This past weekend I took some time to visit my dear aunt who is turning 80. We have loads and loads of memories together because she always took the time to round up all the cousins for park dates and craft times, which probably helped break up the monotony of caring for her own four littles. This pic is just a few of us after making easter baskets. There’d already been melt downs and tears and tantrums galore. I’m the one cheesing hard in the Mets cap, thrilled to be out having fun.
Looking back got me thinking back to those years growing up together in a time before labels existed. There was no ADHD. Hyperactivity was just redirected or punished. Big emotions were met with the reminder that if we really wanted something to cry about – the adults would gladly take care of that. Anxiety was squelched with a reprimand or a harsh look. There was little to no attention paid to kid feelings or what might be causing them. I always felt loved but there was zero room for nonsense – and anything out of bounds was nonsense. “Extra” wasn’t tolerated.
The youngest of us is now in her forties and when we’re all together we sometimes talk diagnoses – our own and those of our collective twenty one kids. I find it interesting that we’ve each mostly journeyed privately to find our own diagnosis – more than a few of us have ADHD and anxiety is a very common thread between us. It’s clear that growing up with unaddressed issues leads to keeping them close. It’s only been since raising our own children that the floodgates of sharing have opened between us. Nearly all our kids are touched by ADHD or anxiety in some way, among other labels sprinkled in here and there.
It’s more than helpful to me to know what they’ve experienced in themselves and with their children. Looking back together we see how it all makes so much sense now – it’s not just helpful it’s healing! Confusion and misunderstanding fade when the full picture is revealed. Here we are all these years later and we’re understanding the past and piecing together the future for our own kids.
I struggle often with feeling the weight of making sure my kids navigate through their struggles well. There’s a constant push on my part to help my ADHDer feel understood and for him to understand himself. What an absolute turn around from our own journey as kids. For that I’m glad. But I also needed the reminder from the past that although it may be a rocky road you’ll eventually find your way.