The stereotype for ADHD is always a young boy unable to sit still for longer than two seconds. He’s jumping off the walls, unable to focus or do well in school, and constantly fidgeting. But what if that’s not the whole picture?
Hi. I’m a mom with ADHD, and I’m nothing like that little boy with seemingly endless amounts of energy.
In fact, I’m pretty exhausted by, well, everything. My brain is constantly jumping from thought to thought, unable to completely focus on anything. This leaves me with sensory overload trying to process the mess, the noise, the touching, and the whining/crying going on all around me.
Focusing has always been difficult for me. I remember spacing out for hours while trying to do my homework. I would reread the same sentences over and over because I couldn’t focus enough to actually comprehend what I was reading. Then immediately feel like all of my friends were so much smarter and better at school than me, apparently making me a failure.
Knowing I had ADHD early on in life was helpful. However, I didn’t realize how much it affected every aspect of my life until I became a mom.
I procrastinate everything 100% of the time. This makes the evening a mad dash to get even 10% of my to-do list done. Even on good days when I feel more focused and motivated than usual, I can still only manage to get one or two simple things done during the day.
This also affects my ability to be present with my kids. My brain craves stimulation, and the idea of “eating” the same play food over and over again is mind-numbing. Plus, when I hyper-focus on something, it’s almost impossible to break that spell.
I don’t even know how many times my kids have had to entertain themselves because I’m stuck Googling things like how to use rabbit poop as fertilizer for your garden; which turns into how to raise rabbits, then what rabbits actually need in their diet to be healthy, and so on and so forth. (…I don’t even have rabbits…or a garden…)
We also watch a lot of TV. I feel like I need to have something playing in the background. But more often than not, that background noise turns into my kids watching a show while I sit on the couch and scroll through social media or talk to my friends on Marco Polo.
Caffeine does nothing for me. It tastes great, but it doesn’t help with my energy levels which, as a mom, sucks.
I lose my phone all the time at home. It’s so bad that I’ve created a habit of constantly checking on my phone when out in public.
I also have a hard time knowing when it’s my turn to talk in a group of people. I always think it’s my turn, but then when I go to talk somebody else starts talking. When it actually is my turn to talk, I completely forget what it is I want to say.
Every time, without fail.
However, the most frustrating thing is the overstimulation. I keep thinking that because I have ADHD I should be really good at multitasking, but that’s never the case.
Multiple things requiring my attention at one time is incredibly overwhelming. It feels like I need to put on a show for my kids in order to get anything done around the house. I simply can’t focus on making dinner and answering my toddler’s questions. I’ve even forgotten I’m cooking dinner because I had to stop to help my toddler with something.
I spent so much of my life wondering what was wrong with me. Comparing myself to others and their accomplishments is definitely the cause of that.
Logically, I know that ADHD affects my ability to focus and live in the moment. However, I can’t help but think, “if I just tried harder,” then I’d be a “normal” person.
Why can’t I just sit down and focus on writing a blog post?
Why can’t I live in the moment with my family and simply enjoy being with them?
Why can’t I multi-task?
Why can’t I simply enjoy a hobby like a normal human instead of hyper-focus on everything that catches my attention? And then want nothing to do with it once that hyper-focus wears off?
I work really hard to try and remind myself that I am a good mom, wife, friend, etc., but those thoughts definitely creep in from time to time.
The most important thing when it comes to my mental health is to spend time with my best friends. They’re some of the only people I feel 100% comfortable being myself around, and they remind me that being a little weird is okay.
I think every parent fears they’re raising their child wrong or that their best isn’t good enough, and I’m definitely in that boat.
I’m not necessarily worried about my children having ADHD, I mean, that’s pretty likely. I’m worried my ADHD will negatively affect my ability to parent them, and that they’re going to struggle the same way I did.
I’m terrified they’re going to feel like failures and it’s going to be my fault.
It’s been difficult to find a balance between trying to be a fully functional mom and letting my kids see/know that I struggle. I think it’s important for your kids to see you struggle and overcome hurdles so they know that’s a normal part of life, but I struggle 24/7.
I’m sure my 3- and 1-year-old don’t notice, but they will when they get older, and I don’t want them to think it’s their fault.
Notes for Moms with ADHD
You’re doing a great job, and you deserve all the grace in the world.
You don’t need to do all the things to be a supermom; you’re a supermom because of everything you have to deal with in your brain on a daily basis that the average mom just doesn’t have to!
It’s okay to get help. Whether from a babysitter or a therapist, getting help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength and acceptance.
Last, but not least, be kind to yourself. You deserve it.