This past year has pretty much been a blur. I've lived in a fog of what my reality is. SO. MUCH. changed all at once & I while I held it all together on the surface, it has been really, really hard. I'm not writing this now as a call for pity, just so I can get it out there, explain why I may not have been the person I used to be, and to maybe even help someone else struggling see that they are not alone.
Within a span of 3 months, I quit my job to become a stay at home mom, had a baby, got an official diagnosis for the oldest (and subsequently became overwhelmed with "how to help/fix/live with this"), sold /packed a house, and moved away from practically everyone I know & love. Any one of those things can be overwhelming alone, but taking it all to the gut at once... well, it makes a lot of things about me make a lot more sense. (I hope.)
Let's start with becoming a stay at home mom... WOW! I've lost part of me by not having "me" time. I never really factored that into the job. I no longer have time to run regularly (though I am trying desperately to get back to that because I so need it!!!). I don't get a lunch break to have a whole hour to MYSELF, either napping, running errands, or just eating in peace. I don't get to spend 8 hours a day talking to other adults about adult things. At this point I even miss sitting in traffic because if I was all alone I could listen to whatever I wanted to & think (or not think) in peace. Nowadays, I am not needed for anything other than feeding, cleaning, & transporting (yeah, yeah, keeping 2 young children alive is a lot more than that, but that's the summary). I'm not appreciated. I mean, I sorta am, kinda, but mostly I'm taken for granted. Oh!, and, Luke working from home adds in a whole other weird aspect to the stay at home gig. I mean, we love him being here, but it's not all roses. ;)
I had a baby. A wonderful, calm, loving, amazing baby. That knows no-one as well as me (which is a new thing, since the oldest had several caregivers & was happy to be with anyone), and has really needed (demanded) me there 24/7. I've had very few breaks (which is fine, I'm totally not complaining about the blessing of being home with him!!), and he *still* sleeps in about 3 hour increments. yawn. Remember how overwhelming life can be when you have a newborn? Tough stuff man!
We'll come back to the part about the oldest, as it's honestly the most overwhelming factor in my life...
We got an offer on our old house while I in labor. We signed the paperwork a few hours after we got home the next evening. Whirlwind! We then had to pack up the house, find a rental in our new town (which meant a road trip with the oldest & a newborn!), and then move, unpack, and attempt to get settled in a new place. Ex.haust.ing.
Moving away from everyone has proved to be more difficult than I imagined. I've been blessed by the amazing friends I have made here already, but with everything else going on, I'm not even sure if I've really been able to be myself. I definitely haven't been the kind of friend I used to be, and I hate that!! I'm not as good at remembering important dates, not as good at being there before they even know they need someone, and not as good at being the rockstar friend I once had the time & energy to be. :p I'm trying to build my "family", but I miss my blood-family & my old "family" of friends so much (though I do think moving away is one way of learning who your real friends are, but that's a whole 'nother story). I miss being able to have a babysitter (ie the grandparents) so Luke & I can enjoy being us on occasion, instead of mom & dad, and I really, really miss having the occasional full night of no parenting! Sleepovers are something I took for granted. Boy, did I take those for granted!
The diagnosis for the oldest has been the hardest. Well, not the diagnosis, they could've told me he just had a cold & it wouldn't matter that they called it that, it's the actual daily life that's hard. I get that people have assumptions about what ADHD is, or that they've never heard of ODD. I get that the way my child acts in public can be shocking/annoying/"awful" (to others), but I live this 24/7. It's not just what happens when I attempt to buy groceries, go to an appt, or enjoy any public gathering place. I can't even start to put into words what it's like to live with my oldest. He is a great kid - he is very loving & generous, he is insanely smart, he is truly an incredible kid that I am blessed to have in my life. Buuuuuut... he has no off button. He is go, go, go. He also argues. A lot. No, seriously, you can't understand what the definition of a lot is unless you've spent a day with him. He goes from happy to sad to mad to total meltdown at the drop of a hat. Once a meltdown starts, it takes FOREVER for it to end. That's right - for it to end, YOU cannot end it, it must end on its own. It can be because he wanted to buy a new Lego set, because his favorite blanket is missing, because his waffle is too crunchy... there is no way to ever know what will set it off, you just live prepared for it. Sometimes he has to be held down. Sometimes he becomes violent. Usually he's just loud & rude, but you never know. He has boundless energy. He wakes up at 5... 6... 7... whenever (though rarely past 7), but he goes & goes & goes until 9, 10, 11... I think the only reason he ever actually does go to sleep is that we make him. ha. He doesn't understand personal space, and he does. not. like to be alone. I don't mean to say any of this to make him sound awful, he's not, it's just really hard to live with a kid like him. Really hard. He pushes every. single. button. we have... then he beats on the button for good measure. ;) I am EXHAUSTED. The past year I've spent all but 3 hours day/5 days week during the school year with him. I love him. Sooooooo much. I'm his biggest fan, his biggest advocate, his biggest, well, everything. All of his amazing attributes will serve him well one day, but they are so very hard to parent!
I remember once thinking ADHD was just this "thing" that meant that a kid couldn't be still & had a hard time focusing. (I also remember side-eyeing the mom with the child acting a fool/throwing a tantrum/etc in public. karma, I hate you.) There is so very much more to it than that. So. Very. Much. Parenting an ADHD kid is really, really trying & really, really exhausting. ODD is a whole different can of worms & it's realllllllllllllllllllly trying. I mean, imagine someone yelling at you, arguing every point you make, calling themselves names, trying to engage you in a fight, etc, but you couldn't ever get away from them. That is what it's like to parent an ODD kid. There is no escaping, but there is constant negativity & meanness. -and my kiddo is a loving kid, I can only imagine if someone out there is parenting an ODD kid who is not at all loving!
I get sad on days like today (Father's Day), when I see so many friends having a great family time out to lunch/dinner, at the park/golf course/pool, sharing the things I always dreamed my family would be sharing... then I look at the reality of my life. Our day was full of K crying over silly stuff, a huge, hold-him-down-meltdown, wall kicking, threats being made, whining, jealousy, yelling, refusing to go to bed (yeah, he's still going strong at 10pm)... I knew being a parent would mean there would be hard times, rough days, ugly moments... but I never thought it would be EVERY day. There's no celebrating special moments/days/events without huge disappointments all around. I've given up that dream of a fun family time to celebrate --- & instead attempt to celebrate it all while knowing it's likely to end in hurt feelings, stressed out parents, and possibly even some feelings of resentment. I try so hard to prepare myself for what might happen, but then I'm either blindsided or I can't hold it together anymore & once either of those happens, it seems like the entire family falls to pieces! I'm only one person, but I seem to hold the fate of our while family in the palm of my hands. I'm not allowed a bad day because it means everyone will have one. If that's not pressure...
I think I've lost track of where I was even going with all of this... it's just that the past year has been so incredibly hard & I am so beyond exhausted. I am just now feeling like there's hope ahead & I am beginning to come out of the funk I've been living in. I'm trying harder to reach out & build relationships, I'm busting my butt to find time & energy to bust my butt (aka exercise), I'm trying to accept the card that I've been dealt & make the most of it. I don't think the hardest is behind me (we're still not sure that we have a complete/accurate diagnosis for K & G is just about to enter toddlerhood - the world of "no!"), but I am hoping & praying that I find the tools I need to get through each stage as it comes. I found a babysitter who could handle my 2 guys, though I haven't tried using her more than once, so she may actually avoid me when I call again (and there's the whole financial aspect, by the time you pay the babysitter, how do you afford a date??!). I found a couple of local support groups for parents of ADHD kids, and I'm hoping I'll be able to get involved in them at some point (because I really need to hear that I'm not alone & I need friends that can truly understand how hard this path is). I'm eagerly awaiting school starting so that I can have multiple hours to focus on G & possibly even have a "break time" during naps (haha), though I'm am very hesitant about the school being able to meet all of the needs & provide the proper services for K, but I'm trying to be optimistic, I suppose. (Homeschooling be the next option, and man!, is that on overwhelming thought!) I'm trying to get K medicated, which is not such a good thing at the moment, but I'm hoping for a better outcome over time. I wrestled with that decision for so very long & put so much of my energy into finding a solution other than big pharma... but there just doesn't seem to be one! Of course, medication isn't the solution so far either, so, what do you know?
This year has been rough, but I'm trying to dig my way out. I'm hoping I'll have clear thoughts, a set direction, & even some sleep soon. I'm already learning that the power of a mom is greater than anything else on earth. I'm learning that being a mom can be isolating & scary, but it can also teach you how incredibly strong you really are & how hard you will fight for what matters most.
If I've forgotten about anything important to you, if I've seemed to not really be there when I was physically near you, if I've looked or acted strange/tired/overwhelmed... well, there it is. I am. If you've been in a funk too & I haven't noticed, I apologize. I desperately need a break, but I'm a mom, and I don't think a break is in my near future. At least not one for as long as I desperately need.
When life hands you lemons... ohhhhhh, I'd love some lemonade! Better spike it with caffeine though, mommy needs it! (Save that vodka, we'll add it when G weans...) ;)