- Can you believe that it’s already the middle of June? This year is really just flying by. Sometimes it’s just dizzying to think that we’ve been home due to the pandemic for about 15 months and counting.
- Hope is in her third week of work. Earlier this week she called in sick; she didn’t seem sick to me. That said, we all need mental health days, right? I also have been chastising myself to remember that Hope has been a slug for going on a year–some days she didn’t get out of bed. So yeah, working a 5 to 7 hour shift is probably beyond exhausting. She’s going to have to build up her endurance.
- I’ve also been really thinking about Hope’s behavior this last year. The pandemic has really been tough on her. Her first year of college was disrupted; she lost her developing friend group. There was a love affair that went super sour. There was a lot of isolation, and honestly, a lot of suffering. It is no wonder that she nearly clings to me like a baby sometimes.
- This last year and a half has been traumatic for all of us, but for some, like Hope, it’s been especially so.
- I do wonder how she will bounce back from this. It’s like she finally was making soooo much personal progress; sure her grades were what I hoped they would be, but she was beginning to thrive in so many other ways. As usual, I have lots of things to fret about in terms of her recovery.
- How much has this time stunted her emergence into young adulthood? Has it made her afraid to step out again?
- Will it further extend what I already thought would be a slightly delayed launch? Home has been even more a a “safe” headquarters for us; hell even I have anxiety going too far from home for too long. With home having an even stronger association with safety, how can I help her get back to stretching her safety bubble?
- The fact that she’s working actually gives me hope for her. I’m hopeful that she will be able to regain her lost confidence and figure out what she wants to do next. It’s really about my commitment and ability to support her and be patient with her.
- In other news, there are 19 days before I head to the beach. I’m looking forward to sleeping in a big bed, working on getting nice and bronzy and spending lots of time with Sister K’s family.
- I’m also looking forward to making a final decision about a bathroom renovation. I think I’ve saved “enough,” though I’m constantly running the numbers. I know that it will be fine, but it’s a huge thing to commit to. It’s just that every time I set up my bath ritual, I start thinking…this is good but it could be so much better IF….Stay tuned.
A few nights ago, I stumbled across old episodes of John Edwards, the medium, on TV. I used to love his show. In fact, in 2012, I actually attended one of his in-person events here in Virginia. I”m absolutely a believer that some of us can talk to folks on the other side. I talk to one of my late grandmothers all the time, and yes, sometimes she responds. It’s kind of like in my head but almost like a whisper outside of my head–it’s hard to explain, but I sometimes hear her. I sometimes hear my paternal grandmother as well, not as often. And I sense my grandfathers’ energies as well.
It’s been this way since each of them passed on. It’s not limited to them–certainly I had other episodes with family that have passed on as well. I can’t do it for others, but it’s been a wonderful comfort for me over the years.
Anyway, back to the show. I was posted up in bed one night, bingeing the show when Hope popped in. Sometimes she loves to hear stories of my childhood and family. I told her about this weird thing that happened when my great Aunt died–her spirit jacked up my GPS just to make me drive past one of her favorite places after the funeral. I was just telling her story after story; I could feel myself getting animated. I love my family, and we’ve had some good times. And then…
“Gosh you know so much of your family. All those people…” Hope said.
My mouth hung open. I snapped it shut, and I stilled. I felt horrible. Here I am chattering along about my ancestors, people I have been so privileged to grow up with, to know, some to still feel. And for Hope, there are just gaps, big huge gaps. While we do have a relationship with some members of her family of origin, it’s often strained. It’s complicated for Hope; there are still a lot of big feelings, and I’m not sure what resolution will look like for her.
I apologized for making her uncomfortable. She waved me off dismissively. But this is sitting with me. I want to share with her that this is what family is, can be, maybe should be. I am so fortunate to have the family I have, to know so many members of my family, to claim and be claimed, to know my generational connections. I want that for Hope.
I have make it clear that I will support her relationships with family always, unless they seem unhealthy, but even then I’ll support her and be there for her. I have no idea what the future holds in that space for her. I also know that as much as we love one another and my family of origin, we may not fill any of the gaps left over. We’ll try. We will always try, but I worry that there will always be limitations.
When I resumed my chattering, I pivoted to talk about how Hope will talk about me to my grandchildren and to her grandchildren, and what they will tell their grandchildren about us. I told her to imagine visiting my mom with her own kids and how wild that will be. I told her that we would create our own dynasty.
I know it may not fill the gaps from her biological inheritance of memories, stories, beliefs, and more, but I promise to pass on everything I can and everything I have. I want so much for her to feel, believe, and know that she is anchored with me and all that I have inherited.
- Busy, busy week. I’m really glad I really rested last weekend. Back to back meetings, and tomorrow I’m running a training. I”ll be ready to crawl back into my bed this weekend.
- I’m looking forward to another restful weekend. I skipped baths for a while, and well, that was not wise. I’m all about maintaining that ritual.
- Hope is working and she got her first paycheck. She’s improving a bit every work day. I”m optimistic about her regulating and rebuilding and rebuilding.
- It’s slurpee season, and that makes me happy. I really, really love slurpees. Last night I pulled over on the way to Beau’s house to get one. The are one of my favorite parts of summer.
- I am *almost* really to renovate my bathroom. My bath situation has made me realize that I would soooo love some upgrades. A deeper tub, heated floor, bidet and more storage would totally improve my quality of life. Obviously, right? I know exactly what I want, but it’s a big project and frankly, it sounds exciting and terrifying.
- And there…I’m tapped out.
- I’ll owe you four!
- I’m just floating on through the week. It’s busy, but I’m…content. I’m rested. I’m secure. I’m breathing deeply. Work is busy, but not overwhelmingly so. I’m feeling good.
- According to my fitbit, my resting heart rate is the lowest it’s been in a month.
- Today was Hope’s first day off since she started. She has been in bed for nearly 24 hours. I do believe she is truly exhausted despite working just 5 hours a day. She has barely gotten out of the bed for the last 9 months, and she hardly eats. Working is going to be rough until she is able to get used to it. I left her alone, and just let her sleep. I am pretty sure she was up for a short spell during the day, but I was in a meeting so I said hi in passing.
- Today I took Yappy on an evening walk that was apparently exhausting for him. I decided to take a short soak in the tub, when I got out, I found him burrowed under the pillows and covers on my bed. He’s now stretched out sideways in the middle of my bed. I’m on the edge. I’ll indulge him for a little while.
- Yes, I took a midweek bath. I missed several of my luxe bath situations last month. I also keep finding new things I want to try to enhance the experience. I love Dr. Teal products. I picked up the sativa hemp and the vapor bubble baths not long ago. That vapor situation stopped my seasonal allergies in their tracks. I also just got some more of the CBD bath bombs.
- I’m 2/3 of the way through another book. I am admittedly annoyed that my reading continues to be so slow. It’s a constant reminder that my brain was hurt. smh. Anyway, I realize that I never stopped loving to read; it really just became a chore. It’s taken me nearly 4 years to be ready to tackle it. Not including my audiobooks, I have read 4 books this year. That hasn’t happened in a long time.
- The trip also seemed to give me a little more energy to begin exploring a trip. I sense my comfort and confidence is headed in the right direction. Now, I want to take Hope, but I also know that by the time I go, she may really want to stay and work. In any case, I’m feeling closer.
- This weekend, Hope and I are going to see RuPaul’s Drag race at a drive in. It’s one of our big Pride events this year. I think we’re going to try to do a few events this month. I”m looking forward to it.
- I just realized that this weekend, Hope and I will have been a legal family 7 years. The time has flown, and the time has dragged on at the same time. It’s been a helluva ride, that’s for sure! We barely mention these days much anymore. I always seem to remember them, but I no longer mentioned them. A few weeks ago we both realized in the middle of a conversation that our family-versary was coming up; we acknowledged it and moved on. I dunno, we survived a pandemic; I think we should celebrate this year.
- I think I’m going to try to spend some time at the pool this summer. The thought of it sounds good. I always get my passes, and never manage to go. I’m going to try to change that this year.
Seeing my sister this weekend was amazing. Seeing the kids was an amazing bonus, and if I haven’t said it recently, you parents of toddlers are the real MVPs. That 4 year old and that almost 2 year old wore me out.
My youngest nephew, the 4yo, is obsessed with working and productivity, so he took me imaginary whaling. Yep, whaling. He gave me a repurposed toy that was a fishing rod (don’t ask how you catch a whale with a fishing rod), another repurposed toy that was the net. There was diving involved and a trip to the imaginary tool shed to get more fishing line. I indulged all the imaginary play that was thrown at me. I was so happy that after 18 months he drifted right back to me as his Auntie.
My niece only knows me through the screen. She let me kiss a boo boo and hold her long enough to get a sweet hug before she screamed for my sister. I’m hopeful that on my July trip she will be more familiar. It really made me think about how much time we’ve all missed spending together. She was 6 months old when I last saw her in person.
My oldest nephew is a sweetheart backed into the gangly body of a 22 year old who won’t cut his hair or clean his room. He asked me a totally innocuous question about a band that I didn’t know; not only didn’t I know what he was talking about, I thought it was something different entirely. Saturday, May 29, 2021 was the day I fell from cool Auntie status. Good thing I’ve got the 4yo to keep me busy.
My middle nephew is 12. And yeah, let’s just say that’s a hard age and leave it there.
My sister and I ordered burgers, watched Dr. Pimple Popper (a truly disgusting, yet satisfying show), and cut the lights at 11pm. It was heaven.
I went to Ikea and bought all new dishes and glasses. Parenting wreaked total havoc on my William Sonoma/Pottery Barn wares. I’ve been operating with a bunch of mismatched dishes and glasses for 6 years now. I’m excited to have my kitchen to look less like a dorm and more like a grown folks place. REAL WINE GLASSES.
Today I paid bills. Baked cupcakes, whipped shea butter, made baked beans, did a face mask. I needed this long weekend for sure.
Oh, Hope is donning that red shirt! She’s already perking up a lot.
It’s been a nice weekend.
- Sometimes staying on schedule is so dang hard. What can I say? Another busy week that had me going until 7pm yesterday and working then driving to my parents’ today. Just busy, busy!
- I’m headed to see my sister and her family tomorrow. She’s been going through a really rough time and even though Hope and I will be going for a longer visit in about 7 weeks, I needed to see my sister sooner than that. Hope had to bail at the last minute because she decided to work. Actually she was faced with a tough decision–go to see her aunt as planned or finish her orientation for her new job this weekend. She chose the latter since she wants on the schedule sooner.
- It would seem, though that Hope thought I would change *my* plans. Um, no. I had always said we were leaving on Thursday so we could see my folks and I was boarding Yappy. I stuck to those plans. I love my dogwalker-boarder, and so does Yappy. Hope will soon have a work schedule and I’ll be heading back into the office soon. Yappy needs socialization with other dogs and to have away time from us since he now gets anxious if Hope leaves. I kept his boarding reservation.
- It nearly made Hope cry. As much as she wants to adult, she is perfectly content to be at home with her family. It’s sweet really and speaks to our attachment, right?
- Ok, real talk– *I’m* the one who wants to go out. I’d like to see Beau more than I currently do. I miss drinks and brunches. I need the panorama to end so I can go outside!!!!! (And no, Hope can’t come and crash my party! I need her to get age appropriate friends and go somewhere.)
- I’m gonna take a minute and say, Yo, this vaxx life is good. I’m still masking up because for the 50-11th time–a bunch of folks JUST learned how to wash their hands and legs in the last year and a half. They nasty, don’t wanna vaxx and yeah..you get the point. I don’t trust everybody who side-eyes those of us who are trying to save ourselves. Aside from that, this is the second time in 2 months that I’ve got to see my parents and hug them with wild abandon. I love it so much. Thank you science.
- There is an upside for me in Hope staying home. I have no one to look after but me for 2.5 days. Do you know how long its been since I’ve had a few days like this? I don’t have to share my hotel room. I control the remote; I choose all the food and if I wan to stop and there is no one to whine, beg, complain.
- Just look at the Holy Homeboy, would ya! Ha!
- I packed face masks, some of my good bath bombs and a couple of my special homemade cookies made with infused butter. I am lowkey excited. I’m excited.
- I need this weekend. It will not fix much, but it will give me a moment to begin to gather my thoughts and figure out my next move on this journey. I would like to start looking at a retirement situation in the Caribbean. I just got asked to contribute to another book. I want to keep writing here, but I want to give some thought about what the next chapter of our story will share; what does Hope want and inviting her to take a more active role. (She is available to answer questions on her page of the blog.) We’ll see what we come up with soon!
Parenting is hard. It a sustained job, lasting hopefully a lifetime. There are innumerable challenges. There are hopes and dreams that sometimes aren’t based in reality. There soooo many decisions, seriously, so many decisions. It’s self-sacrificing, expensive and a deeply emotional experience. You will go through every emotion in existence and make up a few too.
And failure is on a pretty wide continuum. A couple of mistakes and you could lose your child in any number of ways–to the system, to your poor choices, to their poor choices, to someone else’s poor choices. So much is on the line all the time.
It’s awesome and exhausting.
I totally get why so many adult adoptees are like, “please get your ish together before adopting.” They aren’t wrong.
I periodically go down memory lane pondering my choice to create my little family this way. I remember folks giving tons of unsolicited advice. I remember knowing it was the right choice for me, but not appreciating just how…big it was. Don’t get my wrong, I know it’s live altering for me and for Hope, but I dunno, I just never could wrap my hands around just how huge it was.
I’m grateful that I’d had decades of therapy before becoming Hope’s mom. I swear, after all Hope and I have gone through, I think it should be mandatory for APs to be in therapy pre-placement. The need for self-awareness is essential. Of course, even with therapy, you’ll still fail at times, maybe even a lot.
I was chatting with an adoptee recently, about their childhood and the lasting impact. Honestly, I had to wipe a few tears, when I really wanted to just breakdown. It’s tough learning that child didn’t get so many emotional needs met, likely because the APs didn’t know therapeutic interventions were needed before things became dire. They didn’t get that this child’s needs were different than their siblings, that not having those needs met resulted in so much hurt, so much more trauma and so much more distrust.
I found myself wondering about the ways in which I might have met Hope’s needs better. Like, I know that my reaction to Hope’s sick drama is rooted in the really over-the-top ways she sought attention in the first Thanksgiving when she got overwhelmed she sat in my cousin’s floor, stripped her sock and shoe and stared at her foot for nearly an hour while complaining of having a muscle spasm. It’s like I’m anchored in that memory and ever since my reactions to Hope getting sick have been less than stellar. Oh, I always make sure she gets necessary medical attention, but my initial reaction is to downplay her cries in my head.
I legit know this backstory and I’m still stuck in the memory of Hope staring at her foot. Over the years I’ve learned to be better, but I hate admitting that the doubt rises whenever she complains. I hate myself for it too, especially like after I realized Hope was indeed having a bad reaction to the second Pfizer shot about 30 hours later.
I guess listening to this person talk about what it was like, and knowing other glimpses of their journey, I know that sometimes I am seeing their reaction to that distrust, the PTSD that formed in the moments of the most need so many years ago. Like, when parents eff up, if we live long enough we can figure out if we hit a sweet emotional spot during our child rearing. We need some hyper-awareness about that going in, and especially we foster or adopt.
Hope and I have been in therapy together and separate since day one. I’m glad. I’m also glad I had been in therapy since undergrad. Certainly there have been times I’ve taken breaks, but it has pretty consistently a part of my life for over 30 years. I’d think my fvck ups would be so much worse if I hadn’t been in therapy and didn’t double down on it once Hope came along.
In any case, as I talk to this person more, I’m challenged to really deeply think about what’s at stake long term and how best to guard against harmful parenting. I can’t protect Hope from everything, but gosh, I need to keep working on me so at least I’m not a suspect! I’m nearly 50 still talking to my mom and asking for advice, so this parenting thing is a lifetime gig. There’s absolutely not excuse for not chasing continuous improvement in parenting. Holy Homeboy willing, you will have decades of time to grow and do this thing better. Getting better and being better.
That’s the challenge APs, we just gotta always pushing the desire to BE BETTER. There is always room for us to get better.
- Hope is fully vaxxed! Yay! She got her second vaccine yesterday. I’m so excited that we are protected now. Of course I’m still operating life as though there is a full on plague…because there’s still a full on plague. I’m not down with the lifting of mask mandates. Folks are just nasty.
- The downside is that it seems Hope might be having some nasty side effects this evening. It’s always hard to tell with her though because she is super dramatic when she’s sick. She has a low pain tolerance and just doesn’t do sick well at all. So, after all these years, it’s still really hard for me to gauge if we need to go to the urgent care. I’m hoping she will be better really soon.
- I’m supposed to go into the office for the first time in more than a year tomorrow. I have a meeting in the afternoon. Yes, it could be done by Zoom, and if Hope doesn’t feel better, it may have to be by Zoom. There’s a part of me that it looking forward to it, another part that is wary, but really I’m more anxious about remembering to go into the office at all. I’ve got a nice routine. I get up at 6, walk Yappy and finish my exercise, tidy and shower and get dressed for work. Commuting is walking to the living room. I’m seriously fretting about remembering to go to the office.
- Is it bad that I already am planning a trip to Starbucks when I get into the office? I miss my starbucks run. I also miss my starbucks points. Of course, I now get my cold brew delivered in a box from Amazon every two weeks so…I’ll be fine if I don’t make it.
- I’m tired of working in my living room, but I’m honestly not ready to go back to the office. Outside is just gross.
- Hope finally has orientation for her new job next week. Finally. This is a long onboard for a retail gig. I’m eager to get her out and going and getting back on track to find her way. She is doing much better emotionally, but still not having something meaningful to do every day continues to weigh on her.
- She recently told me that she has no idea what’s next for her. She’s not ready to go back to school. She doesn’t know if she wants to change course–maybe pursue something entirely different. Her interests seem to be changing a bit. She’s a bit lost, and it’s hard. It’s hard as a parent because this part is something she has to figure out on her own. I am here to support her, to cheer for her, to financially help with figuring it out, but the hard work of figuring out what you want to do in this chapter of life is kind of a solitary thing to figure out.
- Somehow I’m finding getting sufficient patio time difficult. That’s especially frustrating since my desk faces the patio. It’s been so gorgeous out. Patio time is one of my favorite parts of spring/summer/fall.
- Still no movement on planning a vacation. I might really just have to put the idea on ice until I no longer sense this emotional block from just dropping a text to the travel agent. I mean, this ain’t hard. I can just tap out a quick message–location, time frame, price point. I might circle back in a month and reevaluate.
- I can’t really think of a 10th thing, so I’m going to sign off and finally go get the cocktail I should’ve had 3 hours ago!
- Mother’s Day was nice and quiet. My sister took me and Hope to brunch on Saturday. I set up my new treadmill. Hope could barely contain her excitement and ended up giving me her gift on Saturday. I was really shocked at what she got me–this wonderfully sleek backpack for traveling. I had seen it on Instagram and commented that it was cool and would be great on my travels. I immediately talked myself out of buying it. Well, Hope bought it for me. It was incredibly thoughtful.
- But it was the short letter she wrote me. In the last couple of years, Hope has taken to writing me letters as a part of the gift. They are the best part of the gift. It was a wonderful salve to my soul after this last year. I’ve worked hard to be a good mom during one of the most traumatic events we’ve gone through together. She thinks I did ok and loves me. For real, I’m good.
- Oh yeah, the treadmill is nice. Super thin, quiet and it makes me happy. I’m back to taking about 5-10 minutes of each work hour to hop on the treadmill. This weekend, I’m rearranging the desk again so that it’s easier to slide it under my desk when I want to stand. I liked it so much that I did talk myself into getting a new Fitbit; the battery life on my old one was fading daily. It was time. Now I got all this sexy fitness technology.
- I’m modestly trying to scale back some of my eating. I’m swapping things out things, a protein shake here, a breakfast sandwich there, 2 cookies instead of a big slice of cake. Hey, the cookies are…special. Made them myself with some freshly infused butter. Fun times.
- I’m starting to count down the days until my trip to the beach to see family. I miss my niece and nephews loads; it’s been hard connecting with my niece. She’ll be two in a couple of weeks and I’ve only seen her in person twice in her whole little life. She recognizes me on video, but I’m anxious to see will she recognize me in person.
- Even though I’m ready to take that trip, I apparently am not ready to take a real vacation. I thought I had very well decided to move forward with booking a trip for me and Hope to the Caribbean. I want to go to the DR, and I’m also interested in starting to look properties. I want a small cottage on the beach as a part-time retirement home. I gave it a lot of thought and concluded that I was ready. Somehow though, I have not reached out to my travel agent. I lost a ton of money tied up in booked vacations last year, so I’m over planning things myself moving forward. I need someone else to fight those battles. Anyway, several weeks have passed and this week I had to face the fact that while it’s easy to say it’s not intentional–I get excited about booking trips, discussing options, looking at AirBnBs; booking airport transfers. For me not to have any effort to get started planning is making me do some reflecting.
- I’m realizing I’m not ready for outside to open yet. As much as I miss people, home really has become this uber safe place. Outside is still gross and germy and I’m not sure how much of that I’m willing to absorb yet. I’ve told my boss I have zero interest in traveling until 2022. I just feel like I’m not willing to take that risk for work. I might be willing to take the risk for my own enjoyment, but not for work yet. I intend to wear a mask indefinitely. I still have a healthy stash of hand sanitizer. I don’t think I”m planning because I’m just not ready, even if I really want to be.
- Hope got a job at Target. I anticipate that she will start in a week or two. I know that this will be a really good thing for her, and for me.
- Low key, I’m starting to looking at a 2nd car. I”m not in a rush; I’ve told Hope some of the things I need to see out of her before I am ready to make a purchase. One of those things is a down payment and insurance saved up. We’ll see!
- I spent a chunk of time thinking about Hope’s biological mom on Mother’s Day. It’s not new, but this year I just wished she had been here for Hope. I think the last year, Hope would have really benefited from that connection. I actually think of her often and how proud she should be of her daughter. I hope one day they will find one another on their own terms.
- Another Mother’s day is upon us. I’m really so so about Mother’s day. I mean, I definitely try to make a big deal about it for my mom, and I send flowers to Hope’s grandma. But when it comes to me, it’s just…I dunno. My first holiday, I graduated from grad school, so the celebration was consumed by that accomplishment. I was so glad to have Hope there; it made it extra special since it was my first. But since then, meh.
- All that said, Hope actually planned ahead this year, announcing several times that she purchased last month. That’s pretty special. So, I’m looking forward to seeing what she’s got in store.
- Work is driving me crazy. I’m currently not enjoying it. Honestly, I haven’t “enjoyed” it since things blew up last summer. It takes a lot of emotional energy, and being cooped up this year it’s been hard to fill my cup. No real vacation and minimal in person interaction with anyone besides Hope. I could use a few weeks off. Not gonna happen though.
- Hope has determined that cereal is the go to meal of choice. We are going through milk like she’s a calf. I usually just by a half gallon once a week or so. Last week I had to go back to the store for more milk twice. I went ahead and bought a gallon jug this week, and by Wednesday it was half gone. It’s crazy. I suppose cereal is perfect–filling, sometimes sweet, satisfying. I mean, I get it, but gotdern it’s a lot of milk.
- Ok, I gotta confess something: I used Mother’s day as an excuse to buy myself a gift. When I bought my treadmill a few months ago, I settled. I didn’t buy the one I really wanted. While I enjoy the treadmill, it just doesn’t have some of the features that were important to me. So, yesterday I bought the one I really wanted. One of my good girlfriends is taking the current one. The new one arrives sometime tomorrow.
- I need to find my checkbook. <<<<- This is basically a note to myself.
- Hope seems close to landing a job. I’m almost afraid to say much because I’m afraid I’ll jinx it. Of course, I did write about it a couple of days ago. I just am hopeful because I think it will make a real difference for her emotionally. And now that she’s learned you don’t date where you work…#sigh
- I finished a book on my kindle. Honestly, I don’t even know why I have a kindle. I bought it at xmas during a moment of retail therapy. Anyway, I finished a finished a book. I have finished just a handful of books through traditional reading since my head injury, so I’m excited to have finished a romance novel. I’m trying to figure out what to try to get lost in now.
- I do most of my reading via audiobook. It definitely has its perks–author’s actual voice, ability to speed up or slow down the pace. Of course, most academic books are *not* available in this format, which when you think about it is ableist AF. I’m hopeful that once day more will be since that is a lot of the reading I do.
- I took Friday off; I needed a mental health day. Just to be able to sleep an extra couple of hours and breathe. I’m really looking forward to it.