Raising a Son With ADHD Made Me Feel Like a Terrible Mom

But It Gets Better

Rica Ramos-Keenum
5 min readMar 4, 2021

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Photo by azees math on Unsplash

I was always a good mom, but raising a son with ADHD made me question everything — my child, myself, and our ability to survive the toughest years without blowing up.

His condition became evident in preschool. When other kids were coloring alphabet letters, my son flipped over a table, pulled a bookshelf to the ground, and fled the classroom. His teacher called me in for a meeting and recapped the day’s events. Her face was flushed. She lowered her voice as if a whisper could soften the facts.

I don’t recall what she said because all I could hear was the self-doubt chanting in my head: You are a terrible mom. A terrible mom. A terrible mom.

When a doctor diagnosed him with ADHD and ODD, it was both a relief and a burden. I was glad to know my son was not the spawn of Satan. The hard part was convincing the rest of the world. When your kid has a developmental impairment, you become a crusader — like it or not.

It’s not your job to educate the world, but it feels like the least you can do.

My bipolar-diagnosed sister says it’s hard to show the world an invisible disorder. The brain is an organ, not a broken bone. You can’t walk around with a cast on your head.

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Rica Ramos-Keenum

Journalist, yoga enthusiast, author of Petals of Rain and Nobody's Daughter: A Memoir of Healing The Mother Wound. Connect at Ricawrites.com