Mama help me, don’t hinder me

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No parent wants to believe or be told that there’s something “wrong” with one of their children. Every parent wants each of their children to be as “normal” as possible. Whatever normal is, that’s what we’re always aiming for.
In my culture and race it’s sort of deemed as “taboo” if your child “needs” medicine just to function and carry out day-to-day activities. If your child is unable to control themselves then you (as the parent) are looked at, as if it’s all your fault.

“You had to do something wrong!”
“Oh! You ain’t raised ’em right!”
“What she/he needs is a good ol’ fashion ass kickin’!”

Growing up I heard over and over again, that “black women” can handle their kids. They don’t need to put them on medicine.
Putting your children on medicine is something that white people did because they don’t know how to raise their kids. They’d rather their kids function like zombies, than to deal with them.
That’s exactly what I grew up believing.
We DON’T put our kids on medicine, period!
From what I could see, it was true.
None of my friends, cousins or any one that I knew needed medicine to behave or function. We all were “normal”.  I didn’t have a clue what a kid needing medication even looked like.
This all held true for me, until I became a mother for the second time.
My oldest daughter was born seven weeks before her due date. In spite of being born early, I still expected her to progress normally, just as her older brother did.
Niave me never considered that she’d be delayed in any way. I was shocked when she didn’t sit-up on her own until she was five months. I was really shocked when she started crawling and walking late.
It wasn’t until she started first grade when I knew for certain, there was definitely an issue (of some sorts) going on with her.
In first grade she wasn’t able to catch on and memorize addition or subtraction facts. She would become overwhelmed then anxiety would be the victor. She’d get frustrated, cry, then eventually she’d shut down.
My solution?
I withdrew her and my son from their Catholic school and opted to home schooled them. I figured, she could learn at her own pace and at the same time, I was hoping that my son’s ability to learn effortlessly would rub off on her. We successfully did the homeschool thing. I was happy with the results.
When I re-enrolled them back into the traditional school setting (a year later), to my surprise the same problems still existed with my daughter. She was still learning at a much slower pace than her peers. She was having great difficulty retaining information,  likely because she preferred to daydream and her attention span was extremely short.
Luckily for me, she was now in a school where each student had their own individual plan for success.
Not only was my daughter given a slower paced plan, but the educators were so patient and extremely supportive of her. We stayed with that school district for five years and for five years my daughter was academically successful.
During those years, I’d managed to successfully smother the “issues” that plagued her.

Last year it all came to a head.
Our move from Michigan, forced me to finally admit that my daughter had some attention/comprehension issues….and they’re much bigger than me!
She was in eighth grade and the new school she was attending was pretty rigorous in their academics. It wasn’t long before she was failing every class.
I tried to devise a learning plan and studying methods for her, but none of them worked. I meet with the counselor and all of her teachers hoping that they’d have a solution, but to no avail. They weren’t the most helpful and they didn’t have any real resources.
I was now backed up against a wall and I didn’t know what to do next.
I called a cousin and sobbed about the entire situation from beginning to end: I couldn’t have a child who wasn’t “normal”. I didn’t want to be the mother who did something “wrong”. I couldn’t be the first in the family to fail at being a mother. I’d come from a long line of strong women, and I didn’t want to be the first weak one.

Calling my cousin was just what I needed. It was just what my daughter needed!
My cousin had just gone through something very similar with one of her daughters. Her daughter is the same age as my daughter. Not only that, they look and act JUST alike.
She, too, was failing all of her tests, quizzes, state exams, etc. She was easily distracted and was always all over the place– unfocused. Her daughter’s confidence had waned, as well. Long story short, she’d gotten her daughter an IEP. Immediately there was a complete turnaround in her academics. She’d become academically successful and her confidence soared through the clouds.
Music to my ears!

No sooner than I’d heard this story, it was like a five ton fourteen year old weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I actually exhaled the deepest of breaths ever.
Everything that I’d ever learned about needing special accommodations for your children had gone out the window. I was no longer being held hostage by any stigmas or stereotypes.

For the first time (nine months ago) I was finally able to verbalize that my child is unable to be academically successful and socially accepted without the assistance of medication. On her own, she’s unable to focus and concentrate. She’s easily distracted and will completely lose control of herself.

Whew! There! I said it again.

After thirteen years, I’d finally come all the way clean about my daughter’s shortcomings. It took the doctor and psychiatrist several more months to properly diagnose and order a treatment plan for her.
Needless to say, a big change has taken place in all of our lives since treatment began.
First and foremost, “the girl” received an 87 percent and a 92 percent on two major tests. She’d only been undergoing treatment for about a week when she received her first passing test grades. I was so AMAZED! I couldn’t believe that it was working so quickly!

Not only has treatment had a positive affect on her academics, but it’s also been positively affecting her social relationships. She’s much calmer. She’s less stressed and more in control of herself. She’s able to ignore her little brother when he’s being a pest. She’s no longer socially awkward around her peers. She exudes confidence now. This is everything that  I’ve being wanting for her, all of her life!

TheBiggest Gal and I at one of many appointments

The Biggest Gal and I at one of many appointments

I feel so badly for cheating my daughter out of her current way of life for so long. If ever I could get a do-over, this would be it. It’s pretty much my only life regret. When I think,  she could’ve been in this  happy space ten years ago, I’m overcome with guilt.
I’ve been told, “Stop blaming yourself! You only did what you were raised up to do.”
I’ve even heard, “Be glad that you realized the error of your ways and corrected it, before it got too late.”
I am grateful for all of that, still it will be quite some time before I no longer feel ‘as’ guilty as I do today.

1 Comment

Filed under children, Family, mommy blogger, Parenting, Raising Teenagers, Uncategorized

One response to “Mama help me, don’t hinder me

  1. Nichelle

    My youngest son was finally diagnosed as having ADHD in 2010. He was 5 years old. I am the first person that recognized that he had a problem since he was a baby. My late husband just thought he was ” hard headed” and just didn’t want to listen. I would look into my sons eyes and see that what he was doing he had no clue that it wasn’t normal. There were boys on my husbands side that still to this day that no one wants to admit there is something wrong with them and they need to talk to a specialist. I decided long time ago that if my baby needed medication to function a little better and to stay focused on task then I would put my own feelings aside and try to help him by any means possible , no matter what anyone else said. I have never needed medication to function so I had no idea how he felt. It had to be hard for him to not only struggle to fit in but to fit into a stereo type of how he should be. His ADHD doesn’t make me love him any less but helps me understand him more. Good luck Mari because as a mother we have to look out for the best interest of our child and not just how they SHOULD be according to others who doesn’t have to see them struggle on a daily basis.

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