What you’re about to read is something most parents of children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) have a hard time talking about. Many parents even have a difficult time accepting it. I know it took me a while to accept myself, but the fact of the matter is now that I’ve come to the realization, I feel an incredible amount of weight lifted off of my shoulders.
Here it goes. I said goodbye to my child, the perfect little angel that I dreamed about when I was pregnant. The child that I would spend many happy moments with when I took her to the park, shopping, and on family vacations. The child that would excel in school and be on the Honor Roll. The child that would have many friends and get invited to lots of birthday parties. The child that was always well behaved, respectful, and kind. She would be admired by both adults and her peers. Everyone would adore her.
Instead, I said hello to my actual child. The child that can have a meltdown at any given moment for any given reason no matter where we are. The child that can find something negative to say while she is at Disneyland, the friggin’ happiest place on Earth. The child that complains about school every single day, resists doing her homework, and doesn’t care about getting good grades. The child that is loud, impulsive, and immature, so she has a hard time making and keeping friends. The child that gets bullied and hardly ever gets invited to birthday parties. The child that gets judged and talked about for being different not only by her peers, but also by adults.
This. All of this is my child, my actual child, and do you know what? I love her. I adore her. I treasure her. Once I saw my child, I mean really saw my child, I was able to love her and help her the way she needed me to. I was able to tweak my parenting to fit her needs. It was life changing. And do you know what? Being her parent is a real pain in the ass.
Parents of children with ADHD have to deal with so much more than a typical parent. I feel like we use every ounce of our energy to help our children. We’re constantly researching therapies, medications, fidget tools, studying aids, etc. We’re also constantly having to advocate for our children and defend them. Whenever we get the chance, we try our best to educate others so they will understand our children and show them compassion and kindness.
As many ADHD parents know, ADHD is not just about not being able to focus or sit still. Many coexisting conditions can arise with ADHD, so parents are also helping their children deal with other conditions like depression, anxiety, and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). ADHD can also take a toll on a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence, so parents are constantly trying to help build these up in their children. ADHD and medications can also interfere with a child’s appetite and sleep.
There’s also the incredible amount of guilt and shame a parent can feel for a number of reasons. If you choose to medicate, you have to deal with the rollercoaster of finding the correct type and dosage, which will change often as your child grows. You also have to deal with the judgement of others for putting your child on medication, even though it is an extremely personal decision and you have spent many sleepless nights worrying about it. Parents can also feel guilt for feeling like they are neglecting their other children by spending so much time and energy on their child with ADHD. The list goes on and on.
Like me, being a parent to a child with ADHD is not what you envisioned for yourself and your family. It’s not the dream come true you fantasized about when you decided to start a family. Is your life more difficult because of your child? Yes. Is it more stressful? You betcha. Like I stated before, being a parent to a child with ADHD is a pain in the ass, because let’s be honest here, it really is. But think about all that you do for your child. Think about all of that love, help, support, and guidance you are giving them, have given them, and will continue to give them throughout their life. Think about all the ways you embrace them, their true selves, and their ADHD. To be honest, your child most likely does not see all that you do for them, which I know can be incredibly frustrating because you do not feel appreciated.
The bottom line (and the big picture) is this: I guarantee you that as your amazing child gets older, they will begin to realize all the wonderful ways you have gone above and beyond for them. They will be forever grateful that they were blessed with you as their parent, who allowed them to show their true colors and loved them unconditionally. You are the perfect parent for your child and you are doing a kickass job.
(This post originally ran on My Little Villagers)
About the author: Cristina Margolis is a mother of two Shopkins-obsessed little girls (Ages 8 and 5), who blogs about parenting (particularly about ADHD) at My Little Villagers. Her blog has been voted “Best of the ADHD Blogs” by CHADD numerous times and her work has been featured in ADDitude Magazine and on The Mighty, Scary Mommy, and ADDitude. She runs a worldwide pen pal program for children with ADHD called Pen Pallies and she is currently writing her first children’s book. You can follow her on her blog , Facebook, and Twitter.