a metaphor for {a mom’s} life

Yesterday when I took my car to the Toyota dealership for an oil change I told the service manager that I have a child with autism. I don’t. I have a child with ADHD. Why in the world did I feel the need to lie about that?My car is a wreck. Not in the traditional sense of the word. The body of the car isn’t crushed or dented. Rather, the inside of my car is the part that is wrecked. There’s garbage everywhere. A blue crayon is melted into the upholstery. Fabric hangs from the roof in shreds where Natalie picked and pulled on it. The rear cupholder is missing after she kicked it off during one of her tantrums. The armrest between the driver’s seat and passenger’s seat lays there unattached, also kicked and broken during one of Natalie’s fits.

Yesterday, in addition to an oil change, I planned to ask if the rear cup holders and the armrest could be replaced. But geez, that kind of damage is far from normal. What would the service manager think when he saw the inside of my car? What kind of monster was I hauling around in the backseat? What kind of parent would let that kind of damage happen? I felt like I had to offer an explanation.

“I have a child with autism,” is the explanation I found myself giving. A flat-out lie. Why did I say that? Do I believe autism is more widely understood than ADHD? That an autistic child’s behavior is more readily forgiven?

I’m not ashamed of my child with ADHD. I didn’t lie to protect her from a stranger’s judgement. I lied about her to protect myself. I lied because I’m ashamed of myself for being an incompetent adult and parent. That car is a metaphor for my life; visible evidence of how poorly I cope with the challenges presented by my daughter’s condition.

It’s my responsibility to clean up the car. To have the oil changed on schedule. To make arrangements for repairs when needed. That car should keep running for a long, long time. Its poor condition is a simply a reflection of the care I give it.

Natalie is growing up, learning to cope, and right now we’re enjoying fabulous results from her medications. I no longer feel overwhelmed and exhausted every minute of every day as I had for the last 8 years. Thanks to Risperdal Natalie rarely acts out with aggression. I’m able to enjoy more of the time I spend with her. Natalie is only 10 years old, and I know there are many challenges ahead, but I’m starting to believe that the most difficult years are behind us.

Now I need to catch up to this new reality. Throw away all of the garbage in the car. Have the car detailed, the carpet and upholstery cleaned. Fix all of the things I’ve left broken.

Or maybe I should just replace my old metaphor completely with a clean, shiny new one!

Kay Marner is the co-editor of the book “Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories.” Marner is a frequent contributor to ADDitude magazine, and writes an ADHD parenting blog, “My Picture-Perfect Family,” for ADDitudeMag.com.

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Related posts:

adhd behavior problems, ADHD medication, General ADHD, Kay Marner, medication, NEWLY DIAGNOSED, parenting/FAMILY, stress and resilience ·

About the author

Kay Marner is the co-editor of the book "Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories." Marner is a frequent contributor to ADDitude magazine, and writes an ADHD parenting blog, "My Picture-Perfect Family," for ADDitudeMag.com.

One Comment

  1. Share a smile says:

    Just read this blog and really liked your comments.  Especially the metaphor about how the car looks the same as everyone elses on the outside but inside it is damaged and some parts broken.  That is the way I feel sometimes raising  my son.  And after many years of saying we were not going to  give him medication, the meds have made a huge difference  for him and we truely wish we had started sooner.  Thank you for the laugh from your comments. 


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