May 02

Repost: Hello, My Name is Eve, part one: What were you expecting?

This repost is by Kay Marner, the co-editor of Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories. Through editing the book Kay found a pattern in the experience of parenting children with neurobehavioral special needs. She frames it as the experience of an everyparent, “Eve.”


When I was pregnant with my first child, I spent untold hours with my nose in the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

Throughout my son Aaron’s first year of life, What to Expect the First Year was always close at hand, on the table by the rocking chair where I fed Aaron, sang to him, read to him, and rocked him to sleep for naps and bedtimes. Then, before I knew it, I’d switched to What to Expect the Toddler Years.

Sound familiar? Do you remember those days? Wasn’t it magically reassuring to follow along—and even read ahead–in books that explained every stage of development, and answered every possible question—sometimes before we knew to ask it? Continue reading

Apr 18

Want to spill your guts? Easy to Love but Hard to Raise is looking for contributors!

keyboardHey – we’re looking for parent-writers to contribute regularly to Easy to Love but Hard to Raise! Our current set of dedicated contributors has hit the wall – call it blogger fatigue, call it writer’s block, call it LIFE, but many of our original writers have decided they need a break from our wonderful spot on the cloud, so we’re looking for new voices to add to our roster.

New blog contributors should be caring for a child (or children) – of any age – who is easy to love but hard to raise.  You can be anywhere in your parenting journey: your kiddo can be newly diagnosed, you can be in the thick of the teen years, or you can be looking back with the experience (or exhaustion) of someone who has been there and done that!

You do not have to be a professional writer to contribute. We value authenticity and truth. Stories and anecdotes about your life as a parent are most welcome. Easy to Love but Hard to Raise is not a place for “expert” advice, judgement, or preachiness. Our contributors write about what they did as opposed to what you should be doing. Above all, it’s the experience of parenting that we’re most interested in. Our readers come to us because they want to know they’re not alone. 

If you would like to contribute to Easy to Love but Hard to Raise, please email Adrienne at Include a sample blog (previously published blog posts will work just fine!) and a short explanation of your child’s special need, how old your child is, and any other information about your unique perspective that you can offer. You need to be able to commit to at least one blog post a month,




Nov 19

25 Things Special Needs Parents Want Their Children’s Teachers to Know

I’m giving a presentation today for people who are training to become special education teachers and to prepare, I asked the parents on the Easy to Love Facebook page what advice they’d give these future teachers. The advice they gave was spot-on – not just for people training to work with   kids specifically designated “exceptional,” but for ALL teachers, since most of our kids are mainstreamed.
Here’s the advice. It’s wonderful. Pass it around. Link to it. Print it out. Share.
  1. Children with “invisible” special needs, like ADHD, PDD, SPD, PBD, FASD, OCD, Anxiety,  ODD, Autism, Asperger’s, and many others manifest their disabilities behaviorally. It is EASY to blame the parents for these behavioral problems. It is ACCURATE to see these behaviors as a result of their brain dysfunction.
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Communicate! We can’t help if we don’t know what’s going on.
  3. On the flip side, if we over-communicate, cut us some slack. We are not helicopter moms, we are experts in our own children’s special needs. They, and we, are often misinterpreted and we’ve found that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Let us squeak! It’s not nosiness. It’s not pestering. Really, most days, we would much rather say “It’s your school, you handle it, don’t call me”– but we want our kids to be successful. Which means being their best advocates. Which means we call or email as much as is necessary. Continue reading
Sep 12

Part 2: Homeschool, the Special Needs School, now back to Homeschool.

Here’s part 1: Why we quit school…again: homeschooling my special needs child (how we got here in the first place)

image by flickr user sheeronSo we homeschooled. It was rough. The learning curve – MY learning curve – was steep. I was spending 24/7 with a child who had major behavioral difficulties and who really needed to be watched like a hawk with almost no respite and a heart full of worry and fear and anger and exhaustion…and even though I tried really hard (read about that here), I burnt out. We both burnt out. You can read all about that here.

The great homeschool experiment was last year: 2011. In January of this year, after being rejected from the special needs private school closest to our house, we enrolled J in a different special needs private school. An hour from our house.  And I mentioned private, right? Which means TUITION. Continue reading

Sep 05

Repost: You are not alone!

This is a repost from the spring. Since then, much has changed in my life, but this feeling – that I am not alone, never alone in my feeling about being the mother to a child with sometimes baffling behavioral special needs – is still ever present. Since April, when I first wrote this, our blog readership has almost doubled, our Facebook community has literally doubled, and more and more people every day are finding us. As the person who runs this blog and Facebook page I’m faced with the need to accommodate our Easy to Love family by creating a forum – one where folks can post anonymously, if needed, but also a place where we can grow as a community.

In any case, I thought this was a good post to re-share at this time of community growth. This was the first time I talked to a group of parents about my experiences raising a child who is easy to love but hard to raise, and it was a powerful experience for me.

Thursday night I had the privilege of speaking to a group of parents at the Chesapeake Bay Academy, a special needs/learning challenges school in Virginia Beach. I was invited there to talk about our book. I thought long and hard about what I should say to these parents. I didn’t want it to be a book infomercial. I also didn’t want to read a lot, since listening to someone read is kind of boring. But I wanted to convey the main message of the book: as the parent of a child with an “invisible” special need, you are not alone. Continue reading

Aug 14

If Mama Ain’t Happy, well…

This is the speech I gave to welcome everyone to the Happy Mama Conference and Retreat, held a couple of weeks ago in Conover, NC. We had an amazing time and we will definitely be doing it again. I’m sharing the welcome speech on the blog because I think it will resonate with all our readers. Remember, you are not alone.

I’m Adrienne Ehlert Bashista. Some of you might know me from our group blog and book: Easy to Love but Hard to Raise, or through the Facebook page connected to it, or through A Mom’s View of ADHD blog or Facebook page, or some of you might not know me at all.

I have a 10 year old son who has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD. I’m not going to talk that much about FASD except to say that it’s a brain-based disorder that manifests itself behaviorally. It’s a physical disability because it is based in his body, but it’s in the part of the body we don’t see, the brain, but the part of the body that has the greatest impact on his behavior, his learning, his ability to get along in the world, and his relationship with his family and anyone else he meets.

Our path to getting our son the correct diagnosis was a loooooong one. His first diagnosis was ADHD, followed by ODD, mood disorder, pervasive developmental disorder, pediatric bipolar, then we found out he has borderline intelligence and finally, after 4 psychiatrists, 3 therapists, 2 family practice doctors, 3 OTs. 1 speech therapist we found the diagnosis that made sense. Continue reading

Aug 14

If Mama Ain’t Happy, part 2.

Here’s part 1 of this post. I was just about to explain a metaphor for parenting a child with invisible special needs.

This chair is in my bedroom. Do any of you have a chair in your bedroom? What happens to chairs in your bedroom? This….

Maybe not quite as bad as mine, but whatever. It’s been a busy last couple of weeks.

Here’s the deal with the chair: when I do laundry I bring it into my bedroom to sort and put in piles on my bed. Each kid has a pile, my husband has a pile, towels go in a pile, etc. Once laundry is finished for the day I call my kids in to put their clothes away, and they usually do. Sometimes my son Jamie puts up a big stink (he’s my ETL baby) but since this is the ONE CHORE he has eventually he’ll do it. My husband puts his clothes away, too. So that leaves my clothes, the towels, the sheets, cloth napkins, dishtowels, etc.

So I make sure everyone’s laundry is put away…and then I don’t put away my own. Continue reading

Jun 01

Take Care of Yourself in a Big Way at the Happy Mama Conference & Retreat: A weekend getaway for moms of kids with ADHD, ASD, FASD, and other brain-based disabilities

This mama ain’t been very happy lately. In fact, my never-ending worries about my 11 year old daughter, Natalie, who has ADHD, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, and is on the fetal alcohol spectrum, have put me in a real funk. Most days, my bed starts calling my name by mid-afternoon. I’ve had zero motivation to work or do most anything else. I’ve felt like avoiding any and all social interactions. This funk has been severe enough, and lasted long enough, that I decided I had to make a conscious effort to do something about it—to take better care of myself. So, I made a few small changes in my daily routine. I started going for a short walk several days each week. I pulled my vitamin and mineral supplements out of the cupboard and recommitted to taking them daily. I gave myself permission to spend more time reading for pleasure. I’ve been scheduling a few lunches out with friends.

I firmly believe that when you’re living with the stress of raising a child with special needs, you have to make a conscious effort to take care of yourself. After all, as the saying goes, if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Even small investments in your own well-being, like those I listed above, can make a difference in how well you cope with day-to-day challenges.

Yes, small is good. But big is even better! So, I’ve also pledged to do something significant. I’ve registered to attend the Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a two day getaway especially for moms of kids with special needs.

The Happy Mama Conference & Retreat will take place July 28–29, 2012, at the Rock Barn Golf & Spa, in Conover, North Carolina. Here’s what the retreat is all about, as described on the Happy Mama website, :

What: A CONFERENCE that focuses on your needs as the mom to a child with a very real, but invisible, brain-based disability, like ADHD, ADD, OCD, ODD, FASD, PBD, SPD, PDD, or one of the many other overlapping conditions that make parenting your child an extra challenging situation, and a RETREAT, where we’ll provide you with wonderful food, spa opportunities, fun activities, and camaraderie with other moms who know exactly where you’re coming from.

Why: Because parenting children with invisible disabilities is an extremely stressful, isolating, and emotional job and one which can impact your health and well-being in a negative way.

 The retreat, hosted by DRT Press (publisher of  Easy to Love but Hard to Raise) and the website {a mom’s view of ADHD} (founded and edited by Penny Williams) and supported by a growing list of sponsors, including CHADD and the Catawba Valley Medical Center, will offer the perfect blend of education, support, and pampering.

Saturday’s speakers will cover: “Parenthood, Stress, Health, and Resiliency,” “Advocating for Your Child in School,” and “How to Be Happy: Calming Techniques for You and Your Child.” Sunday will be devoted to fun and pampering, which may include spa treatments, relaxing by the pool, gem mining, hiking, yoga, horseback riding, or kayaking.

Doesn’t that sound fabulous? I can hardly wait!   

Sharon Barbary Bryan registered for the conference, but has since found out that she’s unable to attend. Sharon is donating  her conference registration and on-site lodging, approximately a $350 value, to a deserving  mom! The retreat organizers are running a contest to determine what lucky mama will be the recipient of Sharon’s generous gift. Here’s how it works: Follow this link. Nominate a special needs mama whom you feel deserves to attend the retreat, by writing a sentence or two in the comments field (of that post, not this one!) explaining why she needs a break.  The contest will run June 1 – June 22.

If you are interested in attending whether you win this contest or not, please don’t hesitate to register now. Registration is just $129 until July 1. If you are “in the business” of ADHD, FASD, ASD, or other brain-based disorders and wish to become a retreat sponsor, email for their sponsorship package.

In the meantime, take a few steps, big or small, to take better care of yourself. You work so hard to bring happiness to your special child. You deserve to be happy too.

May 31

ADHD in HD: Brains Gone Wild, by Jonathon Chesner {a rad new book for teens & young adults with ADHD}

Free Spirit Publishing’s latest release, ADHD in HD: Brains Gone Wild is—by far—the coolest book about ADHD in existence. It’s so “melting your face off with the flames of awesomeness” cool, that I can’t imagine a cooler book coming along anytime soon. It’s written by Continue reading

May 01

Going on a book tour! A book BLOG tour, that is!

Since Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories, was published as of February 1, things have been going GREAT for the book, the editors, and the writers who contributed to our collection of essays.

We’ve been selling books, talking to folks, and creating fellowship and community among beleaguered parents of children with invisible disabilities, mental illnesses, and brain-based special needs everywhere!

The book’s been reviewed, the editors have been giving talks, the authors have been doing readings, newspaper articles have been written…and now it’s time for a book tour! A blog tour, that is, because let’s not go too crazy: we’re operating on a shoestring budget in our teeny tiny publishing company. We’d love to send Adrienne and Kay cross-country talking to folks about the trials and tribulations and stresses of parenting highly unpredictable children, but that’s not in the budget.

So we’ll do it, virtual-style.

Here’s the plan: if you are a BLOGGER or a WRITER or have a FOLLOWING on Facebook, we’d love for you to be part of our summer book blog tour. In exchange for a scheduled review, guest post, blog interview, podcast, or a Facebook or Twitter interview, or something else you’ve thought of…you will get a copy of the book (or 2, if you’d like to do a give-away), cross-promotion on the Easy to Love blog and Facebook page, and our undying appreciation and LOVE.

All of this will go down this summer.

E-mail Adrienne at to volunteer.  We hope to have everything scheduled by the end of May, so don’t wait to long to contact us.