Inability to focus? Impatient and impulsive? Problems prioritizing? Emotional outbursts?
…No, I’m not describing my toddler.
“You have an entire muffin tray smashed into your backseat,” a friend said as she helped me unload supplies from my car.
I stared at her for a few moments, waiting for her to elaborate.
She must have thought I didn’t hear her, so again she said, “You know you have muffins …. in your backseat … smashed into the carpet.”
Still pretty puzzled by her statement, I decided to look for clarification. In a tone still unsure of the issue, “Are there ants on them or something?” I asked.
Her eyebrows crinkled while looking both surprised and confused. “No?” she replied, “I just thought you would want to know.”
…Of course, I was already well aware. I didn’t have the heart to tell her those muffins weren’t even from breakfast that week.
I’m a mom with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and my life is messy.
Now, obviouslyyyyy I know muffins don’t belong in the fabric of the floor of my car. Believe it or not, ‘optimistic mom’ had planned for a much more nutritious meal that morning. Or at least, I would like to hope she did. As per usual, we underestimated the amount of time we had. Cutting up avocados while racing to school drop off would only reinforce my title as the #HotMessMom. A title, might I add, I find no shame in admitting.
Unfortunately, this is all too common for those of us with ADHD. We know exactly what it is we should do, but the execution is a completely different story. In with today’s competitive society of supermoms – everyday tasks feel like an uphill climb.
Growing up, I always assumed my brain was wired differently. However, like a lot of others, my parents were convinced that ADHD was just another term for L-A-Z-Y. It wasn’t until much later in life (more than halfway through college, to be exact) that I was diagnosed. After diving headfirst into resources and materials, beginning a new medication, and scrolling through post after post on ADDitude.com, the mental fog that had clouded every judgment and decision was dispersing. A weight was lifted as I started to feel ‘normal’ and the course of my life took a drastic, positive turn. I was finally in control and felt utterly unstoppable.
…Then I became a mother.
As a mom with ADHD, I prefer to call my lifestyle “organized chaos.” This means my home is consistently filled with overflowing laundry baskets (whose contents may or may not be clean) along with many scattered projects just waiting for me to find the time to finish.
See, that’s the thing about living with ADHD, it’s a LOT of time wasted.
There is so much time wasted simply thinking about what’s to be done. Time wasted glooming over the task list for the day (or the undone list from yesterday). One that has been written and rewritten more than twice because the act of ‘checking’ things off is oh so satisfying. Time wasted replaying every conversation, wondering if that new acquaintance was put off by something I said. Time wasted diving into a new hobby/interest/project (see hyperfocus). Time wasted feeling inadequate or shameful after failing to remember an important event or to turn in a permission slip on time. Time wasted wondering why there isn’t enough time to complete the things I want to.
Instead, these ‘things’ idly sit. They sit and they taunt me, following me around throughout my day like some dark, shame ridden cloud. That cloud creates such a thick mental fog, and I often wonder how I’ve skirted by these past 30 years.
I’m almost always late, and if I’m early it’s by at least 30 minutes. There is no in-between. I am frequently apologizing to those around me when my mouth moves faster than my mind. #NoFilter My emotions are easily redirected with the slightest trigger, and they won’t unlatch with even the best of reasoning and logic. I will feed my children the same meal 3x in one day because the thought of leaving my house will paralyze me. I intentionally place sticky notes and ‘DON’T FORGET’ reminders and will still inevitably forget at least one crucial item. I regularly combat imposters syndrome and my collection of self-help books will steadily grow with each new season in life.
It is who I am, it is who I will always be.
…But I am also SO MUCH MORE than that.
I’m the stranger that will give you whatever time, money, or resources I have to make sure that your day is brighter. I’m the mom friend that will exert so much effort reassuring you that you’re doing a great job. I’m the gal-pal that is shouting words of encouragement as you decide to take a leap of faith. I’m the mom that will always choose the messy craft over an empty sink. I’m the family member that will prioritize your emotions and help you process them. I’m the wife that fights hard but loves harder. I’m the partner that will stand by your side no matter what the odds against us are. I’m the woman that will give you 100% of my heart, even if I know I’ll be over-analyzing every moment shortly thereafter.
“I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and it has taken many, many years and a lot of counseling sessions to be able to truly believe that.”
Sure, my struggles may be a bit more exaggerated, they may happen more frequently, and they always happen when everyone is paying attention. — But really, we’re the same, you and me. At the end of the day, ADHD or not, we are both moms simply trying our best.
Let’s make a pact, yeah? We don’t know the obstacles each of us face or the giants we’re quietly battling. So let’s promise to always give the benefit of the doubt, maybe offer to lend a hand if we’re able. Let’s not be afraid to reach out and say, “it’s okay not to have it all together.”
Above all, let’s promise to always choose kindness over criticism.