I was a fairly normal child; well behaved, mildly shy with good grades. It wasn’t until I went to college that I realized my brain wasn’t exactly normal. I was working twice as hard as my classmates, I had twice as much energy as my roommates, and there was absolutely no way I could pay attention to a three hour lecture which seemed to be a rather common request.
Luckily, my mom noticed my struggle and recognized the symptoms. She recommended I see the university auxiliary center. Two weeks later I was diagnosed with ADHD. I was shocked. Me? ADHD? No way! I wasn’t hyper. I didn’t act out. I was a good kid and I’d always excelled in school. I couldn’t possibly have a learning disorder much less ADHD. I had heard the term used in a condescending way many times and I was not excited to be a member of such a negatively stereotyped group.
However as it turns out, being diagnosed was the best thing that ever happened to my education and the advantages didn’t end there. With some research and understanding I not only came to accept my new label, I became proud of it. Although there are many drawbacks to life with a learning disorder I prefer to look at the sunny side of things. I find ways to be grateful for my personal ADHD symptoms and even use them to my advantage.
ENERGY: I have energy. A whole lot of energy, which is an absolute must when it comes to raising 3 boys. I am always moving, always doing, and always up for an adventure. Every single day we have to get out of the house to work off some of this never-ending energy. So we hike, swim, surf, run, and have an abundance of fun. I can’t imagine trying to keep up with three little boys without this extra ADHD boost of adrenaline.
UNDERSTANDING: I understand just how difficult learning can be. I have often felt the frustration and discouragement that accompanies desperately trying to grasp something that seems just barely out of reach. This understanding allows me to be empathetic towards my boys when they get their d’s and b’s mixed up or forget which number comes after 11.
AWARENESS OF SELF: Because my brain is constantly working in overdrive I am always thinking. I think about everything; what I’m doing, what I need to do, what I’ve done, why I do the things I do, what I want to be, how I can get where I want to go, and the list goes on. This never ending thought process helps me to be extra aware of myself and it motivates me to always strive to be better and do better; especially when it comes to mothering.
AWARENESS OF OTHERS: This constant thought process applies not only to myself but to those around me. I am always striving to understand those around me. I want to know why they are the way they are so I can understand why they do what they do. I’m not trying to judge, I simply want to understand. I do this even more so with my boys. I want to raise them as best as I possibly can so I am always analyzing their behavior and adjusting my parenting so I can best meet their individual needs.
MULTI-TASKING: Because my brain never slows down I am a multi-tasking pro. In fact, I am currently typing, watching pretty little liars, enjoying some chocolate macadamia nut ice cream, and mentally planning my agenda for tomorrow. When it comes to wrangling three very busy boys, a husband that never slows down, and a house multi-tasking is a must.
DRIVE: My overactive brain insists that I always stay busy to keep it satisfied. There is absolutely nothing my busy little brain hates more than idle time. When there is something to be done I must get it done and with a house full of boys there is always something to be done.
Living with ADHD isn’t always easy. As with anything, it comes with it’s own batch of problems. Each of these advantages is a double-edged sword with an equal or even greater disadvantage. But over the past eleven years I’ve learned coping mechanisms, schedules, and habits that help ease the burden. The way I see it, ADHD is a big lemon that I can use to make an abundance of pretty awesome and totally one-of-a-kind lemonade.