The school bus comes by at 3:12 pm every weekday afternoon like clock work. My two older kids tumble out of the buss down the path we’ve cleared for them, up the stairs and into my arms as I stand in the doorway or on the front steps waiting for them. It’s a little tradition I try never to fail. This little “time” is important to me and I suspect it’s a treasured part of their day too. It’s time I have set aside to be intentional in my parenting.
Last week I was wrapping up my work for the day and I looked at the clock. I still had a little over an hour and a half before the kids got home. Lots of time to do lots of stuff. I looked at my phone as I considered setting an alarm to remind me when the bus was coming, but I shrugged the thought away assuring myself that I could never forget to unlock the front door for the kids. My motherly instinct is strong and I may let time slip away for little things, but greeting the kids is not a little thing to me.
I figured I’d keep busy and I started sorting through laundry. Laundry quickly turned into donating and before I knew it I had 2 huge plastic tubs of clothes and toys and sheets to donate to Goodwill. I made my way downstairs when I remembered to check the time. That’s when I heard a shuffle at the door. $h!+!
I dropped the tubs and sprinted down the stairs to the front door. My oldest was there knocking, and my daughter had made her way to the back of the house to try the back door. The bus was stopped between our house and the next stop waiting to be sure that the there was an adult to greet them before she felt comfortable moving on.
I felt horrible. My kids weren’t phased by it at all, but I felt guilt and shame start to creep up on me. How could I lose track of time when I was waiting and watching for it? I mean, basic time management is something we learn in pre-school, it’s not rocket-science. But still, it isn’t a life skill I have mastered. I happen to believe that being on time and being dependable have deep ties to love and respect. In essence, a lack of time management is a lack of love and respect.
“Showing up late to dates, meetings, and everything in between sends a message: I valued you less than something else. A person left waiting every time feels they’ll never be as important as literally anything else you could be doing.” http://adhdhomestead.net/time-blindness-feels/
The thing is, for so many of us, this isn’t true at all.
Some of us are time blind. It’s common in people with ADHD.
See, I have ADHD. Everyone knows what ADHD is right? It’s that kid who won’t sit still, the one who is always being called on and reprimanded. The spaz. The Taz (Tazmanian Devil). What people don’t know is that ADHD is sooo much more than that. It presents itself differently in everyone. It isn’t something that affects only children, or only boys – as is commonly believed.
ADHD is so much more than hyperactivity. Having ADHD (ADD) means you also have an Executive Function Disorder. : “a broad condition that also affects attention, learning, and social, organizational and time-management skills.”
Time Blindness is a real thing. There is extensive research that has been done on it as well as Executive Function and how it all plays a part in the ADHD brain. But what is time-blindness?
“It involves knowing what time it is now, how much time is left, and how quickly time is passing. Folks with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) tend to be “time blind,” meaning they aren’t aware of the ticking of time. As a result, they often struggle to use time effectively.”
I was officially diagnosed in my early thirties. Soon after the birth of my second child. I’ve always had energy to spare, but my energy is very focused – which is another common ADHD misconception. I was never the active one in class. I was the quiet one – the dreamer, the pleaser. I did just enough to get by. To fly under the radar. My big personality made up for all my other shortcomings.
As much as I value and respect my friends and family, there is an agonizing dissonance between the person I am and the person my actions present to the world. Failing life at such a basic level gnaws away at our relationships and self-esteem. I live in constant fear and anxiety that I will forget to pick up my kids, or worse yet, that I will forget I have one in the car with me! I know that despite my best efforts and my whole heart, that I am not always dependable. It’s not that I’m not responsible though, I simply lack the tools to master this skill.
Still, I have to work harder, try different skills, experiment with apps and rely on a support system to help me learn this basic pre -school skill. It’s a hard pill to swallow and it does a number on your self-worth. I wish that having all of this knowledge about ADHD and EFD and time-blindness could make the problem disappear. It doesn’t. No matter how many hours I pour into research, I’ll always struggle with this. But knowing what it is, and simply giving it a name gives me hope that there is much more research on the horizon (not the time horizon though! Lol.) for those of us that suffer ADHD and EFD.
There may not be a cure, but there are others out there dedicating their lives to helping ADHD sufferers develop coping skills and behaviors to live a more manageable one. That’s hope. Sometimes, hope is all you have and all you need. Right?
Well, Grace too. Try not to be so hard on yourself. You’re doing the best you can.