It’s been a long time that I’ve been a passenger. I’m just along for the ride and I’m definitely not in the driver’s seat. I absorb every twist and turn without any idea of what to expect next. I hang on for dear life when it all goes upside down. My knuckles are white and hands hurt from holding on so tight. I never thought I’d describe myself this way because I’m a very structured, organized person. I plan. I plot. I don’t passenger. But here I am in the front row of this rollercoaster life that is parenting my Complex ADHDer.
For too many years I’ve had cortisol pumping through my veins like gas through a gas pump. Adrenaline rushes are part of my every day. My face feels permanently contorted from wearing extreme emotions too often. I just want off the rollercoaster. I can’t do it anymore.
I told myself those last two lines recently. I said them out loud. And I meant them. We are smack dab in the very middle of the very last year of high school in what has been more than a tumultuous ride and I am just done. I’m barely army crawling. Put a fork in me. I officially have no more feelings left to feel. So I did something I really wish I would’ve done way back – like when my ADHD+er was in the second grade. (In my defense, there was so much shine still left in those days – how would I have known better?) I found PERSPECTIVE. You know, that lens we see everything through that helps us decide if the world is really ending or if it’s just another Monday afternoon?
I wish I would’ve paced myself. Seen the whole course ahead of me and not just the next few sprints. I wish I would’ve seen things for what they really were and focused on only the BIG stuff. I wish I would’ve taken steps to protect my heart and mind a little more, and definitely my ADHD+er a LOT more. Hindsight is easier to find this many years in, but it’s also never too late to salvage some things. We can choose to gain perspective at any time and we can choose to use perspective every time.
For me, getting perspective meant measuring everything against the absolute worst case scenario – after I’d thrown out what I THOUGHT was the very worst case scenario and replaced it by death. Yes, you read that correctly – DEATH. Every time the cortisol was starting to rush and my eyebrows would begin to furrow and my hands shook I would ask myself IS ANYONE GOING TO DIE? And you know what? That was exactly what I needed. I needed to remind myself that all the things I kept thinking were earth shattering were not equal to death.
Those young pre-k years when he wouldn’t wear undies and I was convinced he’d catch himself in a zipper? They did not equal dead bodies. The years and years and more years of no tooth or hair brushing? Nobody died. The missed assignments and lost library books and constant calls from teachers? Nobody flatlined. The attitudes and constant arguing and med side effects? No eulogies spoken. The near failing or actual failing of classes? Not one funeral plot was purchased. But it was the continual slow death of the even pace of my heart and the kindness of my words and the patience I had to give.
The reality is there are a LOT of things a parent will not be able to control on the white knuckle journey of parenting a Complex ADHDer. A lot. And we know it goes far beyond not wearing underwear and failed classes. It isn’t easy to navigate every hairpin turn – and there are too many of those to count. Unexpected 90 degree falls are going to ignite our fear. Hanging upside down will make us feel crazy. We are human. But here’s the thing, much like riding a roller coaster, if we remember that NOBODY IS GOING DIE we can actually ease up enough to enjoy the ride. And if we’re enjoying the ride instead of hanging on for dear life then we are free to do the one thing that REALLY matters, and that’s protecting and nurturing our ADHD+er’s heart. That’s it. That’s the one thing that has to happen.
While the “parent of an ADHD+er” life can typically feel topsy turvy and out of our control we can be assured that all the things will eventually even out. Our kids will most likely be wearing underpants on a regular basis at some point in their lives. And even if they don’t nobody will die. I continually remind myself that the stack of things that cause my hand wringing in the day to day doesn’t compare to having a new chance tomorrow with my kid.
You’ve got this. We’re cheering you on.