[00:00:00] Hi, and welcome to An ADD Woman with Lacy Estelle on this episode, we’re going to talk about ADHD and motherhood. Now, maybe you’re here and you’re listening and you’re thinking, well, I’m not a mother yet, so I don’t feel like this applies to me, but I really think that you should still give this episode a listen whether or not you plan to ever become a mother in your life or not, or even if you just have friends who are moms. It’s important to understand exactly what they’re dealing with, especially if they have ADHD. So let’s get to it.
I’m your host, Lacy Estelle writer of all things about ADHD parenting and being an ADHD mother on Mothering the Storm with Lacy Estelle at Lacy Estelle dot com.
[00:00:49] Here on An ADD Woman podcast, we’re going to switch it up and talk about all things to do with ADHD as an adult woman and how we deal with it. Now you might be thinking ADHD. Women don’t really have that. Actually we do. We’ve all just been doing such a great job for years of masking it. So let’s dive in.
[00:01:12] Let’s talk about everything that our ADHD touches in our lives. When I say everything, I mean everything. There is not one thing when you have ADHD that it doesn’t affect. I’m so glad you’re here. And if nothing else, I hope that you take away from this that you are not alone. You are not. You are not lazy and you are not stupid and you’re definitely not crazy. You just have ADHD and you’re just like me.
[00:01:44] So we back in 2017, 2018, when I actually started my blog, I started it before I even knew I had ADHD. So originally I was just writing about my experiences with changing my diet and changing my health perspective in a way that I felt was more proactive to my life. And I wrote a lot about. self-help and encouragement and things I had learned along my short, but very active parenting journey. Okay. Cause I would say that I had already been a mom, I’d say 2017. I’d already been a mom for at least seven years, eight years. I had my first son in 2009. I was 19 years old. And over that span of time from 2009 to 2017.
[00:02:32] When I first started writing, I just wanted to help other women who had been in my position where maybe they were a single mom who just felt really lost, or they had been susceptible to really toxic relationships because they had this warped sense of identity. And I was coming to this conclusion that regardless of all of my struggles, God works in a way that He’ll help me put those puzzle pieces together in my child’s life.
[00:03:04] That will be good for them, even if I can’t see the good in it in the moment. It’s important to know that I went through a period of time where I couldn’t figure out what was causing me the issues I was having. And I feel like a lot of you are going through this, this journey where maybe you’re just now finding out you have ADHD.
[00:03:31] Let me just tell you what a blessing that would have been to me at 21 or 22 years old to figure that out about myself, way back then, because the truth be told when you don’t know that you’re actually an, I say battling with ADHD or not really battling it, but you’re not using it to your advantage or you’re not actually, you’re not coping with it.
[00:03:54] ADHD behaviors and ADHD problems come with a lot of shame. You do a lot of self-blaming in those situations. So for me, I became a mom really young. I actually became a mom twice. By the time I was 21, all within the same relationship, that was not a healthy relationship whatsoever. So my motherhood struggles were very skewed.
[00:04:19] Were the things I was dealing with, were they all part of what every mother deals with or they just, what I’m dealing with? Because I made bad choices or I remember thinking at one point, man, this is just so hard. Is motherhood this hard for everybody? Now here’s the other thing too, is, you know, a lot of moms make jokes that your second child is so wonderful that it makes you think about having a third. And your third child is that child that makes you think that you never want any more kids. And they always say that, you know, behavior starts with, you know, your first is usually this great child. And I think that that is a perception because a lot of times your first child is a child that you have the most time to spend with.
[00:05:01] So, you know, you get a lot of one-on-one and you get a lot of things that you can really dig deep and dive in on their learning and, you know, just helping them to be more exposed to people around them, adults and all those types of things. Right. And so then you get your second child and they’re just that lovey little baby to you because all of a sudden you see your older child and then you get to your third child and they’re chaos because they just, the rules don’t apply to them. They’re the baby. Right? And so that is what motherhood tells you. And in my situation, my first child, and I love him. God bless him. He’s wonderful boy.
[00:05:42] But man, was he hard? His twos and threes. I mean, there was days I wanted to cry. I would go to bed and I would cry because he was very difficult. I have seen children who are violent. Um, he was not violent to a degree that I was ever scared. I was never scared of my three-year-old scared of what he might do possibly more so because of his impulsive behavior, his inability to control his body.
[00:06:11] His constant rebelliousness against authority in all of these were all in ways that from an outsider’s perspective, you’re just like, oh, well, they’re just, they’re just a little boy. Like, so many people would be like, oh yeah, boys will be boys. And I was like, yeah, I don’t know. I had no real perspective. I have no comparison and tell my second son came along and then once my second son came along and he slept it tonight easily, and he was easygoing and, and, you know, would tell me at seven 30 at night, mama, I’m tired.
[00:06:44] I want to go to bed. Whereas my first son, we would be up until 11 o’clock wrestling to get him to stay in his bed. So my perception was. So I say all of that to say that when I tell you about the struggles that mothers with ADHD have, my perception may still be skewed because of the fact that I was experiencing motherhood in a very traumatic time of my life, all the same though, the things that I have found since growing since maturing, but also since addressing my ADHD, a lot of my motherhood struggles have alleviated themselves.
[00:07:23] First and foremost, I will tell you when I got diagnosed were my mother had struggles, solvable, well, sort of, for me, I felt like they finally, at least had a definition and a reason. And if there was a definition and a reason of something, then I could figure out a way to deal with it. I feel like when you have ADHD and it’s undiagnosed, and maybe you become a mother, maybe you become a mother even in your mid twenties and you’re totally.
[00:07:51] Earliest you feel like you’re at the right point in your life to become a mom, right? Because got a husband and maybe you have both have careers or he has a career. You have a plan. Okay. For me, I didn’t have a plan. And so part of me always felt like my struggles and motherhood would just because I, I didn’t have a plan.
[00:08:09] And if I had had a plan and everything had been in place, the way that it was supposed to go, you know, I did the whole college and then marriage and all that stuff. If I had done that, things would have been easier. But what I’m actually finding is a lot of the women I talked to who have ADHD and they are mothers, they’re realizing it, that it didn’t actually matter how prepared they were based on society standards.
[00:08:31] Their brain was just not ready. It was not ready for the overwhelmed. The anxiousness, the fatigue that you have as a mom, the constant worry of am I doing enough? Am I doing things right? And then at the same time, it is not an, I will say I don’t consider myself a feminist, even though this is definitely a feminist sort of ideology about the women tend to carry the mental load.
[00:09:01] In our marriages in our relationships or in, in our motherhood, if we’re a single mom, we are the only ones carrying the mental load. When is our child’s next doctor’s appointment? Are they eating enough? Are they paying attention in school? Are they learning properly? Are they. Do they need new clothes soon?
[00:09:21] When are we going to budget for that? How do we budget for that? Oh, they want to go to the zoo this weekend. I got to find money for that. Whereas a lot of fathers is this totally a stereotype because I have met fathers that are willing to help carry the mental load. And I’ll get to that later in this episode.
[00:09:38] But a lot of fathers, they don’t think about the mental load because it’s not on their mind. Is it because they have ADHD that they haven’t addressed? I don’t know, but I will say this. One of the most common frustrations and complaints I hear women talk about is just the fact that they’re the only ones.
[00:09:56] If they don’t think about it, it won’t get done. And when you have ADHD, that sort of threshold of responsibilities and dependency on you to carry all of that, it can break. And it totally broke me. I remember losing my temper over small things that he did not realize, like, obviously I should not lose my temper.
[00:10:21] Right. But I, I couldn’t help it. I believe it’s Dr. Russell Barkley talks about in a, in a video where he talks about the reserve stores of an ADHD brain, where neurotypicals have a good amount of reserve energy. And I actually reserved as an actually kind of. Give a good, a good visualization. Okay. If you’re visualizing person, here’s what I will tell you think of your reserve, like your fuel tank.
[00:10:49] Okay. And they always say you can’t pour from an empty cup. And, and sometimes I resent that statement because I feel like ADHD people, especially ADHD women, we’re getting to an empty cup way faster than we’re ever able to restore it. So with that said, Imagine that like your reserve in this aspect, like he’s talking is, is kind of like your fuel tank, right.
[00:11:12] And all the neurotypicals that you have all the neurotypicals that, you know, aren’t directly dealing with ADHD. I feel like most people probably qualify for some sort of mental illness these days, but for the most part, their issue is not directly related to their prefrontal cortex, which handles all of their executive functions.
[00:11:32] Their memory and their working memory and their ability to remember something that they set down and turn around and remember where they said it, all those small things, right. They have a full gas tank. They can always get to, to the full line. They wake up every morning and they have a full line. And when you have ADHD, you wake up every day and you’re running on half a tank every single day.
[00:11:56] But all of the stuff that it requires for you that the day requires for you to get. Requires a full tank of gas. So you might actually have moments throughout the day. Maybe you get a workout in, maybe you take medication. Those types of things might actually push you closer to three quarters of a tank, but you’re still never really going to hit that filled.
[00:12:18] ’cause that’s just part of having the type of brain we do. We have to find ways one to set really good boundaries for ourselves so that we don’t overcompensate. So we don’t overwhelm ourselves with too many tasks, not enough time to complete all these tasks and too many deadlines in order to do that though, we have to visually see it because we’re working with half a tank.
[00:12:43] So our brain is not. Just ready and prepared to schedule all of these tasks and all of the things we have to get. Then you have things throughout the day. Like I said, that, that you can try to add fuel back to your tank, you eating a healthy diet, but ultimately when you have ADHD, you’re always operating from three quarters of a tank to half a tank.
[00:13:05] And you have to find a way just as if and so funny that my mind keeps gravitating back towards gas, because I will tell you, and I’m not going to get political on here, but the gas prices these days, if anybody understands the stress that fuels. Can put on you right now. You, my listeners right now, I’m sure can totally understand it because gas prices right now are astronomical.
[00:13:28] And you know what it’s like to get in your car in the morning and know you have to get to work for the whole rest of the week. And you only have half a tank of gas and you don’t know where that other $40 is going to come from to get you to that full. Well, your brain does that too. When you have ADHD, your brain is always operating from a half a tank to a full tank.
[00:13:48] And here’s the other problem is when you start to get down to that Eli line. Okay. And your reserves and the things that eat it up, our day-to-day stress, working memory struggles, needing to remember what time do you have to be somewhere? What time you have to leave for that thing? What, what you need to bring with you when you go to that point?
[00:14:08] Where that appointment is located. If you have to call somebody back, all of these things eat away at that fuel. And when you get down to like E and you start sputtering and you need to be able to refuel, and you don’t have a way to do that because you have two children or three children who constantly need you, it comes out in anger, it comes out in, it comes out in ways that you don’t, you wouldn’t expect it.
[00:14:33] You might actually just sit down and cry and I can tell you when I had my third son. I used to take showers just so that I could cry in the shower so that nobody would see me crying because I couldn’t handle putting that stress back on my own kids. When I knew it was just my brain, not being able to cope with the amount of constant selfless newness I needed to give to.
[00:14:58] To take care of my kids. So to say that being a mom, when you have ADHD is hard is really an understatement, but I don’t want you to shy away from doing it because it is also one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. And here’s the other really great thing is if you learn a lot of stuff about yourself right now, and you get to a point to where you’re like, I can function pretty good, and I can take care of myself now.
[00:15:22] And even though I have ADHD and I feel like I’ve always been. Pedaling uphill. And you become the advocate that you needed. If you have a child and your child has ADHD, you can be the advocate that they need at the time when they need it most when they are developing, when they’re trying to find themselves and they’re trying to figure their stuff out and you can actually help them to not have that blame on themselves, but instead to share that blame with them and explain to them that there’s no reason to feel ashamed.
[00:15:51] For the struggles that we have, that everybody has different gifts and strengths and weaknesses. And it doesn’t matter if ours look one way to society and they don’t look the same to everybody else. And they look like carelessness and they look like laziness because you of all people, because you have ADHD yourself, you know that that’s not true.
[00:16:10] So being a parent with ADHD while it is one of the hardest things that I’ve ever undertaken, it is also the absolutely loot, most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in probably we’ll ever do in my life. I have no doubt about that. I keep assigning. Living room that actually says the most important work you will ever do is within the walls of your home.
[00:16:31] And I try to live by that every day, because regardless of this podcast, and regardless of all the stuff that I post online, ultimately what everything comes down to is am I doing a good job for my kids? And am I doing a good job for my husband and do the people that are closest to me, who I love do they know that I love them?
[00:16:49] And that’s the thing. When you have ADHD as a mother and you lose your temper because you’re on E because your fuel tank is empty and you have six more hours to go before your day is over. You are not the mom. You want to be. I would lose my temper on my son. All it would do would fuel our struggles because, you know, days later I he’d have an outburst or a tantrum and I would be like, this is my fault because you know, he’s acting this way because I couldn’t, I couldn’t keep my own self in check.
[00:17:24] The first time he had this happen, two days ago, I lashed out at him and I got angry and I lost my temper. And so you’re constantly in this cycle of self-blame self-blame self-blame and then when you find out you have ADHD, you get to wake up and you get to go, oh, okay. This is a solvable problem. And I need to figure out a way to add more fuel to my tank so that I have enough to go.
[00:17:47] So a new study from the Netherlands was published kind of recently. And that has actually shown that women with ADHD are much more likely to experience postpartum depression and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, along with other hormone-related mood disorders. I feel like the keywords in this is hormone-related mood disorders because of the fact that so often I hear of women getting misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder when they present with ADHD symptoms, because the way that they convey their feelings of feeling up and down and up and down, To an outsider’s perspective probably sounds like bipolar disorder, but really is actually just like I’ve said in other podcast episodes that some days they feel like they have the motivation to do day to day tasks and other days they feel like they don’t, but that’s not the same as experiencing a manic episode and a depressive episode.
[00:18:42] It’s not the same thing. So postpartum depression and premenstrual dysphoric disorder are heavily tied to our. Postpartum depression is, is tied to, after you give birth to a child you experienced this phase of, so they had, they say there’s baby blues, which is typical. That’s something almost every woman experiences, but it’s bounced back from that.
[00:19:02] So what’s actually going on in your body after you have. You could actually look at the charts. Okay. But you have this huge amount of estrogen and progestin coursing through your veins, right? Just a bunch of it. And literally like five days after you give birth that amount, just plummets. Now, if you’re breastfeeding, you’re going to release an abundance of oxytocin, but that also actually plummets your estrogen and your progesterone levels.
[00:19:29] And when that happens, women, you know, typically. Usually that happens and it just kind of causes what we experienced is the baby blues. Baby blues is usually four to six weeks long. It’s not like a long period of time when you start to realize that it’s postpartum depression is when that plummets and you have those baby blues, but then your brain and your endocrine system in your body does not bring it back up in a way that allows for you to cope.
[00:20:00] Okay, so you have to have as a woman. Okay. We have to have a balance of these hormones all the time, so that we can function, not to say that hormones don’t play a large role in men’s physiology as well. But I mean, we, as women, we know we go through a monthly cycle of hormone changes, monthly that’s. Every 30 days.
[00:20:22] My mother told me that personal trainer once told her that there was only one week of the month that a woman could actually get her. Wait, because our hormones are fluctuating so much that the bloating and the PMs symptoms and the post menstrual symptoms are also weird that we can only actually get a real feel for what our true sizes and our body weight and everything else one week out of the month.
[00:20:48] And now I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it just goes to show. How much when you’re really looking at the body, how much we as women rely on our hormones. So to just put this in perspective, out of 209 women that they surveyed, 45 of them presented symptoms for PMDD, which is premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
[00:21:07] And another 57% of them reported previous symptoms of at least mild postpartum depression. Now the study didn’t have a control group of women who were not diagnosed with ADHD. So basically that does mean it’s a slightly. Um, but even still the numbers that they are reported are tenfold. The average population rate of postpartum depression and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
[00:21:31] And you can’t tell me that that is not worth looking further into, so my hope is hopefully in years to come that more research will be done on women who are experiencing those types of things and how it ties to. And it will help women who have ADHD to look out for that. I feel like one of the biggest helps for me as a mother was once I’d had my first and second son, and I knew how my body responded to those hormones and the hormone changes.
[00:21:59] Once my third son came along, I saw it. I saw it quickly. I saw it a lot quicker than I did with my first. So is motherhood and ADHD difficult. Yeah. You feel like you’re the primary carrier of the mental load. You feel like you are the only one thinking about everything. And at the same time, you struggle to think about everything.
[00:22:18] So how can you help yourself when you are a mother and you have ADHD, first things first, you needed to get a diagnosis and not just for your own sake or for medication sake or anything along those lines. Because it will help you to remove that shame. That you carry because I know you carry it. Cause I carried it.
[00:22:40] I carried it for so long of what’s wrong with me. How come I just can’t do things like everybody else. And maybe you’re avoiding a diagnosis. Cause some part of you is worried that you don’t have it. Like what if you get in there and you do all these tests and they tell you, you don’t actually have ADHD.
[00:22:59] And you’re just left to think that you’re just stupid. I will tell you I had that same. I was so scared that I was going to get in there and they were just going to be like, you just think you’re crazy, but there’s nothing wrong with them. I don’t know how to help you overcome that fear, but I can tell you that you feel a thousand times better once you actually go through the tests.
[00:23:17] Because the truth of the matter is I think that if you are not diagnosed with ADHD, they’re at least going to be able to pinpoint where you are struggling. Maybe you’re struggling with depression. Maybe you’re struggling with postpartum depression. Maybe you’re having some sort of hormone-related mood disorder one way or another.
[00:23:35] You’re going to leave with more answers than you went in with. And that’s worth finding out. The second thing, I will tell you if you’re not a mother already. Now, if you are a mother already, this is a whole different conversation we have to have, but if you’re not a mother of. And you think maybe one day you want to be one, but maybe you’re going through this realization that you have ADHD.
[00:23:54] And the idea of becoming a mom sounds so scary and overwhelming to you. Don’t even want to think about it. That’s fine. Figure out yourself first, but more importantly than anything, you have to choose your partner wisely. And I mean that by there are partners out there in the world. That will add more stress to your life that will add more mental load to your life because not only do you have to worry about your children’s doctor’s appointments and their things that they’re doing, but you also have to worry about your husband’s doctor’s appointments or your spouse’s doctor’s appointments and what they’re doing for their health or what they’re not doing.
[00:24:34] Now, you want to make sure that if you do get into a relationship where you think you may have children with this person, that you’re not COVID. Bye codependent. I mean that you are utilizing your relationship and how it all works to give you feelings of validation. Because one thing I can tell you is guaranteed and every marriage is that your spouse and you are going to change.
[00:24:58] Things are going to come your way and you have to be prepared. For who is going to carry the mental load of it. And if you are the one that’s going to primarily carry that mental load. Okay. Do you have everything in place to be able to handle? It is not easy and it is not something I would wish on someone.
[00:25:17] I have a partner now who I do not fear whatsoever that I have to carry primarily all of the mental load. Not at all people will claim to, oh, well, that’s just a woman thing. Women do all that kind of stuff. Pardon my language, but baloney, that is not true. There are men out there that are willing to care.
[00:25:39] They’re willing to try to do everything they need to do to help. And that is how they love. They love by helping you carry the mental load. They build you up, they motivate you, they see your weak spots, but they don’t hold them against you. And instead they fill in that gap for you of, okay. You don’t have a working memory.
[00:25:59] So let me just, Hey, Hey, did you remember to go pick up your mail today? Did you remember to call them? Person you wanted to call, did you get that thing recorded? I can tell you right now that 30 minutes ago, before I started recording this podcast, my husband was like, he knows I wanted him to go to bed because that man loves his sleep and he needs a lot of sleep to be able to handle all of our kids.
[00:26:23] And I wanted him to go to bed and he was like, okay, well, I’m going to sit up here until you record your podcast. Cause you said you were going to record it. I was like, okay. And I got distracted and I started doing a whole bunch of other stuff. And like an hour went by and I finally looked at him and I was like, are you just sitting up here and tell, I record the podcast?
[00:26:39] And he was like, yes. As he was just trying to hold me accountable now old immature me probably would have been like, that’s so annoying. I’ll do it. Don’t worry about it. You don’t have to do that. First of all, if that’s still your reaction to somebody holding you accountable to the things that you’re struggling to remember to do, or to stay on task and not get distracted.
[00:27:02] And I mean that in the nicest way possible. Okay. Grow up. It’s not about you. You have a weakness in this area and it’s okay for the people that love you to hold you accountable to the things that you want to do. Okay. These are the things you want to do. So why would you get defensive over somebody saying, Hey, you said you were going to do that.
[00:27:23] Are you still going to do that? They’re not saying it to you because they don’t trust you. They’re telling you because they care about you and they want you to follow through on the things that you say yourself you want to follow through on. Okay. So grow up and get over that and try to listen to the way that they are trying to present it to you.
[00:27:47] This is not the same as somebody using it against you. It’s not the same thing. And we’ll get to that in a different episode. I’m talking about the people who care the most about you, who just do their due diligence on checking in on you, because they know that you forget about things. It’s okay. It’s not personal.
[00:28:04] It’s okay. Because you have a weak area in this spot. It doesn’t mean you’re always going to be weak in that spot. And it also doesn’t mean that you’re always not going to get defensive when they remind you of it, but I’m just telling you, check your. Because that’s is street pride. That’s just your pride talking, getting all bent out of shape, because somebody wants you to do the thing that you said you’re going to do.
[00:28:24] So my husband loves me and he helps me carry the mental load. So my advice to you is make sure that you choose a spouse that will help you carry it as. It is not an easy thing for us as ADHD women to carry. I think there are some neuro-typical women out there that carry it with a lot of grace and maybe they struggle with it sometimes.
[00:28:46] Or maybe they got really, really good at delegating tasks that they needed to get off their plate to their house. Either way. I think that one of the most important things you can figure out how to do that will help you to thrive in motherhood is to make sure you have a partner, a true teammate, not somebody who’s going to add to the stress that you already have, the last thing, but last, but definitely not least is you are not going to get it.
[00:29:12] All right. Whether you have ADHD or you don’t have ADHD, being a mom is going to come with mistakes. There’s a thing that a lot of us seasoned moms will kind of talk about. And it’s about first time moms. I have a few first time mom, friends, and I see them, you know, waiting through their first time mom, NIS, whether you have ADHD or not that whole first year, the whole first two years, heck that whole first five years until you have a second child, actually, truly till you have a second child, that whole beginning phase.
[00:29:48] Nobody knows what they’re doing. Nobody, everybody is making mistakes. And I think that ultimately, as long as you know that in your heart of hearts, that you have your child’s best interest in mind, even if you’re falling short, even if you’re struggling with certain things that you’re doing a great job and you have to give yourself more grace.
[00:30:08] Because when you have ADHD, you already are feeling so ashamed with the own things that you’re struggling with, that you really will pour it on yourself, thick, to feel ashamed for the things that you feel like you are burdening your child with your kids, do not always see things the way that you see them.
[00:30:27] They do not always look at things the way that you look at them. And I can tell you right now that the days that. You don’t get all the laundry done or you forget to take the treat to S to, to school for the class party, or you forget to get there with the Halloween costume in time. Yeah, your kid’s going to be upset.
[00:30:49] They’re going to be mad, but they’re going to get over it. They’ll forgive you. As long as you genuinely apologize. We all make mistake. And those first few years, nobody has a clue. So don’t let anybody act like they do do not go talk to a seasoned mom who has kids who are, who are getting ready to be teenagers.
[00:31:08] Okay. Here I am. And I can tell you none of us get it right all the time. So you gotta let the. So that’s going to wrap up this ADHD and motherhood episode. And I was so glad to talk to you about this, and I think we need to talk about it even more. So I’ll probably do more episodes about this specifically later on, but next episode, you know, maybe I am going to finally tell you guys my twenties story. I’ll have to try to shrink it down. In bite-sized pieces, cause lemme tell ya, it is eventful. I will talk to you guys really soon. Have a great week
[00:31:48] That is going to wrap up this episode of An ADD Woman podcast. What did you think? How do you. I would love to hear from you. And if any of the things I just said are of interest to you, I’d strongly recommend that you check out the blog, which is hosted at lacyestelle.com. On there, I talk about all things ADHD parenting, when you’re an adult with ADHD as well, and how to deal with it. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Love to hear what you think. And I’ll be talking to you guys soon.