Quiet and Solitude are two states of being rarely enjoyed by a parent or a spouse. From my first of the morning alarm, in the form of my daughter’s tap tapping me on the arm to ask for instructions to the TV remote
“Cable On, then Power On…”
I recite in my barely conscious state, while a symphony of bottle caps popping starts up on the nightstand next to my wife’s head, responding to unit roll call. The day has begun, with or without my readiness.
Moms have historically been deferred to as being the one “on call” for the immediate needs of the family. We handle such on call emergencies as French toast that was cut into TRIANGLES instead of squares by some amateur toast cutter who clearly meant well, but didn’t realize the internal trauma they just caused. We are the IT gurus for those under the age of 5 for such advanced troubleshooting as remote controls, battery changing and charging, and proper installation of games on their iPad. (After age 5, I utilize their wisdom to set up my printer and defrag my hard-drive.) We are on hand 24/7 to handle arguments, temper tantrums, lost toys and keys down the toilet, spelling words and flash card interrogations, and meal planning . At least that’s been my job description for the past 23 years. Too bad it doesn’t look great on a resume. According to Salary.com, my “Mom Salary” is worth over $158 K. I need to ask management for more vacation time. Fortunately in a Lesbian Family, you have twice the Moms to go to. Unfortunately for the child, they might inadvertently be caught in in the endless loop of “Go ask your Mother.”
I have been domesticated for a long time. So long in fact, that I don’t even bat an eye when someone walks in on me going the bathroom, or slides a hand or note under the door to sign their homework. This has become our most common forms of communication. Breakfast is another ritual for which I have been “trained”. I rarely make myself waffles in the morning when getting my daughter ready for school, not because I’m a martyr, but because I know she will only lick the peanut butter and Nutella off the top and eat 3 bites, and leave the plate and the rest for me as she opens the car door and scampers of to school . That’s “meal planning”.
But even with all my domestic years under my belt, the steady build up of constant interruption, half started dreams, and never finished thoughts reach a crashing crescendo of visceral overwhelm and I crave the bottom of a cool lagoon or bed of pine needles on the floor of the Redwoods to find my center again.
For an ADD adult, physical senses can be an elixir of motivation. We LOVE “Shiny” and “New Ideas” and “Hey did you see this video of kittens jumping into boxes? What do you mean you are working? it’s KITTENS!!!”
After a full weekend, too many sounds and sights and incoming information can quickly tip us overboard, becoming prickly hot needles of over-stimulated noise. Even a concerned touch or hug from the ones we love, make us feel like we’ve been plugged into a Tesla Coil and are amplifying waves of static insanity.
At this point, I start sputtering and fizzing like rechargable batteries in a microwave. Every sensation is reverberating in the Mayo Jar of my brain, one thousand times over. I feel like Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”, where I have developed the finely tuned twitchy antennae of a cockroach, while the rest of the world carries on without notice; words, pictures, colors; sounds collide and crash over me in waves.
In this state of overwhelm, a simple trip to the grocery store without a list and clear mind can send me headlong into the bathroom stall with my hands clamped over my ears just trying to think about what items will make one dinner and maybe a breakfast the next morning. If unprepared, I could come home with a box of cereal, two hallmark cards, a 20 pack of toilet tissue, and some Popsicles.
Over the years, I have recognized this for the ADD world of crazy-making it is. I’m getting better about directly communicating with my wife and kids (who also are ADD) about why I need to spend some time alone on a walk or in my room, or take a bath un-interrupted for the safety and well being of all concerned. I seek that solitude of serenity for at least 1 hour of decompression. It is necessary to purge and shake off all the over stimuli surrounding me, so that I can hear that one small note of peace; letting it fill me up from the inside-out , and just breathe.
Afterwards, the weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and I’m ready to join the fast-paced, frenetic world of Family once again, thankful for a family who makes me crazy, but also makes me whole, and grateful that each day, we make each other’s life a little richer.