ADHD as a Mom?

So writing was not on my plan today but feels therapeutic to write right now. I cannot tell you how many times I have said that it feels like I have developed ADHD since becoming a mom. It was always something I joked about when my kids would complain that I forgot something (an apt, a school supply etc). I would joke and tell them about my organized days as a college student with my color coded planner and my minimalist dorm room. And I would say something like, “I was organized once.” My sense of humor has certainly helped me many days when it looks like someone threw a frat party(rereading this I thought this said fart party;) in my house without telling me. Joking about the chaos has helped me to stay sane. It has helped me to roll with it instead of hiding from it. Witty Pinterest memes helped me too. Like “Cleaning your house when your kids are little is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos” or “cleaning your house when your kids are little is like shoveling while it is still snowing.” These comforted me when I felt like surely I was the only one living this way.

The chaos is a little less now having 2 teens, a college student and a 1st grader. In theory they are all old enough to help out but getting to making a plan to make it happen is where I stall out. I have always been on a pursuit to create helpful rhythms for our family of 6.

Then recently I read that the ADHD brain longs for this rhythm but has difficulty making it happen. Oh geez. It is little things like this that I have been reading lately that make me wonder if all my joking is actually truth. I just figured that it makes total sense that as a stay at home mom I would be regularly sidetracked in my pursuits of accomplishing things. This was a billion times more true when my kids were little and I was putting out fires continually. I remember just longing to pee alone and in quiet with no chubby fingers reaching under the door demanding something of me when all I wanted to do was pee.

I just figured it was a normal mom thing to be folding laundry then see something else that needed my attention and to attend to that. But this felt like my day all day long – bouncing to one unfinished thing to another. It doesn’t help that small children are like little tornados leaving destruction in their paths. Whoa serious brain fart just now. I could not for the life of me remember how to spell destruction and I had to ask Siri. I was like distruck… Tiny distractions like this sending my mind in a new way.

All 4 of my kids are in school now so I have no tornados to distract me. Don’t be fooled- I am not sitting in a clean home. There is still evidence of stuff not put away but honestly most of it is mine. True I can blame it on being needed which is true at times. But most of the time, I am in the middle of something and see something else that needs me and go to work on that.

I have several mom friends who realized recently that they had undiagnosed ADHD. I read that motherhood makes it more obvious because now there are other beings and things to juggle besides my own stuff.

So all the things to do can make me feel like I am spinning. My spiritual director suggested something to help me not feel overwhelmed. It was a good reminder to keep it simple and give myself grace since we just moved across the country 2 months. Change, even good change can cause physical and emotional/mental stress. I have been feeling this for sure with anxiety heart pains. Her suggestion for me each morning: to write 3 small things that would benefit the whole family/house and then 3 things that would nurture myself (body, mind and or soul). This was been amazingly beneficial and so helpful to keep me focused. Most days I get it all done or 5 out of 6. And there is something magical about writing a check in a box I made. It is win!! It is a victory. I need this tangible paper post it/ check off. When there is so much before me I can feel like I am losing at many things but checking off these things is so good for me.

So an example of my attention being sidetracked this morning:

My 3 things for the fam are (couldn’t remember so had to go look on my post it)-

literally distracted for 2 minutes trying to figure out of to do a bullet list. lol. maybe next post. ok back to my 3 things:

  1. plan meals/make list
  2. decide chores/after school rhythm
  3. unpack 1 box

Ok so I started out trying to do #1 but I realized I gotta clean out the fridge to know what I have and what I need to buy. So I started that about 2 hours ago. It did not take 2 hours to clean but been distracted that long. It is clean now and all the moldy stuff is gone. I had blackberries that were completely covered with a fur blanket. yum. Follow me into my distracted dissent. Naturally I have to go recycle the berry containers and take the compost/food waste outside to the green bin. My sister comes to mind so I write her a long, teary card. After doing that I notice I have a voicemail since I had put my phone on do not disturb (probably need to do that more). It was my youngest’s school to set up a 504 plan for his ADHD. While adding that next apt to my planner I realize this planner only goes to December and is not a fully academic year. So I hop in Amazon to order 2023 while I am thinking about it. That sends me on a rabbit trail picking out an antenna topper for my van because I see the one I previously put in my cart is not prime and I gotta have prime. I get those things ordered then I think I should write a post on how distracted my mid morning has gone. Writing is a good cathartic release and while texting with my other sister today she reminded me to make sure I care for myself as I juggle everyone else. No doubt for me to truly focus my phone and watch must be on do not disturb.

So as you can see many of these distractions were good like sending my love via a card and writing this post since I want writing to one day bring in mula for our fam. Good things but a distraction from my list.

But to give myself credit my early morning was epic. I wasn’t tired at 5:00am and was ready to get up. So I was able to check off 2 of my self care boxes. I walked my planned 2 miles and I did my lectio divina. Both of those are usually 2 of my daily 3. The 3rd is mediating via centering/contemplative prayer. And now as I look at my list for myself it is actually:

  1. walk
  2. center (short for centering prayer meditation)
  3. my desk (clean off my desk which is regularly full of my kryptonite- paper piles)
  4. juice (I have fruit that will be approaching fur blanket soon so I wanted to not be wasteful but there ain’t now way that is happening today. It is noon and I have to hop in carpool in 1 hour for a 2pm dismissal cause it gets cuckoo in carpool so I like to get there early. But one huge benefit of carpool is that I will often read or nap. So it forces me to care for myself. I deleted social media during the pandemic so that does not steal my precious time while in carpool).

Ok I have to be okay with having only checked off 1 box today. They are just boxes and I will keep working towards them though once my youngest gets home – it is hard for me to focus on anything that requires mental endurance like my desk or their chores/after school schedule. So I will do physical tasks.

I am literally pooped. So as a #9 on the enneagram I will likely nap 30 of the next 60 minutes. But I also read that mid day those with ADHD are often exhausted.

Hmmm…. one day I will talk to a doctor about it (side note: I heard your child’s pediatrician is the best one to talk to for yourself because most Drs. don’t get much training/education on ADHD). But for now I will just keep mommying like I have for the last 19 years. Holy cow how did 2 decades fly by? Though I got totally side tracked today I will celebrate what I feel are wins even if they are not on my list.

Wins:

  • reached out to a sister that I feel distant with and shared my love (whoa a bullet showed up but not sure how)
  • ordered a planner for next year to help me be organized
  • ordered a giant sloth window sticker and cupcake antenna topper to help my kids identify our van out of the sea of Toyota Siennas in carpool
  • ordered a new pizza cutter since my dog chewed up the other
  • cleaned out the fridge
  • took out the funky food waste trash
  • walked 2 miles
  • took both dogs on separate quick jogs since they are cuckoo together (that took 30 minutes)
  • got dressed, did my makeup and hair (makes me feel a billion times better than sweaty yoga clothes yet so rarely happens because I am often the last one on my list)
  • connected with God via journaling and lectio divina and received encouragement from that
  • dropped 2 kids off at school with smiles (not having morning meltdowns is huge victory)
  • remembered to put on deodorant. win for everyone.
  • about to take a restorative 30 minute nap before I hop in carpool line

Over the years I have learned to list things to celebrate/”wins” in my gratitude journal to keep my attitude positive when it could easily devolve into self pity/loathing and frustration.

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