Ten million years ago, when I was in Junior High School, I was forced to take the dreaded Home EC classes. I must have known early on that I’d need a decent career, since I’d never cut it as a homemaker. Cooking was a nightmare. I clearly remember being given the smallest kitchen in the smallest cubby with students who, like me, didn’t know the difference between a teaspoon and a teacup. We were given the assignment of making chocolate chip cookies and it was my turn to head my team. Sadly, they listened to my directions and we turned out one giant, melted 2-foot cookie instead of the required dozen, petite delicacies. I was mortified.
The following semester was worse: sewing. With my poor fine motor and math skills, I knew I was doomed. So did the teacher, when I’d asked her what a bobbin was. I thought it was something you did with apples at a Halloween party. While the girls zipped through project after project, working on harder and harder outfits until they reached the fancy blouses with darts, lace trim and oyster buttons, I was still working on the navy blue A-line skirt with a simple zipper. I felt humiliated that I didn’t even know how to pin on the patterns, let alone thread the machine. I squeaked by with a D, only because the teacher felt sorry for me. She must have figured I’d get nowhere in life, since I had zero homemaking skills.
Fast forward. I earn two college degrees, marry and start a family. Daughter #2 decides she wants to be a Brownie and I’m happy to oblige, hoping she will expand not only her social world, but also learn… skills. Secretly, I hoped she’d learn to cook and sew so that I could duck out of those chores sooner rather than later.
To my horror, I found out quickly that as a Brownie mom, my sewing skills were required, since Mackenzie would be bringing home cloth award badges on a regular basis that needed to be sewn onto her brown vest. When the first batch came home, I began to sweat. I quickly tossed them far back on the counter so I wouldn’t have to deal with them, then of course…quickly forgot all about them.
The following week, more badges arrived. I could no longer be a passive/aggressive Brownie mom- I had to face up and tackle this. After an agonizing time using thread and needle, trying to make the darn things look neat and right, I gave up. I knew I couldn’t ask an 8 year old to sew them on (her motor skills were no better than mine), so I decided to invent a better way to deal with this. Velcro? No- too complicated. Glue? Not permanent enough.
Then woooosh. It came to me and I began to smile. Smugly, too. Ha! The solution was easy- I would staple these obnoxious symbols of perfection onto her darn vest! And so I did. There were about 15 by then and chaCHIN chaCHIN- I got them all on and held up my daughter’s vest, bursting with pride- not because of all the awards she’d won, but because of my brilliant and creative solution. Yes, I had become a narcissistic Brownie mom.
Mackenzie proudly put on her decorated vest and ran to the bus. I was so relieved and smirked my way through the day, thinking of all the moms who had to deal with thread and needles (not realizing that this comes easily to most women).
My smile dropped to the floor at 3:15 when my daughter returned home in a pool of tears. She ripped off the vest and showed me all the scratches on her tender arms and chest, thanks to the staples that had been scraping her skin off the entire day.
Again, my ADD had gotten the best of me. My brilliant short cut had tortured my poor kid and she would never forgive me. What a horrible and inept mother I was!
What is the moral of the story, you ask? Had this happened years later when I was more comfortable in my ADD “skin”, I’m sure I would have come up with a better way to handle this. First, I would have asked someone else to sew them on for me. That would have been my accommodation, just like a child in school might need a grip on her pencil to help with poor handwriting. Next, I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself for my perceived failures. Instead, I would have reminded myself of my strengths and gifts- my degrees, my art and music abilities, etc., etc.
As women with ADD, we are entirely too hard on ourselves, not acknowledging our many strengths but instead ruminating over our challenges. What can you change about how you see yourself? Can you re-visit some of your past horror stories and archive them into your family chapter book of funny ADD stories instead of letting them haunt you?