart, and loving. He can also sing the most beautiful melody you’ll ever hear. He may not be a star athlete, but he has a great laugh and an even better sense of humor. He will ask if you are OK, if you’ve tripped and fallen, while everyone else will walk right past you. He will ask how your day was, or why you look sad? He will tell you, as he did one day, “Mom, I don’t need special gifts for doing well in school; I’m doing it for me, so that I can be proud of myself!”
I am so proud to be your mommy, buddy, and I always will be. I have more to learn from you than I could teach you. Please forgive me when I lack patience some days, while you are admiring the spring flowers, and I’m rushing you to put shoes on so that we aren’t late for school (again).
From here on out, I promise to stop and admire those flowers with you.