When being strong is your only option.
Many parents wake up every morning wondering how they are going to get through the next day, but the thing is, we always get through it.
Being under so much pressure on a daily basis can be tiring, depressing, mind boggling and sometimes frustrating, but who said being a parent was going to be easy? No one. Raising a children is equivalent to another job and if you actually have a job, then you clearly are juggling two jobs and probably forgetting about your well-being in the process.
Added to the equation you may have other children to look after, could possibly be studying, maintaining a home, or be a devoted partner to the man you love.
Would you want it any other way? I'm sure many of you would say yes. Yes to a better financial status. Yes to more sleep. Yes to more physical support and yes to an understanding partner, who is tuned into how you feel. Although, in saying that, is it even possible to get all those things at once? I think it's important that each and everyone of us are grateful for the things we have, even if the circumstances are not always great.
As much as being a single mother drains me to exhaustion and bleeds me dry financially, I wouldn't have it any other way. Mainly because, I know I have a roof over my head, my children are never hungry, they are happy and certainly not going without. It's easy to say, I want to give up and I've had enough, but what makes us fighters is our ability to get knocked down, get up and keep going. There is no other option, unless you like being defeated.
I know that remaining strong is my only option and if I want to give my children the best in life and see them grow into courageous young men who will eventually build their own families, I have to be present to give them the knowledge. Without our guidance as parents, who else is going to nurture our children, help them to grow and protect them from this sad world we live in?
I can't say that motherhood has been smooth sailing, but it has definitely been very educational and eye opening. I have learned so much about myself as a woman and a mother and only when I've anaylsed my own behaviour, it has helped me to understand my children even more.
Many years ago when I couldn't control certain behaviours of my children, I blamed myself, put myself down and accused myself of being a failure. I got so familiar with the negative things I was telling myself that I started to believe them, not realising that it was all untrue. People continued to praise me on how great I was doing and others always criticised. Deep down I knew I was doing my best, but I just wanted a solution to dealing with one of my sons, who found it very difficult to deal with his emotions.
Back in the days, I used to watch my sons behaviour regularly. I would document situations, take video footage, only because I found him to be very impulsive the majority of the time. I became paranoid about taking him out, in case people would whisper about his naughty actions. I was constantly on edge leaving him with other people because of what he may do and what scared me the most, was the fact that he never saw the danger in anything he did, which lead to many accidents and injuries.
Finally, after many years of tears, constant emails, phone calls, doctor visits, child development centre rejections and CAMHS (Child Adolescent Mental Health Services) rejections, this amazing son of mine was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). And yes, I say amazing son because he is smart, intelligent, inquisitive, sociable and loving.
I had heard of ADHD from people who had said their children had it, but I had never heard of ODD and what it stood for. That's the thing, there needs to be more awareness about these conditions in schools and in general, because there are children out there suffering because they are not understood. There are children being discriminated and labelled as the bad child, even though many of them can't help the way they act.
I had suspected my son had ADHD at the age of 4 and at that point I had him referred to a pediatrician. it was their conclusion that my sons behaviour was all down to my parenting and that fact that he loved getting attention, but a part of me felt it wasn't that, because my other son was fine. Something in me didn't want to believe there was anything wrong, but another part of me just wanted to get to the bottom of it all.
A few weeks ago I wrote this little piece below, to help comfort mothers who may be going through the hardship of raising a child who is slightly different. Whilst things are so much easier for me now than it was a year ago and what I have said reflects how I felt then and now, I want parents to know that it's not the end of the world.
Strength by Danielle Brand
"I guess I was one of those parents who didn't know much about ADHD, but I wasn't ignorant about it either. What is ADHD I always used to ask? After all, it just seemed like a label. A label given to children who behaved differently from the rest.
I was one of those parents who had my suspicions, but was never listened to until it became too late.
My son was labelled the bad child and misunderstood, to the point he became frustrated and lost his self esteem. But it was me who kept fighting for him, supporting him until the point I was physically drained.
Once diagnosed, they all said, "at least you now know and can put things into place." But, where was our apology? Where was the, we realise it has nothing to do with your parenting? Oh yes, things will get easier they all said. Others criticised by saying, this ADHD thing is nonsense. Really? What does anyone know? What I want to know is, when will it get easier? When will the judging stop? When will my boy be able to think for himself? When will he stop needing me to help him with just a simple daily routine? When will I be able to just focus on what I need to do?
I find myself living with 3 brains day in and day out. Mine and that of my two children. There isn't enough brain space anymore why I feel I'm forgetting things that should be important to me. Everything is becoming so cluttered. Too much to remember. Too much to do. It's never ending. When will I find my peace? When will I get the chance to breathe? After all, through no fault of his own, my son is a handful. He refuses to stay with anyone but me. The majority of the time he is moody, frustrated or defiant. But, I guess overall, he is emotionally unstable. No doubt down to these things we call hormones. It's sad, because at the same time he is a loving and caring boy, but just very needy at present.
Only parents with ADHDers and ODDers will understand. I'm walking on eggshells daily just not to start a melt down. I'm constantly talking, always trying to compromise and calm down a situation. At the same time, I'm still trying to live a happy life, raise 2 children and continue to smile.
Being a single parent is hard enough, but raising a child with ADHD is double the dose. You always feeling like you're alone, regardless if people are available to support you. You just hate dealing with the burdens that two parents should be handling together. Yes, you love your children, but the isolation is real. The constant calls from the school. The regular arguments with other siblings because one always wants his own way. It's far too much for one to handle. Sometimes I cry and say I can't do this, but I remind myself of how strong I am and that I've already done an amazing job.
But it's OK, because tomorrows another day. What choice does one have? But to keep fighting and keep passing that life test."
Raising a child in the special needs spectrum is hard work. It's tiring, it's mentally draining, it's expensive and it's probably the hardest thing any parent will ever have to face in their lives. But, getting our children to a great level of understanding about themselves will lead to a great reward. You cannot compare them to others, because they are not like the rest. You have to encourage them to embrace who they are and love who they are which helps them to be in control. Soon they will learn how to react to certain things in a better manner and appreciate you too. You have to remain calm in all types of situations, but most important you have to show them love. Make them understand the boundaries, but most of all, don't hate your role as a parent, because if you hate your role, you start to hate them, then they start to hate you back.
Here are some other links for further reading on ADHD and ODD for those who are still in the dark.