- 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.
Remember back when we were wee ones job hunting and when we got a call back we immediately started planning the next six months because, you know, you have to work. But then, suddenly, you don’t get said job and somehow windows on other opportunities closed while you were planning.
Well, Hope is going through this phase right now. She finally got a call from a store that she’s been rejected at multiple times. She is already planning her future well in advance of having even gotten through the interview. Meanwhile, just yesterday, I was reminding her that she needed to follow up with the local community college to find out why she can’t register. I am requiring she take one class–whatever topic she wanted–this summer to get her feet wet for eventually going back to school.
When I reminded her today, she wouldn’t have time since she was going to be working.
Working? Girl, where? You haven’t got the job yet. Until she has been hired, done her paperwork and literally walked out of the house for her first shift, I needed her to follow up with the community college. She went into blank stare mode. It’s one of those looks that I’m convinced is quickly smoothed onto the face to avoid rolling one’s eyes, which obviously would not be good.
I know my daughter can be overwhelmed by decisions and choices, but I need to guard against her “bird in the hand” until she *actually* has a bird in the hand. I want her to be able to think both/and sometimes. Holding space for more than a couple of things at a time can be hard, but when they drop or someone takes them–it’s bad.
If this job doesn’t pan out, I want her to have kept an option open for Basket weaving 101, otherwise she will be bummed about missing out on both. Summer classes start in a couple of weeks.
And this is the big stuff. I gently sent her a message reminding her to be strategic in telling employers her availability. Rescheduling her essential medical appointments is hard. We have times with longstanding appointments that are locked in–the possibility of moving them is nearly impossible.
Every development that comes Hope’s way, I realize there is so much to learn. She is smart, but naive in that I-know- everything-and-more-than-you-OMG-Mommy-help-me kinda way. I don’t remember so many little odds and ends. A lot of things you just literally have to DO, and hope you did it right. For someone as anxious as Hope, that must be hard. I’m realizing that the true external manifestations of my anxiety didn’t happen well into adulthood. I remember feeling like, “I can’t believe I”m really doing this!” I don’t remember being hopelessly, paralyzingly overwhelmed by life at that age.
Hope is not me, so I’m trying to be firm and loving as I try to hold her accountable through the job hunt/return to school episode. I know it will be ok, but it all just makes me pause and reflect on just how I approached similar challenges to what Hope is currently experiencing. I know she will get there; she just there right now.
I needed her to practice these skills this lap around the mountain. Wish us both luck.
I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. As mom to Hope, my mental health has definitely wavered in ways I didn’t anticipate; I don’t mean that to sound bad, but parenting is hella hard.
I’ve learned a lot about myself and my mental health and emotional wellbeing during these years as well. I’ve been consciously working on being better and stronger and figuring myself out. At 48, I’m still working on that.
Hope will be 20 in about two months, and I don’t expect her to be where I am. I don’t expect her to be as self-reflective or as clear about life. But as we head into a year and a half at home and almost a year since the down-slide started; I find myself wanting Hope to take more ownership of her recovery.
I know she wants to get better, but there’s really not a lot of activity behind it. I know it’s got to be hard cooped up here, without school, friends, or a job. We are now past the stage of devastating depression that left me terrified; she’s improving. I’m relieved. But that’s it.
I’m still shouldering Hope’s recovery; I”m not sure if she’ll ever take the lead. At the smallest suggestion of *doing* anything, a litany of excuses come tumbling forth, sometimes before I can even complete my sentence. I hate that and really never respond well. Just this evening I had to take a deep breath, remain calm, go deep into the communication skills tool box and explain how it makes me feel when she makes excuses.
There are times when I really wonder when and how long Hope will need my intense involvement in her mental health care. I know that my feelings about it are colored by my own journey, how my intense need for achievement as a proxy for worthiness is so different than Hope’s. I know that comparing our journeys is stupid, a fools’ errand, and yet there are quiet moments where I ramble off how I took on getting myself help almost as soon as I entered college and how I’m still managing appointment schedules for a young adult who is literally doing nothing all day but surfing YouTube and TikTok.
And then I feel guilty about even remotely comparing us, and then I start the crazy thought process all over again. It’s so ridiculous.
But I do wonder…does Hope want to own her life in a way that looks…kind of normal? I don’t know if she’s healthy enough to really consider it. I don’t know if her trauma’s of the last year, that involved some really bad adult flexes, have just made her regress in ways that push off adulting for a long time. I don’t know. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t either.
I’m trying to be patient; I’m trying to follow her lead 70% of the time and push/pull her 30% of the time. Once I post this, I’ll be sending her places to apply for a job. I know that getting out and working will help her. I aspire to bickering over the car and finally deciding to buy a second car because her life will have grown to such a need. But that’s probably a long way off.
For now, I am shouldering and powering the return to the fragile health status we had before. It’s rough when you desperately want to return to a more normal version of not normal, but here we are.
- I’m weary. It is really all I can do to keep going this week. Seriously, another man in Minnesota shot dead during the Chauvin trial? Make it make sense, because I’m blown.
- And now, Chicago has just released the snuff film of 13-year- old Adam Toledo being murdered by police. THIRTEEN years old. Seriously, are cops just walking around scared all the damn time? I mean, I know I walk around scared of them…Oh and lest we forget the Army Lt here in my state who was pulled over in bumf*ck, VA behind some temp tags in the window, pepper sprayed, career threatened.
- And folks are mad about property damage resulting from protests. BURN THAT ISH ALL THE WAY TO THE GROUND AND THEN I CAN USE THE ASHES WHEN I’M SITTING IN SACKCLOTH GRIEVING. People>Property. I hate it here.
- I think I’m really burnt out. The monotony of working from home, vacationing at home, weekending at home, all without a meaningful break and escape has really gotten to me this week. I’m just over everything.
- In other news, Hope will get her first vaccine next week! I’m currently planning our annual 4th of July trip to see my sister and her family. I really can’t articulate how happy this makes me.
- I’m actually cooking this week, despite my emotional state. I’m trying to reject wholesale emotional eating. I can’t also let extrajudicial killings of unarmed BIPOC folks also make me unhealthier than I already might be. Seriously I was in therapy this afternoon talking about how I’m basically emotionally being held together with bungee cords and invisible tape. Anyway, I’m making Tikka Masala tonight.
- The weather has greatly improved and I’m so glad. I need my sunlight and my outside time. I’ve also been following some tips from Tiktok photogs on how to better use my camera phone. See some snaps from this week’s neighborhood walks below.
- No, I’m not really “on” Tiktok; I just really wanted to see some content that was cross-posted on Instagram and got sucked in. The way my schedule is set up though, I’m on it roughly 15 minutes a day before I drift off to sleep. I follow mostly goofy animals and a few social justice accounts, but those are getting cut. I need one place online where I don’t need to be reminded that the world is a whole hellscape dumpster fire.
- I’m guessing my emotional state has not been helped by the fact that I’ve skipped my weekend bath ritual for the last two weeks due to scheduling. Please know that this will be dutifully corrected this weekend with a super long soak. Hell, it might happen tonight.
- To Tymeyers who wanted to know what some of my fave podcasts are:
For entertainment: Hear to Slay on Luminary (singularly why I pay for that service!), The Read, Ratchet and Respectable, Savage Love, Jesus & Jollof, Fanti, Terrible Thanks for Asking and The Moth.
For lowkey education with Hope: The History Chicks, Mafia, Serial, Undisclosed, Code Switch, In the Thick, Shots in the Back, Slow Burn, Nice White Parents, Today Explained, The Daily, It’s Been a Minute, Reveal, Invisabilia. We are currently listing to Spy Affair about Maria Butina. There’s really no shortage of amazing content out there. This is just a fraction of what’s in rotation. I listen at a faster pace and crush a lot of info on my walks.
I just couldn’t even pull this list together yesterday. It was all I could do to tidy the kitchen after dinner, watch a show with Hope and crawl into bed with my nightly piece of cake. I’ve also got another post in my drafts and well, hopefully it will get published this weekend.
Last night the man in my life asked me if adopting Hope satisfied my need to have a biological child.
It was a heavy question for any number of reasons.
- I will forever be wounded by my infertility.
- My beau is an adoptee. He shared this with me recently after dating for quite some time. Turned out to be game-changing information for us, and I’d like to thank adoptees for teaching me to act like I got some sense.
- Beau is childless.
I was honest, and I said no. It satisfied my desire to be a mom, which was ultimately a stronger pull, and Hope is absolutely my daughter. But did it “replace” my desire for a biological child? No.
I thought so much about this over the last 8 years.
My grief around infertility has changed a lot over the years. Initially it was really messy, as all grief is. I did grieve the imaginary scenario that I’d been cultivating since I was in high school. I would be married in my early 30s to an amazing partner with whom I would have a couple biological children and then look into expanding our family through adoption.
That was my script.
So as I slid into my late 30s, unmarried and suddenly considered infertile, I really grieved the loss of that ideal I had constructed for myself. I remember feeling like it was the last bit of my dream that I lost. Never-mind that my career was going great, I was working on my doctorate, and I was enjoying a really good life. The door definitively closed on my dream, and that was what my grief was about. And sometimes it still hurts acknowledging that, but that’s not where my grief lies now.
I told Beau that my grief has less to do with any imaginary biological child and more to do with how betrayed I felt and feel by my body. We’re conditioned to believe so much of being a woman is about the ability to incubate a new human and have all these warm, nurturing, maternal feelings. Well, not being able to have a child because my body “failed” was and remains hard. I’m like, I’ve always been overweight, but my entire adult life I’ve tried to eat decent and be as active as possible so that I would be able to handle pregnancy like a champ. Instead my body wasn’t even riding the bench. It just sucked when I needed and wanted it most.
My grief wasn’t about having a baby. I was never all jazzed about babies. I just wanted the chance to be a mom. Ultimately it didn’t matter how; it was just that my body was supposed to be able to do this thing that women do. And, well, it couldn’t.
Hope satisfied my desire to parent; that part is the same as what I desired in having a biological child. But in answer to Beau’s question, no it didn’t satisfy my desire to give birth because it was about my body and not the child.
He seemed to understand. I reminded him that grief is a wicked thing. He agreed.
Then I told him about how in 2020 I worked hard to focus on what my body can do rather than what it can’t. While I didn’t commit to doing it because of grief, the reframing definitely helped me resolve some of my grief. Of course the fact that I did get to be mom to Hope is really the story here. I am a mom, which is really what I wanted. I am fortunate to have matched with Hope and be accepted by her. There are times when I really marvel at the fact that I have a version of the family I dreamed about. It didn’t happen as I thought, and the life partner is still missing in action, but I have this family–me, Hope and Yappy.
It’s more than enough.