Being a Hyper Mom with ADHD
“Grandma Nancy,” my son informed me tonight, as he has done several times before, “does a much better job scratching my back.” “Yes, I know, honey,” I sighed, as I tried to slow down the tempo of said back scratching. “It’s because she’s much calmer than me.” Since Lawrence was a toddler, my stepmother has, on demand, indulged him with a few minutes of back-scratching whenever she sees him, during which he becomes absolutely boneless and quiet. She is somehow able to transmit her calm and sense of center to him.
“Calm” is a word that no one would ever think of applying to me. I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with the emphasis, in this case, on the “H.” I walk, talk and think quickly. Because everyone seems to move, talk and think at a slower pace than me, sometimes maddeningly so, I’m just a tad impatient. (If my husband’s reading this, he’s rolling his eyes at the characterization of my level of impatience at “a tad,” trust me).
When I had Lawrence, one of my biggest challenges was learning to be patient. My ADHD was diagnosed relatively late, in my late thirties. By then, since I had grown up with ADHD, I had developed my own coping strategies for the distraction issues. However, developing strategies for dealing with being at an accelerated pace compared to everyone and everything else was not something that I ever felt I had to do before Lawrence. It’s very possible that people around me would have appreciated it, but to be honest, before my diagnosis of ADHD I didn’t know that I was moving faster than most people. I was used to the world moving too slowly.
I think most parents ask themselves on a regular basis if they’re they’re doing enough for their children, if they’re giving enough. I frequently picture my son’s conversation with my future daughter-in-law. “What are your parents like? What’s your mom like?” Of course, I realize that there’s a good chance she’ll be more focused on whether I’ll like her than whether she’ll like me, but this is my insecurity we’re talking about.
Although he hasn’t yet commented on the tempo of my bedtime reading, I know that’s much too fast, too. But I get interested in the story, and forget to read slowly. When I hear my husband reading to Lawrence, I marvel at how much better it sounds when things are read at a normal pace. The next time I read to him I try to read slowly. That lasts about thirty seconds, and then I start galloping along again.
But I believe that Lawrence values the back scratching and reading not for their particular benefits but for the time spent with me. So how will he describe me some day to my future daughter-in-law? I think he’ll probably say something like, “Well, my mom is somewhat hyper and a bit impatient, but when it came to spending time with me, she made me feel like she had all the time in the world.”
Deborah Gray wrote about depression as a Patient Expert for HealthCentral. She lived with undiagnosed clinical depression, both major episodes and dysthymia, from childhood through young adulthood. She was finally diagnosed at age 27, and since that time, her depression has been successfully managed with medication and psychotherapy.