Just Breathe. A Mother’s Story About Raising a Son with ADHD. ~ Suzanna Quintana

Via on Jun 22, 2013

Boy Swinging Side View

In my dreams, I always trip and fall down. And then I get up.
The signs are all there. Add them up, I tell myself.

He was in the principal’s office. Again. I didn’t need Caller ID; who else ever called?

Yes, Mrs. Roberts, okay maybe that’s an inappropriate song
for a first grader. I switched the baby to my other hip.
But, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby.
Well that’s kind of a healthy song, isn’t it—everything in the right order?
Inappropriate for his age, the principal reminded me.
Don’t you think, Mrs. Quintana?

He hung backward by his feet from the top dresser drawer.
He escaped out of every baby gate, baby crib, baby jail we bought.
He cleared all the pictures and vases and magazines off of every table in our house.
He scaled the shelf upon which the large television sat.
He climbed the nine-foot high bookshelf.
He pushed a chair to the door to look out the window, fell,
and knocked his front tooth out.

What do I do? He has so much energy! I wailed to the doctor when my son was only a baby.

That is one passionate little boy you have there, he said and tickled my son.
I gave myself an immediate adjective adjustment.
I repeated to myself over and over like a prayer at night into my tear-stained pillow,
He’s just a healthy and happy baby, that’s all. Right?

Fidget, squirm, wriggle, fuss, run, hide, interrupt, scream and fall off, fall in, fall down.

Typical, I found out later, much later, not too late, but still. Typical of boys with ADHD,
they—the doctors, the teachers, the psychiatrists, the everybody—say now, but
now he’s 12. He acts inappropriately for his age, his third principal tells me.

“Poopy butt!” my son shouts from the backseat, “Diarrhea!” he yells in Walmart.
Control your kid, lady. What’s wrong with you? People sneer, judge, conclude.
Why don’t I fix it? Family and friends wanted to know. I’m trying, I tell them.
Everything will be okay, you’ll see.

All the books you read sure don’t seem to help, my husband criticized.

My nightstand held stacks of dog-eared, highlighted pages from
Raising a Self-Disciplined Child, Raising Boys, Buddhism for Mothers,
7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons, 10 Days to a Less Distracted Child.

I read and read and read, but still couldn’t wait for bedtime, and two glasses of wine.
I’ll figure it out, I told my husband, who also has ADHD. He concluded about our son.
He needs discipline, he needs to be spanked, he needs to learn who’s boss.
I didn’t need another book to read. Keep your hands off of him. I knew that much.

Hyperactive, impulsive, inattentive, disorganized, absentminded, distracted and anxious.

And you would think I would know if I were describing my son or my husband,
I often told my mom. But your husband is an adult and Antonio is only a child,
she always added. You’re a good mother, she repeated, while no one else agreed.

But now they agree. Now we have the official diagnosis: ADHD. Now it’s for real.

And the footnote at the bottom of the page said, you’re officially not a shitty mother.
Blame it all on the ADHD, I say. So I read more books, different books, better books.

Adventurous, courageous, inventive, artistic, compassionate, loving, affectionate and kind.

So how was your day, Mama? he asks frequently. He hugs me, massages my shoulders,
and then the principal calls. We’re on a first name basis. What did he do now?
Another trip to the school. The parents of the well-behaved children know who I am.
Did you know he did this and he did that? I’ve run out of consequences to give.
I have been depleted of all disciplinary action. No one offers any helpful ideas.
The day ends up the same: a stomachache and sore ear after putting the phone down.

But I am figuring it out. Now we go to a Buddhist Temple. Now he meditates.

I turned his bedroom into a Zen den, where peace and quiet await his arrival each night.
Now there are more ups than downs, more joy than trouble, and yet still
I am the one there when the diagnosis reminds us both it is real, very real.
Are you going to medicate him? everyone who knows nothing about my son asks.
That is none of your fucking business, I want to scream. But I don’t. I act my age.

Then every night I slip into his room to watch him sleep, and lay my hand on his head.heart

I close my eyes and visualize a ball of light leaving my heart, traveling through my arm, out my fingers, filling my son’s body and soul with my love. We’ll figure it out, I promise him. And he knows that I know how lucky I am to be his mom.

In my dreams, I always trip and fall down. And then I get up.
The signs are all there. Add them up, I tell myself.
What are you going to do? What am I going to do?
I’m going to figure it out, that’s what I am going to do.
But for now, I’m going to just breathe.
And my son whispers, I love you, Mama.

Suzanna QuintanaSuzanna Quintana is a student at Naropa University where she’s pursuing a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. For the first time she’s writing about her experience as a mother with a son recently diagnosed with ADHD. “My intention was to address the stereotypes surrounding ADHD, what it is to be the parent of a child diagnosed, and the loneliness and ostracism I have faced by society as I struggle daily to help my son navigate these rough waters.” Her hope is to reach out to other mothers who feel alone and let them know there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel of ADHD, and it’s called Love.

 

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  • Assistant Ed: Judith Andersson
  • Ed: B. Bemel

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7 Responses to “Just Breathe. A Mother’s Story About Raising a Son with ADHD. ~ Suzanna Quintana”

  1. Stasi Manser says:

    As the mother of a son with ADHD this article reminds me of the struggles we ahad. We made it – he's 25 years old now and I still hear those three little words regularly – I love you mama!

    It was a tough road and the option for meds made it harder than it needed to be. I wish you both well. No matter how hard it gets some days – you know it's worth it and you ARE so lucky to be his mom!

  2. @coachjenlew says:

    As a Mom who has ADHD as well as 2 other children and a one with Autism, I fully understand the struggle. I had to shift my mind as well as my clients to understanding that our children have a unique gift…they key is to manage the pain associated with it , and let more of the gift flow. You are doing an awesome job!

  3. birthinthehammer says:

    As the mama of a 10yo son with ADHD, who spent years being told I was a terrible parent, that my son was a deviant, who was always somehow shocked to see the down when I knew how empathetic, creative, loving and smart he was when he was up – I'm crying a little right now. Thanks. I'm going to give my son a kiss as he sleeps.

  4. KarenA says:

    I'm crying a lot right now! All those things … "please come and pick him up early", "he's in a time out as he hit another kid" " excuse me, your little boy just yelled at me" … so familiar. And deep down thinking is it me? Am I too soft? And knowing that standard guidance and discipline just makes things worse for your son. Knowing he is the most caring lovable little boy with you, but can be truly horrible in groups or new surroundings. It's a long journey but love makes you patient and calm and kind most of the time! Thank you for writing that for all of us. And medication is a family's choice, but I must say after trying "behavioural techniques" til the cows came home …. our 8 year old has been a much, much happier boy on Ritalin. He used to hate school with a passion, but now goes ALL DAY!! We bought shoes … he choose them, tried them on and went to the checkout. No screaming, throwing shoes, running out the shop! I asked him to check his mice's food .. he just got up and did it! You know what I'm talking about parents of ADHD ers out there!! Anyway, blessings to you and your amazing son xxx

  5. Kelsey says:

    Brought me to tears :) Awesome read!!

  6. I know some parents with children with ADHD and I know that what they are going through is not easy. The least they need is criticism from others. People need to be aware and understand this.

  7. Barbara says:

    Meditation is exactly what I used to get my son off the medicine. Now it’s part of him, he knows to reach for it when he needs it. Thanks for sharing

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