On Shortcomings and Attention Equity: Hard Truths in Special Needs Parenting

14628103_10208949304104722_2135956070_nThere’s nothing quite like parenting to make us confront our shortcomings.

Mr. Flappiness and Bronwyn are so very alike. They both have diagnosed ADHD – the kind that puts the H in ADHD, if you know what I mean. But they have all the other delightful traits that those with ADHD often have – the creativity, quick thinking, etc. that those of us who love them adore.

But because they are so very alike in temperament, interests, and sense of humor, in addition to the ADHD, they are close. They get a kick out of each other. Bronwyn often seems to prefer him to me, me being a little too low-key to entertain her some days. They’re two peas in a pod, my baby girl and her daddy.

Sometimes, I’m envious of her relationship with him — although I understand it. If ever a woman were a daddy’s girl, it’s me. I wish the introvert and lover of air conditioning in me were less so. She’s beautiful to me, but we’re quite different personalities. Since I share a temperament and personality with Callum, I know some things just are.

But because I love her so, sometimes I envy their closeness and worry – deep in the heart of the mother who raises both a typical AND a special needs child.  I both fear and mourn the certainty there is not enough of me with regard to my daughter. Her needs are great too. The problem is that Callum’s – who is autistic, high needs – are so very immediate and not delayable. 

Mr. Flappiness is on the road often now, and it’s taking its toll.  Big changes for all of us. Bronwyn is taking it hardest.  This morning, she woke up and came in to snuggle with me. She talked about how much she misses daddy and said, “The truth is, Mom, daddy is just more FUN than you.” Ouch.  

I acknowledged the difficulty she’s having, and I told her I’m sorry I’m not as much of her kind of fun (theme parks, producing videos, etc.) as daddy. And my sweet girl put her arms around me and then clarified, “Mom, daddy is more fun than you.  But you’re more loving.  I go to daddy for fun and you for love. That’s what I love about you best.”

Well, hell.  That’s for sure a conversation I’ll replay in my head obsessively as I continue raising these two.  But the combination of those big beautiful blue eyes – my grandmother’s – and those words?  Deep breaths kind of love right there.  Words that felt a little like absolution just when I’m sure I’m failing.  

She comes to me for love.

I may be doing lots of things wrong.  But I hope that statement counts. I have to be doing something right – right?

3 thoughts on “On Shortcomings and Attention Equity: Hard Truths in Special Needs Parenting

  1. Belenda Kemp

    Bittersweet and beautiful Leigh, but then so are many of the best moments in life, the poignant moments that pull at our heart strings and leave memoris seared into our brain.

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