I’ve never thought of myself as the jealous type. I don’t think I’ve ever been driven by envy or jealousy. In all my 42 years, I’d never use either of those two words to describe myself, until recently.
You know that old joke, I was a great parent, until I had kids? That’s me.
Yesterday was hard. My son, who has ADHD, didn’t want to wake up for school and things escalated. Soon there was screaming (him), crying (both of us), and broken dishes all over the kitchen floor.
I never experienced anything like that before. Explosive tempers are new to me. This was a cold, hard slap in the face.
After we got everything together and made it to school, I sat in the parking lot for a while. Mostly, I was too upset to drive, but also, I replayed the morning’s events in my head. Would I have done anything differently? Replay. Replay. Replay.
No, I did it right. We’ve been going to therapy as a family and I stuck with the parenting recommendations. I kept my cool and didn’t raise my voice. I said, “I’m listening,” over and over. I gave reminders and chances; I set timers and established boundaries and expectations calmly. I deserved a medal for this skirmish.
Even though I did the best I could, these outbursts usher in guilt and envy for me because as I’m sitting there, watching the other parents bring their kids to school, I wish I was them. I wish it wasn’t so much of a relief for me to drop my child at school, that I didn’t relish the break so much. I wish picking him up from school didn’t hit me with trepidation. Can we play when we get home, or will there be meltdown after meltdown? Will we laugh at dinner, or cry?
I feel guilty because my son needs more attention than my daughter, but I want so badly to spend more time with her. Laughing, crafting and having fun. Instead, I find myself working so hard to switch my emotions to match the needs of each child, that flipping from funny mom to masking the frustration and anger is going to cause smoke to come out of my head.
I feel guilty because I get mad at him. I’m not the parent I want to be, and I blame his behavior. I love my kids with every ounce of my being, but this ADHD thing can suck it.
Parenting a kid with ADHD is hard and it affects the whole family. So many people think ADHD is a failure on mom and dad’s part to control their kid, provide discipline or even have a parental spine.
It’s learning how to parent a square-peg kid in a round-hole world. It’s knowing your kid’s brain is going a million miles an hour, and you just can’t keep up. It’s convincing yourself every day that you’re doing the best you can and tomorrow you’ll do better.
It’s not all bad, though. As fierce as my son is, he loves and protects just as ferociously. His creativity is a true joy to watch and his dimples still melt my heart. These are the things that keep me on track. These are the things that help me to soar.
– Rebecca Calappi is a freelance writer, adoptive mom to twins and past Parenting Program participant. Surprisingly, she’s mostly sane.