My son's ADHD has had a deep impact on me. As a woman and as a mother, on both my mental health and my self-esteem. Living with him has been a hellish rollercoaster ride, and it’s one I've wished I could jump right off many, MANY times.
I dream of coming out into the world and feeling safe and feeling sane. I dream of being allowed, without judgement, to give a voice to my lonely struggles, and to give a voice to precious children like my son. Like so many other wonderful and difficult and frustrating ADD and ADHD kids out there, he struggles every day, in so many areas of his life. His path is marred by failure and exclusion, and the stigma imposed on him by others just doubles down on his difficulties.
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You probably already have a mental image of my son just from my mention of the term ADHD. What thoughts and assumptions does that conjure for you? Do you imagine a horrible, destructive child, bouncing off the walls and hitting other kids? Do you imagine me to be a bad parent, lacking interest, intelligence or stamina? If you do, you’re no different to many other people. But that’s not who I am, and that’s not my son.
After more than ten years of supporting my ADHD son through his challenges, it’s only now that I’m beginning to feel I can shrug off the sneers and rejections of other parents - but it's taken me a very long time to be able to do so.
I know all too well that look of judgement so often and so easily cast out over my boy, as parents (and some teachers) silently question, "What kind of mother are you?"
Well... Let me tell you.
I am the mother of ‘that kid’.
I am the mother who has been regularly summoned to the offices of teachers and principals.
I am the mother who is frequently phoned and emailed by teachers looking for answers she doesn’t have.