A couple of years ago I placed a countdown APP on my phone with all four of my boys’ names and how many days they would be remaining in our home. If this sounds strange to you, you might be a 101 parent. If you’re a 505 parent, you’re probably nodding your head and saying to yourself, “I get it.” It was during a particularly rough patch with my kids, two kids in particular, and I needed that countdown to put things in perspective—to know that there would be an end my having to deal with all of the difficult behaviors, a light at the end of the tunnel as it were.
You see, I’m a mom of four boys, three of whom have been diagnosed with ADHD and three who have been diagnosed with RAD (reactive attachment disorder). Each of these diagnoses comes with comorbid factors which I won’t go into here but will simply say that after years of raising my boys (and I’m still in the thick of things) I consider myself a survivor. I’m surviving minute by minute and day by day, trying to figure out how to be the best parent for my kids and help them be their best selves.
If you’re a 505 parent—one who has a challenging child, a child who takes every ounce of your patience, your time, has you running them to therapy sessions, multiple doctor’s appointments, who believes and acts like every day is “the worst day ever,” who has you reading and implementing any and every parenting method you can get your hands on and has you feeling like even the best and brightest doctors and psychologists wouldn’t have the answers for how to “fix” your kid—if you’re this parent, know that there really is light at the end of the tunnel. You can do this.
As 505 parents of challenging kids we know from past experiences that 101 parents just don’t “get” us. What we do get is insurance companies who deny our claims. We get school systems that don’t understand our child’s diagnoses and even refuse needed services. When we try to explain what our kids do, how they behave, what they need or what kind of support we need we get blank stares, confused stares, or judgmental stares—none of which are helpful. As parents we want desperately to be to be supported, to be heard, to find relief, and to find others like us who understand what the day in day out experience of raising our kids is like.
Why just this morning I was reading an article on Savvymom.ca another mother wrote entitled Can We Stop Using Wine & Coffee as Crutches to Make it Through Motherhood?and all I could think as I was reading it was, where’s my Diet Coke? I forgot to get my Diet Coke before I started reading this article and before starting another day with my kids.
I’m not going to judge 505 parents for what you have to do to survive parenthood (I’m sipping my Diet Coke). One of my kids freaked out this morning because we ran out of eggs. Then he proceeded to freak out because we had no cereal. We had seven different boxes of cereal in the pantry. I was surprised that we had that many choices. He on the other hand didn’t like any of the choices. Then he freaked out because he had to clean his water bottle in order to take his morning ADHD medication. It was only 8 am.
I’m okay with starting my morning with a Diet Coke.
What’s most important to me is that I stay calm as he escalates and that I teach him how to treat me and others with respect.
It’s also important to me that we support each other on this difficult journey through parenthood. We can be a light for each other, a strength, a relief, a helping hand that reaches out in the darkness.
I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned about ADHD, RAD, and fostercare in the future and welcome your insights as well. Together we can do this!
Robin Glassey is an adoptive parent and former foster parent. She is currently raising four children, three of whom have ADHD and three of whom have RAD.