Leaning In or Falling Over?
Hello, my name is Stephanie and I have ADD. I'm also a wife, a mother, a writer and a political activist. A doer of my own thing; a dancer to my own drum.
I didn't grow up with my diagnosis -- it wasn't until my mid-20s, long after (finally) graduating college, but shortly after I started working in a detail-specific research job. That environment, where errors like an overlooked period could -- and did -- cost hours of expensive programming time, chipped away at my self-confidence.
Then better living through chemistry, I got medicated, my brain aligned and the world became a little clearer.
I'm a mom, a stay-at-home mom, with ADD. The mom, that warrior that despite increased parenting equality still remains largely responsible for the management of house and child; for the verification of sandwich crust removal, for the completion -- and return -- of permission slips. The organized mom that adds newsletter information to the family calendar -- details like Wacky Sock Day during Spirit Week.
Sometimes I fake competence so well that even I forget.
I forget that most days finds five fingers clinging to a leaking lifeboat plugged together with volunteer hours, housework, animals, groceries and appointments. Three fingers stretched and grasping the rotting rope of finding a new pediatrician; the printing, and filling out, of two sets of medical forms; the scheduling an appointment with my own medication manager (but how do you feel, Stephanie?) before the prescription runs out.
Leaving only two fingers for actually parenting my children, for being available in my relationship with their father, and for the writing that feeds my soul.
And my oldest? Totally wore plain white socks on Wacky Sock Day.
"Pfft," friends snort. "That's my life and I work full time. You've got it made."
I know; I get it, and -- trust me -- realizing that my not-working results in one fewer potential failure -- and yet, still I struggle -- serves to feed my own feelings of inadequacy.
It is impossiblefor me to Lean In without just Falling Over.
But that's how ADD has affected -- and is hard -- for me. Only as my oldest child began to turn the mirror around did I bother to see my family in its reflection. I had never noticed how my procrastination built resentment in my spouse, and anxious stress in my children. They weren't the ones who accidentally volunteered to sew seat cushions for 25 tender kindergarten butts.
The smallest child whose requests of "Will you play with me now?" were often answered with my irritated, "Do you see how busy I am?" Or when my oldest, who after a full kindergarten day -- an environment where translating the foreign language of regulation and stillness created an evening neediness that the caring mother sought to soothe, even as the mocking urgency of my To List pushed him away.
A first grader now, he gives me regular reminders to ensure that I don't forget, because he faults himself for my stress.
When my five-year-old demonstrates the impulsivity problems I pretend not to remember and when I hear myself in his honest "I don't know" reply to my "What were you thinking?" question. One might assume that sharing a brain thing would result in a cooperative understanding. That doesn't really describe Elliot and I's often volatile interactions.
When my family cheers the dinner of simple baked chicken because it isn't pancakes?
All clues, my friends.
Yet. Even with all of those challenges, I love being a person that can see a million different uses for a shower curtain -- and I feel genuine regret for those that cannot.
I'm lucky that my semi-neurotic need to view myself with a subjective lens also requires I notice what I do well; the benefit to my children learning from someone that looks at the world differently. That maybe the perspective by which I judge my success as a mother isn't decided by me at all.
Because children try really hard to find the good in their adults, don't they?
Rather than my perceived failures, maybe my kids will remember the sweltering hot day I pushed two training-wheeled bikes up an Everest-like hill just so they could stand over that bridge on 440. Or the dozens of thumb-tacks poked through both The Good Sheets and The Wall during our fort building adventures.
Maybe they'll remember that morning they came home from karate to find that I had painted TARDIS flying through a space nebula in the hallway.
And that? That's the impulsive goodness of my distractibility. The perk of someone like me being their mother.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with National Women's Health Week, May 11-17. Read all posts in the series here. To learn more, please visit WomensHealth.gov.
Follow Stephanie Lormand on Twitter: www.twitter.com/stephlormand
This post was originally published on Huff Post Women.