Sometimes everything works. Every now and then we have a day - or a few days in a row even! - where everything just flows. There are no meltdowns, no raised voices, no tears or tantrums. There is no reason to tear out my hair or wish human ears came with a volume control.
Sometimes, every now and then, I feel like a good mum. Like we've figured it out. Like we are winning.
And then there are the other days.
The days where nothing works.
The days where we are like kittens in a bag, scratching at each other. The days where if it's not one kid crying/shouting/fighting/whingeing, it's another. Scrapping and answering back. Needling each other. Melting down over the littlest things. I should be bald by now with the frequency of these days.
We wonder, what the heck is going on? We are (reasonably) intelligent articulate people. Our kids can be great kids. Why can't we seem to get into any kind of sustainable rhythm, why is family life so volatile? Why does everyone have such bloddy short fuses? Is it just us? Are we missing something? Is it puberty? Hormones? Too much screen time? Not enough structure? Why do our kids turn so feral at times? Is this normal? Or are we just really crap parents?
Blurting out all of this to Jane, my counselor, yesterday (with a voice still a little raw and ears still ringing from all the shouting there's been lately) she assured me that, in fact, this is normal.
At least, it's normal for families like us.
Families where there are spectrum issues involved. We have a whole mixed bag in our team - ADHD, Dyslexia, giftedness, we've got the lot. In fact we don't have one "neuro-typical" brain between us.
Every single one of us, parents included, are on some type of spectrum. Or more than one. Joy.
This, folks, makes for a whole lot of fun.
Strike that. This makes for a whole lot of chaos.
Every one of us has different trigger points. Every one of us gets emotionally overloaded by everyday things. We bounce off each other and set each other off like a car with no suspension going down a gravel road.
Every little bump is felt keenly.
Sometimes the "road we travel" is smooth - tarsealed, if you will. Those are the days everything works.
But all it takes is a stretch of bumpiness - even minor bumps throw us around, in our car with no suspension. And pot-holes? Eek. Forgeddaboudit! Disappointing test results, itchy uniforms, new schools, humidity, the pool turning green.
Next thing it's "she looked at me funny", "he bumped me on purpose", "I was on the tramp first", "she came in my room", "he took the last packet" "I can't find my phone/uniform/homework"...
Everyday annoyances get magnified to epic proportions and it doesn't take much for tempers to flare and emotions to boil over. Never mind the fallout when something more serious (like a disappointment) hits. Then people, we go nuclear.
Yep, like a pot that has boiled over, all we can do is try and remove it from the heat and wait for things to cool down, then mop up the mess.
Sometimes we handle boil-overs like parenting pros. We stay calm, we don't get drawn in, we stand our ground.
But all too often, our own sensitivities are triggered and it all becomes a giant hot mess.
Sore throats and ringing ears all round.
It was reassuring to hear that this is normal. Not pleasant but normal, nonetheless.
Jane encouraged us that we are actually, in spite of everything, doing well. Ha!
We are trying, at least. We are doing our best to understand our kids, and work on stuff. We are always flipping working on stuff.
It's exhausting though. And it can be disheartening when you've had a patch of smooth road and you've been feeling like "we've got this!" and then, oh bugger, Road Works up ahead. Unsealed gravel, full of rocks and potholes. A new season, something unexpected, we hit some disappointments and next thing we're all bouncing off each other. Ow.
Knowing this is "normal" (for those families like us who have the "quirky" gene) doesn't actually change anything. It doesn't change the fact that I hate it when tempers flare and emotions run high; it doesn't change the fact that what I want more than anything in the world is for my home to be full of peace. And for everyone to be kind to each other, always.
But knowing we're not the only ones struggling this way - that this is "normal" - makes me feel less of a failure. It's kind of reassuring to know we're not alone. And we're not crappy parents either.
We've just got a "family car" with no suspension. And sometimes the road is bumpy.
Anyone else out there driving a family car with no suspension?
PHOTOS: Photos in this post are of pages from the best book on ADHD ever. "All Dogs Have ADHD", available on Book Depository. I highly recommend it to share with a child (or adult) who has ADHD. Very very cute, TRUE and affirming. My kids nodded their heads all the way through exclaiming, "THAT'S ME! I do that!" (the end of the book gives me goosebumps and a lump in my throat).
OTHER POSTS ON THIS SORT OF THING:
- Taking the Long Way Round
- Dyslexic Brains are Good Brains Too
- Detours, Road Blocks & Getting there Eventually
- The Upside of Imperfection
- Turning my Reluctant Readers into Book Lovers