There are moms, and then there are Moms with ADHD.
Anyone who tells you being a mom is sunshine and rainbows all the time is either lying or delusional. Only other moms with ADHD can truly understand the complexity of our situation.
There have been some really good articles and books written about women with ADHD, but most of them only touch on the, “mom” part of things. So I set out to bring that conversation into the mainstream.
Women and mothers with ADHD need a place to gather that is not on social media.
We’ve made progress but it’s important to acknowledge the things we’re all still struggling with.
things all moms with ADHD understand
Most women and mothers feel overwhelmed at some point in their lives. But for you and I, overwhelm is a constant companion. No matter how hard we try we can never do enough.
Parenting feels impossible but we’re told it should come naturally . The everyday stuff feels like it requires more energy for us to do it. And there’s an endless to-do list, so we often spin in circles unsure where to start.
The easiest thing to do is prioritize the needs of others. Your children, partner, employer.
This default to meeting the needs of others leads to burnout and you feel you have no control over your time, and perhaps even your own mind. It’s frustrating to feel like your brain is working against you but knowing you are capable of so much more.
All moms have some level of mommy guilt. But when you have ADHD the act of parenting takes on a whole different meaning. So many people think** ADHD is caused by poor parenting that you feel like you have to do a better job just to compensate for your own diagnosis.
You might decide that becoming the BEST mother is your life’s mission and start to hyperfixate on every aspect of your parenting. While that’s a worthy goal, you don’t want to spend too much time comparing yourself to other women.
Raising children requires an enormous amount of executive function. Depending on how ADHD shows up for you there will be good days, but also some really BAD days. Practice reminding yourself that even the bad days come to an end.
One bad day does not make you a terrible mother.
Try not to spend too much time up in your head thinking about all the ways you could potentially FAIL at mothering.
No matter how hard we try, we still feel guilty. For having ADHD, for passing on the ADHD genes, and probably for things that haven’t even happened yet.
Estrogen is actually helpful when it comes to ADHD – see my article on women’s hormones and ADHD. As estrogen fluctuates throughout our lives, so do the ADHD symptoms and how we respond to them.
The first thing most women mention is their terrible working memory.
“Why did I come into this room?”
“What was I saying….?”
I cannot leave the house without forgetting something. I go in and out of the garage three times to get my son’s backpack, my license, my water bottle. Every transition comes with forgetting the accompanying objects.
As long as you don’t forget your child, you’re doing fine.
We don’t hold information in our minds very long. It is what it is – so we might as well develop a sense of humor about it. And sometimes a sense of humor helps break the ice when we’re feeling awkward.
Feeling Socially Awkward
Moms with ADHD tend to feel awkward around other moms.
I remember going to a local mom’s group once and feeling like I had nothing in common with any of the other mothers. I never went back. Not because they were unfriendly, they just weren’t my people.
If you happen to be an introvert with ADHD, too much social interaction is exhausting. It’s hard to listen and engage. You have to follow the string of the conversation even if it’s boring while also keeping an eye on your child to make sure they are behaving appropriately with the other children. This is a lot of pressure.
You don’t have to make friends with all the moms. I’m giving you permission to pick and choose.
It’s probably easier to find just one or two women you feel comfortable with or share something in common with, and go from there. Don’t force yourself to join school PTA or sign up to be the soccer team mom.
With that said, I know you’re probably worried that you might be perceived as, “lazy” if you don’t do ALL THE THINGS.
Being Perceived as Lazy
One of my biggest fears is that the people close to me will start to think I am some kind of loser. I have two degrees I don’t use. And working from home people assume I have all the time in the world to volunteer or chat. (Or watch their children during a pandemic)
When I tell someone I’m unavailable I have no idea how it is perceived. But…
… it’s better to say NO, and commit to less, than it is to piss people off by now showing up at all.
You don’t really need to offer an explanation for saying no to things you aren’t able to do.
Accept that you have limited energy, and give what you have to the people and things that actually matter.
I do my three things per day, and allow that to be enough.
Because of my hormones and my ADHD I can have some errrrr… mood swings. If you relate to this I see you.
The demands of child rearing, socializing, work etc. can be a lot for us to juggle. Some of you are single parents trying to mange it all on your own. Again I see you.
I won’t get too sciencey – but your brain is wired differently. When something happens and you are forced to attend to new stimuli – that will trigger an emotional reaction. Good or bad the reaction is bigger for us. Sometimes the reaction is so big we get overloaded and are unable to think clearly for several minutes.
I need you to know you are not alone in these moments of shutdown. It’s not about “fixing” it. It’s more about developing a skills set that allows you to move through the emotional overload.
Finally, consider the idea that you are enough. Even with your overwhelm, your guilty, and your emotional volatility.
You are enough as a person, and you are a good enough mother.
This is a real thing, it’s been studied.
Self-coaching around this stuff takes time and practice, but that’s what we do in the Enclave – we teach self-coaching skills to overwhelmed women and mothers.
Social support is so important on the ADHD journey. You can’t do life or motherhood alone.
Moms with ADHD need and deserve more support and safety nets.
Check out the ADHD Enclave. We have a special group just for moms!