For me, ADHD has a been the catalyst for adventure, spontaneity, a some unforgettable experiences. My unending need for stimulation is to which I owe the satisfaction of being able to look back at a life well-lived. There are so many unique and admirable qualities associated with the condition that I truly am grateful for, but I’d be lying if I said it’s been an easy ride. There has always been an underlying feeling of inadequacy; of being judged for my shortcomings. Even post-diagnosis, while a great relief to finally have an explanation for my daily struggles, an explanation doesn’t magically eliminate those struggles, and it certainly didn’t stop me from feeling like I was being judged.
While, over the years, I have found ways to manage the symptoms and embrace some of my “idiosyncrasies,” nothing could have prepared me for the challenges of becoming a mother!
The biggest challenges for many women with ADHD, just so happen to be the very things that define our culture’s expectations of mothers. Cooking, cleaning, making and organizing schedules and appointments, developing routines; the mind numbing chores that have caused us so much grief all our lives, are now what we are supposed to suddenly have a handle on; squared. It takes a toll.
My attempt to find solace on the interwebs, by joining some mommy groups and chats, completely backfired when I innocently shared some basic information about myself and my family, which in two short sentences apparently revealed the depths of my incompetence in child-rearing. My introductory statement mentioned nothing more than that I had three kids, 2.5 and under, ?in diapers and something about it being exhausting.
Holy hell! I had no idea that my words could spark such feelings of rage, nor was I emotionally prepared for the online version of a public lashing that I was about to receive. One mom sure hoped that I was using cloth diapers, rather than exposing my babies to the cancerous toxins of disposables (not to mention their disastrous impact on the environment) Another mom concluded that I either (a) didn’t breast feed for a sufficient amount of time or (b) failed to breastfeed altogether based on my kids being so close in age. Other mothers questioned my decision to reproduce at all, if I was going to whine about how tired I am. (Huh?) The original post spawned some sub-conversations and more trash talking amongst the other members of the group. They said things to each other like “I seriously feel so sad for your child” or “SMH. Sadly by the time she realizes the effect this will have on her children, it will be too late” I was out.
Who were these women and why have they just made it their life’s mission to burn me (and each other) at the stake. I was dumbfounded…and then the tears began to flow. I look back now and I can’t believe that I let those vile women cause me tears, but I was also newly postpartum and extremely overwhelmed. I was looking for somebody – anybody – to tell me that I was not alone…but instead I felt shamed and isolated and like a TERRIBLE, unfit mother. I mean, if they feared for the life of my children after learning ?next to nothing about me, they undoubtedly would have collectively agreed to have them removed from my home if I dared to share any of my real issues!
I told my husband about the experience and he didn’t believe it could possibly be real. He insisted that the site must be run by the makers of cloth diapers or baby organics or something of that nature. He said that if this kind of mother, does in fact exist, then he?feels bad for HER children. Having to grow up in a household where there is only one way to do things: her way. Where any deviation from her flawed perception of perfection results in humiliation. Where tolerance and acceptance are probably not being taught. Where it is acceptable to inflict shame and embarrassment on our fellow humans. Now THAT is a reason to feel sad for a child.
I have come to realize that these women, do in fact, exist, and they are everywhere within the voyeuristic social circles of our lives. Quick to point out what parents, of whom they know close to nothing about, are doing wrong. Popular topics of choice include vaccinating, not-vaccinating, bottle feeding, co-sleeping, circumcisions, ear piercing, car-seating, the list goes on and on.
If you happen to be one of these types of mothers, I realize that there is nothing that I can say to resolve the deep-seated fear and angst that is driving you to tear apart the very people you should be rallying around and rooting for. I know this, because I have seen your cruelty in the face of unimaginable tragedy. As parents were living out their worst nightmares, you wasted no time in your heartless assault on the ones who were grieving. Placing the blame on the people who have just had their lives turned upside down. I have seen your attacks on celebrities and the ways in which they choose to parent their own children. I have seen you use words as weapons as you publicly mock another mother. A mother who is just as insecure and vulnerable as the rest of us, but just so happens to be in the public eye.
And while I realize that I can not change you, I really want to try to understand you, so please answer me this…Why? What is your reason for purposely hurting us mothers who are clearly failing miserably to achieve your level of superiority and expertise?
I can only think of one answer that you may tell yourself that this is. Because of your deep concern for the well being of these children. Well my friend, if you haven’t heard, the internet is forever. These mothers whom you have publicly shamed by name and with photographs…well one day down the line these children that you care so deeply about; they may come across your mean and nasty “advice” to their mothers. I think that those words can be far more damaging than their parents decision to formula feed.
If you happen to be a mother who has been a victim to this kind of treatment, then take it from me…you are doing fine. Your kid is going to be ok too. You are not alone. If you feel like you screwed up, drop me a line…I’m pretty sure I ‘ll see your mistake and raise you 20.