There is no manual or universal solution. This makes parenting really freaking hard. Let's not make it any harder than it already is by passing such harsh judgments, ok?
Are you struggling to make the "right" decision about something regarding your child?
You might organically shift through countless "small yet big" decisions every day, but sometimes you stumble on something that keeps you wide awake all night long, right?
Let's just say, I've noticed there are quite a few new cracks in my bedroom ceiling since my daughter was diagnosed with ADHD.
Yes, I have joined the team of parents making hard decisions about how to support a child with an "executive functioning disorder." I am more uncertain than I care to admit about how best to support my girl, but one thing I do know for certain is that I am NOT alone.
From a few stolen conversations I've had in recent weeks, I note there are many moms hiding a struggle that begins with managing major emotional outbursts and doesn't end with academic or social discord. For all my talk about resilience, I've been rather anxious about my daughter's wellbeing.
You would think having overcome the judgment that came with William's burn injury would make me immune to the scrutiny that comes with Catherine's ADHD. I'm not. I also wrestle mom guilt about what caused it, what it really means for her future, and how to best manage it.
I have agonized about sharing this struggle with you.
I almost didn't, because my primal instinct is to "protect" my daughter by keeping her diagnosis hidden as the shameful secret we are so quick to assume it should be. Indeed, there is a valid argument for me to keep my mouth shut and deal with it all quietly.
But then I think of the power of "Me too," which I wrote about last week. What I cannot ignore, cover up, or fix from William's accidental burn injury forced me to grow into a better, stronger version of myself. When you pair that with his recent rise as the phoenix he has become, I found myself staring at the validation and courage I needed to share a piece of Catherine's journey with you today.
My goal is to guide Catherine to know that with every struggle comes a gift. I have already told her no label should ever define her, but the diagnosis she received will help me and her teachers better understand not only her weaknesses, but her strengths. I pray for the wisdom I need to nurture her vibrant spirit in such a way that she will thrive within the constraints of the complicated, judgmental, intolerant, and demanding world she inhabits.
No, I don't have all the answers, but I'm going to research, question, and listen with an open mind and heart. We will try different "solutions," and if we fail, we will persist until we discover the best formula of support for HER.
Given this, I am compelled to say that wherever you are on your journey as a mom and however you are going about it, I am not going to judge you. Instead, I want to shower you with love and kindness, because I think that's what we all need on our hardest day in the trenches of motherhood.
I also notice compassion is what my daughter craves from me and the world around her which leaves me wondering,
How can we give and receive compassion if we don't first own up to our struggles, whatever they might be?
At the very least, I hope we can overcome the stigmas associated with this "label," because two months into my official ADHD journey, I'm already fighting them.
See, a teacher/mom I happen to greatly respect recently told me she believes any parent who medicates a child for ADHD is taking the easy way out saying,
"A lot about that diagnosis and how it is treated is a cop out."
While I do think that managing kids in a classroom who have this "challenge" offers her a unique perspective (and requires unwavering patience), I don't think she can possibly understand the depth of my struggle as a parent or she would NOT have made this remark.
I say this with compassion, knowing I might have been quick to judge another parent before my daughter's path unfolded and said, "That label is just a fad. Did you try to change her diet first? Did you really try EVERYTHING?"
Point being, I don't believe there is any simple or easy way out of parenting an "atypical" child regardless of what our "decisions" are. I also happen to think our kids can flourish because of their "challenges" if we teach them there is beauty in imperfection, but my hope wavers here as I think,
How will we teach our children to embrace imperfection if we are so afraid of failure and flaws? How can we overcome shame if it is unsafe to speak our whole truth?
If we cannot get comfortable with "imperfection," then we'll never fight the stereotypes placed not only on us as parents, but our children. From my own struggle, and what I gather observing the moms walking this journey with me, "lazy parenting" simply does not coexist with ADHD. I also want to add that I think my daughter is incredibly gifted. This inspires me to wonder out loud,
Why should I teach my daughter to shamefully cover up a biological condition that breeds both struggle and talent?
Catherine needs to know I love and accept her, flaws and all, and I intend to shower her with that unconditional love I feel in my heart for her. Then, what a mom like me needs is compassion. Regardless of how we decide to "treat" a condition like this, it's not easy hearing the trajectory of your child's life is playing out differently than we imagined it would and I want to suggest,
"There is no manual or universal solution. This makes parenting really freaking hard. Let's not make it any harder than it already is by passing such harsh judgments, ok?"
I replaced judgment with compassion in the moment I looked at William wrapped in bandages and wondered how his accidental injury would really influence his life. His burn injury didn't fit into the path I had in mind any more than Catherine's ADHD, and it took a quite a while for me to wrap my determined and protective maternal instinct around these unexpected adversities.
I don't know specifically what my flourishing compassion means for my kids, but I pray with every fiber of my being they will thrive despite their struggles and my inevitably imperfect parenting. This is the motivation behind my endless curiosity about things like resilience and post-traumatic growth. I'm feverishly compiling research that will convince you to see potential we have to grow through adversity and if you are curious to know what I uncover, subscribe to my email list below.
The words I write on resilience and motherhood flow easily, but are often terrifying to share. This unease leaves me feeling a bit beaten down and weathered yet the reflection I see in the mirror these days is authentic and rather beautiful, because of the compassion that has grown in my heart.
I hope this unbridled compassion is what you feel with every word I ever write and you might read.
Motherhood isn't easy.
There is no perfect way, or a quick fix. There's simply no easy solution to any of our struggles.
Knowing I am not alone continues to sustain me, so if my words resonate will you send me a message? Those personal notes laced with "me too" that land in my inbox are the nourishment that fuels my motherhood soul...
Please let me know I'm not alone, and help me reach the other moms you know might need to experience the power of "Me too" as well, by liking and sharing this post. Then let's figure out a way to rise above the negative stigma that comes with a diagnosis like this. Together we might show the world not only how amazing our children truly are, but how beautifully resilient this journey can make us.
Maybe then I should leave you with one of my favorite quotes said by Leonard Cohen,
"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."