I'm not sure this is my story to tell. I may never post it, but it's such a heavy weight, I need to write about it just to get it out of me. I've said it a million times, and I'll probably say it a million more: momming is hard. Hard as shit. And as you kids get older, it doesn't get easier. It just gets harder in different ways.
My oldest baby. Heaven help me. That child. She's always had trouble focusing. Controlling her impulses. I'll never forget, years ago - she was maybe five, we were walking through Best Buy, and she suddenly rears back, and spits.
Right in the middle of the store. Afterward, she looked so confused and surprised by what she'd done, I couldn't even be mad. Her answer to "What were you thinking?" is often and honestly answered with, "I don't know!" Because she doesn't know. She has difficulty focusing in school and finishing her work. Or she blazes through it and does a poor job, so she can move on to something she wants to do. She gets in trouble often. Not big trouble, but a little. For speaking out of turn, saying inappropriate things, acting out to get attention. She desperately wants to be liked and will act out, trying to get a laugh or a smile.
She's always been like this. A one-hundred percent sanguine temperament. Her excitement and enthusiasm will continue to escalate until she explodes, I guess, unless somebody brings her down. It's always conflicted with my much more phlegmatic-melancholic temperament.
And yes, we have had her tested a couple of years ago. And yes, she does have a diagnosis of ADD with impulse control problems, with potential for anxiety and depression. Obviously, that is worrisome to me. We briefly tried some non-stimulant medication, and it did nothing. We then found a natural supplement that was very helpful for a couple of years. And yes
, I am very reluctant to give my child a stimulant medication. She can't afford to have her appetite suppressed. I also have serious, valid concerns about the effects of long-term stimulant use in young people.
But, now. Oh goodness now. It's just so much harder for that baby than it has to be. In case anybody can forget, twelve is a fucking hard age. You're so caught between being a kid and you're just on the cusp of being a teenager. You want to be independent, but still want bedtime stories and to be tucked in at night. Plus, all those adolescent hormones have started swirling around in your body, making you all crazy. In addition to all this, she has two younger sisters. One of them is an angel child who never gets in trouble and is universally adored, and the other is an adorable little shit. But neither of them have the same issues she has.
The other day, we were running errands. She had wanted to come. Then her little sister wanted to come. This made her cranky. We spent the whole, long trip, with her being rude and, as we like to say here, ugly to her sister. Finally I had had enough. "I am really, really sick of your attitude. I'm over it. Literally all she's trying to do is talk to you, and you're being such a jerk. We're going home, right now, and you need to meditate on what your problem is and get over it." Well, that's the gist of it. There was probably a swear word or two in there. Then the breakdown came. Right in the middle of Home Depot. Now, I've cried in the middle of Home Depot before, and it sucks and it's embarrassing. And I wanted to cry too, partly because I want to cry all the time, and mostly out of frustration.
We get in the car. I tell her the only way I can help her is if she talks to me. This is what I hear:
She feels like she's being replaced by her sisters.
She feels dumb compared to Morgan.
She feels like she's always getting into trouble.
She feels like they're so much better than she is.
She just wants to be normal.
Hearing all these things from her nearly broke my heart in half. "Sweetie," I say, "You are normal. Everybody struggles with stuff. But things right now are harder for you than they have to be."
I've mentioned before, she's already got some kind of stigma against mental health care. She feels embarrassed to need more help than she sees her peers as needing. And I've been kind of leaving it up to her, asking her periodically if she needs more help than she's getting, if there's anything I can do, if she wants to talk to somebody. And her answer has always been no. I don't feel I can, in good conscience as a parent, leave it up to her anymore. After all, she is still a child, and it's still my responsibility to care for her health. Mental and physical.
So we have an appointment next week. We're going to start finding a way for things to not be so damn hard for her. So she can start to recognize that she is smart, and beautiful, and talented in her own unique way, just like we all are. God knows, growing up is hard enough as it is. As parents, isn't it our job to smooth out as many bumps in that long road as we can?