To my sister who has the son with ADHD,
When your baby was small, we knew he was different. He cried more than other babies and we didn’t know why. Then he crawled sooner than other babies and we started to speculate about why. Then he walked sooner and pushed boundaries sooner and we were pretty sure we knew why.
He was louder and more destructive, and we had to watch him every moment. There was always an impulsive behavior waiting to burst out of him.
When he was finally diagnosed with ADHD, there was nothing but relief at finally having the official answer for what we already knew.
I remember one morning when Felix was younger when you came over to my house just to talk. You hoped some adult conversation would distract you from the feeling of being overwhelmed by raising him.
And then as soon as you got there, you fell asleep on my couch.
I took Felix into the other room and we played while you slept because I knew how tired you were. Not just physically tired from lack of sleep (which you were because Felix never slept more than five hours a night), but mentally tired. Emotionally tired. I-can’t-do-this-for-one-more-second tired.
I knew because I could see it in your eyes and hanging on your shoulders. I knew because, even in my small stints of time with him, I was tired. I knew that doing it 100% of the time without ever having a break would be even harder.
Because no matter how unconditionally you love your child, raising someone who has ADHD is hard. You have to be on guard every single second. You can never let your attention stray because your child might run into the street. He might disappear in a rack of clothes at Target, or he might hop into the arms of a stranger because he doesn’t understand boundaries and safety.
Even at home, you can’t rest. He pulls things apart to investigate them faster than you can reassemble them. You hide the toilet paper because you know he’ll unroll it or flush the entire roll at once. You put valuables up high because you know they’ll never last. You deadbolt the door because you know he’ll walk straight out of it if it’s unlocked.
You’re worn out from trying to get his attention three hundred times a day. You’re tired from trying to teach him obedience when he can’t even make eye contact with you for more than a third of a second. You’re worn down from spending so many days without adult interaction because it’s hard to have play dates or invite people over when most adults/parents don’t understand how your child’s brain and impulses work. It’s hard to help him make friends (thus, allowing you to make adult friends) when your child only understands how to play in a parallel way, instead of in a cooperative way.
It’s hard to live in harmony with other people when the vast majority of them think negatively of your sweet baby who you’re working so hard to raise well. There’s no amount of coffee that could get you through that kind of exhaustion. It’s deep down in your soul.
I see you trying your hardest and doing your best, and I want you to know that IT. IS. ENOUGH.
Not only is what you’re doing enough, but it’s what’s best. YOU are what’s best for him. He came into this world at such an “inconvenient” time, and, yet, it was the most perfect time. He changed everything for you. And over time, you’re changing everything for him. You two were, quite literally, made for one another.
And even though the past six years have been the most draining of your entire life, I know they’ve also been the most fulfilling. (Yes, that contradiction makes sense, but only if you’re a parent.)
And you know why it’s been so fulfilling? Because nestled right next to that exhaustion deep down in your soul is the love of a child who is perfect in God’s sight.
I see the way you watch him when he sleeps. I see the way you brush his hair off of his face and tuck the covers tighter around him.
I see the way you gaze at him as he hits a ball further than his teammates and runs the bases faster than any kid his age. I see you get excited when he uses a fine motor skill that he’s never used before. I see you laugh when he says something hilarious that came from the depths of his creative brain.
You’re in Felix’s corner and THAT is what he needs. Even if you’re beaten up and nearly knocked out, you’re still in his corner cheering him on.
You’re a great mom. You’re the best mom for him. I love watching you and I’m so thankful you were the mom he was given.
Someday, we’ll watch him graduate high school or get married or have babies … and we’ll know that it was YOU who stuck with him and taught him to be a good man. A good husband. A good employee. A good father.
He is worth every ounce of your energy you’re giving him, and he will appreciate it when he’s old enough to understand it.
I love you.
The sister who sees you.