I had a birthday recently. You know this post is not going to go well – my birthday didn’t either. This is not going to be a funny, I‘m getting older post (although it’s true). This is not going to be a reflective, I’m getting wiser post (although it’s not true). This is going to be an ADHD destroyed my birthday post. Hubby has ADHD – you can guess how the day went. I think of a quote I read about everything in a person’s life bears the battle scars of ADHD – relationships, jobs, housing, finances. Now my birthday does. And so do our kids.
What did I want?
To NOT cook dinner, and to have a store-bought cake. What did I want to do? To take the kids out to an indoor play centre (done), have a nap while they slept that afternoon (sort of), have dinner, then drive to a nearby beach.
What went wrong?
What does ADHD touch? Everything.
I will spare you a play-by-play (because honestly, I want to forget the whole day). As a special ed teacher I have alternate expectations for a person with ADHD. Time management, budgeting, planning – those adult-like skills that get things done – do not happen. Stuff does not get done. I never expect a gift because it requires advanced planning and budgeting beyond Hubby’s ability. And that’s fine because I’d rather pick myself out a new designer purse anyway (an expensive purse that he encourages me to get because he feels guilty – see finances listed above.)
What went wrong? Start with time management: Hubby oversleeping, not attempting to get stuff done while I was with the kids, then procrastinating on leaving the house to buy groceries (due to perseverating on something trivial), then poor decision making in the store, starting dinner late (with three kids under 5 meals need to run with military precision) leading to a colossal meltdown by me TWO HOURS after our normal dinnertime when I was cooking dinner.
Oh, our five year old then had a meltdown too, because he hates it when Mommy and Daddy fight. Going to the beach did not happen (see meal being over two hours late). The kids were stuck inside for hours while Hubby struggled to cook a frozen lasagne. At least we had cake.
End of evening – I went to bed with a migraine with the five year old beside me.
Really? you say. Poor time management lead to that?
You bet. Imagine a tornado insidiously sucking minutes, money, and joy from your day – that is ADHD. By the end of the day you feel like you’ve been riding around in a tornado, trying to steer it in one direction. That is ADHD, from the non-ADHDer’s perspective. I spend the day barking at him to so this, stop doing that, it’s time to do this instead. I have become the part of his brain responsible for executive function (i.e. planning, organizing, directing and selecting attention). The problem? I fight a fog of inattention and oppositionality. Honestly, if I knew I was going to become a drill sergeant I would have joined the army, at least the troops would listen to me.
A woman I knew without ADHD once said she did not like the person she became after being with their partner with ADHD. She became a royal bitch. I have too. It’s survival, just to get stuff done. They divorced soon after. Couples where one partner has ADHD have a very high rate of divorce – there was an article in the New York Times about this a while ago.
From the perspective of the person with ADHD they get yelled at, they feel hurt, anxious, frustrated and defensive. They say they’ll try harder. And they can’t. Because the area of their brain responsible for those higher functioning skills (planning, organizing, initiating tasks, directing and selecting attention) cannot do it.
So what happens? The same thing, over and over again.
Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. For the person without ADHD, this is what is so frustrating. The same thing happens, over and over. You try to give the person with ADHD another chance, and the same thing happens. Nothing. Again and again.
(Yes, we should have just gone out to a restaurant. We will tonight. And come home to leftover cake. See definition of insanity above.)
I have a headache just writing this. Seriously, I feel another migraine coming on.
At least Hubby is now on medication. You can’t imagine what it was like before meds. He says he lost 20 years of his life, in a fog of inattention and air-drumming. It would take him over an hour to wash three dishes and a pot because he could not focus on the task at hand. I actually painted the entire basement (two coats!) while he hyper-focused on a TV show. Yes, he was sitting in the middle of the basement at the time. No, I did not cover him with a drop cloth.
Why am I still with him, given the high rates of divorce?
Good question. Here’s the list:
Hubby is my best friend, he’s my voice of reason, my go-to person for advice and sounding board – and that was before we even started dating, never mind married. We were best friends before we started dating. We were best friends for three years while we struggled with relationships that did not work for bigger reasons than ours gets scratched and dented. How rare is that?
He’s generous to a fault, giving time, money and stuff to folks who need it more than he does. Seriously, he’s given away TWO cars. Yes, they were ‘as is.’ No, we are not rich (or Oprah). We will give away a third too. Because someone else can use it more than we can.
He’s the kind of person who will help someone carry groceries to their car and then worry about how they will get groceries into their home. No, he has never followed anyone home. Yes, he has asked them if they have help at home. He was the health and safety rep for an industrial plant of over 300 people. He took the safety and well-being of those people very seriously. Ministry of Labour inspectors, plant management, the guys on the line, they all liked and respected him.
He’s funny, witty and charming. People turn to me after meeting him and say, “I can see why you married him.” He’s a great conversationalist and one of my biggest regrets is not taking him on a five hour road trip when we were just friends. (I took the boyfriend at the time, who was dumped soon after. Live and learn.)
He’s great with the kids. He takes tonnes of time off work so we can be together as a family and will take a year of unpaid leave to stay home with the kids. He builds sandcastles and watches humming birds with the kids. He plays on the floor with them. He took time off work for each maternity leave. He’s the only person I want with me in the labour and delivery room. (Medical staff aside, of course.)
He supports me in everything I do. Emerging blogger? He says here’s an iPhone, you’ll need it. Writing stories? He takes the kids out. Teaching at a university? He so proud that tells everyone he knows (and some folks he doesn’t). Teacher considering change? New job? New community? He supports me 100 percent, all the time.
ADHD destroyed my birthday. One day in my life, where I wanted to sit back and think, “Oh, it’s my birthday, I get a break.” ADHD did not mess up my life. ADHD did scratch, dent and damage many things in my life – see list above re- finances, housing, jobs, relationships, etc.
But there are many good parts to my life that outshine the scratched, dented and damaged aspects. See list above.
To my Hubby – I love you xo Angela