Jeannette’s Story

Our first article was written by a mother, her son also happens to have ADD. She focus’s on the importance of good friendships during the journey with a child that has special needs. She also discusses how hard others and even parents of children with ADD/ADHD can be on themselves. Once again the importance of REAL friends is clear! Here is her story:

There are times when I detest, and I mean absolutely detest, speaking about my brothers’ kids. Apart from being top in their respective classes at school, they both play several sports, each play an instrument, are well-behaved and never fight, oh and to add insult to injury, don’t seem to want to sit in front of the PlayStation for 17 hours at a stretch if given the chance. Oh no, they would much rather be outdoors on the farm, or camping or quad-biking. This doesn’t make them bad kids, in fact I love them with all my heart, but there is always that inevitable thought that fleetingly crosses my mind – “Now why can’t mine be like that?” And then of course, what follows is the “Their parents do less than I do, how is this fair?” Sharpish on the heels of these two thoughts is the crushing guilt that you feel because you have compared your child in the first place, and secondly, come up wanting.

Being a parent of an ADD child is difficult on so many levels, but the pressure, guilt and “what-ifs” that we place on ourselves is probably the most crippling of all the emotions that we go through. I think all parents look at their offspring at some point in time and find that their child doesn’t quite measure up, but with ADD parents, this measuring seems to be a day-to-day struggle. The sad part is that we don’t only do it to ourselves; we are subjected to it by other parents, by grandparents, by teachers and sometimes even – unbelievably – by spouses. I once had a friend who said that there was nothing wrong with my son that “a good hiding” couldn’t fix. I ask you, how do we cope when half the time we have to deal with this ignorance? Needless to say the friend has since disappeared from my inner circle.

The answer for me has been a friendship with a mother whose daughter attends the same remedial school as my son. She has been an inspiration, a shoulder, the chick I have tea with and tell all about how absolutely mad “suicide hour” was this morning, and at the end of it all the person I laugh hardest with because she knows exactly what I mean. There are no false modesties here, just the simple truth. There are no excuses because neither he nor I have anything to apologise for, even though I find myself doing it in the “real world”. There is a sharing of the highs and the lows without any judgments being made, because believe it or not, we as parents really do fly by the seat of our pants – every day! There is only encouragement, and support and understanding in this friendship, and always respect for what each of us is trying to achieve for our respective children.

It is over numerous cups of tea, and in my case, several cigarettes, that you can honestly say “I don’t want to discuss my brother’s kids, because it doesn’t seem fair that everything comes so easy to them”, and I can say it without that crushing guilt. It is also here that I can boast about his achievements and we can celebrate the small victories together. I know, also, that my friendship has meant the same to her and that gives me tremendous validation in terms of I must be doing something right if my input and opinion has value.

So, in a nutshell, do I believe that my son is magnificent, and special and multi-faceted and that he will go out and conquer the world if he so chooses? I most certainly do, not just because I am his Mother, but because in spite of his difficulties, he is going to be a marvellous man one day. But on the journey to getting there, through my days of self-doubt and angst, I have a friend with whom I can over-analyse every part of him, pull it all apart and put it back together again, and tonight when my husband walks through the door after an 18 hour day and asks “How was your day love?” I can honestly answer “It was good thank you”