We had a fight.
I mean a full on shout your head off fight.
One of those fights where the words come screaming out of your mouth with no momentary lapse for thought or reasoning. Those words, which can never again be unspoken. But can only beg to be forgiven.
Yep. One of those types of fights.
My ten-year old ADHD son and me.
The trigger was small.
Just an everyday action from a boy who acts from his impulses and heeds nothing of the STOP, THINK, DECIDE ritual we’ve tried to impose on him.
And in an instant, with no warning to either of us: I snapped.
I saw red. I pinged across the room like an over-wound elastic band. I erupted like a volcano.
I’d had enough.
Enough of the constant lying.
Enough of the not trying.
Enough of the constant frustration felt by his sisters.
Enough of the manic outbursts.
The apparent lack of conscience.
Enough of hearing my own voice repeating the same instruction over and over again.
Which in itself is different to the not listening. Which is overbearing too.
Enough of the not caring.
Enough of the constant need for attention. And motivation.
Enough of my constant unfair division of time between four children.
Enough of having to apologise for him or to explain.
Enough of the looks. From both those who don’t know me and those who do.
Enough of the unhelpful, condescending advice from clueless busybodies.
But most of all I’d had enough of the fear. The fear I have every time I pick up the phone when he’s not by side. That’s he’s done something stupid. Hurt himself again. That he’s lying somewhere in pain. Or even worse. That he’s dead.
So I shouted.
He laughed in my face and didn’t care because he didn’t know. He didn’t know just how close to the edge I felt in that moment and he pushed just that little bit more. And I cracked.
And the words rolled off my tongue, so fast, and I couldn’t take them back, not even an instant after they were said.
“Go and live with your father! I’ve had enough!”
Shock smothered the room.
He looked at me, still laughing slightly and I ordered him to leave the room and pack.
Then the rest of us sat at the table, everyone silent, feeling the anger hanging in the room.
No-one knew what to do, including me.
Where the anger slowly left, the tears quickly began.
I climbed the stairs to see my one and only son, who after two short minutes of initial upset, had raced on to his next emotion.
Nothing I could say would sway him, from my sorrys to my sadness. His determination despite a prospective change in land, language, and school knocked me.
And for a brief moment, I started to consider the alternative. Being a mother who lived without her son.
I could see calmness and structure, harmony and rejuvenation but most of all I could see time. Time for me. Time for the sisters. Time to breath.
And then I felt the pain wash over me. The devastation of living without him cut deep into my heart.
I tried to see the whole picture. I thought of the girls and their needs. I looked at my son’s happy face. I saw the exhaustion in my husband, who is not his biological dad.
I sort opinions and I discussed until my throat hurt and my ears refused to listen any more.
I looked at my son and he smiled back at me. The argument gone. To him, it seemed the row had never existed, for me it felt like I would be devoured by the guilt and the shame.
My little boy who I’ve protected and fought for doesn’t want me. He wants his daddy. The daddy that he lost in the divorce. The daddy who lets you play computer until three in the morning. The daddy who lets you sledge down the stairs. The daddy who asks you if you want to go to school. The daddy that my children have not been allowed to see in two and a half years in another protective move from me.
You see, my ten-year old sons father also has ADHD.
And what I have discovered is that no matter how much I want it, or push it or encourage it, I cannot make my ex-husband, the creative genius that I once loved, take any kind of responsibility for his children in any way.
Daddy did not call at Christmas. He did not even send a card.
I called him myself, after the argument. I wanted to test the waters. I wanted to see if he could maybe, possibly live up to what my son needs him to be. He promised to call the next day. Several days later, we’ve still heard nothing.
He has not actually spoken to any of his children since October.
Last night I talked with my husband well into the night and he re-motivated me.
We had a fight. And I lost it. I am an emotional person and that happens sometimes. But that emotionality is what makes me me. My son is staying put. He is safer here. And he has the good fortune to have three lovely sisters, a mum and a non-biological but actually a proper father, to love him and try to guide him. And that’s all we can do.
I just have to convince him that the grass is not greener on the other side of the water.