Thursday, July 15, 2010

On Mindfully Seeking a Label -- A Post For Mashuga

Dearest Mashuga,

Consider this a dispatch from the mother of your sparkling childhood self to the solid man I'm certain you'll become.

You came to me on a wave of bright blue winter afternoon, your right hand tucked beside your head. Your gray-blue eyes were the eyes of ancient knowing.

I felt nearer to God when you lived inside me than almost any other time and my many conversations with Him helped me understand that you were something special.

His promise that you would need a strong body to fulfill your mission here on earth has seen me faithfully through the physical challenges I've helped you face.

His assurance of the strength of your spirit is what sees me through right now.

Thirty years from now we will both heave a sigh of relief. I know that thirty years from now, I will marvel and be amazed by you.

Until then, there will be another certainty tickling at my heart. Getting there will not be easy -- for either one of us.

In March your father and I walked with you into Dr. Mumford's office, yellow evaluation papers jittering in my hands. I knew the diagnosis. I'd been reading about it for months.

Google probably logged my IP address, ready to present a thousand pages about ADHD the moment I opened a browser. I gutted the library's shelves, devouring any information that could help me with you. I read the typical how-to-manage-and-medicate books. I read the medication-is-evil books. I read the diet-is-the-answer books.

I read The Edison Gene and The Indigo Children.

My heart sang out the gift of you, my hunter child, my warrior son draped in indigo.

It was healing to know that others could see a child like you and value your (HUGE) existence in this world.

I joked that probably every member of our family could be diagnosed with some level or form of ADHD. In ways it was a badge of pride.

I didn't notice the slow creeping, the way the joking and the singing and the pride no longer made up for the tears and the yelling and the sideways glances. It took me far too long to realize how your heart was hurting, how my heart was hurting.

I love you fiercely my darling boy, but there were days I had to dig into the dark of my body to find the place where I liked you.

So we walked back out of Dr. Mumford's office with a prescription for Adderall XR, a business card for a behavioral therapist and (ick) a label.

The label gave me fuel for negotiations with your teacher.

(For the love of pete and fried chicken, please move him away from the window when he's taking his math test before you decide he's a failure at math!)

The label gave me instant inner vindication.

(This child is tough and there is a section of the DSM-IV that proves it!)

Insert crickets chirping here. Or crappy hold musak. Or your mother hitting herself on the head with a pillow.

All my good intentions are gathered in a pile on my nightstand, swimming in a gravy of guilt. I stare at them through the dark of my sleepless nights and try to close the door on them through the hair-pulling of my days.

Good heavens, I love you child. I offer that up as the excuse for my paralysis. I have been so afraid to do the wrong thing for you that I've kept us both hanging tight to the end of this tug-of-war rope and done nothing else.

The crying has reached a crescendo. Within seconds of any injury -- physical or emotional, real or imagined -- you cry like someone has amputated your arm with no anesthesia.

The stubborn refusal to listen or obey haunts our days. I can't say I blame you. I can see that it is a survival mechanism to protect you from the exasperation and sour words hurled at you far too often. You want so badly to be good. You are genuinely surprised when you get in trouble. You probably get tired of trying.

Your impulsiveness is at heart-racing, police-calling fever pitch. You slipped off to a neighbor's house yesterday without asking first. You don't usually play inside his house, so we didn't even think to knock on their door. For two hours we searched all of your usual play places, scoured our house, fretted and called for you.

Finally, I put in a call to 911. A very kind officer came to our house and commenced a thorough search of our house. (Typical practice before proceeding further. I know. This is not the first time we've had to call police to help us find you.) Five minutes after he arrived, you came skipping up the stairs, a carefree whistle of happiness on your lips, completely clueless as to why your mother was haggard, police were at our home and half the neighborhood was out searching for you.

I think we need a pause button, my dear. A stop gap. A bit of help so we can catch our breath and start over. Find new ways of being.

I'd like to change your diet to help you manage this ADHD superpower of yours. I'd like to be a brilliant mother and structure our days and your life to bring out everything that's best in you, to compel you toward success and joy.

Sadly, though, I just can't keep it together enough to do all of those things.

For right now, I'm going to take a deep breath and do the next best thing.

For your safety and self-esteem, for my sanity, it's time to have a go at the medication, I think.

Then I'm calling the therapist your doctor recommended, because it's obvious that I can't do this on my own.

And it won't be happily-ever-after and honeyed milk and rainbow skies. It won't be easy. I know that. I also know enough to understand that the challenges are the real blessings.

You may not understand that now, but maybe when you read this decades from now you will.

And maybe, when you stare into the endless eyes of your own newborn son, you'll have some idea of how I love you.

Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for being patient while we figure this out.



AFarCryFromNormal said...

Brought tears to my eyes! I can tell how deeply and fiercely (as you put) you love your son. I am sorry that I don't always comment. I am a bad lurker sometimes. I love your posts. You are such an amazing woman. I have not known you in real life very much but from what I read I know that you love deep. You have a HUGE heart. Thank you for this post. I needed this tug at my heartstrings to seek help with my oldest and next to youngest. Heavenly Father has witnessed to me that they have challenges different than the others. Ones that need our attention. I fear putting too much attention on any one child because I too love fiercely and don't want anyone to ever felt left out. Sorry for the novel I just wanted to say THANKS and God bless you on this journey warrior mamma!!

The Yarn Queen said...

You'll make it, may the love of your family and friends buoy you up through the storm. You're in our prayers.

Rynell said...

I have a boy like this. Oh boy do I.

Duchess said...

Oh Heather, you are such a wonderful mother. You aren't doing the next best thing, you are doing your best and that is what he needs. Medication can be a miracle (ask my Grandpa, my Dad, or my husband.)
I will be praying for all of you too.

Kara said...

You truly have a way with words and this struck a cord with me and brought tears to my eyes. I could never put words to the feelings I have as I read your post. Suffice it to say you expressed so eloquently some of the same feelings I have had in dealing with one of my children. While not the same issues, but the same level of concern, love and frustration. Thank goodness for the help, love and support of others and the ability to involve Heavenly Father. Love ya!

Melissa Duncan said...

Oh wow!!! That was powerful! I think this is the first time I have read something you wrote and I loved it! You have such a wonderful talent as does all of your family. I love you! Sorry I haven't gotten to know you very much. I will do better. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you. We don't live very far away. :)

JAMIE said...

And here I sit crying. Wishing that I could truly understand what it feels to love so intensely. I know you feel a failure through the struggles with your amazing little guy, but know that you are far from failing. You give him love, love that I don't even know how to comprehend. He will thank you and call you blessed. I know this.

I just don't know how I can express how much I respect and love you for the way you love and hold in esteem your offspring. Heavenly Father sent you only the most valiant of his spirit children, because He knows that He can trust you, and only you to do the job.

I adore Matthew, and I totally understand when you say, he is surprised when he gets in trouble. There is not a malicious or truly destructive bone in his tiny frame. Matthew's spirit shines, shines brighter than most. I think therein lies the difficulty for you as his mom, knowing, but not exactly knowing how to do this right. I know you are being led and guided. I for one know that Matthew is yours for a reason. And as his Aunt, I love him, for all his wonderful flaws, and incredible strengths.

Ben and Teri said...

Heather, you constantly amaze and impress me with your wonderful motherhood. I surely hope and pray that doing the right thing for our kids is not always such a tough road, but I know that through prayers and faith the inspiration comes and we work through what we need to do. You are one of the best moms that I know. Keep on keeping on. Love you!!

Chris said...

My sweet daughter, how I wish I had recognized earlier in your brother's life that I should have done more. I thought I was trying. I tried to be there for him, to support him, but I didn't realize he really couldn't help some of the things that he did. I thought he was a "boy" and boys just do things at a louder, busier pace than girls. I love you so much and I love how patient and loving you are with your children. I love Matthew so much. I delight in his antics, personality, and enthusiasm for life. I am always telling stories about the things he does; his dancing, exercising, singing, etc. Remember that he is not broken. Also remember, as someone else stated, you are the right person for the job. Heavenly Father chose you. I used to think that your brother should have been born to another mother, someone that could have given him more challenges, more structure, but then it occurred to me that he needed my patience and my love. Maybe I am the right mother for him.