Writing About My Child
…When Lee was thirteen, I went to a conference for people with ADHD and met the representative for ADDitude magazine, a leading resource for the ADHD community. Without a doubt, I knew this was the place I wanted to submit an essay. The ADDitude representative bounced me to the editor, who offered me a running blog on their website. I felt a little nudge inside my heart. I saw those steel-grey eyes. Now, it was time to get my child’s consent.
“Will it help other kids?” Lee said a hopeful smile…
“Does your daughter know you’re writing about her?” The man spit out his words, his steel-grey eyes drilling into me. My fellow writers shifted in their chairs. I felt like a bug pinned under a microscope. No one had ever asked me this question in all the previous conferences I’d attended. I shook my head no. My cheeks burned under his gaze.
The workshop leader said, “If you have personal questions for Jennifer, please ask her after our class.”
I’d just read an essay of a morning when my child’s ADHD had spun out of control. Desperate to cope, I’d written the story, looking for perspective. Now, I felt my struggles had been human, might give other parents hope, and this workshop was my way to see if other writers agreed with me. But, I hadn’t thought to show it to Lee, who was only nine years old.
When the bell rang for lunch, the man leapt out of his seat and came over to me. “You should wait until your daughter is old enough to give you consent. She may never forgive you for writing about her disabilities. Think about it.” He strode out of the door.
As I watched him leave, I wondered if he was right. My heart hammered, and a wave of shame rippled through me. I pushed out of my chair. If I kept my child’s ADHD a secret, under lock and key, then what message was I giving to her as her mother? Lee needed courage, not fear, to face her challenges.
I’m not here to sweep Lee’s disability under the rug, I’m writing to advocate.
I returned home and told Lee I was writing about raising a child with ADHD, the ups and downs of our days together. Since it wasn’t going anywhere yet, I didn’t see why I had to ask her approval. Over time, my essays piled up, and I started to look for a place to publish them.
When Lee was thirteen, I went to a conference for people with ADHD and met the representative for ADDitude magazine, a leading resource for the ADHD community. Without a doubt, I knew this was the place I wanted to submit an essay. The ADDitude representative bounced me to the editor, who offered me a running blog on their website. I felt a little nudge inside my heart. I saw those steel-grey eyes. Now, it was time to get my child’s consent.
“Will it help other kids?” Lee said a hopeful smile.
“More like the moms and dads. But I won’t do it without your permission. And, I’ll give you a pseudonym.”
In my attempt to find ways to parent my child and understand her ADHD, I’ve written over fifty blogs. I’ve gone public on social media and been interviewed on Instagram. Lee is now 21, and not a day goes by that I don’t feel gratitude for her support. Any shame I ever felt has long been forgiven.
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