“The Bumbling Dad Trope, Reversed: On Motherhood with ADHD”

If you grew up in the ‘90s like me, you undoubtedly watched sitcoms featuring the Dumb Dad. From Homer Simpson and Ray Romano to Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor, the Dumb Dad trope was as much a part of our generation as were chunky heels and butterfly clips.

On the flip side, mothers were portrayed as multitasking heroes who kept their families and homes from falling apart. Sure, these are stereotypes, but they’re mostly grounded in real-life expectations. Women are supposed to be the tidy, organized, and dependable ones. When you need help with homework, Mom’s the first one you ask. When you can’t find something, Mom knows where it is. When you need a special cake for your birthday, Mom can make it just right.

For a woman like me who struggles with ADHD, these expectations can be painful. Daddy is the one who keeps things running around here. He’s the organized and calm one. I do a lot. But if it weren’t for him, we’d have ice cream melting in the refrigerator.

[Read: “Housekeeping Is Not Motherhood.”]

I’m fairly traditional. I worked from home with my kids for years by choice. I wanted to cook their meals from scratch, but I almost always left out a crucial ingredient. I was there every time they pulled out a new board game, but I had a hard time sitting down and reading the instructions. I took them to fun places, but it was never a stress-free event. This mama forgot water bottles, diapers, wet wipes, and validation tickets. At some point, I realized I was the Dumb Dad.

For a long time, guilt and feelings of inadequacy plagued me. Not anymore. I’m so grateful to have a husband who grounds me. And with his support, I’m learning self-love.

The Dumb Dad may be bumbling, but he’s also adored. The kids never hold his cluelessness against him because his benevolence is clear. As my kids get older, they’re learning that their mom struggles with some things. And they know that it’s perfectly okay.

I’ve stopped trying to follow recipes or fix remotes. I’m focusing on the things I do well. I’m showing my daughter with ADHD all the tips I’ve learned to make life easier. I’m teaching her about civics and history, where I thrive. I’m hyperfocusing when my children need it, whether they’ve got a mysterious rash or someone needs to convince the city to put crossing guards at the school. I’m dancing and singing to all the kids’ songs because I’m a goofball like them and I know all the words.

I’m not the most organized mom, but I love my children more than anything on this earth. And they know it.

Gender Stereotypes and ADHD: Next Steps

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