The sleep deprived ramblings of one full-time mom. I pretty much write to stay marginally sane and to make other moms feel better about themselves. You're welcome.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Parenting: The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love

So I haven't blogged in awhile. And by "awhile" I mean over a year. Life got in the way, I went back to work full-time, etc.
But I'm back. *cue the confetti and champagne*
I just need to talk and I hope that you'll listen. If not, you're probably in the wrong place, no?
About a year ago my son was diagnosed with ADHD. Not "shows some tendencies" but "HELLO? ARE YOU STUPID? THIS KID OBVIOUSLY HAS THIS SHIT!!"
I think my husband and I had both known deep down, but we were firmly planted in the "ADHD Is Overdiagnosed and Overmedicated and We Can Handle This Because Otherwise We're Shitty Parents" camp. We had our names on a plaque outside the main cabin. And we handled it. Until we couldn't.
Years of phone calls from teachers, visits with the school counselor, parent-teacher conferences that led to binge drinking...they all came to a head in Miles' third-grade year when he ended up in a classroom with a group of "challenging" boys and a teacher who had zero tolerance for, well, anything. Call it the perfect storm, call it the year from Hell. Whatever moniker you give it, we were in over our heads.
So we called in the Big Guns. We visited the pediatrician. We took Miles to a therapist. We got on a first-name basis with the school counselor. And we finally agreed to test him for ADHD. We were told that there were often "gray areas" that suggested a diagnosis but didn't prove anything conclusively.
Then we got the results. And they were BLACK AND WHITE. This kiddo had it, the textbook version that got pharmaceutical companies salivating. And he needed meds.
We balked.
We talked.
We researched.
We prayed.
And we ultimately listened to the experts and agreed to try medication for Miles. Thank. God.
Within weeks he was a different kid. Not different in an altered-personality kind of way, just...in control. The impulsivity was down, the hyperactivity was diminished. He was master of his own behavior for the first time.
And we wondered why hadn't done this sooner.
Miles' fourth-grade year was 180 degrees different from his third-grade year. Granted, he ended up (with more than a little help from the school counselor) in a class with some positive role-models and a teacher who gave him a gift he'll cherish forever: a love of learning. But there was something different in him, something that made him receptive to these positive influences.
For the first time in years, Brian and I breathed a sigh of relief. Parent-teachers conferences were a time to celebrate, not a time to dread. Grade cards were something to be framed; in fact, his final semester he got straight A+'s, something I didn't even know was possible!
And perhaps we got lulled into a false sense of security...more to come, but this mama needs sleep. Thanks for reading, listening, giving me a chance to vent.
This parenting thing is harder than it looks.


3 comments:

kristi Montoya said...

Ashley,

I don't know if you remember me, I am Kristi Kelso, I was really good friends with Kim Wolfe in Great Bend. I am so glad to read your blog. My son Hunter is in 3rd grade. We had a terrible year last year, because as you said his teacher had no tollerance. We finally broke down and did the adhd/add testing and it came back that yes he shows a lot of the symptoms. More at school than at home, but they say that is usually how it is because they have to focus more at school. My son isn't extremely hyper, but has trouble focusing, gets distracted, talks out/impulsivness, makes silly mistakes on his work..etc. I am also very scared because he is already on medication for asthma and I don't want to add more medication, but I want to get him the help he needs. I am also scared about the side effects of these adhd meds. Hes pediatrition said to give it 3-4 weeks of this school year and then have a conference with his 3rd grade teacher and go from there. So far it is good, but the school year is fresh. Any advice you can give me I will take it to heart. I don't have anyone that I can talk to that has these same issues with their child. I love my son so much and want to get him the help he needs, but it is scary trying new medications. Thanks for listening~

Kristi

gaelicspirit said...

You are an inspiring parent. And you're doing the best you can in a situation where (for everyone) every day is new.

Not So Supermama said...

Kristi,
Of course I remember you! And I'm so interested in hearing about your experience. I want to be clear that I'm not pro-medication, nor am I opposed to it like I used to be. I was VERY hesitant to start treating Miles with meds, as was my husband. It was definitely a last resort. I know several friends whose kiddos have not been able to find a medication they could tolerate, so I realize it's not a one-size-fits-all situation. That said, I'm so glad we listened to the advice of our pediatrician and tried it out. (He actually has two children with ADHD and was a fantastic resource.) Only you as a parent can make that decision, but I would weigh the pros and cons and try to determine whether the impact of ADHD on your son is worse than the possible side effects. It's such a tough call and my heart goes out to you. All we want is for our children to live long, healthy, happy lives. It's so hard to watch them struggle and not know exactly what to do to help them. Let me know what you decide and please feel free to message me!