A while back, in a Facebook discussion about understanding and coping with ADHD and/or autistic children, one mother observed that ADHD made it harder for children to ignore the things that bothered them. The itchy tag, the mild blood sugar low, the pain and distress from a mild injury, are all more for them because they can’t ignore them effectively.
Motherhood must then be like being ADHD, because you can’t ignore your small children when they are bothering you. They don’t permit it.
This morning I realized, to my horror, that I neglected to set David’s clock back for the end of Daylight Savings. When he was four, I bought him a cheap clock, and I forbade him to get out of bed unless 1) I came for him or 2) the clock had a seven on it. We had a couple instances of him appearing at 5:37am, but for the most part, this kept him in his bed until 7am.
This morning he appeared after only three sips of my coffee. *sob*
Once he is awake, he is talking to me. And when he is talking to me, he demands a response, even for things like “I’m going to the bathroom” or “I’m going to play with Legos.” The constant talking is the single most exhausting part of being his mother. He is frequently funny and interesting and a joy to talk to… but it’s hard to remember this when I haven’t finished my coffee or my morning prayer or done any of my housework or written a word of my daily quota.
David does not allow himself to be ignored. He just escalates until I have to pay attention.
When David is awake, Raphael is sure to follow. And follow he did, fifteen minutes later. He doesn’t talk much yet, but he whines and sobs and meows and pleads to nurse, and that’s pretty much the same thing, with the addition of being pawed at.
And I can’t ignore him either. Not just because he escalates, but because he’s two and deserves a hug and a nurse and morning cuddle. He’s not developmentally ready for instructions to stay in bed till 7am, or to leave me alone so I can focus on a task, like the grocery list, or a set of cardiomyocyte measurements.
Worse, I need time, preferably morning time, when no one is talking to me. For all that working 2.5 days a week is stressful, for all that I hate the wasted hours of my commute, it’s literally the only time in my week where no one is talking to me. It keeps me sane.
I need time where I can plan my grocery list and menu for the week. Keeping the household properly fed and reducing scavenging is a complicated balancing act when I also work half the week and spend so much time on a bus and train.
I need time to organize my catechetical lesson plans. I have the only class of second graders on Wednesday nights because there aren’t enough catechists to split them into two. There are 22 children, 19 of whom are boys, 1 of which is my son, and all of which are preparing to recieve sacraments this year. And we have a new, not quite complete, diocesan framework to plan lessons from. I need time to think about how to teach them effectively, and time to pray for each of them individually.
I need time to organized David’s schoolwork. He is still homeschooled (indeed, we can’t afford the public schools) and here days a week takes work with him to my parents.
I need time for self care, time to blog and swim and shower and read.
And this must be what it is like to be ADHD. All the time, you cannot focus on what is necessary, or healthy, or delightful, because you are constantly interrupted by things that are unignorable.