Author’s Note: I wrote this piece, with permission, after a friend shared about how other moms were responding to her and her little girl. This piece is a compilation of stories told to me through the years and my own observations.
We are all in the trenches of this thing called Motherhood.
It is exhilarating AND exasperating.
It is enlightening AND exhausting.
It’s a JOY and it’s a privilege.
Yet, our beloved children are a little different from each other.
Your child’s hard-wiring is such that sitting still, keeping quiet, and following simple directions, rules and schedules, fit him or her like a glove.
Your child keeps their hands to themselves.
Your child seems to listen at first command. Or 2nd.
Your child can sit quietly during rug time.
Your child can wait patiently for his or her turn on the swing at school or the park.
But this is not my child’s luck. She was born with a different wiring and processing in her brain and body.
She has severe ADHD.
She struggles to sit still.
She struggles to keep her hands to herself.
She struggles to NOT be physically or verbally impulsive.
She is not happy or gloating about this behavior.
She does not feel good in her head and heart that things go awry with playmates, so much so that she is rejected constantly.
And I, as her mom, am rejected constantly.
I have been shamed countless times for my child’s “unacceptable behavior.”
I have been sneered at and yelled at: “Fix your child!”
You assume I am a bad parent.
You assume I do nothing about her bad choices or mistakes.
You assume I have my head in the sand and act helpless about her behavior.
You assume I am not sad and mortified to my core that my child hurt your child.
Little did you know, we have been working with therapists and behaviorists and doctors. We are trying to learn absolutely everything we can to help her.
She is only 7 years old, by the way.
You have labeled my child as BAD.
You have labeled me as BAD. That I am negligent of doing what is “supposed to be done” when children are not easily compliant or re-directed.
You other moms of Naturally Compliant Children look at us as PROBLEMS.
I have a heart.
I have feelings.
I think deeply.
I feel deeply.
And so does my daughter.
She is not a psychopath without remorse or emotions.
We feel the burning coals of shame you heap on us down to our bones.
We are alone and isolated. Because you never took the time to get a little closer. You feared my child would rub off on your child, and then your child would never get into Harvard.
My daughter desperately needs to practice her social skills in real time, with neuro-typical kids, not just manufactured time in her social skills group. But you will have nothing to do with her because she is a “bad kid,” “the hyper girl,” “the kid at school who always gets in trouble.”
What I would love for you to do is ask me to coffee. Get to know me.
Ask genuine, caring questions about me and my daughter because you see the struggle that is taking place.
And you have decided to lean in and care and have compassion.
I would love that. I crave that. I need connection as much as my daughter needs connection. Please see us as humans, as hearts, not issues.
Please. I beg you.
Mom Seeking Empathy and Understanding
We said he would catch up on all his milestones.
We said he would be able to do all the things that other kids do.
It would just be delayed, due to his “hypotonia” or low muscle tone. His poor, little weak hands would learn. His long, skinny fingers that did not naturally or easily handle fine motor tasks would get stronger.
And they did.
And they didn’t.
Ryan is almost 15 years old and he does not know how to tie his own sneakers.
This hit me hard the other day.
My brace-faced boy who is SO EXCITED to go to high school next year, who is growing so tall and so handsome, cannot tie his shoes.
Should I have hired an OT (occupational therapist) to work with him over and over on this years ago?
Should I have printed out each step in pictures and tried myself to work with Ryan?
Was I too lazy or too busy?
How did this slip by?
Shouldn’t he know how to do this BY NOW? Insert flogging and self-flagellating behavior…
Did I fail?
Did I fail him?
What do we do with REGRET?
What do we do with the woulda-shoulda-couldas of our lives as mothers?
1). I think first we acknowledge it. Say it out loud. Be aware.
2). Then ask ourselves: what is the lesson here? What can I learn through this?
3). Do something with it. Don’t let it just sit there, hanging over you. Can you do the thing you didn’t do?
Can you apologize to someone?
Can you apologize to yourself?
Make a decision.
As in: I didn’t teach Ryan how to tie his shoes and NOW I am going to.
4). Let it go. Choose to be grateful that you learned something through this and then leave it alone. Write it down on a piece of paper and then rip it up, toss in the circular file. Or burn it--preferably without children in sight. ;)
Regret is an appalling waste of energy, you can't build on it - it's only good for wallowing in.