Queen of the Distracted

Imagine life in a house with 6 kids - now imagine if 5 of those kids and their father have ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) - that is our house! Welcome to an inside view of my life and our home dominated by ADHD... THERE IS NEVER A DULL MOMENT!

Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls!

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls!"

Those were our oldest daughter Rachel's first words, from the time she was a toddler she would belt them out proudly standing on the arm of the couch. At the time we had no idea what ADHD was or that it would play such a central roll in our lives.

Since then we have learned a lot, not the least of which is how many individuals and families suffer in silence. We have experienced first hand how misunderstood and misrepresented a disorder can be.

As a family we decided to take action - to risk embarrassment and labeling to get this important message out to the world. Come join our family, share in our lives, and see ADD/ADHD as we see it...
A gift with a heavy price tag.

WELCOME to life in the ADD/ADHD House!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Close the Gate, Richard!

Have you ever noticed that when you try and pull out onto a road with cross traffic that it takes forever! The cars space out evenly, so it's impossible to dart out onto the road.  Like some sort of traffic conspiracy. 

I was driving some young ladies from church one evening when we were stuck in such a spot. From the back of the car, one of the young ladies piped up, “Close the gate, Richard!”

Close the gate, Richard?  I had never heard that before? But, apparently, this special phrase is reserved just to help you merge into oncoming traffic.  Remarkably, it seems to make traffic clear.  It works!

In my house attaining relaxation is like pulling out into cross traffic.  I just can’t merge onto the highway of peace and quiet. 

Life in a house with ADD/ADHD is intense.  There is a pitch and pace, a buzz to life hard to describe; like trying to describe the taste of salt to someone who has never tasted it. 

Even if I were to list all the things happening right now, this second, in my house you would read them in sequence, but not all at once, like they are happening.  In sequence they are not very intimidating.  All at once kinda makes me wish I were ADHD, maybe then it would not be so overwhelming.

So, try to picture it, not sequentially. Simultaneously. 

Rachel is singing the Little Mermaid at the top of her lungs almost drowning out the water running while she does the dishes.

Hunter is singing and vacuuming, interrupting himself to discuss whether unzipping or pulling down pants is better, safer, and more mature.  He adds that inattentiveness makes unzipping risky. 

Rachel is now singing Beauty and the Beast.

Mary and Jaren are arguing, good naturedly, about an imaginary land called ‘Ducky Land.’ She is also trying to start a game of hide and seek in the house and exploring the possibility of ice skating in the middle of the living room carpet.

Mariah, who has the stomach flu, is trying to coordinate hair and make up for her and her sisters on Saturday for their church formal.  She wants me to engage in higher thinking and scheduling…I think I might cry.

Rachel is now singing Pocahontas.

The microwave is defrosting meat to make dinner. 

Hannah is quietly doing some chore.  I think her extreme quietness has developed as a reaction to the utter loudness and over-stimulating nature of this house.  I think it may be a deep seated desire not to add to the chaos.

Wait, she just started singing Princess and the Frog with Rachel.  Wait, we are onto Wicked.  Rachel is her own iPod Shuffle.

By the end of the day, every ounce of energy has been used up, every particle of patience, every bit of empathy, understanding, firmness, and redirection are gone.  It has been replaced by over stimulation, and I have a serious need for the world to stop for a little while so that I can catch up.

It is a definite “Calgone, take me away” moment.  And yet I am sitting on the side road waiting for an opening so that I can get myself onto the super highway of recuperation.  Just when I think I am going to make it out on the road, zoom, another car.

“I will just be a minute, I need another drink of water…I left my cup out here…I know I just went to the bathroom, but I can’t hold it.”

“Just a moment” a blur runs by, “I have to make sure the oven and stove are really off.” Hunter has a serious obsessive fear of fire.

“Mama, I have a question.”  These are serious words – "I have a question" means Mariah has a serious life-altering dilemma that will take hours to address and resolve.

From the bedroom one night years ago, Hunter mused, “why do they call it leap year?  It is only one day in one month.”  He has spent hours at night as he pondered and pondered, read and read, obsessed and obsessed while dealing with serious insomnia.

One night, not too many months ago, I made the mistake of asking what was on his mind.  My thinking was that if he expressed it he could relax and sleep.  I conked out at 4:00am – he was still talking. 

Some nights it seems they wait until I am really close and pounce out of nowhere just as I let down my guard.  Like being startled awake just as you are dozing off to sleep I am jolted back into duty.

I know I have to have time to unwind and relax before I go to sleep so that I can be ready to face the next day.  To accomplish that we have an established bed time routine, we have a process and rules, and we have that point in the evening when getting up again means losing privileges. 

But we also have ADD/ADHD, we have insomnia, we have obsessive issues, anxieties and we have six children (five of which are ADHD).  All of whom may be wondering why I am screaming, “Close the gate, Richard!” from middle of the living room.

My point:  Life as the caregiver, teacher, and especially as the parent of a child or children with ADD/ADHD life is exhausting.  Having to rise to the demands of each day and night takes a great deal of patience, energy, and strength.  Rest or restoration is hard to achieve but essential so that one is prepared for the next day and its constant challenges.  Make time, take time to carve out space for yourself

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