Sunday, March 16, 2014

The One Thing We All Have Going For Us

Today was the worst day and it was supposed to be a day for me to relax, finally, with a book in my hands. It was a Saturday off from Bible studies and no company was scheduled. My cleaning and laundry load would be lighter, I told myself, so I'll sit with a book and give my energizer-bunny self a rest.

But then the tiny screw fell out of Beth's glasses, so that meant a Walmart Vision center errand. And the snake disappeared from its cage, so when husband returned from work after lunch time, he obsessed about finding it and tore part of the house up.

So much for my relaxation.

I came home from Walmart to find pee spots in the playroom. Without my reminding him, Peter failed to take Rudy the Beagle out every hour, and the rule is that the dog can only be on carpet if he is watched closely. Later, Rudy will bark his needs better, but right now he is quiet, trying to get used to his new surroundings and new family and new routine.

I came unglued too, when I saw evidence that Peter pulled triple the amount of paper towels necessary to dry his hands. He absentmindedly does this, and it drives me crazy because paper towels are expensive and I purposely buy the type that section off to save money. Not to mention, there is usually a kitchen towel available for wiping hands only. People with OCD wash their hands daily more than most people do in several days, so his paper towel habit is a nightmare.

More things went wrong, and my world came crashing down. I felt completely overwhelmed with all the responsibilities and hassles, on a day when there were supposed to be few.

I didn't wake up this morning and announce to everyone that I really needed to relax. I just assumed it would happen.

I lectured my son and got mad at my husband, for they both share very similar characteristics that make my daily responsibilities heavy. And I get so weary sometimes.

Finally, my husband, in exasperation, shouted that they don't mean to annoy me. "I'm sorry we aren't as perfect as you'd like, but we do the best we can. We can't help it that concentrating on many details at once, the way you do, is impossible for us."

I felt terrible.

Why do I assume that lecturing is going to change anything about ADHD? Instead of snapping at all the pressure, why don't I remember why it's there? Why do I bother getting annoyed at something that can't be changed, any more than a polio victim can get up out of a wheelchair and suddenly walk?

My son began fearing, from all my ranting, that he was never going to make it in life. That he was just too stupid.

I felt terrible.

My brain just wanted to explode. Living with neurological disorders is so hard. So excruciatingly hard for everyone involved, but not for the same reasons. My son and husband have to acknowledge at some point that they are hard to live with, and that as much as they need grace from me, I need grace from them, too.

The wife of an ADHD husband does an awful lot of work, not because her husband is lazy or tries to get away with doing less, but because he gets overwhelmed easily and can handle few details. Looking for a snake, being in the midst of four kids with Mom away, and making sure a dog gets outside every hour, is too much detail.

I told myself, inwardly, that when I am away, the dog goes in his crate after being let out the last minute before I leave. Rudy doesn't mind it at all; most dogs see their crate as a quiet, secure place, as long as the confinement period is just a couple hours. They can hold their urine quite a while, but dogs neutered late (after one year; Rudy was six years) tend to mark territory with their urine, so you have to keep a close watch and make sure they use it all up outside, for they purposely hold some in to use for marking. God is amazing, the way he created each animal with so many complicated and specialized characteristics.

But having to make this adjustment when I leave the house? It was annoying. There are so many many bases to cover before I can leave the house. Pressure. Always pressure.

I am grateful for my family and for having the privilege of caring for them. I am grateful to have a Christian husband who works hard and has integrity. I truly am, but that doesn't keep me from melting down when the pressure mounts.

The mother of an ADHD boy puts up with a lot of annoying daily issues. She hopes for progress. She hopes for an easing of symptoms, if only she can help her son manage the disorder well enough, utilizing all known helps.

But at the end of the day, the brain is still disordered. Medicine is no cure. Good management techniques are no cure. The disorder won't go away. Ever.

You can use words like special instead of disordered, but the daily reality doesn't feel so special. You can spin it positively on your best days, but best days don't come often. Neurological disorders stink. No one wants them and they struggle daily to endure them, if truth be told. Every day they wake up and life is harder for them, no matter what they do differently.

And because it's a silent disorder, not a visual one, few people understand the deficits.

Sure, developing coping skills helps, but they manage the stress involved, far more than they change the condition itself.

Whenever I get overwhelmed with this, I make my son and husband feel like they're no good. I give them the impression that I am better, smarter, more capable. But the reality is, I'm crumbling in my own weaknesses. I don't think they can put themselves in my shoes, perhaps because it's painful to do so.

No one wants to face that they have deficits that unduly burden others. This is a very human reality, true for all of us, but not fun to acknowledge.

At the end of long, cantankerous days, my son, overwhelmed and dejected, wonders how he will make it.

And I wonder, silently, how his wife will make it, for I know what she's in for. I also know my son is sweet, gentle, smart, fun, and charming, and a wife he will have. Someone will come along and notice that he is not cocky, but humble. That life has molded and shaped him by its hard knocks, and he's better for them. He will stand out by his good heart and good looks, by his allegiance to God, and the silent disorder will go unnoticed during the courting period, as it did for me.

And when the courting period comes, I must remain silent about the disorder and let God work. All my mothering years must be used to pray for a solid, compassionate Christian wife for who will kneel and pray for strength and grace, and give thanks for Peter's heart and humility, which please God.

Defeated and guilty, I responded to my son with the only truth I know.

"This has nothing to do with intelligence. You are very bright with many strengths. And you will make it in life, by the grace of God. In the end, Peter, we all have just one thing going for us."

"The grace of God."

"Look up to heavens and give thanks for it, cling to it, and spread it, for the glory of God."

If you know of a family dealing with neurological disorders, be it depression, ADHD, OCD, bipolar, Tourette's Syndrome, or autism...please pray for them? They may look put together on the outside, but truly, they need prayer for lifelong strength and grace...and their loved ones do too. Thank you.



Anonymous said...

You're not alone. We have different disabilities and needs in our house - but I definitely know where you're coming from!!! Thank you so much for the honesty of this post. I am glad I'm not the only one who sometimes loses her rag and snaps. So often people only talk about the good days. I know you try so hard to be thankful and to just get on with it but you are human and you need time for you, too, to nurture yourself, not just nurturing everyone else. We all need that. If I was there I'd give you a hug because I totally know those feelings! Will pray. Sandy x

Christine said...

"rag and snaps" (smile, is that a Canadian expression?)

I have never heard of that but yes, that's what it feels like sometimes.:) Thank you for understanding.

Anonymous said...

'Losing your rag' is British, as am I. It means to lose one's temper. 'To snap' is to say things in a short-tempered way, I guess. :-)

Beth said...

It sounds like it was a rough day and not the way you had planned. I am sorry. Run and hide in God, your rock and shield. Praying that you will find grace at the throne of grace to be able to give grace. Praying for you.

Tesha Papik said...

I always appreciate your honesty and how you point to Jesus!

Kay said...

Yes, by the grace of God!! Thank you for your honesty. We don't have overt ADD issues, but there are so many things to juggle with 5 children, that I need the reminder that my days are for glorifying Christ. Am I doing that? Thank you for also bringing to light that positive spin does not nullify the problem, it doesn't make it all sunshine and roses. I will pray for your days!!