Yesterday, I found out that my kid has ADHD. To be fair, we’ve suspected it for years. But there’s still something about seeing it typed out as a final diagnosis with a treatment plan that was hard to see. We waited to go get an official diagnosis, because since we had chosen to homeschool, it was a bit easier for us to manage things at home. Until it wasn’t. It had begun to affect his self-esteem and his ability to enjoy and participate in group and social activities. It had gotten beyond what we could handle on our own, what he could handle, and we needed to seek out help in the medical community.
I stared at the action plan and the stack of informational packets the doctor gave us. I stared at my baby boy, who is perfect to me in every way. I stared at the new bottle of pills sitting atop our refrigerator that will now be a part of our daily lives. And leading up to and after the diagnosis, I cried. Not because there is anything wrong with my child. His brain simply works different than mine, or many other people’s brains work. But because I worry about the struggles he will face as a result. I worry about the judgmental glances of kids and adults alike that we’ve already experienced when his behavior just won’t fit into their molds. I worry about how much more he will notice the differences between himself and his brother and the other kids around him…because I promise you, he already notices them now, with or without anyone saying it to him. I’ve held him as he cried because his “brain was being bad”, he couldn’t figure out why he struggled to listen to teachers, leaders, and coaches even though he loved them so fiercely, or because the other kids would avoid him while they befriended his little brother with ease. I cried because I am uncertain of whether this new label in a medical file will (as I so fiercely hope) help others take the time to step into his world and try to relate to him, or simply write him off as a “bad kid” who should have been parented better. And I cried because, in a way, I was relieved, to finally have a definitive diagnosis and a plan of action to help us guide him through it all.
And I don’t write this because we want your pity. I don’t write this because I think something is wrong or broken with my child. As I said above, his brain is simply wired differently. And to a degree, we all are wired a bit differently. I write this, because maybe you’re reading this and you are experiencing a very similar journey. Maybe you feel alone in it. We’ve been blessed with an amazing support system that far outweighs the negative people. But not everyone has that. Let me tell you, mama, you are not alone in this. If you have no one else, reach out to me. Don’t sit up at night alone in your fears. And I write this for everyone else…please be kind. To moms, to dads, to kids, to everyone. Because you don’t know what they’re going through or how hard they are fighting to appear “normal” for you and to avoid the harsh words of someone who refuses to walk a mile in their shoes and think before passing judgment.
I have gone back and forth about whether or not to share this part of our journey. Because it isn’t just my journey to share. And I won’t go into great detail about all the struggles my son has been facing through this in such a public forum, out of respect for him until he is old enough to decide how he wants that story to be told. And I do ask that even if you know us in real life, please don’t mention his name on blog posts or my blog page out of respect for him. I don’t mind private messages, and some discussion on my personal page, but not in a larger public forum. Even as I’ve typed this, I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to share this, how much to share, when to share. We are still at the beginning of this journey, and have so much to learn along the way. But I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that I needed to share at least some of the emotions and fears that I’ve experienced as a mom through the diagnosis process. Even if it only reaches and helps one other mom struggling in the same way, it will be worth the uncertainty and vulnerability of putting this out there.
I do want to share some of the positives that this has brought to our lives, and not just the hard stuff. Though ADHD may cause some struggles for him as we’ve already experienced, it’s also part of what I think will help him achieve greatness. He looks at things in ways I would never dream to look at them. He is extremely intelligent and an out of the box thinker. He has a huge heart that loves the people around him fiercely when given the chance. He loves to create, build, and strategize. He has taken off and can do things I don’t even understand in coding courses. He is great with numbers, which is definitely a gift he didn’t get from me. He builds things with legos without instructions and even creates video scenes with them on my phone. He connects with people and loves them fiercely in calm, smaller settings.
So, even though I have many fears that I’ve listed above and so many more, I also have so much hope for his future. I am so grateful for all of the resources available to us to help him succeed in anything he puts his mind to doing. Life may be easier as a horse that can blend in with the herd, but I will forever love my little unicorn and be there to cheer him on as he goes out to share his unique greatness with the world.