If you think this is a “how-to” on holding it all together–it’s not. In fact, this is the exact phrase I just typed into Google. I found results on economic collapse, environmental destruction, building destruction, and even zombie apocalypse. I did not find how to deal with life when you have anxiety, a new house, a stressed husband, a five-year-old in kindergarten daughter (who has recently been diagnosed with ADHD), and a very active three-year-old son.
Google couldn’t tell me how to handle getting through the car rider line at pick-up finally to be told your daughter is waiting in the office. It didn’t tell me how to explain to her that raising your shirt and sticking your tongue out and spitting and pushing and being mean will not get you any friends.
Google had a few suggestions on how to manage a household–routines, cleaning supplies, and plenty of “before-and-after” Pinterest-ready pictures of homes that were well-cared-for. Plenty of pictures of dinners, lovingly prepared by housewives for their working husbands.
But it didn’t tell me how to deal with my life, right now.
So this isn’t a how-to. This doesn’t have answers. Only more questions. How do I survive? How do I manage? How do I keep it all together when I just feel as if I can’t.
Over the past view months, Alden has gone from a beautifully intelligent and creative young lady to a child I could not even imagine having to deal with on a daily basis. Despite my best efforts, she can’t sit still, can’t focus, acts impulsively, is mean and bullies, and does not show kindness– basically ever criteria of Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. For a while it was negligible. Manageable at home. She was getting her school work done and having decent days.
Then one morning I walked her in and her kindergarten teacher told me that they had implemented a behavior chart. Her categories of poor behaviors involved her inability to stay still, bullying and being aggressive with friends, and being rude and disrespectful to adults. We had one or two good days a week. When I picked her up in the office the first time for spitting and hitting the teachers on car rider duty, I knew our current strategy wasn’t working. I called her pediatrician and scheduled her initial appointment. At that point I rode home crying while she tried to tell me not to be mad. I wasn’t mad. I was disappointed in myself for not helping her sooner. I wanted the world to see the beautiful, happy girl I had tried to raise–but had failed.
Alden has since begun taking a 5mg dose of ritalin. This is the first step we are trying and she’s been taking it daily since last Wednesday. We’ve had several good days thus far. Her behavior has been improving steadily, but it definitely has it’s down sides. We began noticing immediately that she gets very emotional when the medicine wears off. The other downside is that her sleeping patterns are disrupted. She will go to bed later, wake up and play at night, and wakes up and plays very early. We give it to her at 7am so it is in effect before school begins.
As I sat inline to pick up Alden today, I wrestled with my own anxiety. I wrestled with immense emotional imbalance and was already a bit teary. I pulled to pick her up, yet did not see her. I rolled my window to hear the terrible news yet again– “Alden is waiting in the front office.” My heart sank, and I pulled around. When I came into view of Alden, she saw me, and her face got red, and she began to cry. Her teacher was in the office and we spoke for a few minutes. She told me Alden’s getting more respectful, but she’s still having trouble with her peers. The issue today was a silly one looking back. She raised her shirt and was sticking her tongue out and refusing to obey. I picked up my crying child and held her tight. I got comforting touches from the teachers and we left for home. I cried the whole way. I thought if I could only get her to rest. She fought me, told me I was mean and she hated me. She was so out of control. And that is when I lost it. It all collapsed and I sat down to cry. I began searching for some answer on how to cope. And I’ve still not found it.
We finally got Alden to bed. I took my bath and cried more. In this moment of openness and vulnerability, I knew I needed to share. I know that I am not the only mother feeling like a failure. I know I’m not the only woman with strain in her marriage because of an unruly child. I know I’m not the only one needing to know how to cope and drowning in guilt for struggling to like my child as a person. I do know there’s not many sharing their struggle and I think that it’s important.
I don’t have any solutions. I don’t know how to cope, or stay afloat, or manage it all. I’m hoping at least I can learn to empathize with those who are also struggling. I’m hoping to find help, and share our experience with others.