No one can give you a road map to motherhood. As you are carrying your children, you start to plan how you will raise them. When they are born, you start to plan their futures and teach them right from wrong with a laid out set of rules, guidelines and principles. As they get older, you start to introduce consequences and rewards and trust that your best will be enough to keep them walking a straight line. What no one prepares you for though, is when motherhood doesn’t go quite as smoothly as planned.
I have caught myself in recent years being envious of those parents who have well behaved children who are always good in class and who always end up on the honor roll. I have tortured myself wondering what I have done wrong that two of my three school aged boys have struggled (one with a diagnosed learning disability and one with a behavior disorder) and then one day I realized that it didn’t necessarily mean that I was doing anything wrong, it may just be a curve ball thrown at me in this journey called motherhood.
When my oldest was born, he was the best baby you could ever hope for. He was bright and a delight to be around. Starting around 15 months old, he started exhibiting behaviors that were somewhat normal, but his negative reactions and behaviors went far above and beyond the norm. As he entered school, his behavior was a problem from the start. I started the process of having him tested for ADHD at his kindergarten teacher’s urging, but stopped as I thought it was something he would grow out of. I even pulled him out and home schooled him for a year of 1st grade and then stuck him back into 1st grade the next year in school hoping that would give him the time to mature.
Unfortunately, as he reached 3rd grade, his behavior was out of control. Every second of every day was devoted to keeping him on track, walking on eggshells and just trying to survive. Anything could set him off, from not liking the shirt I picked for him to wear, to his brother’s looking at him the wrong way. From the second he woke up, it was one tantrum and defiant act after another. When he entered 4th grade this year, his behavior escalated again and he started to tell lies about us at school and about his school teachers to us. We ultimately tried counseling in our home with a professional and the counseling alone after months was not enough to make a change.
In December, my son was diagnosed with ADHD. In a way, it was a relief to know that my parenting was not the reason for his behavior. After trying some natural ways of managing the condition, we placed him on a dose of Ritalin and the results have been life changing. I no longer have to play mediator or live in fear of what each day will bring. He is no longer constantly grounded or losing privileges and he is praised at school with improving grades. He is the loving, caring and generous child I always knew was lurking behind the confused feelings.
Our goal is to ultimately teach him the skills that he needs to deal with his feelings and problems on his own and take the medication away, but while that process takes place, the medicine helps him think before he acts and focus on the consequences for potential actions. Later this week, I am going to introduce The Total Transformation Parenting Program that I was given the opportunity to review. It is designed to help parents teach children the skills they need to deal with their feelings constructively, instead of creating negative behaviors as an adaptation.
I wanted to post this to give other mothers courage though. I don’t think there is any way to explain how difficult it is to parent a child with ADHD. It goes beyond regular misbehavior in an extreme way and I feel that parents of these children are often wrongly judged because parenting them in the normal way does not work. I know that I went for years feeling like an inadequate parent, but now that we have found the problem, I am doing everything in my power to learn an effective way of parenting for the condition that my child has. Motherhood may not always go as planned, but it is a blessing each and every day regardless of the curve balls it may through you.