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.
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.
Over the years in my quest to help my child with ADHD and now complete a memoir about it, I accumulated many books on the subject. Maybe it’s the teacher in me or just my passion for books, but I ended up with a pretty good collection. This month’s blog focuses on some of my favorites.
Even though I’d heard that communication is a skill we learn and practice, no one told me how important that would be in raising my child. Between Lee’s inability to focus, a lot of hyperactivity, and emotions that were hard to regulate, it became my challenge to find a different way to communicate. In this month’s blog, I put together the tips that worked for me over the years. Hope you’ll find one that works for you!