There are many misconceptions about ADHD. Some people believe that it doesn’t exist at all; that it’s just an excuse for lousy parenting or bad behavior. (“If that were my my kid, I would have nipped that behavior in the bud a long time ago”) Right. Some people say that ADHD is just a buzzword given to label all the kids who can’t sit still. Ha! But the one that really gets me riled up is the notion that ADHD is a disorder that primarily affects little boys. If only!
Now, any impairment in neuro-regulation creates major challenges for those who are affected by it, but having this impairment due to a condition that people are skeptical about, can make it damaging as well.
As far as we have come with gender equality, American culture still considers household duties as cooking, cleaning, and child-rearing, to be, ultimately, the woman’s responsibility. We, as a society, still expect that women are just naturally inclined to manage the family flow. Managing the family flow is typically not a strong point for those of us with ADHD.
Cleaning for me means walking from room to room relocating piles of clutter to a new surface. It also means completing about 60% of multiple tasks, creating the illusion that absolutely nothing was accomplished all day.
Preparing dinner causes a pit in my stomach that starts a little after lunch time and slowly builds until I’m forced to make a decision as to what I am going to feed my family that night. So many decisions, where do we start? Tacos are easy…but we always have tacos. Pasta? Oh no, it looks like we are out of pasta. Now what? We’ll just have to get take out. Or starve. Usually this is where my husband takes over and just whips up a delicious meal from the random stuff found in the fridge and pantry. How does he do that?!
Homework, sports, appointments, and activities. Why. Are. There. So. Many. Of. These? When I was in school I had a particularly difficult time meeting deadlines or remembering to come prepared with all of the school supplies, such as a protractor or, you know, the book. Well, take that struggle and multiply it by six and you’ve got my current situation. Not to mention the dogs’ annual (ish) appointments and updates. It’s usually around the time I get my third reminder mailer that I decide it’s probably time to get those dental exams knocked out. Except…did I just make our appointments for the same day as the gymnastics winter program? Remind to reschedule those please.
Why oh why did someone decide that those responsibilities should fall on the woman? Fortunately, our household does not subscribe to the traditional gender roles, but man, does my husband get a ton of street cred for that! Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy dearly, but when people hear that he is the one who (mostly) does the grocery shopping and cooking for the family, I am inevitably told how lucky I am.
Lucky. Because my husband contributes to the needs of our family. I work full time and take online grad school classes. I take care of the finances. I am the one who knows the names of the kids teachers and doctors and what size shoes and clothing they are currently in. I do the Christmas shopping and wrapping. I help with the school parties, the invitations and the thank you notes. I wash, dry, fold, and put away the never ending piles of clothes, towels, and bedding of 6 humans pretty much constantly. But he takes the kids to the grocery store and people are falling over themselves to gush about what an amazing dad he is. And don’t even get me started on the reaction he gets if anyone sees him putting our daughters hair in a ponytail.
We work well together and we have a system that allows us to keep our head above water in this crazy, busy, beautiful life that we’ve created, but I can’t help the creeping feelings of inadequacy when I hear over and over again just how lucky I am to be married to such an amazing man. Trust me, I do realize what an incredible, kind, talented, hard-working man he is, but it’s not because he can make a great dinner or a ponytail.
If I were to go away for a weekend, leaving my husband home with the kids, and things at home got a little chaotic and some of the chores went unfinished (or unstarted) you better believe that he’d have the support of the entire neighborhood to help him out, seeing that he was left to fend for himself. But if my husband were to leave for the weekend and the house fell apart in his absence – well then – I’m falling short of my womanly duties.
I have learned that we can’t change society’s expectations of women and mothers overnight (working on it though) but we can change our own expectations of ourselves. We can learn to not be so hard ourselves. We can learn to create a system that works for our family’s individual needs. We can recognize and embrace our strengths and once we are able to accept ourselves for who we are and to love ourselves anyways, it becomes much easier to not really care about – or even notice- what other people think of us. Remember the wise words of the brilliant Dr. Seuss who said, ‘Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.’