I have mentioned before that my Tween boy has ADHD. I don’t think that ANYONE can fully understand what it is like to parent a child like this without having been in the situation themselves. Unfortunately you will only truly get it if it is your reality.
I had a normal, healthy pregnancy with my Tween. I ate all the right food, I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke. I gave birth naturally and without any drugs, I breastfed, I bought all the best educational toys, I read to him. I nurtured. In other words, I did all the “right” things. My child slept well and even though he was a poor eater I didn’t worry too much because he was thriving. I really enjoyed the new baby stage with him. He was so, so easy. He was emotionally secure and I could leave him with one of his Grannies and literally come and go as I pleased. His milestones were all earlier than normal and he was speaking in full sentences from about a year old.
At some point I felt that something wasn’t quite right. Call it a hunch, call it instinct or whatever. I just felt that something about him was a bit off. HE was exceptionally busy – I thought this was normal though and I didn’t have a child before so had no real frame of reference, and I noticed that he couldn’t hold a crayon properly. I noticed that his drawings were all over the place and when I asked him to draw himself one day it was clear to me that there was simply no order/structure to his thoughts. I think that this raised the alarm bells for me.
I raised my concerns with the people in my life who told me that I am imagining things and that I am expecting too much from him. Everyone told me that he was perfect and a typical little boy. Still I couldn’t let go of this niggly feeling that I had. I phoned an OT and explained my concerns. I told her that he seemed to be unable to complete tasks, he couldn’t hold a pencil etc and I also discussed other things with her that were bothering me. I was referred to an Educational Psychologist who after an intense assessment officially made the diagnosis when he was 4.
I’m not going to discuss in this particular post the steps that we took from that point – this is a whole series of posts.
I am however going to discuss how I came to the point of acceptance.
For a long time I was very, very angry about it. The more I researched and dealt with people who were ignorant and didn’t understand, the angrier I became. How could this be happening to me? I had looked after myself when I was pregnant and I had done ALL the right things. Little things started to annoy me. Things like seeing pregnant women who smoked and who used drugs during their pregnancies going on to have perfect children who didn’t need any form of intervention.
I was angry with God about it. I prayed for my unborn child throughout my pregnancy. I was very specific about my prayers for him. I didn’t ask for a child with blue eyes and fair skin. I didn’t ask for a Nobel Peace Prize Winner. I didn’t ask for an Actuary or a Scientist or an Astronaut with red hair. I very specifically prayed/asked for health for him. Health in body, mind and spirit. I felt like my prayers weren’t answered. Surely if he needed to be medicated in order to do something as basic as paying attention or to assist him to focus on completing a task then he was not healthy in mind? At the time, that was all that I could see.
My DH however felt differently. He insisted that our prayers were answered. After all, we didn’t have a child with Down’s Syndrome or Cerebal Palsy. Our child was not blind. Or mentally challenged. Our child was not terminally ill. Our child WAS healthy in body, mind and spirit. He felt that yes, there were challenges ahead but that it was like having a child with diabetes for example, and meant that we needed to make certain changes in our lifestyle. I find it amazing how completely differently we saw it back then. I love that he was always positive about it and that he ALWAYS looked for the silver lining throughout it all.
For the next few years I went through the motions. We all did. My DH and I got empowered. We studied. And researched. And spent serious money trying to figure this thing out. We learnt everything we could about ADHD – I still read a lot about it. We made the necessary adjustments to fit it into our lives. We figured out (all by trial and error) what worked and what didn’t as well as which types of situations were conducive to his issues and which were not.
And I prayed. All the time. Every single day I prayed for healing of this “thing” that we were dealing with. I saw this “thing” as my enemy and I wanted it out of our lives. All I wanted for my son was boring and normal.
Two years ago I saw a Psychologist for PND. We spent about 7 sessions discussing this very issue. I cried a lot (and yet I thought at that point that I had come to terms with it – clearly I hadn’t) and I spoke a lot. I went back and forth with it. After one of our sessions she gave me homework. I was to write my son a letter and list EVERYTHING that I loved about him.
Somehow this was a turning point for me. I wrote that letter with tears streaming down my face and finally realised that he was perfect in every single way. It finally hit me that we all have a form of disability and that not all our disabilities are obvious or of a physical nature.
I wondered if he would have the same sunny personality if he didn’t have ADHD. I wondered if he would be the innocent child that he was (the one who cried when we killed spiders) if he didn’t have ADHD. I wondered if he would be the same good-natured, compassionate boy if it wasn’t for the ADHD. I wondered if he would be as brilliant and creative and dynamic as he was if it wasn’t for the ADHD.
It was at this point that I finally realised something. I needed to stop praying for it to disappear. It is part of what makes him who he is. It is part of what I LOVE about him. It is part of what makes me love him the way I do.
Nowadays I pray for strength and for courage to stand up for him when I need to, and for wisdom to help him manage his condition into adulthood.
Because I realise that ultimately, he will be fine. He will be a fully functioning adult with a few challenges (like all of us) but he WILL be fine. He will cope. He will fit into society. He will contribute to it in a positive manner.
And he will love the way he is loved.