Have you ever had an experience when you suspected something might be true but upon confirmation of that truth you still felt blind-sided? I’m sure you have, we all have at some point in our lives. It’s that feeling like the bottom has momentarily dropped out from underneath you despite the fact that you suspected it would all along. For some reason hearing the truth of it confirmed is a subtle blow to the mind and spirit even though deep down you’ve known the truth all along. Maybe I’m assuming too much when I say that everyone has experienced this. Let me explain. Most of you have already heard about this latest development in our family but up until this point I haven’t been able to truly articulate my feelings on the matter. I’m not quite sure I’m ready now but I am woefully behind in my blogging and I feel that this particular post is causing the mental and emotional “blog jam”.
For quite some time now I’ve suspected that some things were going on with my youngest son Alex. Most parents must be careful not to compare their children against each other. Greg and I must be particularly cautious because of Sean’s Aspergers. So when I began to notice some developmental delays with Alex I tried to put it out of my mind rationalizing that he was on his own path and a few missed benchmarks could mean many things or it could mean nothing. If you are a regular reader you also know that Greg, my husband, has ADD. Let’s just say that some red flags began to fly in earnest when I noticed some disturbing similarities between Greg and Alex. You may be wondering why this is cause for concern, like maybe I should have been expecting it, but remember that both of my boys are adopted so genetics cannot be blamed. (Well I guess in part they can for Sean but not Alex, confused? So are we… Hmmm better go back and read some of my blogging archives.)
Anyway… These similarities were subtle in the beginning. I first brought it up with the pediatrician when he was three hoping that we could chalk it all up to being a three-year old boy. The Dr agreed and I breathed a sigh of relief until the behaviors began to escalate as he developed. He is still just five almost six now and his diagnosis is difficult to spot in a boy of his age, however; the pediatrician and I are both convinced he has ADHD. You’re probably wondering what the big deal is, I would be. I mean there are certainly worse challenges to face, more difficult hurdles to overcome, and yet if you know me and all that I have going on you’ll understand what I mean when I say I feel a little bit overwhelmed. Although I had been suspecting that this might be the case I had put off taking him in to be specifically evaluated for ADHD because, quite frankly, I’ve got plenty of burdens to bear and I was still debating whether or not I was ready to face the reality of the situation. That may sound cowardly to you but I’m just being honest. If you’re a regular reader you know that I have a little more on my plate then the average wife and mother. Call me the cowardly lion, or the ostrich with my head in the sand, throw your entire fearful menagerie at me, whatever; I really wasn’t ready to go to the mental and emotional place that was required of me to accept the situation.
This spring I could no longer ignore the constant nagging of my “mother’s intuition” and in preparation for Alex’s yearly checkup I began to ready myself to broach the topic with the Dr. I realized that it no longer mattered whether or not I was ready, early intervention is the key to helping kids like Alex. It was time to face down my anxieties and address the needs of my son. It turns out I didn’t even need to bring it up with the pediatrician. About halfway through the appointment he brought it up for me. Alex was doing his typical running back and forth in the exam room, bouncing from wall to wall, and talking nonstop, literally unable to stop himself from saying whatever popped into his mind; all of this while pausing to ask me every few minutes if he’d eaten lunch already that day. After I had reminded him for what felt like the millionth time but was probably only the fifth in a matter of ten minutes that, yes we had in fact eaten lunch that day, the Dr asked, “Has anyone ever mentioned to you that Alex may have ADHD?” My heart sank as any lingering hopes that the Dr would say he was just being a typical five-year old flew right out the large panoramic windows of the exam room.
I know what you’re thinking. Why should I feel this way? Why was I taken aback at all? I don’t know… I guess I really wasn’t as ready to face reality as I thought I was. We got back to the car and I slumped over the steering wheel in defeat. I just kept praying, asking God if he really thought I was up for and worthy of the task ahead. I remember saying over and over again, “Are you sure you meant this life for me? Did I really agree to this life in the pre-existence? Really? ‘Cause I’m not so sure!” I already feel so overwhelmed dealing with Greg’s ADD as a spouse, Sean’s Aspergers as a mother, and my own failing health. I felt emotionally shot clean through as if whatever “bottom” was left in my life had completely fallen away leaving me hanging from a cliff by my fingernails. I know I can’t be the only one who has experienced that feeling. Is it the worst that could have happened? No. Is there a ton I can do to help, love, and nurture Alex through his challenges? Yes. However, I have to be honest once again and say that I really wanted to bury my face back in the sand.
To add insult to injury the pediatrician warned me specifically of the challenges a child with ADHD faces when a parent also has ADD. He told me that contrary to what one would naturally think, that it would be an asset, it is quite the opposite. I was discouraged to say the least. I feel quite lonely at times in my vigilant fight to help Greg and Sean accept and learn to navigate their specific trials. Now I had to face the fact that Alex was added to that boiling pot of anxiety and I just wanted to collapse to the floor in defeat. I am so sick and exhausted most days that I can barely function for my own benefit let alone the requirements of my spouse and children. I felt picked on quite frankly. Over the following weeks my prayers were filled with the same familiar questions, “Are you sure Heavenly Father? Are you sure I can do this? Are you sure I’m the right mother and wife?” That day after our appointment I continued on with my pity party calling Greg to relate the news while bawling like a baby. Of course he understood. He too felt the weight of this next burden because, more than anyone, he understands what lies ahead for our sweet Alex.
Since that time, the pity party has been in full sway. I’ve even invited a few V.I.P. guests, crying on several shoulders and venting with friends and family. I’ve been praying that I’ll be able to muster the necessary mental and emotional strength. Let’s face it, I’m not “that mom” who seems to have endless reserves of energy, I’m not even that mom who can make it through my day without a nap… heck, I can’t even make it through the day without several naps. I mean who are we kidding here? As I’ve pondered and prayed over the reality of what is to come I’ve worried even more about how long I will be able to offer my family what they need from me. I’m saddened to realize that the years where I felt I had the best of me (at least physically) to offer have already taken up firm residence in my past. I realize that my emotional presence may be even more important than the physical but I’ll be the first to admit that my own health struggles have left me emotionally drained. For some reason I was meant to face these burdens all at once, I’m sure I will know why in hindsight but I could really use some of that hindsight right now!
I’ve felt very little desire to blog and yet whenever I do I feel cleansed as if I’ve been able to process my fears. I appreciate that so many of you read and follow me as I talk through these things with myself. I love your kindness, support, and prayers. I believe that is why I have been experiencing this mental and emotional block. When we ignore the hard stuff in life we are only putting off the inevitable. For me, at least, I find it helpful to accept the situation and then address it. As I’ve been pouring my heart out in prayers of supplication I’ve come to realize that while I can’t raise my family by virtue of my own strength, I can do it with Heaven’s help. Some of you will relate to this statement while others of you may be rolling your eyes. No matter what your religious views I hope you will hear me out. I know that God sent me the family I have for a reason, there are days (quite a few actually) when I question his wisdom in choosing me, but I trust that he knows what he is doing. I only hope that I can remember to rely on the Lord’s strength in the moments when my own fails me. I had written this part of my post before I left for church today and I don’t think it was a coincidence that one of the lessons was on the subject that with God all things are possible. I truly believe that, I must believe that or I really would curl up in a heap on the floor.
Life is funny, isn’t it? When I feel as if the other shoe has dropped, and then the other, and then the other… I am shocked to realize that I had more shoes in the air than I originally dared believe. I only hope that I don’t mess up too much, thank goodness Greg and I have been setting money aside for college AND therapy because they’re certainly going to need it after having me as their mom. We do the best we can with the knowledge and tools we have at the time. I just have to remember that every time I fall victim to my anxieties over my inadequacies. God chose me and placed his trust in me so I think that is good enough for me; in the mean time I’ll quote one of our family’s favorite movies Disney’s UP, “SQUIRELL!!!!”