I was in a great mood. My morning was going well, and it was about to get even better as I set out ingredients to make a special after-dinner dessert. I preheated the oven and found my favorite Pandora station on my iPad. As I carefully measured the flour, sugar, and baking powder, a catchy dance tune filled my kitchen.
Aww. I wish Micah was here, I thought, bouncing to the beat.
I grabbed hold of that passing thought, held it up to my face, and stared at it — equal parts startled, sad, and achingly happy.
Micah is my 8-year-old son. He is my firstborn; one half of my identical twin boys; my sensitive, passionate soul-child; my talker; my dance buddy; my Scripture-loving sweetheart; my opinionated, emotional ball of energy.
God and I dearly love him, but boy do I butt heads with that child. Micah has ADHD, and we struggle daily with the challenges that it brings into our lives. ADHD is more than just having trouble paying attention or having a lot of energy; it affects his cognitive understanding of daily events, short term memory, and personal relationships.
Simply talking is difficult at times as he struggles to order his thoughts, capture them, and form logical, coherent sentences. Many days, we are at a standstill, eyes locked, voices raised, struggling simply to hear and be heard. Our mutual, daily “I’m sorry/me too,” has become a familiar ritual. We’re trying to figure out this relationship between the three of us: mother, son, and ADHD.
Taking a break from each other is often the best solution to our tense moments, so when I missed him that morning while I mixed a cake, listening to dance tunes, I was surprised. I don’t think I had ever missed him before, not in a “wish you were here” kind of way. This was an unfamiliar feeling for me, and it hurt; not because I missed him but because the feeling was new. I stood there in my kitchen with a mix of guilt, heartache, and regret coursing through me. I realized that I had spent so much time managing his behavior that I hadn’t made time to build the kind of memories that make you miss someone you love.
But the newness of missing him also brought deep, aching joy. For so long I had been trying to pull our worlds together when our personalities and personal struggles seem to push us apart on a daily basis.
In the weeks following this quiet realization, I started asking him to cook with me in the evenings — a definite exercise in patience, but also an invitation for him to be part of an activity that I loved.
He got to pick the music while we cooked. His favorite station? Kids Bop. We swayed our hips and brandished wooden spoon microphones. And when the Cha-Cha Slide came on, cooking dinner took a backseat. We hopped two times and cha-cha’d real slow, socks on tile, laughing together in the fading light of evening.
I’ve discovered a few things in our dinner prep/dance sessions: my kid can cha-cha like nobody’s business, his favorite singer is Adele, and I don’t necessarily need to have a conversation to build a relationship with my son.
I’m a words person. I love to talk and listen and build meaningful relationships through language. With my son, sometimes I feel like our relationship is failing because our communication is so difficult. We're still working on that, but in the meantime, we’re going to keep listening to Kids Bop on Pandora. Because when we’re dancing, we’re not fighting. We’re singing, and laughing, and having real fun together.
This revolution is new and profoundly good, our worlds interlocking instead of colliding.
My relationship with Micah has defied my expectations of motherhood, where I once believed the organic bonds of mother and child would give us a magical, loving, and effortless relationship. I'm learning that relationships, even with our children, sometimes take work. The feeling of missing my son that morning was new and startling and painful, but it also gave me a beautiful glimpse of hope. We might just need more time to cultivate our love, one tender I-wish-you-were-here moment at a time.
Guest post written by Brittany Meng. Brittany is queen of her castle in her house full of men: Wife to Aaron, and mother to twins Micah and Benji, and Silas and Elijah (not twins). Two of her children have special needs (ASD and ADHD) and all four of them have lots of energy. She writes about the grit and grace of her everyday life at www.thebamblog.com.