Now I understand that the title probably made some of you say “What? Who would say that?” But I’m sure that there are plenty of parents out there that feel the way I do.
My son was born on November 6th of 2003. When they laid him on my chest all I could think was “Oh my god, you’re beautiful. I will never let you down and I will always love you. I don’t understand why parents say they can’t stand their children…I could never feel that way about you.” Now obviously, the love part was a true statement. But I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I can’t stand my son. Being an 18 year old, newly single mother, knowing nothing about ADHD, it was a rough start.
My son had problems with crying and tantrums from the time he learned how to mimic. All I knew about ADHD was that the kids don’t listen and they’re really hyper. Simple enough right? Wrong. Confusing, frustrating… INFURIATING.
Let me first say that if you’re in the same boat as me and, even if you know about ADHD and have supporters or psychiatrists behind you, think that you’re going crazy…you’re not. I promise. Nobody believed me when I told them about my sons actions because they never saw it. The University of Iowa even told me it wasn’t him but it was all me. As time went on, my friends and family started seeing the behavior and finally the school did too.
I’ve heard plenty of people say that parenting is a full time job and of course it is, but I never knew how hard until I sat on my couch one day with tears running down my face because I didn’t know what I did so wrong to make my son act the way he did. My mom still, to this day, tells me that being a parent is the HARDEST job in the world.
So, with that said, let me get down to the nitty-gritty of my parenting experience.
First off, I’d like to say that I am not a model parent. I do the best I can and most of the time I feel that my best isn’t good enough! So why did I choose my title? I’ve had to learn to re-love my son. I will always love him because he’s my son… but, half the time I can’t stand him. That’s some brutally embarrassing honesty for you.
For the last 8 years, my parenting journey has been more struggle then it has been joy.
If we’re looking at factual evidence, we can turn to the National Institute of Mental Health. The symptoms of ADHD are:
Being easily distracted, forgetting things, difficulty focusing on one thing, often losing things, difficulty completing or turning in homework, not listening when spoken to, easily confused, moving slowly, struggling to follow directions, extreme fidgeting and inability to stay seated, nonstop talking, touching everything in sight, impatient, blurting out, acting without regard for others or consequences.
My son did and does every single thing on that list, plus more!
Now I’ll be the first to admit that parenting skills (or a lack there of) don’t HELP ADHD children. I have evaluated and re-evaluated myself and felt hopeless at times. By the age of 4 my son was throwing tantrums Monday through Sunday, every night at bedtime, that lasted anywhere from 1-3 hours. Neighbors complained, toys were thrown, mommy threw her cell phone out of anger (and broke it!), screaming took place, and so on and so forth.
By the age of around 6, my son said “I’ll slit your throat” and called me a few obscene names. When he throws tantrums it’s over anything and everything from not getting an extra snack to having to brush his teeth before bed (which he does every night). When he gets in one of his moods, his eyes glaze over and he’s completely tuned out to anything around him. Sometimes he would scream at the top of his lungs for hours. Most of the time he would get incredibly violent with me and do everything from hitting me, spitting in my face, throwing heavy objects at my head, to scratching him and head butting me.
Obviously I wouldn’t just LET him do those things and I would have to physically restrain him. I’ve tried every tactic to get the tantrums to stop, because I’m well aware that every child tantrums and it’s not always about the ADHD. What I Didn’t realize, fully, was that the ADHD was inhibiting his ability to control his outbursts and come back down to “reality” once they started. He would run away from me, laugh hysterically (almost evilly, it seemed), and one time he even ran up the stairs when leaned down to pick up my phone and locked me out of my apartment for 45 minutes.
In fact, just a few weeks ago, he ran away from him and ran out of the apartment completely naked, laughing and saying “what ya gonna do now fatty?”
I’ve been doing a lot of research on my own and a lot of reading at Barnes And Nobles because the doctors and psychiatrists honestly haven’t helped me one bit with understanding and handling my sons behaviors. I never wanted to be one of those parents who was so quick to medicate their children, but it got the point where I had to do something, because I was quickly getting to the point where I wanted to give up.
We started on Vyvanse and within one week I had a completely different child who wasn’t a zombie but a better version of himself. We’ve upped the medication and added some and he’s behavior is slowly getting better. With all the research I’ve done it’s been a comfort to me and offered me so much more patience. Yes it’s still tiring and he struggles in school and at home, but it’s not nearly as bad.
Now back to the topic of “Re-Loving” my child. Through his behaviors, my behaviors, ADD-ADHD, and my lack of proper discipline (and sanity), I became disconnected from my child. Again, let me reiterate that I always love him to a certain extent, but not the way I felt that I should.
I’m slowly learning to re-connect to him and re-love him. I’m seeing the positive side of him that I knew was there and I’m seeing the efforts of my labor shining through. It’s a constant battle and, at least one every day, I have to stop and verbally ask myself, “Is this a situation that he honestly can’t handle or control his behavior?”. Once I ask that question I take a deep breath and I am able to interact with him as a parent with positive disciplining skills and not a drill sergeant at a treatment facility.
I notice so many more things that re-affirm that I’m doing things successfully as a parent. Just the other day, we were driving home from school and he saw a little girl walking by herself. He said, very concerned, “Mommy… WHY is that girl walking by herself?”
“What do you mean sweetie? Should she not walk by herself?”
“No, mommy,” he replied, brows furrowed. “A girl shouldn’t be walking by herself. A boy should be with her. What if something happens to her?!”
My heart skipped a beat and I was reminded how much I love my child.
I am actively working towards praising him every day for what he does right, because it’s so easy to choose to “go to battle” with my son when he rarely even knows why he’s fighting in the first place. When I learned what ADHD really was and that it isn’t just an excuse for medication, I realized that I have had ADD. I realized that that is why I struggled in school, why I struggle now, and why my brain never shuts off.
Keep fighting for your child. As they say… you Have to be your Childs advocate because they can’t yet advocate for themselves. Learn to Re-Love your child and it will go a long way.