Today’s guest blogger is a 35-year-old mom with a 5 year old kiddo with ADHD and ODD. Her child has been on medication since August.
Note: ETL stands for “easy to love,” which is short for the title of the book: Easy to Love but Hard to Raise.
If you asked me to define myself a few years ago, I would use the following words, “failure, divorced, single mother & thirty-one”. At the end of 2009, I asked my ex-husband of seven years, to move out of our home and filed for divorce. He unfortunately got himself heavily into drugs months before his eviction and as a result, he was a danger to me and my child, “M” who was 2 at the time.
M was always a “spirited” child from birth. As 2010 arrived, M was showing more signs of ADHD and M’s behavior was not for the faint of heart. M’s acting out, biting, hitting and uncontrollable anger was exhausting and difficult. As M’s behavior worsened, I felt alone. It was hard for other family members and friends to understand M’s actions and often times; I was looked at as “the problem”. I was emotionally drained. With working full time and dealing with single motherhood and my ETL, I wondered two questions. (1) if I would ever be able to get myself out there and (2) who would want to be a part of my madness? For those that are single mothers and raising ETL kiddos, there is hope.
I decided to take a tiny leap and took the dating world on slowly. I tried EHarmony and went on a series of many bad dates. Either the chemistry was not correct, date did not take hygiene seriously or moved too fast (wanting to meet kids after first date). I actually had one person that wanted to do a “family” date after two dates. That may work for other women, but not me. Not only were the dates bad, but what single working mom really has the time to date, especially a mom of an ETL kiddo? I came to a fast realization that (1) I barely even have time to shave my legs in the shower without M knocking down the door (2) makeup and trying to look cute are overrated (3) Babysitters are few and far between (4) uninterrupted sleep may outweigh a date (5) having thirty minutes to myself definitely outranks a date.
I admit, I had a negative outlook on the whole dating thing and it was not until I crossed paths with someone special that I realized dating might be okay. I ran into someone I knew a long time ago and for me, there was instant chemistry. Even though there was chemistry, our paths would not cross again for five months and when they did, I knew that this person, “B” was special. We took things very slow and did not involve M for many months.
Once M was involved, things got interesting at times. There were times that M had massive tantrums and many therapeutic holds ensued in front of B, who never judged me. Throughout 2010 and 2012, M’s behavior was a see-saw of ups and downs and when there were downs, it was not fun. It took a few years and a therapist to get M evaluated and on medication. Even with M’s medication, M had shares of tantrums and moods. There are two evenings in particular that stand out. One evening, M was in a mood and I had to give M the emergency meds for the first time. M was angry and having a massive tantrum that involved hitting and biting and a therapeutic hold. Once the meds started working, M calmed down but it was about 30 minutes of “fun”. While this was going on, B did not judge me, intervene and most importantly, did not leave. When all was calm, B was outside and I stepped outside to tell him it was safe to come back in and B gave me a hug. I was in emotionally drained and in tears and B told me I was a good mom.
Another time, B came over for dinner. While I was trying to finish dinner and set the table, M started to get in a funky mood. It escalated at dinner and I had to remove M from the table and put M in time out. I had to hold M’s door shut and M had a big one. M destroyed the room, screamed bloody murder and was throwing objects at the door. B asked me if I needed help and I told him I have it handled and to enjoy his dinner. Even though I did not find it funny at the time, I find it comical now, as this is my life at times with M.
Even though it took some time, I was able to find someone that does not judge me or M. B is good to M and provides a positive male role model for M, which I am grateful for.
Raising ETL kiddos is hard, draining and emotionally exhausting but there is hope! Through my story, I want to leave you with the following: 1) Single ETL mommies can date and have a successful relationship 2) your ETL kiddo will be able to handle someone new in their life 3) take things slow and take your time introducing kiddos in the mix 4) try to take time for yourself whether it is gym time, nap or relaxing 4) Humor can make the worst day a better one 5) Things may not be perfect but you can be happy.