My husband says I have a hard time committing to anything. I think it is a learned behavior. Like a lab rat that gets zinged by pressing the lever I know that if I commit to a plan and it doesn’t work out the very gates of hell will open up. The weeping and wailing of many voices, all belonging to me, will cry unto me unceasingly.
That may be a bit dramatic. But those of you who have ADHD family members or who work with them know that change is very difficult. There needs to be transition time and sometimes in life there just isn’t anyway to ease into a change.
As a result I use qualifiers all the time. Words like; maybe, possibly, I am considering it, and we’ll see have become standards in my language. These terms give me plausible deny-ability. Very rarely do I use language of complete commitment.
There are only a few things that I commit to as far as plans go. We will be going to church on Sundays (unless barfing or bleeding). We will be attending youth activities on Wednesdays. We will go to speech and occupational therapy. We will keep doctors appointments and meetings with our home school supervising teacher.
The plan was to go through our morning routine. Start school on schedule. Then get ready and leave for our face-to-face teacher meeting at 10:30 am. Rachel, my 18 year old, would head to “town” with me and my three younger home school kids. All of the above mentioned children are severely ADHD.
All was going according to plan until 10:15 am.
The Monkey Wrench
At 10:15am I got a text telling me that two of my three up at the high school were suffering greatly from stomach issues. One was bent over with stomach cramps and the other was ready to barf.
Do I scrap the face-to-face meeting, try to postpone it an hour, or go and leave the sickies to tough it out at school for four more hours? The sickie texts were coming faster and faster. The teacher could not meet at any other time. It would take me an hour to drive to the high school and back to pick up the high schoolers.
The tears were already flowing when I drove out of the driveway to the high school. According to everyone at home, whose day and plans had been ruined, I was headed the wrong direction.
The Fall Out
They had their individual reasons for falling apart.
My oldest is seriously socially deprived by living in the country so far away from a mall and civilization. Her plans were to sit in the Panera while we had our meeting, draw, and scope out hot boys, the type that do not exist in our area.
The younger ones all home school and want to get away from the house, but probably more than that they had their heart set the ice cream treat coming after the face-to-face meeting.
They seem like simple things - nothing too pressing or earth shaking, but let me tell you the earth did shake.
I got home with the sickies and was met by a chorus of pleading, screaming, and crying. I thought my brain was going to explode. Let me tell you there was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth; followed by begging and pleading to go with me on the errands that I still had to do.
I hate those explosions, everything goes from relatively calm - at least normal amount of calm for us - to absolute chaos and stress in a matter of seconds. It is emotional whiplash.
After everything was close to back to normal - maybe an hour later - and I had the four as a captive audience in the van. We had what my mother used to call a “learning experience.”
I told them that I understood that their brains have a hard time with change, that they set themselves mentally to a plan. I get that the disruption of that plan is like suddenly losing gravity. They feel lost and disoriented. But I need them to work with me on staying calm enough to work through it with me instead of railing against me.
I know from my husband Mark’s experience that these kinds of cold to hot temperament changes can be conquered. He has worked hard to find an even warm response - even to difficult and immediate changes.
I told them that I needed them to understand that it is hard for me also. Change isn’t necessarily hard for me if I know what I am changing too. But the fall out from change with my ADHD family members is really hard on me. While I try to provide transition into change for them when I can not all change can be successfully transitioned into.
Sometimes life happens without warning.
Sometimes, despite all my practice, I am like a bad magician pulling the tablecloth out from under a beautifully set table. Sometimes, I just end up with a bunch of broken dishes.