Today started out just like any other day. Woke up, put my eyes in, washed my face, brushed my teeth, got my running clothes on. While I did my morning routine, I could hear the arguing billowing up from below as Paul desperately tried to get both kids upstairs for breakfast. This is also part of the routine now…the arguing about getting dressed, how long it’s taking to get dressed, whining about getting dressed, etc. Then begins the battle to eat breakfast before we have to leave for school. Not sitting still, laughing about everything, not listening. As the medicine settles in, we start to see the kids slowly calm their reved engines down and begin to listen. By this time, nerves are fried. I have found that keeping calm during the morning routine and finding ways to quiet their minds (in combination with the medicine) has aided them in having successful days at school (especially for my son). But sometimes, well, you just lose it!
When your kids have ADD/ADHD, mornings and evenings can be very tough. Routine is key. We have a set morning routine but you are dealing with raw brains. No meds, no renforcements, no therapy. Just 10 hours of sleep and a brain that has seemingly forgotten everything you taught it the day before. It’s a constant battle that ALL parents of children with this disorder face daily. What’s worse, every day is different. Sometimes the disorder is almost dormant and they act as if they don’t need any medicine or intervention and then some days, like today, you wonder if ANYTHING you are doing is actually working. The inconsistency of both ADD and ADHD is maddening at times. Two steps forward, giant feet backwards. There are days you want to throw your hands up and just quit. But then I look into their faces and realize, they are just as frustrated by their disorder as I am. Imagine being trapped in a brain that is going at Ferrari speed but WANTS to go at the speed of a Ford Tempo. Hearing your child tell you, “Mommy, sometimes my brain hurts” is heartbreaking. But still you have days like today where you forget that they too are coping with this disorder and frankly are looking to you to help them because they are children. Today I completely lost it with my daughter. The buttons were all pushed (have been for 3 weeks now). She crossed the line, and I’m not even sure I drew that line.
After 30 minutes of arguing, talking back, sassing I finally lost my mind and yelled at her. Not yelling like “clean your room, young lady”. No. This was primal. Very primal. As if in self-defense. Fight or flight. I could feel it coming. I could feel myself beginning to shake. The pressure cooker that was building steam these last few weeks was finally going to explode. As it exploded my daughter’s face turned from sassy to complete and utter fear. She knew she had touched a nerve, pushed the wrong button. She knew this was the time to be quiet and listen. And all the while I vomited words. Telling her how ungrateful she was. How completely disrespectful she was becoming. That being 10 years old she is entering a new phase in her life where this behavior would no longer be excused but despised and not tolerated. I knew I was hurting her. I knew I was making her cry. I hated myself for doing it. I don’t want to hurt my children. But sometimes you forget you’re a parent and your primal self is unleashed. We all have the ability to become enraged. It’s not something we like to admit about ourselves. Thankfully this part of me doesn’t come out often but when it does, it is not only a wake up call for whoever is the unlucky recipient but for me as well. Today I raged at my daughter and scared her into submission. Some parents would say good, she knows who’s boss. However, this is NOT how I want to parent. I agree, a little fear of God is good for children. Children need to fear disappointing their parents, fear hurting them. My parents taught me who was boss through love, kindness, respect and a little fear. I still to this day fear disappointing my parents because I love them so much.
After all of us had calmed down, I finally explained to her why she had made me so upset. She quietly listened through tears. Like me, crying is not something she likes to share. I told her that I didn’t hate her, that I loved her very much and just wanted to help her be a happy, successful person. If I didn’t love her, I wouldn’t have cared enough to get upset (as sick as that sounds) or explain to her now why I was so bothered by her behavior. If I didn’t love her, I wouldn’t TRY to understand that she is dealing with a disorder that sometimes clouds her judgement. If I didn’t love her, I wouldn’t have apologized for my behavior. Yes, parents, when you lose it like that, you NEED to apologize. I hope by my apologizing for the way I handled myself this morning, she will see that I do respect and love her. I too make mistakes and am still learning, and just like that, turned this into a teaching moment for both myself and the children.
As we arrived at school, I could see that she was still upset. We hugged it out, said our “I love yous” and I received a SINCERE apology. Again, I reinforced to my daughter that I didn’t hate her but loved her very much and just wanted her to be happy. “I know mom. I know you are doing the best you can and sometimes I don’t make it easy on you. I’m sorry.” was the response I got as she left the car. It broke my heart but also left me with some hope that my daughter IS listening to the lessons we are teaching her as parents (as frustrating and pointless as they may seem at times).
I was supposed to park the car and go for a run this morning. But this wasn’t a “just run it out” kind of feeling. This was a “I’m totally exhausted and want to go back to bed” feeling. I have learned when to say when. Today was it. I needed to give in, say “Uncle”. Running this morning would have done nothing but make me more exhausted. I knew what had to be done. I knew I just needed to take time for myself and write; something I have been neglecting due to crazy schedules and a multitude of activities. Writing isn’t just my “job”, it’s my release. I run and write for the same reasons, release, sanity, health, and yes, so I can eat! But today I realized something, I can’t do one without the other. I can’t be all running and no writing or vice versa. These two outlets balance me. Even as I write this blog post, I am reflecting over this morning’s events and how I can do better next time along with how I can help my daughter work through whatever seems to be bothering her. I know some of this is the ADD but frankly, I think she is growing up and all of those confusing feelings that come with it are really challenging her. My job is to help her figure that out. Parenting is by far my most rewarding yet difficult job but I wouldn’t trade it for anything, not even for a quiet morning. And so the journey begins to strike a cordial balance between running and writing and knowing when to say when.