Saturday, December 20, 2014

Why I talk smack about my kid on social media.

I adore Skyler.  Nothing he could ever do will make me love him less, though I don't always like his behavior.  I believe that he knows he isn't perfect, and I see a desire in him to keep making progress on this whole growing up bit.  And I admit that he may be mad at me if he knew how much I post about him.  At this point I am hoping that by the time he has his own tween he will forgive me.

But I'm not sharing this stuff for him.  I'm sharing it because of all the challenges we have faced with ADHD/ODD, the hardest to deal with is how isolating it can feel.  When all you see on social media and at the park is happy, well behaved kids with excellent, calm parents- it hurts.  That is nobody's fault.  I LOVE seeing pictures of your adorable children.  I love reading about the funny things they say and do.  I am happy for your family successes and I post these things, too.  Please don't take this as me asking you not to post about the award your kid got or your child's delicious Santa picture.

But you know who else I appreciate?  The mom who posts that perhaps today-in-parenting isn't going so well.  The parent who posted that her kid had a meltdown in the grocery store and the dad whose daughter thinks he "just doesn't get it".  The adult children who mention that they appreciate their parents putting up with them because, well, sometimes they were hard to put up with.

There are parenting books on how to handle tantrums, dedicated teachers who come up with creative success strategies and wonderful therapists who help families work through power struggles.  There are many struggles that come along with a child who has extra challenges (or any kid, for that matter), and thankfully many tools to deal with these things exist.  But that doesn't mean it isn't isolating.  That is doesn't make you question your parenting or even your sanity now and then.

I know I'm not the only parent who, when asked "how is the school year going?" at a PTA meeting has to quickly think- should I really say, or will I get that "yikes, sorry I asked" look?  I'm not the only parent who has skipped a company party because I fear that a tantrum could leave my childless colleagues seeing me in a different light.  I'm not the only parent who has debated over medication vs. therapy vs. yet another parenting strategy vs. giving up and drinking wine.  But for awhile it sure felt like it.  And that made this whole situation so much harder.  What's more, since I felt isolated and was afraid to be honest about the hardships, nobody was there to tell me that it's ok and that I am NOT an awful parent who just isn't getting this mommy gig right.  So in addition to my kid's behaviors beating me up emotionally, I added a whole ton of self blame on it until I was almost drowning.  If I drown, what happens to Skyler?

And guess what got me through?  The mom who admitted on Facebook that her son's ADHD was bringing her to the point of exhaustion.  Because she was willing to admit that maybe the smiling family photo doesn't tell the whole story, but I could tell that she is a great mom and her kid will make it out of childhood just fine.

I don't want other parents to struggle but the truth is that they will.  And if they remember that time I posted that a call from the teacher completely derailed my day...maybe when they get that call, they will skip the feeling-like-a-failure stage and go straight to the figure-this-out phase.

I love my child so much.  He is incredibly empathetic and creative and funny.  I am convinced that eventually the ADHD will be a help to him- the kid doesn't need coffee to go all out, all day long!  But he isn't perfect.  And he doesn't think he is, and I don't think he is.  If I did we would just skip all this hard stuff and wish him luck in adulthood.

I am sharing it on social media because as necessary as this parenting job is, it is HARD.  And I have come to realize that admitting that isn't weakness or negative or overly dramatic- it's just real.  I will not add to it by contributing to society's habit of posting the good stuff and not talking about the hard stuff.

So I post that my kid got a referral.  Or a few.  And I post that I followed his little butt around school and check in with the teachers, even though it means eyerolls and proclamations of "you are ruining my life!".  Some parents won't understand why I post what I do.  But honestly?  I'm not posting for those parents.  I'm posting for the parent who will hopefully someday feel comfortable reaching out because they remember the time that my status admitted that from time to time my awesome kid is a pain in the butt.  Because you aren't alone, and you shouldn't feel like it.

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