June 22, 2013

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

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.

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 Quintana is a writer, speaker, truth hunter, sky gazer, and single mother of three boys. Along with being a former ballroom dancer/teacher/choreographer, she is a certified holistic health coach, holds a B.A. in History, attended the graduate writing program at Naropa University, and is now pursuing her second B.A. in Philosophy. She believes in the power of women, compassion and kindness to all but especially to one’s self, the gift of gratitude, and the healing power of visual meditation. After escaping more than a decade of silence, Suzanna has vowed to never again sacrifice her voice at the altar of another, and hopes now to help other women find the courage to tell their stories by paying allegiance to the motto, “Speak up, even if your voice shakes.” Her former lives include being a gypsy, a hippie, and a countess, and she calls often on these inner voices to guide her whenever putting pen to paper. She finds peace in the deserts of her home state of Arizona, solace on the California coastline, bliss while traveling anywhere in Italy, and pure joy when in the middle of a dance floor at a Salsa club. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram where she shares her story.


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  • Ed: B. Bemel
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