As you are aware, I don’t often write stories. This was kinda therapeutic actually. Maybe I should do it more often. Let me know what you think.
a day in the life of a mom struggling with ADHD
BEEP BEEP BEEP! My husband’s alarm goes off with an ear-piercing sound every morning at exactly 5:15.
Why did I marry a morning person? I think as I turn my back to the sound of my husband jumping out of bed. He is totally awake as he flips on the bathroom light that shines onto our bed. He goes inside and I listen to him urinate contemplating how he can be in such a good mood.
Within what seems like a second he is walking back into the bedroom. I must have fallen back asleep. I force myself to sit up. I don’t even remember him coming out of the bathroom.
My eyelids feel like they are weighed down with lead. My low back, aches, my neck is stiff. I look at the clock, squinting in the darkness. It’s still dark at 5:45 a.m.. The fact that I cannot see a damn thing makes me think I need Lasik surgery. I wonder how much that costs? I swing my feet over the edge of my bed.
My left foot hits the floor, while my right foot lands half on and half off my glass-topped scale. “Shit” – I step on that thing every morning. I shuffle over to where I lay my clothing the night before. Without thinking, I slip on my jeans, stumbling as I try to get both legs in. Next I put on a bra, any bra, and my sweater.
I lay out my clothing at night so I don’t have to think in the morning.
No matter how much sleep I get, I am groggy every single morning. Not sure that is an ADHD thing, but it’s definitely a me thing.
I tip toe out of my bedroom, trying not to make a sound. God knows, my 5 year-old will wake up early and then I won’t get my quiet time. I need my quiet coffee time in the morning. Coffee = life. Yes I am self-medicating. Yes, I am ok with it.
As I drink my coffee and peruse my various shopping emails saved from the day before I hear a dull thud. The sound is coming from down the hall. He’s awake. I glance at the clock. 5:55 a.m..
I’m just gonna sit here and pretend I don’t hear anything.
The soft sound of little feet, then the hallway door opening. “Mommy – can I have chocolate milk?”
“Good morning!” I hold him as tightly as I can without him complaining.
I love the feel of his warm little body. I love that he still crawls into my lap and puts his head on my shoulder. He is so big but for this 10-second period he is still my baby.
“If you go and get dressed I will get your chocolate milk and a Belvita.”
“Mom, I want to stay in my jammies and watch Magic School Bus.”
“It’s a school day so you have to wear clothes, bud.”
“MOM I don’t want to go to school I want a stay home day!” voice getting noticeably louder.
I hear the creak of my husband’s desk chair as he gets up. It’s one of those old bankers chairs made of solid wood and metal. It weighs like 50 pounds.
My husband is there in an instant. “Elliott it’s too early to fight – get dressed, you’re going to school.”
While the two of them negotiate the terms of my son’s cooperation I walk in the kitchen trying to block it out. Grab a bpa free blue plastic cup and a straw. Grab both the chocolate and the unsweetened almond milk. They must be mixed in just the right ratio.
2 oz chocolate 4 oz plain microwaved 22 seconds. With a bendy straw.
My son chooses an outfit consisting of a blue minion t-shirt and a pair of grey and green Adidas athletic pants. Despite his vast knowledge of colors he definitely chooses some strange combos. I choose my battles.
I examine my head for grey hairs while I wait for the water to warm up. Jumping in the shower I wash my hair and work the conditioner through so that it can sit for a while. I shave my legs and all other parts of my body that I deem necessary.
Only when applying deodorant do I notice that I failed to shave my left armpit.
Rushing back into the living room I say, “ok that was one show, bud, time to turn it off.”
“Can I watch half of one Mommy?”
“No, we need to brush your teeth and get going.”
“MOMMY you keep saying the wrong things!” My son flips the switch. In my mind I picture his mood swings like a light switch. When the switch is upward he is on, loud and argumentative. When it is downward, he is calm and sweet.
I know I need to stay calm and model the behavior I want to see. Again, he screams, “You’re saying the wrong things!”
I turn on my heel while telling him that he is not allowed to treat me this way, and walk into the kitchen.
It is only 7:20 a.m. and I have already been screamed at twice.
“Moooom!” There is a growl from behind me.
“I don’t want you to just walk away!”
I take a deep breath, “I can tell you are having a hard time. What can I do to help?”
He responds by telling me I am being mean because I am not letting him watch more television. I tell him that since television makes him so upset, perhaps we shouldn’t watch any at all.
“I’ll tell you what, I am going to go and get my coat and scarf, why don’t you see if you can beat me to the garage?”
Crisis averted. He liked the idea of a challenge and went running for his shoes.
On the way to school I realize that I have forgotten his blue bear, which he has grown attached to over the last couple months. He never cared about this bear until recently. So I ask him, “E- can I have daddy drop off your bear at school later? We forgot him at home.”
Luckily he agrees as we pull into the parking lot. We are already a few minutes behind and I despise being late.
My son reminds me that I am a, “good driver but not a good parker. “
When did my 5 year-old start judging my parking?
As we walk up to the door I notice that I forgot my special key card to get in to his preschool. On one hand I am reassured about the security of this place, on the other hand I am inconvenienced because it reminds me of a prohibition era bar. You need a key card and a password just to get inside.
We wait at the door until another parent kindly lets me inside. I catch the look of annoyance on the director’s face, but pretend I don’t see it. I wonder if she notices how many things I forget to bring in and how often I forget them? I wonder what she put on my son’s application for that private school….
“Why did you forget the card to get in, Mommy?”
“Because I am forgetful sometimes.”
“But you are an adult.”
“Yeah, so what?” (smiling)
“Last one to my cubby is a rotten alligator egg!”
He takes off running down the hall. Running is technically frowned upon at school but I figure if his mood is good I am not going to do anything to change that.
We have an uneventful drop-off, with me reminding him to have a fun, fabulous and flexible day.
I won’t bore you with the details of my part-time job. If you are interested in how I stay motivated check out my Winning at Work Ebook for free when you SUBSCRIBE HERE.
Arriving home in the middle of the day I rush to get some lunch before starting the laundry. Seems silly to rush, but I don’t like the laundry piling up. Chaos in the environment is chaos in the mind.
Who said that?
While attempting to carry 40ish lbs of laundry down to my basement laundry room, the 15 year old cat in my house trips me, almost causing me to fall down the steps. Luckily I regain my footing and make it downstairs. Earl never really forgave me for moving in. He was my husband’s original roommate. I think he has some kind of master plan to take me out on the steps.
While starting the laundry I notice that my husband never put the holiday décor back on the shelves, so I start putting things back where they belong. Then I notice that the hubs also hung his work pants haphazardly on a hanger.
What is his deal? No wonder they are so wrinkled.
I talk to myself a lot. For some of us with ADHD, talking is how we release our pent up energy. Sometimes I talk really fast, too.
A half hour later I find myself on the floor of the basement bathroom attempting to scrub the grout in the tile floor. It was really bothering me. I had gone in there looking for something and gotten distracted by the grout.
Then it occurs to me – I was supposed to finish a guest post for another writer today.
Racing up the steps I grab my laptop and plop down at the kitchen table. I spend a minute gathering my thoughts, then open my word document. I started it yesterday so it was easy to find. Thank goodness because I can rarely recall the names of my various writing projects. (Or where I saved them.)
After 10 minutes spent centering myself I start to type, stopping here and there to self-edit. After about 30 minutes my mind has wandered to thinking about the show Pretty Little Liars.
That Charlotte chic was totally crazy but I don’t think any of the liars killed her. Maybe I should re-watch the last epidsode..
My phone beeps, I have a chiropractic appointment right now. I jump up grab my purse and race out the door. Jump in the car and peel out of the garage on my way to have my spine adjusted.
The whole way to the chiropractor I am berating myself:
You need something adjusted and it isn’t your spine!
Why can I not manage my schedule? I swear, if my husband didn’t remind me I might forget I have a child.
Luckily I have my phone set up to give me audible reminders of things on my calendar.
Note to self: Set reminders for 20 minutes PRIOR to appointments.
Yeah that’ll work.
I make it to the office for my adjustment only 7 minutes late. Nobody seems to notice or care. While having my neck adjusted I start to wonder where my wallet is. I hope it is in my purse.
I walk to the counter with a sinking feeling in my stomach, like I have swallowed a rock. Digging around in my purse I apologetically look at the girl behind the counter, “I cannot find my wallet in here.”
The woman giggles and tells me I can pay her next week when I come back. I make her promise not to tell my husband I owe her money, and she swears she will not. I walk to my car promising myself I will do better tomorrow.
On the way to pick up my son I dig around in the console looking for tissues. Instead I pull out my wallet.
When did I put that in there? WHY did I put that in there? God that must have been like 2 weeks ago….Have I not used my wallet in 2 weeks?….
Pulling into the parking lot I already have no memory of the 15-minute drive from the chiropractor. I was so buried in my own thoughts and recriminations I drove on autopilot.
Upon rounding the corner into my son’s pre-k classroom I hear a familiar screech, “Alex broke my robot!” As is the norm my son is having a meltdown because another child touched his Lego creation.
His teacher tells me that his “emotions were very close to the surface today.” Also, my son spent most of the afternoon throwing sand and rocks on the playground. Luckily, only 1 stray pebble hit another child and there was no mark, and no real injury.
This is my thought process after her report:
Great my kid is throwing rocks and hitting other kids…and screaming at other kids and then crying because he screamed…he is calling his teachers meanies….he is going to get kicked out of this Taj Mahal of daycare centers and I am going to have to quit my job and stay home to educate him….which will result in daily battles and me drinking too much red wine….and then I will spiral into a depression and my son will grow up to be a homeless person….or he will end up in jail, he hurts people you know?
All of this flashes through my mind in about 10 seconds.
My son gives me a hug and we leave with me thanking his teachers for another day of patience with my child.
On the way down the hall E decides that he wants a “treat” for having a good day. I explain that while the day was not bad, it certainly was not good either.
“Mom you can’t just say no all the time!”
He follows me, but not before he kicks the glass door in the entryway of his school, within full view of a room full of kindergarteners.
“Mom, you’re not going anywhere!”
Reminding him that everyone is watching us I continue walking out the door. He lunges toward me and hits me with his 5 year-old fist, right in the lower back while screaming “NO!”
He stands in the vestibule screaming with approximately 4 parents in the parking lot staring. I turn around and open the first set of doors, feeling like I might boil over with rage. I quickly grab my 47 lb child and drag him out the door.
He screams and holds onto the door. The 4 staring parents have been joined by a set of confused-looking grandparents who have decided to remain safely in their vehicle while watching the circus that is my family.
“I want my coat! I am not getting in the car until you get my coat and my treat!”
I continue to drag my child across the parking lot, trying desperately not to burst into tears. My heart is racing and I am exerting myself dragging him. He screams and kicks me when we get to the car. I open the door and drop my keys, hands shaking.
He slams the door closed, still screaming “NO” over and over.
I am so enraged that I yank the door open, adrenaline pumping I grab him and roughly throw him in the door, slamming it behind him.
In that moment I realize I could have hurt him. Oh my God, what if I hurt him?
I reopen the door and jump in beside him. He is laying across the seat sobbing, he looks at me and kicks weakly with his left foot. Tears are streaming down my face. I pull out my phone and call my husband.
He tells me he is “not getting in his seat.”
My husband answers, I tell him while screaming and crying with snot pouring down my face that, “HIS SON will not get in his seat…and everyone is staring at us….and I am humiliated!”
I hang up on my husband and tell my child that I am so angry at him I cannot even look at him. “Get in your seat right now!” I bark, my voice sounding like that of a stranger. He climbs in and I roughly buckle him into his seat.
We drive the half-mile home in silence. I pull into the garage, get out of the car and leave him belted in his seat. When I get inside my husband questions me as to where our child is. I tell him, “he’s in the car, keep him away from me.”
I close myself in my bathroom, which is the only place I can be alone. I sit on the floor and sob. The racing thoughts start again:
You are a piece of shi-t! You are abusing your child! He is this way because of you!…why is this happening?…. How did I let myself get so out of control? …I am screwing up my child. …. My husband is going to leave me.
I stay in my bedroom until it is time to eat dinner. Around 6pm I walk out to the kitchen relieved that I don’t have to cook. My son meekly walks up to me and gets onto my lap, right there at the kitchen table. I realize he just wants to be held.
So I do. I hold him and tell him I love him and I am so sorry I lost control. He tells me he is sorry he hit and kicked me.
We eat dinner in relative silence.
Bath time is handled by my husband, who is trying not to set me off. I take out my contacts while the two of them discuss the difference between alligators and crocodiles.
The difference is in the color and in the width of the snout – in case you were wondering.
E and I read a book together and snuggle. Eventually we tuck him into bed. Again I tell him how much I love him. I want him to know that even though his mother is flawed – and often completely out of her mind – he is the most precious thing in her life.
While I am getting ready for bed I find what appears to be a urine soaked paper towel on the back of my toilet. Strangely, this gross piece of paper makes me feel better.
Boys will be boys, you know?
Tomorrow is a new day. Another chance to do a better job than I did today. This was just a day in the life of a mom struggling with ADHD.
How does having ADHD impact your parenting?