This is Life with ADHD: I Know People Judge Me

This is life with ADHD. I know I’m not alone.

On any given morning, it will take a combined effort of bribing, enticing, and slight caudling to get my 10-year-old to wake up. When he does finally wake up, he’s still not really awake. That will take him another 10-20 minutes that we don’t generally have. I know when I say this, I’m getting head nods from all the moms: “Yeah my kid’s not a morning kid either.” 

I’m sure that’s true but let me put it in perspective: due to his, mine and/or his brother’s chronic lateness {a common symptom of ADHD}, we had 57 tardies last year. 

Yes. 57. 

I’m not the only ADHD parent that struggles with this. It’s so prevalent in ADHD families that they’ve created a new prescription medication to treat ADHD geared specifically towards helping the morning struggle.

It’s that bad. 

This is life with ADHD.


I know people judge me. They judge every choice I make. They judge me as I’m signing my kids in tardy, again. I know, to them, it looks like pure laziness or lack of parental discipline. Or simply hot mess-mom syndrome. Life with ADHD makes me the queen of the Hot-Mess-Mom’s club.

Dr. Russell Barkley, an ADHD Expert elaborates that ADHD is not truly an “Attention-Deficit” disorder, it is a Self-Regulation-Disorder. The inability to regulate yourself enough to manage the day to day tasks, responsibilities, and sometimes emotions. This includes working towards long term goals. 

Ever walk into a room and forget what you walked in there for? For an ADHD person, that moment happens up to 20 times or more a day at different times: “Wait, what was I doing? What was I just looking at? Where was I going with this conversation?” 

I also get judged on my choice to medicate my son. Daily he receives a prescription stimulant for his ADHD. Some people assume I want to “numb him” or “sedate him” or just “drug him up.” There are several memes circulating social media pushing propaganda that parents who give their children prescription drugs for mental illness are “part of the problem.” 

When really, the problem in our society is a lack of understanding and knowledge. Like the fact that ADHD isn’t make-believe, it’s one of the most studied mental disorders. 

People say cruel things and they don’t come from strangers. They come from friends and family. I’ve heard anything from “You’re not a strict enough parent,” to “If you had more consequences they wouldn’t do that.” but the one that hurt the most came after confiding in a close friend:

“Sometimes, I feel like you WANT your kids to have ADHD and maybe they don’t. Maybe they’re just kids.” 

I’ve wondered the same thing, maybe we should just let the chips fall where they may.

If only the statistics of undiagnosed and untreated ADHD people turning to drug abuse later in life weren’t ringing in my ear: 1.5 times higher to suffer substance use disorder than their peers. In one study, it was determined that 40% of the substance users in treatment, met criteria for ADHD but only 3% had actually been diagnosed as children.

I’ve spent the last decade managing and mismanaging how to help us best. Finding odd but significant ways to keep up with ourselves.

After all that struggle we might not “look” like ADHD people, but I mean, what do ADHD people look like anyways?

I’m a 29-year-old mother of 3. I’m 5 foot 3. I have a good job that I’ve had for 3 years. I finished high school, some college. I own a business, I’m blonde with hazel eyes, do I look like I have ADHD?

My oldest son is 10, he’s a B+ student with lots of friends and adores basketball. Does he look like he has ADHD?

My middle son is 8, with twice as many freckles as his brother. He’s a soft-hearted kind soul and is the tallest in his class. Does he look like he has ADHD? 

Because we all do. It’s highly genetic.

Here’s what you can’t see: 

I dropped out of college because I couldn’t manage school, working and being a mother like I see so many single moms do. My house was always a disaster for many years. I’m deathly afraid of failure and rejection because for most of my life I was undiagnosed and worried that I was just innately flawed. I knew I was smart but couldn’t understand why it wasn’t translating into my housework, schoolwork or career. 

My oldest began 3rd grade begging not to attend school. He hated it because he felt stupid. He was two grade levels behind and he struggled to make friends because of impulsive behaviors. He feels the constant need to fit in and look cool, and he gets discouraged when he can’t meet his goals despite his effort. His ambition is in the right place, his mind just fights with him.

My 8-year-old, bless his heart, is currently two grade levels behind in academics. He asks me, sometimes daily what his talent is because nothing really comes naturally to him. Even though he wants to, boy does he want to just be good at something. He loves school, and loves to learn but is acutely aware that he is not able to learn as easily as his friends and it’s beginning to cause him anxiety, stress, and poor self-image.

I‘m not telling you this for pity. I don’t want your pity. I want you to understand that most parents struggling with ADHD themselves or in their children are doing the best they can with what they have. We don’t make this up, or “drug” our kids out of convenience. We do it because we want the best for their future. We want them to be able to walk into school, or a job someday and have confidence.

They aren’t lazy, stupid or crazy. They just have ADHD and they are learning to manage it as best they can.

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