This is going to take some explanation, so bear with me while I face some hard truths and explain my mentality in order to get to my point.
I don’t like to take medication. Clearly, medication is necessary and I don’t judge people for taking it, but I try to avoid it. Mostly, this is a product of childhood asthma and inhalers and steroids and the yucky, shaky way they made me feel. I’ve carried this irrational aversion into adulthood, where I still take asthma medication and it still sometimes makes me feel shaky and yucky. It saves my life on a regular basis, but makes me feel uncomfortable. Now you’d think the life saving would have more impact than the jittery feeling. But since I didn’t really understand the concept of life and death when I was a kid, it’s the negative impact on my body that has stuck in my head. I also recognize rationally that not all medicine makes a person feel the same way, but my instinct is to pass on medication whenever possible, nonetheless.
Staying at Home with H
I am bored pretty much all the time. I have been struggling very much since I quit my job to stay home with my daughter. I love her more than anything, but I find the lack of stimulation excruciating. I know that all stay-at-home moms get bored, but for me this is something more. I want to crawl out of my skin on a regular basis. The minutes often feel like hours. I find myself wanting to be anywhere else. And it breaks my heart because I love this little girl more than anything and I am not the best mother she could have.
There are mothers who get down on the floor and play with their children regularly, who spend hours focusing on their child, who can get through a book without tuning out and thinking of other things. I have been confused since she was born, trying to figure out what magic it was these mothers had that I was missing. I don’t have a mother of my own (a post for another day), so I thought maybe I was defunct in some way since I had no example to follow. Maybe whatever was broken in my mother is also broken in me and thus, I will never be a good and present mother. I have felt guilty and depressed and awful so many times. I am staying home because I think it is best for her, but then I’m not a very present and attentive mother. (She is in absolutely no danger … I am watching her every minute, I’m just bored by it.) I’m trying so hard and I feel like I’m failing since I just want her dad to get home so I can do something that engages my brain.
I was diagnosed many years ago with ADHD. I refused the medication because of the aforementioned aversion to medicine and because I didn’t think it was really affecting my life. I did well in school (because I test well), and I was able to keep myself distracted constantly by playing video games and watching TV and reading books. Usually, I was doing all three of those at the same time. It sounds a little absurd to think that in my mind I was functioning perfectly normally when I literally couldn’t watch a t.v. show I enjoyed without also reading a book or playing a game. It seemed efficient. I didn’t know that other people can just think about a thing, one thing. Just sit and think. I assumed everyone’s minds spun out of control. I’ve sunk thousands of dollars into hobbies and projects I never finished, but I chalked that up to being a jack of all trades, the type of person who does a little bit of everything but none of it well (or to completion). I had a lot of ways to justify things, and now I am sure that was partly just denial … or it didn’t seem like a big deal even if I did have a little ADHD.
Suddenly, there is a little person watching everything I do. She is learning from me, from the examples I set, from my actions and my behavior, not just my words. Suddenly, there is a little person who is going to grow up and either never complete a project or say someday, “My mom never finished anything she started!” My dad has a lot of the same traits I do. I wonder, when I look at her, if she will have my traits, if she will learn them or if she will inherit them. And I think, if behavior is even partially learned, do I want her to learn my behavior? Do I want her to grow up to interrupt people, to not finish things, to grow bored quickly, to hop from thing to thing? Do I want her to feel like her own mind is out of control? Do I want her to find boredom so excruciating that she seriously wants to scream? Do I want her to avoid situations that may be boring because she can’t stop her mind from spinning, spinning, spinning and because she certainly can’t sit still? I barely made it through funerals of people I cared deeply about because I couldn’t still that long. I don’t want my daughter to be the way I am. And if that is the case, then I need to change who I am. I need to be a good example for her. I want to be a better person for her. I want to be present and attentive. I want to be a good mother.
Medication Makes Me a Better Mother
So I saw my doctor. I got assessed and I accepted the medication, albeit reluctantly. I am scared of the potential side effects. I am petrified, really. I was on antidepressants briefly and they made me very unwell … moody, mean, out of control. So I fear I am susceptible to side effects, and ADHD meds can have a laundry list of negative side effects.
I am nervous, but I started taking the medication anyway. It has only been a couple of days and I haven’t experienced much in the way of side effects yet, although we are diligently watching for them. I have, however, noticed that these meds are changing my life. I didn’t know how bad things were until they got better. I spent twenty minutes this morning sitting on the floor with my little girl, rolling a ball back and forth. I wasn’t bored, I didn’t think about going anywhere else or all the things I need to do. We just played. Later I read her books until she got bored and wandered away. But I wasn’t bored. I was just there with her, focused and happy.
I didn’t even know how frantic my mind was until it wasn’t. It took her a long time to fall asleep for her nap today. Previously, I would’ve been chomping at the bit to get out, to move on. I never understood how people could watch their child sleep. Didn’t they get bored just standing there? But today I rubbed her back and stood next to the crib and felt calm and settled and happy. I wasn’t in a hurry to get somewhere else. (Where am I rushing to anyway? The dishes?) Every minute used to feel like torture. I was so aware of how slowly everything was going. I would look at the clock and be stunned that only three minutes had passed. This morning the time has just passed and I have barely noticed the clock (I do still have to keep track of nap time, though!) I am struggling to describe this sensation, but it is good. I am a calmer, more patient, more attentive parent. Medication makes me a better mother.