You’re the reason daddy left us! Those were the harsh words coming out of my 10-year-old son’s mouth in a moment when anger got the best of him. Since then I cannot stop thinking about his statement so full of recrimination. It’s hard to comprehend what goes inside of a child’s mind that is not willing to share his uttermost feelings and reacts this way. His bursts of anger are getting so out of hand, I fear for his safety and mental health.
I understand the place he is coming from. He desperately wants a consistent male figure in his life, someone who he can call “Dad” someone to rely on. It’s hard to grasp why his father choose to abandon him. It’s hard to understand why mommy got married out of love and one day she decided she was not happy and she needed to move on without dad.
I don’t expect him to understand any of those events now. He will make his own assumptions in the future, what it worries me is the NOW, the holistic perspective of his ADHD condition and how this is affecting him at both home and school. I look over our Family Plan of Care. The details are painful. Joshua has a history of emotional and physical abuse from his dad, he has become verbally and physically aggressive at home, yelling, kicking, and throwing objects. Not long ago he threatened to take his own life and thus we spent a very painful afternoon at the hospital for an evaluation. The worst thing for a mother or any parent is watching your little one head for the same traumas and life you had.
He’s taciturn and withdrawn. His brother on the other hand, is loud, friendly, funny and charismatic. Lucio and I share a passion for books and that’s how we spend time together, with Josh it is more challenging, he does not like to read, he doesn’t want talk to me period. But I am not giving up! I’ll learn to master chess so we can play together, I’ll encourage him to continue pursuing photography just like I do, I will not push him to speak about his feeling if he doesn’t want to, I’d let him cuddle with me at night to share those precious moments when dark at night my little one longs for my company and squeezes in and allows me to embrace him and our space is a little bit more warm and loving.
I cannot pretend to change the way he is, I see myself in him, the scared little one, quiet, and insecure…Self-awareness is what fuels the small amount of energy I have left. Motherhood through ADHD/ADD it is a job from hell. It requires organization, time-management skills, therapy, new diets, fish oil, etc…Sometimes typical parenting advice does not work for ADHD moms leaving us more frustrated and more alone. I could blame the SuperMom, Pinterest, Facebook photo albums giving us a false picture of what a good life should be like. It’s time to ignore everyone else and follow self-care techniques and reachable goals every single day. I read somewhere that seeking normal is too boring. I couldn’t agree more.
There comes a time when a parent has to brush off whatever pain is inside because of the sole concept of being responsible for somebody else’s present and future. I do blame my kids of the little time I have for myself. Once the tantrum is over, I realize I am the one who needs to prioritize quality ME time. There is no other way I’d give quality time to my children if I’m not well. But what happens when we cannot brush off Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, etc…? You have to embrace it especially when the kids fall into the same spectrum of mental Illness. I think mental health advocate moms agree with me on the idea of preparing children when the storm hits; meaning their mommy running to the ER, depression spells, hallucinations, etc…They shouldn’t understand absolutely everything, but indeed to formulate the basic concepts of self-care and how to make use of our safety plan when needed.
My goal is to be my kid’s best advocate and help them develop a realistic and positive self-image. Sometimes it seems I surrender of exhaustion and let them run freely. It happens when a manic spell kicks in making it difficult to be with them. In spite of that, I am learning how to validate their feelings instead of engaging on “back talk” that always creates power struggle. We are learning to practice our “I statements” properly, feeling angry doesn’t translate as wishing to end your life. The hardest part is to change the continuing shift thinking my boys are the problem that needs correction. That would be mean I’m attacking their character and therefore it pushes them away to share about their concerns and feelings.
I need to break away from the boomerang effect because my son’s current estrangement hurts me like hell. Joshua is indeed anxious and depressed; one of the few things that have worked is sitting next to him watching T.V. instead of having a face to face conversation. I try not to bombard him with too many questions, just small talk. We talk a little about school until he finally opens up and shares about him. These are small victories for someone who is learning how to talk to her sons so they will listen (like the book!)
I know why Daddy left! He continues. I can’t help but cry miserably in front of him. There will be more tears coming up, but his expression changes. He looks frightened and remains silent. I feel embarrassed by my display of tears but soon the battle is over. He apologizes the next day and gives his best to follow his daily routine (along with his home based counselor, we have come up with a point system and a treasure box to praise his efforts and reinforce discipline). He does try, but soon his ADHD kicks in and the chaos starts once again.
The quiet/ADHD child requires a lot of patience and mindfulness. We parents are the best emotional coach our little ones can have. There’s no such thing as the perfect mother. Erase that notion out of your head and don’t feel guilty if the house is not spotless clean. Like many, I often feel I’m at the end of my ropes being a mom who has a lot on her plate and would love some tranquility in her life. When stress comes knocking on my door, I think about my sanity, get rid of the guilt, and never forget to ask for help. Is boring to be a parent by the book.