My Favorite Word
Try this experiment:
- Take your small child to the grocery store at 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning. (This experiment works only if you are a woman and if you have a small child. If you don’t have your own, you could borrow one, with his or her parents’ permission, but you would have to coach the child and, even with coaching, the needed spontaneity would be lacking.)
- Dawdle in the Produce Section or the Baked Goods Aisle until your small child really has to pee. Alternatively, you could seem to disappear, though of course you would never let your small child out of your sight.
- Eventually, your child will cry, with bloodcurdling urgency…
- Just before you scoop your child up to offer comfort or scuttle to the bathroom, take a quick look around. Dozens — if it is a large store, possibly hundreds — of women’s heads will jerk, robotlike, in your direction. The owners of the pivoting heads will be mothers, and they will be experiencing the scientifically documented Head-Jerk Reaction, which was indelibly imprinted on their brain circuitry from the day their toddlers began to speak.
For years after I nursed my youngest baby, often when I heard a small child, any small child, yell “Mom!” I would experience milk let-down reflex. I am not exaggerating.
The A.D.D. mom with A.D.D. kids
My first child was a sweet, cuddly, non-A.D.D.-afflicted girl with a lively imagination and a love of books and dolls. She liked the stories that I had adored as a child — the Mary Poppins and Land of Oz books, the true tales of the Ingalls family, and many more — so, even as a single parent, I found mothering to be almost unmitigated joy. The peal of “Mom” was (and, oddly enough, remains) the sweetest sound of all sounds.
By the time Marian was ten, I had remarried and “started a new family.” I gave birth to two boys within eighteen months. The older son, Jack, would eventually be diagnosed as having “the most profound case of ADHD” his counselor had ever seen. His younger brother, Eli, was more benignly attention-deficit-disordered.
If you are an A.D.D. parent with A.D.D. children, you sink or swim. Having been wisely parented, I knew enough not to let the quieter children slip through the cracks while the hyperactive ones were “acting out.” So I became a Highly Structured A.D.D. Mom.
The first thing I did every morning, at 5 a.m. when I arose, was pray for strength. Then I meditated for serenity. Then I planned the day. One plan was never enough. I always had, in addition to Plan A, plans B through at least F.
For more than thirty years, I was an Active Parent, in the sense of having children living in the household — eating, throwing dirty clothes on the bathroom floor, bringing home stray dogs, needing rides to soccer practice and music lessons, and (more often than I care to remember) occasioning 3 a.m. phone calls from Officer Hardass asking me if I was the mother of whichever son was “acting out” at the time. I learned to be cautious in my reply. “Maybe,” I would say. “Why do you ask?”
That’s three decades of Structuring and going to court. Is it any wonder that now, in my solitude, I often decide to do Nothing in Particular, simply because I can?
eBay can wait
Accordingly, I am less aggressive than I could be in pursuit of my eBay store’s success. I’m very good about responding to questions, notifying buyers that they’ve won my item and that they owe me $6.83, and shipping the stuff I’ve sold. I’m a bit slower to actually list the items on eBay in the first place. I think I’m intimidated by my own checklist.
I go to great lengths to build structure into my life, but I think it might be most beneficial, all around, to simply adopt a small child.
May Whoever Is On Duty bless you and your endeavors. —Mary