ADHD….The Gift That Keeps On Giving

So since Jen had to go and get all serious with her sappy post and since I am in no way a competitive person, I decided I should top her post with my own serious take on life.

When you become pregnant for the first time, you can’t help but imagine what you child will be like or what kind of parent you will be.  It’s only natural.  When I was pregnant with my daughter, I thought about this often and wondered…what would she look like?..what would her little voice sound like?…what type of personality would she have?  But there is also that fear in the back of your mind…what if something is wrong with my child?  Those thoughts are the ones you push back and try not to let creep up front.  I once asked my husband what we would do if our child had a problem, a special need or disability.  He answered “we’d deal with it.”   Just that simple.  At the time, I don’t think either of us really thought we’d actually ever have to do just that.

My daughter did not follow the rules even in the womb.  Morning sickness over after the first trimester?  Not with my kid.  Long labor with your first kid? Nope.  My daughter couldn’t wait to come into the world.  My doctor didn’t even make it to the birth.  My husband and two nurses delivered my little peanut before she could arrive. (I asked if I got half off the medical bill since she was only there for half of it, but no go).  Once she was out in the real world, this little girl did not slow down.  When other kids were taking two long naps a day, my kid was taking 15 minute cat naps.  Sleeping through the night?  Not our kid.  She slept in a swing on high speed for the first six months of her life while my husband and I kept the vacuum running all night long (crazy what you end up being able to sleep through when your exhausted).  My Livy Lu always wanted to be thrown higher, spun faster, and climb further.  At 5 months, she was standing up, at 7 months she was walking, at 9 months she was running.   She never crawled.  Once she learned to talk, she never stopped.  Her vocabulary was amazing.

Olivia – 9 months

You’re probably thinking, ‘wow, that is amazing.  What an amazing kid!’ and she was…but she was different.  Her tantrums were more intense then other kids, she was more sensitive to things and other people then most kids, she demanded much more attention then other kids.  She was amazing, but exhausting.  I rarely got a break with her, she was constantly on the go.  I was sleep deprived from her eating every hour, taking small naps, and waking several times a night then being up at 4:30am…for the day.

I read every book I could get, trying to figure out what to do. How do I get her to sleep?  How can I stop the tantrums?  How do I get some peace?  No book held the answer.  And then there was the advice…from friends and families and doctors…all meaning to be helpful, but making me feel more and more like a horrible mother.  ‘You just need to be firmer’ or ‘let her cry it out’ or ‘Say no to her more’.  I tried their advice and eventually I would fail because I was too tired or I couldn’t stand to listen to her scream for hours.  I just seemed to be constantly failing….but somewhere in my gut I felt that something just wasn’t right, that maybe she WAS different.  Maybe she didn’t follow the rules, because she need a different set of rules.

When my peanut entered school, we started to see the differences a little more.  She was having a hard time focusing on her work, staying on task, and staying in her seat.  After seeing her pediatrician, therapists, and specialists, she was diagnosed with ADHD, SPD (sensory processing disorder) and anxiety.  This kid had more letters after her name then an accomplished brain surgeon.  A part of me was relieved.  Finally, it made sense.  I wasn’t crazy.  I wasn’t a bad mother.  There was a reason behind it all.  But I also went through denial (maybe she really doesn’t have this) and anger (why me? why her?) and finally acceptance.  She was my daughter and she needed my help.  So I decided to learn all I could about this thing called ADHD and I decided to find the positive within this often negatively viewed disorder.

Kids with ADHD are special.  They have amazing gifts that come from having a special brain.  My daughter is bright and vivacious, with constant energy and a zest for life.  She is intelligent with an ability to see the world differently from others, thinking outside the box to find solutions others would never consider.  She is compassionate, able to read people’s feelings just by looking at them and feels what they feel just as strongly.  Her artistic abilities are out of this world.  She creates the most amazing pieces of art and her use of color is outstanding.  Her imagination is endless and the stories she creates astound me.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the little girl behind all the clutter of the disorder.  What works one day, does not work the next.  It gets tiring having to always think one, sometimes 5 steps ahead, always putting on the happy front, digging down deep to find the patience you thought you’d lost long ago.  But then my daughter will do something that makes me stop and say ‘hey, what I am doing IS making a difference.’  Those moments make all the other stuff worthwhile.

Like the song by Karen Taylor-Good, “The Life That’s Chosen Me“, I did not chose this life.  This life chose me.  God gave me these kids because I was the right person for the job.   Would I change anything about my life?  Do I wish things were different?  That my kid was different?  I cannot lie…sometimes the thought enters my mind….but then I think of all the things I would miss out on and all the things I’ve learned.    But most of all, I’d miss out on knowing such an amazing little person who has taught me so much about the world…..and then I think  “Na.  I wouldn’t change a thing.”



4 thoughts on “ADHD….The Gift That Keeps On Giving

  1. You have written one of the best personal essays on having a child with ADHD I’ve read in a long time…and believe me, I have read many. Kudos to you for recognizing the gifts your daughter brings while still realistically recognizing the challenges having a child who follows a different path can bring. I have always thought that making the decision to have a child opens you up to a vulnerability that is unprecedented. You can reach the highest of highs and the lowest of lows–sometimes all in one day! I applaud both of you for writing honestly about parenting, and for the compassion and humor your writing entails. Hope your audience grows and appreciates the insights you both have.

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