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What I Can Do to Help My Child With ADHD and OCD

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It is Monday morning. I am in tears… again. The house is silent, except for the sound of my sobs. There has been no death, no illness, no tragedy. Just a Monday morning getting my 10-year old son to school.

Why can’t I do this? Why am I so horrible at simply getting my child to school? Why can’t I stay calm — like I promise myself I will? 

I love my son. So incredibly much. My heart aches for him. School is so hard for him — not academically — but because of his OCD and ADHD. It is an on-going battle of him not wanting to go to school because of the stress and pressure he feels when he is there. And still I make him go.

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Why can’t I do this? Aren’t mommies supposed to make things better? What mother forces her child to go to school when he is so anxious about it? Why don’t I know how to make this right?

He eats hardly any breakfast, and I know he won’t eat much at lunch. I keep pushing him to eat, and then feel like a failure because I can’t get my child to eat enough to fuel his day.

Why can’t I do this? Am I so lacking that I can’t even get my son to eat?   

He tells me that OCD is causing a new behavior: picking under his fingers until they bleed. I make suggestions, offer to tell his teacher and give him band-aids. He refuses it all and I feel rejected.

Why can’t I do this? Aren’t parents supposed to be able to help their kids? What is wrong with me, that not only do I fail in helping him, but I also end up frustrated? 

In my rational mind, I know I am fighting the wrong battle. I am internalizing my son’s struggles as a personal failure. But this isn’t about me. This is about OCD, and the fight my son has with it. For his sake, I need to change the question I keep asking myself.

What can I do? I can love him and listen and hold and comfort him when he is sad and stressed.

What can I do? I can offer and provide, and not feel like a failure if he says “no.”

What can I do? 
I can be the calm in his storm. I can be there for him, but I can’t make the storm go away. I can help him most by giving him a safe place in the midst of the storm.

What can I do? 
I can accept the fact that I can’t fix everything for him, and remember it is not my fault that I can’t.

But I want to make things better. It breaks my heart to think of how he feels every day at school. I cry when I imagine how he feels and the stress he carries. Please… please… I want to fix my son’s problems. I am a mommy. Aren’t mommies supposed to make everything better? Why can’t I do this? 

What can I do? I can remind myself that I love my son fiercely and deeply. No mother could love her son more.

What can I do? I can remember that I am human and flawed. I will never be perfect. I will make mistakes. But I will always love and care and try to do my best.

What can I do? I can remember the joys, smiles and positive times. I can remember there are so many of those moments and so much that is good.

What can I do? I can keep trying, and remember that my son needs my love and support more than he needs my solutions. I may not be enough to fix all of his problems, but I am absolutely enough to be his mom — and that is what he needs from me.

Originally published: February 14, 2018
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