Mothers Come First

Mothers Come First

I’m so excited to have an excerpt from my memoir published this month in MER, Mom Egg Review, the Ages/Stages MER Online Folio! This is a wonderful literary journal about motherhood and all its complexities. In my essay, “Mothers Come First,” I face both the fears and joys of becoming a new adoptive mother.

The Journey from Diagnosis to Acceptance

The Journey from Diagnosis to Acceptance

I’m thrilled to have an article in the Jan/Feb issue of L.A. Parent! What an honor to write an article for a magazine that I turned to so many times in my own parenting journey. When my child was diagnosed with mental health challenges, I wished I’d had a guide or tips to help me with the questions that burned in my mind.

Where do I start? Will other people judge me? Why do I compare my child to neurotypical children? How do I handle my emotions when my child’s behavior feels out-of-control? How do I get out of a negative rut?

These questions and more kept me tossing and turning at night years ago, wishing for more support. So, I wrote this article to answer them, hoping that parents today could use any tips that resonate and find encouragement. Parenting a neurodiverse child takes enormous courage, and seeking help is the best way to start out on your journey.

Lost in the Mall – Dorothy Parker Ashes

Lost in the Mall – Dorothy Parker Ashes

The Gift of Mommy Friendships

The Gift of Mommy Friendships

The Gift of Mommy Friendships

As Mother’s Day approaches, I want to thank all the special moms who supported me through the years. Parenting a neurodiverse child is challenging and makes it difficult sometimes to find understanding friends. When I was struggling, long before my child’s ADHD diagnosis, two moms stepped forward and gave me hope and the gift of friendship. This blog is in honor of them.

As a new mom, I felt utterly alone. My husband and I had pulled up stakes and moved to a suburban town away from our friends and family, miles away from the city we’d called home. When our daughter Lee was born, she came into the world with colic, crying day and night.  At three months old, the colic improved, but Lee was still restless. Her body was in perpetual motion. I signed up for a Mommy and Me class, desperate to meet some other moms and be reassured that things would get better. 

At a nearby shopping center, I found the address and walked through the door. A quiet lullaby on a guitar floated down the hall. Following, I saw a filmy, gold curtain that was parted to the side. I stepped past it into the class, but Lee was too fast. Her tiny hand shot out, grabbed the curtain, and gave it a good yank. Heat rose up my cheeks as glossy folds draped over my feet.

Stopped in my tracks, I stood frozen. “I’m so sorry.” Startled moms tried to catch their babies who were now crawling toward the gold.

“Hi, I’m Miss Lily,” the teacher said. She grasped an escapee and plunked him back into his mom’s lap. 

Lee was crying and kicking me, stretching her arm down for the curtain. Gripping her tightly, I pulled Lee up and took her into the circle of moms. They shushed their babies and made room for us on the worn, burnt-orange carpet. All around me they sat, looking well-rested in their clean sweatpants and fresh T-shirts. Looking down at my old leggings, I spotted the remains of Lee’s milky formula on last night’s shirt. I was the interloper, the one who didn’t have any right to ruin their class.

“Sit down, please.” Miss Lily’s polite voice covered up a bubble of impatience that threatened to pop.

My legs quickly folded under me, as Lee’s feet kick-boxed me in the stomach. Miss Lily played a soft chord on her guitar and the other babies quieted down, resting in their mothers’ laps. Murmuring soothing words into Lee’s ears, I tried to ease the kicking legs into a sitting position. Her teeny fists beat on my chest in time to my pounding heart. Whimpers gave way and she let out a piercing scream, encouraging the other babies to follow and drown out the guitar.

It was the longest thirty minutes of my life. Lee refused to sit still, and no amount of music, toys, or fairy tales could capture her attention. She wanted that gold cloth, and she wanted it now. Her cries punctuated every guitar strum and story Miss Lily read.

When class ended, I hopped up, ready to bolt, my squirming bundle under my arm. She just needs time to mature, I told myself, swiping at an angry tear on my cheek. The calm collected redhead who’d been sitting next to me with her cute, blonde baby boy grabbed me by my hand. “Wait.”

I whirled around and said, “Don’t worry, we won’t be back.”

“I hope you’ll change your mind. I’m Lindsey and this is Tommy. You look as though you could use a cup of coffee. May I?” She reached out for Lee, handing her baby to me. I took the docile, cooing boy and held him against my chest. What a difference, I thought. I started to soften.

“Look, we have the same color hair!” Lindsey pulled a strand of her own hair down on top of Lee’s head. “I’m jealous. You have a feisty, wild ginger who would do me proud. I think I have your baby.”

Another mom, with inquisitive eyes and warmth in her smile, walked up to us. She said, “Or you can have mine. Hi, I’m Kate.” She grabbed her car keys from her baby girl’s fingers. “Molly, enough already.” Her eyes grew wide as her baby grabbed the keys back.

Lindsey laughed. “Are you coming with us? Molly can drive.”

That cup of coffee led to many years of playdates with Lindsey, Kate, and their children.  They gave me the gift of friendship, embracing Lee with unconditional support when she was diagnosed with ADHD. Parenting a neurodiverse child comes with many challenges and making friendships can be one of them. But letting go of my insecurity and the fear of being judged gave these two beautiful women a chance to come into my life. It was the best gift I could have received.

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Mothers Come First

Mothers Come First

I’m so excited to have an excerpt from my memoir published this month in MER, Mom Egg Review, the Ages/Stages MER Online Folio! This is a wonderful literary journal about motherhood and all its complexities. In my essay, “Mothers Come First,” I face both the fears and...

read more
Less Than Perfect

Less Than Perfect

Less Than Perfect

This month’s blog is for all the moms who’ve ever felt like the world’s worst mother at one time or another. And, it’s especially for those of you struggling to parent a young child with ADHD or any other difficult challenges. Balancing your needs with those of your child takes extraordinary strength and confidence. In this blog, I give into my guilt, only to realize how little it matters.

I was running late, really late this time. The traffic light ahead was yellow, and I decided to run it even though I could see the scary blue video light attached. I pushed the pedal to the floorboard and gritted my teeth, barely making it through the intersection before the light turned red. Exhaling, I tried to reassure myself. My daughter, Lee, was happier in preschool, she had friends to play with. It was an extended playdate, I told myself, better than a harried mother. I’d never done it before, but the school offered extra care at four dollars an hour and I’d traded our afternoon together for a pedicure. I felt like the world’s worst mother.

I tailgated the elderly man in front of me. “Go, go, go!” I urged, knowing he wouldn’t. This was ridiculous, I told myself. Lee was supervised, I didn’t have to worry. But an image of Lee from last week filled my mind. There she stood on her little stool in the bathroom, orange cough syrup in one hand, a spoon in the other, triumph written all over her face. “Mommy, I drank my medicine all by myself!” 

Her rosy mouth was ringed in orange and crumpled when I grabbed the medicine away, the liquid shooting out of the bottle high in the air and staining the carpet. My pulse hammered as I stared at the contents in the bottle. I must have left it on the bathroom counter the night before, after I’d given her a dose. How could I have been so forgetful? How much had she drunk?  She stomped her little foot, “Give it back to me. I like medicine!”

There was no time. I hoisted her up in the air and pressed her into my chest, gave her Ipecac to vomit, and raced to the nearest hospital. And boy did she vomit, all the way to the hospital and right into the emergency room. Instead of pumping her stomach, they decided to monitor her vital signs over the next few hours.

When a doctor examined her, she reported that Lee hadn’t ingested enough to do any damage, probably only a teaspoon or two. Then her voice grew stern. “From now on, you must make sure all medicine is out of a child’s reach.” I nodded, a deep red blush spreading across my face. Picking up Lee, I slunk out of the hospital and took her home to sleep it off.

My car’s clock read five minutes after five, and I cursed my pretty, pink toenails. I gunned the pedal to the floor, whizzing past the elderly man. The playground came into view when I made a right into the preschool’s curvy driveway.

Lee was carefully building an enormous sandcastle, stopping to lick the sand off her fingers. I parked, jumped out of the car and dashed toward her. She looked up, her eyes locking on mine. “Mommy!” she screamed. “My mommy is here!”  She ran to the chain link fence that separated us, and we shared a sandy kiss through the opening.

            “I’m sorry I’m late, honey.”

            “That’s OK, you’re the best mommy in the whole wide world.”

My guilt dissipated into the evening breeze. Maybe I wasn’t such a bad mother after all, at least in her eyes, which were the only eyes that really mattered.

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Mothers Come First

Mothers Come First

I’m so excited to have an excerpt from my memoir published this month in MER, Mom Egg Review, the Ages/Stages MER Online Folio! This is a wonderful literary journal about motherhood and all its complexities. In my essay, “Mothers Come First,” I face both the fears and...

read more

ADHD Inspirations for the New Year

ADHD Inspirations for the New Year

ADHD Inspirations for the New Year

For my fellow parents who are raising kids with ADHD and other special needs, here is a blog to give you some inspiration for the new year. Long ago, I chose a gift of a little stone with “Love” on it as my talisman to keep me going through the difficult times. In my blog, find yours, and the inspiration for a wonderful year ahead!

Ten years ago, I attended a writer’s conference with the seeds of a book idea. Taking all the essays and articles I’d written about raising a child with ADHD, I’d turn them into a memoir. One of the workshops at the conference was led by a talented memoirist, Diana Raab. With her encouragement, I shared several of my essays and gained the confidence to move forward.

When it came time to leave, Diana gave out small stones, each of them etched with a word that embodied what the writer had shared. Mine was mottled green and salmon with the word, “Love,” etched in gold. It sits on my desk to this day, under a photo of my four-year-old daughter, Lee, on my back, her arms hugging my neck, a huge grin splitting her face.

Lee is and was my inspiration to write my memoir, a labor of love I am only finishing now. The little stone is my talisman, the photo over it a reminder during the more challenging times that the love we share is larger than her ADHD, SPD, anxiety, and learning disabilities.

If I could, I’d hand out a stone to every mom of an ADHD child who’s asked me, “How do I keep going when things are so hard?” Just like “Love,” each stone would carry an inspiration, a reminder for the new year:

Believe” You are brave and wise enough to raise this child.

Strength” Turn your fear into courage, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

Faith” Have faith in yourself and don’t compare your child to others. She deserves to be herself.

Peace” In times of conflict, move from reaction to reflection. The hot air will evaporate.

Joy” Give yourself me time without guilt. Then you’ll have something to give back to your child.

Wisdom” Knowledge is power. Arm yourself with ADHD resources to help your child.

Comfort” Find the friends who give support and love, the ones who don’t pass judgment.

Hope” Never give up on your child. Your hope keeps their hopes alive.

If one of these reminders resonates with you, may it be your talisman, as love was mine, to help you through the new year. Look around and appreciate everything in your life that’s good and true and hold tight to it.

Wishing all of you a Happy New Year!

 

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Mothers Come First

Mothers Come First

I’m so excited to have an excerpt from my memoir published this month in MER, Mom Egg Review, the Ages/Stages MER Online Folio! This is a wonderful literary journal about motherhood and all its complexities. In my essay, “Mothers Come First,” I face both the fears and...

read more