I honestly do not know why I keep finding myself surprised at how difficult it is to be a parent. After 6 six years of this, I thought I would be used to it. I am profoundly sad today as I post because I cannot seem to reach my step daughter. There are moments when I think she finally “gets” the lessons I am so desperate for her to learn, only to find out the next day that the glimmer of understanding I thought I saw was just my hopeful imagination. I am heart-broken.
My step-daughter has severe ADHD and she has been in counseling since she was 6 and is under the care of a wonderful psychiatrist who specializes with children with this terribly disruptive disorder. It is disruptive to the family, it is disruptive to her development, it is disruptive to her education and it is disruptive to her ability to have friends and experience life the way a 12 year-old without this affliction would be able to.
Suffering from anxiety myself, I have a very difficult time relating to and interacting with her. My need to control things to make things less anxious for myself is in direct conflict with her inability to control herself. It makes for some spectacular power struggles. The “ah-ha” moments that I imagine her having usually come after these struggles have subsided into something far more calm and controlled where I attempt to use reason and logic to explain things to her in desperate hopes that SOMETHING will stick in that brain of hers and allow her a small victory.
I feel like I am constantly disappointed by her. I always tell her I love no matter how angry I may get and no matter how disappointed I am. But my heart breaks a little more every time I fail as parent to be successful in helping her to understand important things about life – important, but simple things like not to lie (pathologically). What makes me even sadder is that I have come to the even more heart breaking realization that while I love my daughter, I do not like the person she is. I realize this has the potential to change; but as of now, I do not like the choices she makes and what it says for her character. Pretty difficult to say about a 12 year-old, but there it is.
And what does that say about our ability to parent? I have not come to a conclusion about this yet – the jury is still out. It’s not that she is neglected or that we are failing to discipline. We have tried so many different things in hope that something would work. To date, nothing has. Not that we will give up. But there is always that nagging feeling that there is more we could or should do. Or should we just let her sink and see if she can keep herself up? There are too many possibilities and no “right” answers. The uncertainty of parenthood disagrees with me. It makes me frightened and irritable, vulnerable and insensitive, selfish and selfless all at once. It is a walking contradiction and one that I am not able to reason through – throwing me into turmoil and making the anxiety almost impossible to cope with. There are times like I feel like I am drowning. But I know I’m not. I know that this too shall pass and that life will go on the way it is intended to.
But right now, my heart is breaking.