I don’t really think ADHD is contagious–I will start there. Contingent on heredity, there are other factors like premature birth and low birth weight which can contribute to executive dysfunction and other neurological abnormalities that result in ADHD diagnoses. Nevertheless, I feel, as a mother of two children with ADHD-like non-normative neurological function, that my own brain function has been swept beneath the undertow of my kids’ erraticism.
As a child, I was hyper-focused, organized, a diligent student, calm, disciplined, and I rarely (if ever) questioned authority. Independent, gentle, and anxious, adults labeled me “easy” and I fit the profile of a “people pleaser” early on. I played for hours on my own, rarely requesting the companionship of my parents, and I had no trouble falling asleep at night. My parents could set a clock by my circadian rhythm.
In my professional life, I maintained my own system of order. My desk as a teacher was always full, but orderly. There were stacks of papers, but I knew the purpose for each stack. I maintained exhaustive to-do lists, and my lesson plans were thorough and precise. I have always been a little messy, and I don’t pretend to require hospital grade sanitation, but I sustained a regular cleaning schedule, cleansing the bathrooms, kitchen, and floors of our entire home every single weekend for years.
Until I became pregnant for my first child. That is when things began to deteriorate for me.
Difficult pregnancies and hyperactive, highly sensitive, intensely emotive children have crucified my resistance. Where once I kept the entire house clean, I am now lucky if the toilets get washed once a month. Where once I regularly mopped floors, I fight to keep them clear of toys and litter for the span of an hour. The struggle IS REAL!
Unlike myself, both of my children have energy abounding, they both truly struggle to self-soothe, they struggle to fall asleep (and remain asleep), they are easily frustrated and overwhelmed, and they do not have the foresight (enabled by the frontal lobe) to entertain themselves for what would be considered a reasonable duration by most adults. Neither child can control their impulses, they have no trouble questioning authority, and both struggle to maintain order over their own respective chaos. The joke’s on me–ha ha–because I always said I wanted kids who weren’t doormats. That’s a little joke at my own expense, but truly, I am grateful that my children are assertive–that quality will guard them, whereas my desire to please left me vulnerable to all kinds of abuse. Thus, I am grateful for the little people I spawned. Regardless, I have been affected.
The effects of having two high energy and emotionally eruptive children is that I have become scattered–easily distracted, exhausted, overwhelmed, and depleted. So emotionally depleted!! My attention span is injured. Truly. I have found myself wondering whether I have undiagnosed ADHD. I can’t possibly–no signs of an attention deficit manifested until I had these busy little people melting down, sending my cortisol levels through the roof–PANIC MODE–and all the needs–the second I walk in the room, words fire at me like bullets in rapid succession, and while I enter the room with a goal in mind, well, that goal scatters in shards in response to the impact of the long range missiles raging “Mommy, I’m hungry,” “Mommy, where’s my blah blah blah,” “Mom, will you help me blah blah blah?” “Mom blah blah blah blah blah.” To my credit, I do a pretty good job remembering all the blah blah blahs that fire at me, and I proceed to meet all the little needs, but the thing I most wanted to accomplish–what was it I wanted to accomplish?!
I *think* I want to be clean, meticulous, efficient, focused, and “on top of things,” but it doesn’t pan out that way for me these days. Yet I write the blog. I draft the novel. I develop the videos, and I start the Patreon account. How on earth do I do it?! I am nothing if not determined, driven, and inspired! These writing related tasks are my lifeline. I don’t know how I lived without them for so many years when my children were infants and toddlers. I think the flexibility I developed as a parent to my little exceptionalities has enabled me to venture out into these creative spaces. The world I live in is chaos. It is the expanding universe, perpetually scattering in disarray. Oh, but the words reel it all in for me. Even now, I can breathe. Serotonin is flowing and cortisol levels are low.
All is well with the Cornflower.