Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I thought was prepared for this punch to the stomach

Step-parenting is like running through a beautiful field of flowers and sunshine and then finding out somewhere along the way that it's filled with landmines...and you have to keep running and parenting anyway even as your legs are getting blown off in this beautiful place, and you have no idea where the next mine is coming from, or what part of you might get blown away.

This morning, it was my heart. I'm a tough girl. But this morning I write with tears in my eyes.

When children fight over TV in our house, the TV is simply shut off because as we tell the kids, TV is never more important than people. They fought about the TV (usually the big kids don't want to watch what the little kid wants to watch and they're mean about it). Sonny shut it off.

Later, I walk through the livingroom and the little one complains that he is bored. I suggest that he has the power to choose an activity other than sitting on the couch doing nothing. He replies "when do I get to go back to mommy's house".

Insert land mine explosion here.

Insert photo of stepmother with a leg blown off, placid expression, parenting mode intact. 

I reply "why, does she let you watch all the TV you want at her house?".

Slightly older brother, who was also there, yells and I mean YELLS, with a snarl, and some rage: NO! Because he is clearly pissed that they have been called on some b.s. Probably also mad because he's 7 and might think I'm somehow talking smack about his mother. And you don't talk smack about people's mammas.

I reply "oh...well then I'll have to check the calendar".

There was no more complaining about boredom...they found activities. And two minutes later they were looking for hugs again.

But I was certainly wounded. Not forever...just for today...and in a way it's a relief. As a step-parent, you always know that these moments will come, I just hadn't had to deal with them yet. I guess that's the trick though...keep your parenting wits about you until you can get to a bathroom to cry where they can't see you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A parenting baggage potpourri...

I like reading blogs about parenting ADHD kids...but it also gives me a weird I am being talked about, but not talked to. I'm not mentioning any blogs in particular because I know this is my baggage and it's really just a general discussion of my own shit, not something intended to reflect on anyone else's writing.  I absolutely understand that these sensations have NOTHING to do with the intent of the writers...and I will continue to read them from time to time because the posts and information are interesting.

I find it interesting that very few of the writers of these types of blogs talk about being a person WITH ADHD (or ________) but are always talking about how it manifests in their children. We all know that ADHD for example is highly heritable. It's just chance that I have ADHD and so does my husband and so does at least one stepchild. But I feel like my step-parenting experience is totally connected to my experience as an adult with ADHD. I have to navigate my own ADHD issues ALL THE TIME just to be able to parent as beneficially as possible for everyone involved. I'm sure not all of the writers have the same issues that their children that may be part of it. Some of it may result from the fact that many of the commenters, as parents tend to do, focus on their children primarily. For me there will always be two layers. There will always be "in order for me to be able to be present for my family in the morning in any way, I have a few personal matters to attend to" issues like taking my meds on time the night before, taking meds in the morning, getting enough sleep, and just plain dragging myself out of bed (which for me...are challenges at times). I have to expertly navigate my own frustrations and reactions when children are either acting like children...or perhaps when they're behaving the way a child with ADHD might when absorbed in chaos creation or gratuitous arguing. I have to not only navigate my own stuff, but I have to go that next step and model for them better choices and outcomes. I can't parent without thinking about my own ADHD.

I also have moments of "yeah, I totally have that issue myself" when people post asking if "you" have such and such issue with your child. "Does your child struggle with fitting in socially?" Yes she does...and so do I. "Does your child struggle with picking at their skin?" Yes, and I try to hide it from my step-daughter because we're always telling her not to do the same thing. It's not that it's all about me...but...well keep reading...

Here's my next layer of baggage: step-parenting baggage. I'm not sure that I think of myself as a "real" parent yet, even though I'm parenting children in my home on a regular basis. Will I ever? I read these other blogs and I feel qualified to comment as myself because I am comfortable and confident in discussing my own experience. I only became a parent a year and a half ago...and I worry that I'm good enough. I worry that I'm doing everything I need to...I worry that I'm not supporting my husband enough. I wish there were more hours in the day to devote to everything that we all need. I've had to learn very quickly to parent three children. Because we're a blended family, I've had to adjust to the fact that not everyone involved wants me there. And because I care...that hurts my feelings and sometimes it does make me feel like I'm not "real". At the very least it reminds me that I'm "new". So...I don't always feel confident in speaking "as a parent", though there's no reason I shouldn't. I come upon parenting forums and suddenly feel like an outsider.

I also notice that many of these questions they pose are very grounded in the moment, often a moment of frustration or panic, a very real feeling for parents in general and especially parents of kids with various types of special needs...and if there's one thing I can layer over that as an adult with ADHD it's this: many of these issues you're having in the moment aren't going to go away. Some of them WILL go away. Some of them will improve. Some will continue to be a thorn in their child's side as they become adults and they will need the tools to move forward, not just tools to deal with the moment. In some situations those tools are the other situations they are not. Especially when a parent gets so caught in the moment that they look for the quick fix...instead of the long-term strategy. Again though...I know this isn't people trying to be fact it's great that these forums exist...I just wonder if at times, my own ADHD actually makes it easier for me to NOT panic about certain kinds of things. Little one takes "too long" to get ready for bed? Start him 15 minutes earlier so he doesn't have to rush. Medication change for the older one? Why not, try it, see what happens, if it works, it works, if it doesn't we try something else. If I'm wigged about something parenting related, it's not usually related to a child's special's usually because of MY ADHD or it's simply due to the fact that I'm new at parenting, and parenting is a fucking hard job. The kids will grow. Try your best.

The nexus where parent and child meet, for me, is just one part of a much larger picture. I can't isolate the moments and I can't detach my own ADHD from the discussion when it's so in the mix.

There's a lot to love in these other blogs...but maybe I need more time drilling through some of my own issues before really participating in those online communities overly much. Clearly my heart has some settling out to do...

As we all know, staying on task can be challenging when you are an adult with ADHD. 

But I'll tell you what - it's not the single step tasks that present a problem, it's the multi-step tasks. Specifically the multi-step tasks that I have no interest in completing in the first place. My brain's first reaction to them is a flash in my mind of a GIANT HORRIBLE MOUNTAIN OF TASK. And the second it pops into my head, my brain is immediately looking for a distraction. Unfortunately distractions are very easy to find.

At work, or when I'm at home and trying to get important things done, fortunately I often have many work/important things to do that are smaller and more palatable chunks of "must do". So I can procrastinate and still get work done! Perfect scenario!

Clearly this is only a temporary reprieve tho. I get to a point, eventually, where I must attack the mountain. And I do. Yeah...I do. I break it into smaller chunks...or the urgency of needing to finish it puts it on the top of the pile in a way that is compelling.

I just wish I spent more time with tasks that actually interest me on my plate.

Ho. Hum.