My recent High School graduate grew up as the oldest child in a family filled with special needs siblings — a non-ADHD son to an ADHD Mom.
It can’t have been easy for him.
As the only neuro-typical child (so far!) in our family, our first born has truly seen and survived some crazy experiences. He has taught himself resilience, gratitude, and responsibility – mostly by necessity, and often by himself.
I’m truly stunned by him — he’s such a great kid! Like any Mom, there are so many things I want to praise him for; moments that have stopped me cold and brought me to tears. And like many sons, he’s easily embarrassed and all too eager to wave my compliments and approval away. It’s challenging, I find I rarely have the right thing to say.
Because there are also things I want to apologize for, things that neither one of us probably understood at the time. In some ways, I wish I’d been equipped to do a better job over the years. But I also know I was the best Mom I could be – then, and now.
To my fabulous son…
- I’m sorry I couldn’t keep all of your new friends’ names straight. I know there are five guys named John, but only 2 actually go by John, and I just can’t remember which ones.
- Thank you for your patience when your friends, your friends’ moms, and your friends’ siblings all cornered me to ask about ADHD diagnosis, treatment options and how to tell if they had it, too.
- I’m sorry I had a tendency to create over-the-top birthday parties. Just because I would have wanted six cakes, a magician, a balloon animal creator, a tattoo artist and a bounce house at MY party, doesn’t mean you did. I just wanted you to have fun, but it was my idea of fun not yours. I realize now that it embarrassed you, and I am sorry for that.
- Thank you for not making a big deal out of my buying you the same University T-shirt three times over 10 months without realizing it. I’m sorry I didn’t remember that you didn’t even like it the first time. I was just so proud of you for getting accepted, and so excited for this new phase of your life. And I really did think it was very cute.
- I wish I’d been able to remember that the Spirit wear shop manager named Debbie is the same Debbie who has twins in your sister’s class. She really looks very different when I see her in the spirit shop than when I see her on the lacrosse field.
- I’m sorry for that summer when I signed you up for camp after camp after camp. The marketing department at school did a really awesome job that summer. And every single one of those camps looked like a really good time.
- I’m sorry for the week when I tried a higher dose of ADHD medication and suddenly thought it was a really good idea to organize and label everything in your room… and your siblings’ rooms, and the kitchen, and the garage… (can you say #MomwithADHD?)
- Thank you for your kindness all those times your special needs siblings took my attention away from you and your accomplishments. We celebrated the week your brother made it to school on time 5 days in a row with family bowling night. But we never really celebrated the fact that you were always on time for school, never complained, rarely needed me to ask you to do something twice, and were always grateful for what you were given.
- I’m sorry for all the times I didn’t listen to you when you assured me that what you had, what you wanted, and what you wanted to do were enough. I’m sorry I felt like I needed to improve on your ideas when you were being honest and specific.
- Thank you for steadfastly holding your ground when I suggested that you may want to rethink playing 2 Varsity sports and taking all AP classes your senior year. I could never in a million years imagine balancing all of that and succeeding. But you, amazing son, you knew you could — and you accomplished it all (4s on ALL of your AP tests!!)
Thank you for not being jealous when I learned systems and structures that are helping me do a better job for your brothers and sister. Thank you for understanding and being supportive when I finally figured out why I do a lot of the things I do, and for forgiving me every time.
Thank you, my non-ADHD son, for accepting your ADHD mom.
Most of all, my son — thank you for letting me share the first 18.5 years of your life. I can’t wait to see what your future holds!
All my love forever,
Your one and only Mom with ADHD