People have a wonderful way of identifying to music and relating the lyrics to their own lives. When I was younger and boy-crazy, it was all about love songs for me. Now that I’m a mother, I find myself identifying with songs in many different ways. When I first heard Rachel Platten’s “Stand By You,” I immediately thought of my six year old daughter who has ADHD. In fact, I identified with the song so strongly that it brought me to tears. I felt like the song described my feelings, thoughts, and emotions as her mother perfectly. Please take a moment to listen to the song:
So what do these powerful lyrics mean to me? What goes through my mind when I hear this amazing song? Here goes…
It is no secret that children with ADHD struggle on a daily basis. Despite their best efforts to focus, their brains are simply wired differently. While having ADHD gives many children the ability to think outside the box and show astounding levels of creativity, it is difficult for them to behave the way society expects children to (Sitting nicely, listening well, not calling out, etc.). My daughter goes to behavioral therapy and takes medication for her ADHD. Her teacher makes accommodations for her in the classroom. I use positive parenting techniques and provide her with unconditional love, guidance, and support (as well as an enormous amount of patience I never knew I had). Despite providing my daughter with the right tools for her to succeed and my daughter putting forth her best effort, she still has a difficult time sometimes, especially with homework. For children like my daughter, ADHD can be extremely frustrating for them, because it seems like no matter how hard they try, they can’t succeed, which makes them feel like they shouldn’t bother trying at all. (Sound familiar?) Some children with ADHD feel like they are bad kids or there is something wrong with them, which couldn’t be further from the truth. While their brains may work differently than other children’s, there is most definitely nothing wrong with that. It’s refreshing actually. These children are extraordinary, extremely bright, unique, and passionate. Despite these amazing qualities, many children with ADHD have low self-esteem and call themselves “stupid” like my daughter does almost on a daily basis. These children don’t seem to recognize the many great qualities we have always seen in them.
My daughter once said that I deserved a better daughter and that she wished she was never born. I felt like I was shot in the heart when I heard her say those words and the only reason I was able to hear her say them was because she was too young to have private sessions with her therapist. She didn’t confess to me. She confessed to her therapist. I had no idea she felt that way and although it hurt me so much to hear her say that, I wished she would have told me directly. That was definitely my most difficult moment as a mother. My daughter was only five years old when she said those words and it broke my heart to know that she had such horrible thoughts and feelings like that. She hadn’t even lost a tooth yet and already had emotional scars that ran deep. Sometimes, the thoughts and feelings our children have are so strong and painful, they don’t want to share them with us, because they think it may make us sad, angry, or disappointed. It’s easier for them to confide in others, like their therapist. My wish is for my daughter to know that she can always confide in me and not worry about what I may think or feel. I want her to be able to tell me anything and to know that no matter what, I’m going to be there for her. If she is going through hell, I will be right by her side in the flames helping her until we’re able to put the fire out together and get out. We may not be able to reach heaven, but being able to help her get out of the hell she is in is all that matters. That is what she will remember when she looks back on that difficult time in her life.
It hurts to see our children in any kind of pain, whether it is physical or emotional. At least physical pain can be treated with a band-aid and a kiss. Emotional pain is much more difficult to treat. If we could take away their pain, we would in a heartbeat. As parents, we have already been through the hell of being teased or bullied and feeling different, but we learned to be strong and not care what other people think. Sadly, most of our children are going through that hell right now and they need an angel to get them through it. In case you didn’t know, that angel is you. I feel like God has given parents the most amazing gift – a child for them to love, teach, and nurture for the rest of their life. God has also given parents the power to be angels on Earth for our children. ADHD comes with a lot of challenges and there are going to be plenty more. We need to be there for our children every step of the way, so that they feel like they are never alone in this. They may already feel like they are alone at school, whether it is because they have a difficult time making friends, they are teased for being “different,” or they are constantly getting called to the principal’s office for “bad” behavior they can’t seem to control. They don’t need to feel like they are alone like that at home too. When they are having a meltdown, we need to be there to acknowledge their feelings, empathize with them, and just hold them and be with them. As much as we only want them to feel good emotions, we need to teach them that it is okay to feel bad emotions too. That is simply a part of life. Some children are too young to understand what or why they are feeling a certain way. We need to be their voice of reason and help them through these difficult times. If we do our job correctly as parents, our children will eventually never feel like they are alone anywhere. When they are at school, they will feel our presence and love in their heart. They will hear our kind and positive thoughts and advice in their minds. They will learn to handle whatever life throws at them because of the wonderful job we did raising them. It’s going to be rough, but I know we can do it.
Life will never be perfect and we shouldn’t expect it to be, just like no one person is perfect. Even though we set goals for ourselves and for our children, we need to realize that we may not reach those goals the way we planned. Although I had a hard time realizing it, I have learned that it is okay to be different and do things differently. My daughter taught me that. Instead of trying to make our children conform, we need to accept and encourage their way of doing things. The voyage is more important than the actual destination. How did you get to your destination? Who helped you get to your destination? These are the things your child will remember. With children like my daughter, I have no doubt that they will reach every goal they set. It may not be reached in a way that their peers would use, but honestly, who cares? If our children are happy, not only are we happy too, we are proud to stand by them. Many more obstacles are headed my daughter’s way, but now more than ever, I am ready to help her break through them. Not only will she rise, she will soar like the amazing angel she is. They all will.