Hello middle age. Age of sleep an hour, sweat an hour, toss and turn an hour then repeat.
By the time the alarm goes off to GET up, I am exhausted.
Inevitably my little bug waddles downstairs and into my bed. Sometimes it’s 2am, sometimes 5a and sometimes it’s right as we are set to get up for real. No matter the time she snuggles up and promptly falls into the most peaceful, precious slumber imaginable. With her head on my shoulder I can clearly see those little freckles dotting her nose, her eyelashes resting against those chubby cheeks and those puffy, adorable lips pursed like an infants. She’s 8 now but when she’s snuggling she is still my baby girl. I love those moments.
Getting up is hard.
Getting up after not really sleeping is harder.
Getting up after not really sleeping with an adorable little ones head tucked onto your shoulder and arm slung across your chest is harder still.
Yet it’s what we do every morning.
Things go downhill from there.
Recently a friend shared a graphic of what it’s like to parent a child with ADHD. It showed an ice berg and listed all the symptoms that most of us know all about. What was most telling to me was the part of the graphic that showed that most of the dangers of ADHD are below the surface.
I don’t know why I’d never put 2 and 2 together until I saw that, but I hadn’t. Turns out we are the poster family for ADHD mornings! Most mornings I feel like that poster looks like the wantedposter hanging in the police department.
I get up, make my coffee and begin the process of awakening my sleepy head. It’s important to note that there are 3 females getting ready in the morning at my oh-so-humble abode. It’s more important to note that none of us are fans of mornings. As non-morning fans we are not at our best. We all have a tendency to put off getting up until the last possible second and thus the morning routine is rushed and harried. And yes, I have tried getting up earlier. Refer to the first paragraph.
It takes FOREVER to get her awake and moving. For.Ev.Er. “5 more minutes,” she always mumbles. I’ll have her awake and sitting up on moment, turn my back, and she’s burrowed back under the covers sound asleep in the next. 99.9% of the time it ends in yelling. Me at her and her back and me which exasperates the entire scenario. On rare occasions I can bribe her with “the Greatest Showman” soundtrack or a piggy back ride to the bathroom. Those mornings are better.
And that’s the easy part.
It’s downhill from there.
“Take your medicine,” I must say this at least 50 times. She’s making faces in the mirror, sneaking off to the couch to go back to sleep, dancing around the table or just generally doing anything BUT taking a swallow of liquid and her little pill.
“Get dressed,” I must say this at least 50 times per morning. She picks out her clothes the night before. I don’t interfere IF there are undies, socks, a shirt and a bottom (that FIT). I am trying to build her independence. She usually looks like a hot mess but she’s done it herself and I’ve forewarned her teachers. I’ve learned to let that go. You can only fight so many battles and I am not dying on that particular hill anymore. At 8 she knows how to dress herself. It shouldn’t take me telling her 20 times PER GARMENT for her to get dressed, but it does. Seriously. “Put on your shirt,” I say over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. “Put on your pants,” I say over and over again AFTER I’ve argued about why she has to wear pants, not shorts, when it’s 30 degrees outside. And AFTER I’ve explained that November IS winter and winter is cold. And AFTER I’ve explained and argued about what day of the week it is and AFTER I’ve re-iterated what happens after school this day and the next and AFTER I’ve argued that said pants are not to scratch-too itchy-too long-too tight….SCREECH….well, to be honest they usually are a bit snug.
FINALLY, she gets her bottoms on. From experience, I’ve learned to do an undie check. Yes, from experience. Experiences like seeing a full moon, in the evening, when she’s home from school and doing handstands IN A SKIRT. Experiences like when she admits things like “I got to sit in the teachers chair today,” as we drive home. When I ask why she laughs and says because she’s ‘commando’ in a dress. Yep. Proud mama moments. Needless to say I now check. Many a day she fails the ‘underwear’ check and we have to start all over again. Repeat: “Put on your pants,” I say over and over again AFTER I’ve argued about why she has to wear pants, not shorts, when it’s 30 degrees outside. And AFTER I’ve explained that November IS winter and winter is cold. And AFTER I’ve explained and argued about what day of the week it is and AFTER I’ve re-iterated what happens after school this day and the next and AFTER I’ve argued that said pants are not to scratch-too itchy-too long-too tight….SCREECH….well, to be honest they usually are a bit snug.
Socks. 2 of them. Twice the nagging. Socks no longer match in our house. I don’t think she knows that socks are supposed to match because in her lifetime we’ve never had the time, energy or ability to get matching socks on her. It’s a victory to get any sock at all.
Shoes. Despite having laid out shoes the night before when morning comes there are, inevitably, only one to be found. It’s one of the questions I intend to ask when I enter the pearly gates, if I get there. What the hell happened to her shoes every morning?
Between each article of clothing she’s twerked, danced, made faces, spilled her drink, snuck a piece of candy or hid something in her book bag. It’s not like we seamlessly go from one article to the next. By the time we get to this point I’ve broken out into a sweat, have given up on my own morning routine and have yelled at least 45 times.
We no longer see the 16 year old in the mornings. Not that I blame her.
The entire time we are watching the clock on the phone. She knows we have to leave at 7:30a. She knows but has no concept that if you are buck naked at 7:21a and if your mom is bare faced at 7:21a because she’s been fighting with you all morning that there isn’t any way in hell you are getting out the door at 7:30a. We’ve even turned into a math problem. “if it take momma 15 minutes to put on her make-up, 10 minutes to get dressed and 3 minutes to make her coffee how many minutes is that? If we need to be in the car at 7:30, it takes 18 minutes for momma to get ready what time does she need to start? If momma needs 18 minutes but it takes you 18 minutes to put on a sock what time should we start????????????????????
Most mornings she gets her hair brushed. Not gonna lie, it doesn’t happen every morning.
Most mornings teeth get brushed. Not every morning.
She always gets breakfast and some mornings she eats it. Not every morning.
She does always manage to get a snack tucked into her book bag. And on mornings when I am not watching she manages to get a toy, an electronic AND 5 additional snacks crammed in there as well.
Each morning we have to go over what day of the week it is. That means a trip to the chart on the fridge so she can see what ‘extension’ she has that day. Hell, who am I kidding, once we actually AGREE on the day of the week (‘cause she will argue) it means multiple trips to the fridge to look at the extension chart. GOD help us all on days that it says PE and she’s dressed in a skirt or her ‘high heels’ and we have to start alllllllllll ovvverrrr again.
Each morning I have to tell her who will pick her up and, during fall, have to tell her if there is a football game or some other activity after school. When fall sports are over I have to spend the next 12 weeks explaining WHY there isn’t an activity after school. I have to tell her where her bubba is, what Kinsley’s plans are for after school and who will pick her up. Every. Day.
And I do this on, a good night, 4 hours of good sleep. While thinking about the day ahead. While worried about what is due, what I forgot to do and beating myself up for the house being disheveled.
I tend to get frustrated in the mornings. She frustrates me. The process frustrates me. The whole thing is exhausting. I’ve learned to take it more in stride some days. Most days not.
This morning was the same. I didn’t have the energy. I didn’t have the fight in me. I let it drag out longer than it should have. Which meant I would miss the car rider line and would have to check her in as tardy. SHE HATES GOING INTO CLASS after everyone else has gotten there. I HATE checking her in the morning under the disapproving eye of the school secretary. I hate clicking that box that says “overslept” and imaging what people are thinking about a mom that can’t get her kid to school in time. Most days we make it in just under the wire. That was not today.
I was grumpy, frustrated, irritate and just generally in a bad way this morning. I hadn’t slept. She was particularly unfocused. We were late.
And then there was this.
At some point she snuck in and made me my ‘to-go’ coffee. Yes, it was mostly creamer and whip cream. Yes, it was a mess. Yes, drinking it would put me in a sugar coma. Yes, I would use all my weight watchers points for the day in a single sip.
But none of that mattered.
When you have an ADHD child you take the victories as they come. You ignore the twitches and ticks and randomness and learn to focus on the sweet, the thoughtful and the intentions. And that single cup of overly sweet, cold coffee was perfection. It was so sweet. So thoughtful and showed the best of intentions. That poured cup of coffee in my favorite cup, made to my liking…or her version of my liking, showed that she did pay attention and had the ability to retain information. That to go cup showed me that our morning rituals did matter to her. That, despite the constant reminders necessary each and every day, she did understand what it took to get out the door. She might not understand the time association but she did understand the process. That wickedly sweet beverage made with fumbling love was a version of a white flag, it was her little way of loving me despite my yelling and prodding her all morning.
I looked at saw her little face. She was so proud. Her smile was big. Her eyes were anticipating my pleasure. “I had a little trouble,” she said sheepishly, indicating the spillage on the counter, the top that was askew and the creamer on the counter.
“It’s perfect!” I declared. “It’s so sweet! You are the sweetest one,” I assured her.
Oh that smile. No matter what else I accomplish today I will be confident that I did one thing well. I made her proud of herself with that compliment. Too often, in the mornings, I tell her that she needs to do things faster, better, neater with more purpose and focus. I think she expected to be admonished for the mess on the counter, for the lid being askew or for the wrong creamer. And, to be honest, there are days that in my hurry and frenzy I would have done that. But luckily I didn’t this morning. Luckily I took the time to appreciate the moment for what it was: her best attempt, her sweetest heart and her thoughtful way of ‘helping’ and showing me love.
Parenting a child with ADHD isn’t easy. The battles outweigh the victories most days. But the victories, when they come, are more rewarding and more appreciated because of that.