Monthly Archives: November 2013

Day 7: Top Seven

During the course of writing this post, things hit an upswing.  I’m not where I want to be emotionally, but I’m better than where I was.

We survived Thanksgiving with only a few wounds, though I think mine seem worse than hers.  I cooked the family turkey.  We only ate about half of it, so I brought it back home.  I dropped it in the hallway right at the door to my condo.  I cried and cried and Hope stepped up and comforted me.  Nice, especially since she had been a holy terror most of the day.

Today, she’s been with me 7 days.  So here are my observations, lessons, journey-woman musings.  Oh and in honor of the number of completion, there are 7.

7.  It’s hard not to take her behaviors personally.

Ok, I need something much harder than this tough candy shell, because it’s not going to protect my feelings at all.  She says really mean things within minutes of any extension of kindness.  And it’s always my fault.  She’s quick to remind me how sensitive she is, but there is rarely a hint of compassion for me.  I mean, I’ve seen it, but wow… it was triggered by my dropping a turkey and crying in the hallway.

I know as the grown up that I’m supposed to keep it together, but dang, I’m pretty sensitive too.  It’s just me, Hope and the Furry One up in this house, and you know what?  Ish really got real the last couple of days.  I know that it’s probably a good sign, but I really have been hurt the last couple of days, just really hurt.  I need to develop whatever emotional armor I need to raise this kid with a quickness, otherwise I’ll be crying myself to sleep for a good while yet.

As I write this, I’m trying to recover from a personal meltdown. Yeah, she’s raising a racket in her room, while supposedly doing homework.  I know its self soothing behaviors; I know I should go comfort her in some way.  But I just don’t have it in me right at this moment.  Maybe in 30 minutes; maybe 40…

6. Jedi mind tricks and “call your bluffs” work.

Thanksgiving dinner was a challenge, what with an attention-starved, hunger striking tween in play.  The family was on high alert to be gentle and give her space.  I was prepared to take her home to protect her from being overwhelmed.  What actually happened was that she acted like a first class brat at various intervals when she didn’t feel she was the pedestal hogging center of attention, because to hear her tell it, “Everyone always loves me and always wants to be around me.”  With a big rowdy family everyone gets bits of attention here and there.  Dinner is a chaotic, laughter-filled food fest with a dozen people or more talking at the same time.  No one is the center of attention, though had she joined us for dinner, she might’ve been.   Instead the hunger strike persisted.

Having attempted many attention grabbing hunger strikes in my teen years, only to be comforted by one Auntie who was trying not to undermine me in this scenario, I told her we would head home in a specified amount of time (soon) and it was too bad she wasn’t hungry since there was so much good food around.  She was upstairs in a flash.

Today while shopping with the favorite cousin and the cousin’s friend, my attention seeker’s pedestal was not high enough, so a faux, but oh so dramatic, spontaneous ear ache/infection came on.  She whined that she wanted to go home.  So I made arrangements for the cousin and friend to stay at the mall, and announced our immediate departure.  It was like she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment — instantaneous healing, since she hadn’t played out her deadly ear infection scam as including leaving the presence of two supa-fly 16 year olds.

And home we went, despite all protestations of healing.


5. She’s manipulative, and she knows it clap your hands.  Clap, clap.

On the way home she said, “It is sad that I get sick whenever we are about to do something you want to do.”  Yeah, the next mall stop was Old Navy, where she knew I’d wanted to go all day.  Her sudden, life threatening ear infection (that also affected the very ability to swallow) killed that trip.

Oh the shade of it all.  If you could’ve seen the side eye I gave this tween in my head!  My Lord, my Lord…smh.

And yeah, the illnesses only strike when its something I have initiated or expressed an interest in doing.

She catches stomach aches, ear aches, foot cramps, you name it, she gets it.  I’m surprised she hasn’t claimed a flesh eating disease yet.  I shared this with one of my cousins this morning.  We are a robust family, but almost all of us has a serious, chronic ailment that could usher us out of here. MDs are like family around these parts.  Keep on playing, Hope, and you’ll be at my GI doc’s office scheduling an endoscopy to see what’s really going on in your tummy with all these stomach aches.

I know that it’s about anxiety (10-20%) and attention-seeking (80-90%), but she is so shady about it.

4. Hope is so tall that its easy to forget she’s only 12, and emotionally more like 9 or 10….

…until she opens her mouth and says something so ridiculous.  It’s exhausting following her because she is all over the place. Part of it is age, part stunted development.  She can go from trying to act older down to a 5 year old within the same sentence.  When she’s happy she giggles and the little girl within emerges–she’s charming and adorable.   But then there’s all this other stuff.  She looks young in the face but she’s tall and developed and well, it’s sometimes hard to remember, she’s only 12, has been to hell and back and I need to lower expectations for behaviors.

I’m really conscious of this when we are out and about because I see the higher/older expectations people have of her.  It’s tough being so tall at such a young age.

3. Tweens are kinda (really) obnoxious.

Holy cow.  I already knew tweens were obnoxious, but most of the tweens I know or have known, I’ve known since they were infants.  It’s off-putting when your new tween seems to think you only moved to civilization to adopt her.

“Ugh, your cable is bad.  You really need to get the kind of cable we have back home.  This tv doesn’t get any real channels.”

“Nope, the cable isn’t bad.  The cable in your room is intentionally bad since you don’t need access to some of those other channels. The cable is great in the other parts of the house.”

“Have you heard of Robin Thicke?  He’s a singer; his CD is really good.  You should get it.  Do they sell here?”

“Robin Thicke has been around since you were an angel on the gatepost of heaven.  Yeah, I have his CD; I have all of his CDs.  Virginia is not like living on the moon, though Amazon Prime might deliver there.”

“This condo-hotel you have isn’t all that good.  We should rent a new place.” (The condo building has experienced some untimely water issues this week.)

“I live here.  I own this space.  It’s not a hotel.  We are not renting a new place.  Stuff happens and you deal.”

And if I hear Gaga’s Applause one more time, I’m going to lose it.  I finally had to school her on lyrics while at the mall since she insisted on giving a concert of the song, over and frigging over.  There’s a line in the song where Gaga talks about being a Koons (the art dude), but Hope kept screeching what sounded like Koonts, which in turn sounded like a gross mispronunciation of a gross c*nt.

Honestly it was hilarious, but I finally had to ask her to stop singing that line.

Yeah, obnoxious, but sometimes funny.

3. This happened:  Another mom discussion.

So after the drama that was Thanksgiving  dinner with the family and before I accidentally dumped the turkey in the hallway in front of my condo door, Hope once again broached the issue of what to call me.  She’s been grappling with this for a couple of months now.  She says calling me mom is weird.  She does everything but call me mom.  She describes me as mom; she tells her friends I’m her mom.   I’m her mom.

But I get why she struggles with this.  She hasn’t had a mom.  She says its weird to call me that.  In the last 24 hours she has regressed to call me by Foster Mom’s name, so I know it’s really weighing on her.  I’m reassuring her that it is ok with me; I’m ok with not having the title even if I would love to have it.  The fact that she’s given me that title with everyone else is enough for me.

I do hope it happens, though.

1. Hope told me she loved me.  

In the midst of what feels like one of the upper, not quite so hot, rings of hell this week, Hope said she loved me.  Even in my frustration and tears, it was shocking and sweet and wonderful.  It is ironic that it comes during the most challenging time, but I guess that’s the point.  I’m doing ok by her.  She knows I’m here to stay. It will eventually get better, even if I know it will get worse before it does.

Oh, hello obscenely full tumbler glass of blush vinho verde, how you doin’ tonight???

Day 6: Top Five

Yesterday was an exercise in pivoting.  The condo building has been having water issues; unannounced the building engineers shut the water down at 11am.  It wasn’t scheduled to return to order until 8pm.  Yeah, awesome on the day before the biggest food fest all year right?  Not.

We salvaged our day by going to meet and greet some family.   I’m not going to try to catch up with blogging about Day 5 since it’s running together with Day 6 pretty strong.

5. Older cousins are magical. 

I have an older cousin who is about 6 years older than me who I think is simply a goddess.  She’s beautiful, smart, older, wiser, awesome…I was always so excited to get to spend time with her when we were growing up.  She was always so loving and kind and she was hands down, the coolest cousin who was like my older cooler sister I could’ve dreamed up.  Well, she has a 16 year old daughter who is nearly her splitting image.  I think Hope fell in love with her yesterday.

Little T was kind, loving, thoughtful and generous with my daughter.  Their multi-hour bonding session allowed me some much needed grown up time and just allowed me to breathe in a way I haven’t since she got off the plane.  I also got to bond with my older cousin, and I think both Hope and I scored big with the cousin outing yesterday.  It was magical.

4. Back-talking is a trigger for me.

Hope has a mouth on her.  Nothing is ever her fault and has a tendency to be oppositional.   She will cut me off mid-sentence and that ish drives me nuts and can easily be a flash point for me.  I had to break it down for her that I will not tolerate being spoken to any kind of way, I’m not her home girl, I will respect her but I will also demand respect.  I understand that she has something to say, and I will give her a chance to speak her peace, but it will not happen over me.

3. I worry I won’t be able to give her the attention she needs. 

She is an attention sponge.  I love her but I need some time.  I haven’t been very good today about giving her the attention she needs.  I’m tired and cranky, and some of her behaviors coupled with  my fatigue make us both vulnerable.   I am careful to apologize and explain if I go too far.  I try to be sensitive.    But I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that although I love this kid beyond anything I’ve ever experienced, she has gotten on my got-dern nerves in the last 24 hours realizing the gravity of her emotional needs.

I’ve gotten so I only read a few blogs, and I sometimes see people explore their feelings for the adopted older children.  Some people talk about loving them, some don’t.  Some talk about not liking them but loving them or not loving them but liking them.  I know I love Hope, but admittedly, I haven’t liked her very much the last 24 hours.  I feel like I should feel guilty about that, but I don’t.  It is what it is.  This is a huge transition.  I’m not going anywhere, but sigh…

I worry I’m not going to be able to fill that giant hole.

2. I did write about fatigue already, right?  A couple of days ago?  Well, here’s the remix.

Yeah, I am so tired that I really just want to put clean sheets on the bed, put on clean PJs and sleep for like days.  I’m not wired to sleep for long periods of time, but, my God, I really feel like I could.

I am working on a fantasy where the Furry One, Hope and I lay in silence in a big bed with amazingly fluffing bedding with sunbeams that shine on us to warm and bathe us in natural light.  There’s a light breeze, not chilly, but a nice summer weight blankie is casually tossed across us.  There a glass of chilled blush vinho verde on my night table and I just snooze.  You know that delicious snoozing that you can get on a summer Saturday afternoon when you miraculously have nothing to do.

Yeah, that.  So not going to happen.  There’s a kid chattering and tapping on things and a dog who’s barking because he’s hard of hearing.

Yeah, I need more coffee.

1. I’m ready for Thanksgiving to be over.  Can we fast forward through the rest of the day?

I’m so glad Hope is here.  But the expectations for this visit and this holiday combined are too frigging high.  I’m really, really stressed.  Do I think anything dramatic will happen, not really, except me or Hope freaking out about it being Thanksgiving and all.

I’ve been up since before 3am.  She’s been complaining about a tummy ache since waking up.  She’s talking loud to the tv trying to get my attention.  I don’t really even want more coffee.  I just want quiet.  I don’t want visitors.  I want to see my family but I would love an excuse not to go.  I don’t want to wonder if things will go smoothly or not.  I’m just worn out.  I’m thankful for my beautiful daughter.  But I want a just move past this day and get a do-over for tomorrow.

I don’t want advice.  I don’t want anything more than just calm, expectation-less quiet.   I’m happy, in my own way.  I’m just a little at wits end and frazzled today.

And now I’m going to sign off because my out of town family are here and I’ve got to manage another round of meet and greets.

Day 4: Top Five

Yesterday was a bit of a doozy for me, seemingly less so for her.  In all it was a very good day, but as a newbie parent of an older child, I struggled.  Here’s what I learned on Day 4.

5.  If you are a drinker, you will finish the bottle of wine after the kid goes to bed.

Yeah, you will.  Don’t even think you won’t, no sense in lying to yourself.   We went to the museum of natural history today; Hope is very tactile and very curious.  I realized that she’s also fairly well read today as well.  I get overstimulated at museums, but taking your kid to a museum seems to be a good, worthwhile endeavor, right?  We spent 4.5 blasted hours in the museum.  4.5!!!!!!!!!!!!  I’m telling you if they sold booze, I would’ve bellied up to the bar and ordered a $30 rail drink.  I was so desperate for an adult beverage; that it could’ve been a no shelf kinda drink.

When I got home, I killed the last 3rd of that bottle of $2 buck Chuck Beaujolais while she did homework in her room.  Yeah, I did.

4.  Your game face must be strong because the lying is persistent.

Seriously, there are little lies like, “I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to eat all of the gummy multivitamins you bought me two days ago.”   There are whopper lies like, “I rode an elephant bear back one time.”   As long as the lies aren’t pointing to a safety issue, you just can’t even bother with a strong reaction.  At least I try not to bother.  I just click my head to the side and with a bit of sarcasm in the voice go, “Really? Oh, ok.”

Sometimes you really just can’t tell whether the kiddo is lying or not.  For instance, yesterday Hope told me that several friends (aged 12-13) smoke pot on a regular basis and come to school high.  I pray this is a lie, but honestly I have no way of knowing.  I remember in back in the day (also 7th grade) I bought a peach Jolly Rancher stick, and Chris Tucker, a boy I liked at the time said my breath smelled like weed after I smoked it.  I’d never knowingly smelled weed, so I took his word for it and started buying a different flavor.    After I was good and grown I smoked a bit of pot in my day.  Yeah, peach Jolly Ranchers don’t smell at all like weed.   Of course kids today get exposed to so much more than I ever was in my time.

Of course there is a cumulative effect of all this lying and other accompanying behaviors takes their toll, which leads me to #3.

3. Some meltdowns are completely unpredictable, and it could be the kid melting or it could be you melting.  

I will cop to having two moments where I barely held onto my sanity and had mini-breaks yesterday.  Patience is one of the virtues I’ve been working on for more than a decade.  Hope brings new sets of triggers that I didn’t know existed.  Most of them I can handle, but cumulatively…oy vey.  There is a word that I have decided that we will not use in our home; we’ve been working on not using this word since I was in Seattle.  Her new tactic for using the word is to add the word, “LIKE” in front of it.  She repeatedly used it during a conversation as we were driving to the metro station yesterday.  When I initially corrected her, she said, “Well I didn’t actually say that such and such was stupid (<<<<the word I have banned because of excessive and mean usage), I said such and such was LIKE stupid.”  She then grinned at her cleverness.


We went back and forth on this for about 90 seconds while in the parking garage, until I hit the brakes, put the car in neutral, pulled the hand-break, and spoke my peace and ended the discussion.  I immediately regretted having a “Don’t make me stop this car” moment without warning.  It startled her and scared her a bit and she went into sad/mad/quiet mode.   The good news is that our sad/mad/quiet modes (both of ours) are shortening.  We recover, we talk about and we move on.

2. Do something to take care of yourself

Self-care is essential and I’m not just talking about the booze.  I’m letting her sleep an extra hour this morning so that I can have a little extra me time.  I drug myself out of bed and exercised.  After the first 10 minutes I could tell my mood was lifted and my tank was getting filled.  Today I’ll focus on getting and staying hydrated.

I really need to prep a speech I have to make next week and I really need to work on my dissertation.  I’ll set 20 minute goals for those tasks today.  Twenty minutes is better than no minutes.  The point is, that although life is changing so dramatically, there are still things I need to do for myself.  They make me feel good; they help me maintain a separate identity from “Mom;” they keep me sane.

1. Enjoy the random.

In the midst of my museum induced misery, Hope just came over and hugged me.  She didn’t verbally say anything; she just hugged me.  That hug said everything.  It is why I was able to endure the museum.  It was amazing and loving and sweet and just a little Hope Diamond of perfection.  I know she is sad about leaving her friends and everything she’s ever known on the other side of the country, but she’s ok here.  She cares about me.  She’s growing to trust me.  She’s digging it.

Things aren’t bad at all.  There is a time when they may get bad for us, but she does care and she knows I care.  The random hug is better than words.  There’s something about touch that is more meaningful, more intimate.

Life is good as long as there’s wine.  🙂

Day Three: Top Five

Things I’ve learned about my older child and older child adoption on Day 3.

 5.  Older kids have probably missed a lot of their childhood.

My own parents were often criticized as being too strict.  My sisters and I didn’t go to rated R movies, we didn’t have cable, we focused on school and activities and we were shielded from so much.  My sisters and I got to be little girls.  Hope seems to rarely have had a chance to be a little girl, and to some degree trying to impose a bit of little girlness in her life is like putting a genie back in a bottle.

The truth of the matter is that she has likely seen a lot more than I’ve seen in my 40 years.   She’s annoyed that I won’t let her see certain things, say certain things, do certain things.  She’s 12.  She’s not a grown up, she doesn’t have to be a grown up.  She can still be a little girl with some help.

4. The ego is frail.

I think all of our egos are frail.  But I especially think that our older adopted kids’ egos are so very fragile.  When it occurred to me yesterday, we were playing Wii.  She talked MAD ish about how she was going to whoop me.  Whatever.  She won the first game, and then I smoked her on the next three.  The sulking started and was headed to a full on cry when I just essentially stopped playing.  I stood there though the next 4 Michael Jackson songs, barely lifting my arms until we were far enough in the song that I knew I couldn’t win.

Let me explain why it’s more than ego in number 3.

3. Depression and low self-esteem is serious for these kids.

My heart broke several times during the day when Hope called herself ugly.  She said she wasn’t smart.  She said no one before her had really wanted her.  Her self-worth is so low.  Can you imagine such a life that you woke up one day and you ended up in the custody of the state and you bounced around for a couple of years, hoping someone will want to adopt you?  It makes me cry just thinking about it.  How can you not be depressed with low self-esteem under those circumstances?

It’s going to take a more than a few days to help her overcome all of this.  Protecting her fragile ego by not smoking her on Remember the Time is a small thing I have to do to help.

2. Tweens actually believe stuff in tabloids and on the internet.

This isn’t exactly limited to older adopted kids, but I do think that the desire to dive into the alternative reality offered in the tabs and on the internet allows them to practice a type of escapism.  The stories I had to hear about Justin, One Direction, the Kardashians and other tween idols were so utterly ridiculous.   It also requires a lot of patience to listen and not counter the narrative too much, because it’s really just a pain in the butt to grapple with.  Tween logic—I’m sure all tweens—just makes it that much more difficult to help parse reality from reality tv.  I’m struggling to help her get accustomed to her new reality.  She won’t marry Bruno Mars, but she will have a good life just the same.

1. Older kids are exhausting. 

So… people talk about the whole infant brigade.  I’ve seen the evidence that new parents can be walking zombies.  Parents of older kids must be faking it really well, because they seem to have it more together.

Dropping an older kid into your life is exhausting in a different way.  They don’t go down for naps.  They talk and talk and talk.  Bonding is so super awesome, but my brain starts slowing down in the afternoon.  My little night owl is just getting crunk.  I am so frigging tired.

I’m a serious extravert, but I still need that quiet time.  That quiet time is rare this week.  I know that I’ll have a bit more when we get settled into a routine with school and activities.  My car will be a sanctuary.  But in the meantime, all this bonding (which I’m not complaining about at all!) is emotionally and physically exhausting.   I found myself thinking, are you sure you don’t want to take a nap?  I think you should take a nap.

I want to take a nap.

In other news, The Furry One is clearly confused by the new addition.   He has taken to humping one of my slippers.  It is a new slipper.  It is a nice slipper.  It is a fluffy slipper.  Sigh.

Day Two: Top Five

The top five things I realized today, Day 2 with Hope.

5. Hope is on the come up.

What, pray tell is the come up, you ask?  It’s when your socio-economic status rises or “comes up.”  I live a comfortable life.  I’m not rich and I dang sure am not wealthy.  I’m comfortable, and Hope will be comfortable.   But Hope thinks I’m rich, a notion I must disabuse her of, and that by adoption, she’s rich.  We’re e traveling a path where she asks for things because she’s testing me and because she wants to show off to her friends back home.

We endured an hour long power struggle during an outing today when she complained either that I wouldn’t buy her anything or that I wouldn’t buy her the things she really wanted.  Hope chose gaudy stuff that was either reminiscent of a rap video (think Run DMC chains) or the biggest bottle available of Justin Bieber’s Girlfriend perfume, even though she admitted she doesn’t really like to wear fragrance.    These things represent a level of affluence for her.  At one point, before attempting to stomp off in a huff, she said what was she supposed to tell her friends back in Washington?

Sigh…We will gently sort this out over time.

4. You haven’t lived until a 12 year old tries to convince you that the 13 year old she’s crushing has a hot body.

No, really this was the highlight of my day.  Had I known I could be having this kind of conversation with my daughter I might have had/adopted kids years ago.  So she’s telling me about some little boy she is digging, and she goes on to describe him and then stops short.  We’ve had these kinds of chats recently about boys; I’m careful not to overreact to her crush confabs.  We’ve been building some trust currency during these chats about boys so she’s increasingly forthcoming.

When she stopped, I probed.  “So…what is it?  He’s cute, pretty eyes, curly hair…Are light skinned brothas back in style?” She giggled and replied, “You’re close but not really…” “Oh, so we’re talking about his body, ok.  Spill the deets.”  “OMG when he takes his shirt off…(ABM’s internal alarm goes off:  when the hell have you been privy to seeing him disrobe???)…his chest….”   Oh, ok, so he’s got a nice body at 13???  Really?  “Yeah, he doesn’t look his age, he looks a little older.”

What, his birdcage chest looks 15?

Girl, bye!!!

Seriously, these conversations are both hilarious and enlightening.  I know that Hope will need vigilant supervision, but she can crush all she wants as long as she tells me.   I was only a little older than her when I fantasized that I was going to have Ralph Tresvant’s (New Edition) baby one day.

3. My girl misses her dad Every. Single. Day.

I’ve often told friends and family that I believe grief to be a horribly destructive emotion.  It’s such an amalgamation of so many other messy emotions—sadness, hurt, anger, loss…It’s just wicked.  I’ve heard stories about Hope’s dad that didn’t paint him in a very good light.  He’s gone now, but Hope has him up on an incredible pedestal.   He was her primary parent, and she adored him.  And then he was gone.  And people said bad things about him and said to get over it.  She hasn’t.  It’s going to take more time and a lot more maturity to get her to a place where she can really handle that loss in a healthy way.  She talks about him a lot, and I’m ok with that.  He isn’t a threat to me.  I don’t intend to try to make her stop missing him or to totally rewrite the history she’s constructed to help her remember him.  It is what it is.  It will take her time to get there.  Her grief makes me sad though.

2.  I know that she really doesn’t want to be pack leader, sulking notwithstanding.

For the most part, Hope is good about how we are constructing boundaries for her.   Since she’s out of school, we have designated school time.  There’s tablet time, which thanks to a nifty app shuts ish down!  We had an epic negotiation session over brunch about chores, allowance and behavioral expectations.  In short, Hope was happy with the boundaries as long as they were laid out, some things were negotiated and the consequences—both positive and negative–were clear.

That was fine until I the screen time app kicked her out of a game and she didn’t win her last game of solitaire before screen time expired and I ixnay’d hooking her DS to the house wifi.  And let me tell you, her sulking stomp game is strong.   The screen time combos sent her into a pout spiral on the couch.  She argued that she had not won one game of solitaire yet; I replied, well maybe tomorrow will fare better.  And she went all, “Mr. Gorbachev , tear down that wall” on me.  <blank stare>

Again, girl, bye.

She nearly went apoplectic when I said she would have to earn my trust in her on the internet post placement to get wifi access to the internet on her DS.  Internet access will be a relatively new thing for her, and I’m not interested seeing it abused.  Also, I know she is young and not too discerning about folks so she needs a heavy hand around the access issue.  Even if and when I said yes, I’d have to set it up to change the password daily in order for both of us to really make it work.

Whatever the scenario and ensuing meltdown, Hope longs to feel safe and secure.  She needs to know I care and that our extended family cares.  Being the boss is hard work that she really doesn’t want to do.  She wants to be a kid.  I’ll let her flex from time to time, but Mom’s the boss with ultimate veto power.  She don’t want none of this responsibility, not really.

1. I am so a morning person and Hope is not.  I know I will be the one to do the primary adapting.

And it’s ok.  No, really it is.  Change is good.  Reframing productivity and success is good.  There shouldn’t be any sob stories for my lost productivity or any whining about why Hope doesn’t like mornings.  Besides, did you really think I didn’t think my life would get turned upside down?

We are creatures of habit and preference.  Mine happen to be early to rise and conquer the world.  Hers happen to be rise around midday and world domination can wait until evening.  She is at her most active and most productive between the hours of 4 and 7pm.  I see it and I feel it. It is exhausting since I start winding down around 2pm; I am most productive between 5-10am.  But this is how she’s wired.

Some days I will learn to sit down more and some days she will be up with the proverbial chickens.  I’ll still get my before dawn workouts in and my morning quiet, reflection time.  I hope to get some writing done tomorrow morning before she gets up.  I look forward to adapting to a more lively afternoon life, when normally I’m winding down.  It’s really all good.

Oh there’s so much more I could write.  Stay tuned for an interesting hair focused post as she emotionally toys with wearing her hair out when she moves here permanently.  Just two days and seeing me with my hair and so many naturalistas walking around the DC area, and she’s thinking.   It’s good stuff.

Day One

Our first evening together started with the long hug I needed as she came off the plane.

Soon Hope and I were on our way to get carry out and to head home.  She loved her room, and I thought she might cry.  She wrote out her full name-to-be (her existing full name with my last name added to the end) on her chalk wall decal.  Then I thought I might cry.   She spontaneously gave me a hug, and it was so very, very lovely.

She spent about 2 hours in her room watching a little TV (realizing that she doesn’t have a cable box and is left to survive with basic) and playing a little candy crush on my tablet.  I haven’t told her that I’ll be giving her the tablet at some point, but I’ve set up my new one to remotely limit the time on the one she will use.  She booze shamed me (LOL) when she asked if the wine in the wine rack in the kitchen came with the house.  After a hearty moment of internal laughter because I have no earthly idea how many bottles of wine have met their end in this house during my 13 years here, I simply replied, nope, just restocked this week.

The Furry One finds her presence curious and mainly hopes that she will be a new opportunity for table food.  I hope his expectations of her grow with time, but he’s such an opportunist.  He’s trying to figure out his new pack status. Heck, I’m trying to figure out my new pack status.

She told me how her issues with grief and loss came to be over dinner, and my heart broke.  There really are some awful people in the world.  I’m guessing she trusts me; she’s increasingly transparent about her history.  I’m careful not to overreact, but I do try to validate her experiences and her feelings.

She resisted taking off her coat or her shoes, despite being here all evening.   Her anxiety is lessening, but it’s there.   She went straight from fully clothed with her coat on to her PJs.  She wrote our schedule for tomorrow on the chalkboard and snuggled in to read in her room.

I’m exhausted.  The build up to her arrival and the actual arrival has just whipped me.  I just want to get in the bed and crash.  I’ll probably be up early to do an exercise video in the living room, especially since breakfast is at IHOP tomorrow.

I’m tired, but I’m also so in love with Hope.   I’m so glad she’s here.   I just love her so much.

Just Hours Now

She’s on a plane.   She’s almost here.  Just two hours from now, I’ll be on the public side of security at the airport, trying to hold back excited tears, waiting for my daughter to emerge so I can hug her and bring her home.

We haven’t talked much the last couple of days because the late nights caught up with me.   I’ve been hustling with final prep.  I’ve been exhausted, so by the time she calls, I’m delirious. 

One of my besties asked me if I was nervous this morning.  I’m not.  I’m anxious as all get out, but I’m not nervous and I’m not scared.  I am so happy to step into this next chapter, into being Hope’s mom. 

Last night I tackled tidying the most junky closet in the house.  I tossed a bunch of stuff; the need to make room for more of Hope’s stuff has emotionally freed me to dump a bunch of crap I swore I needed to keep for nearly two decades.  I thought I’d also dump a bunch of middle and high school stuff that my parents boxed up and sent to my house nearly 13 years ago. 

Well, then I opened the boxes and started flipping through the memory books.  I laughed.  I cried.  Gosh did I laugh.  Homecoming and prom pictures, handwritten letters, career and life predictions.  Gas was $1.10 about 20 years ago! 

In the end I kept the mementos because I hope to share them with Hope as we continue to get to know each other.  There’s stuff in there that covers so much of my teen life; I think she will get a kick out of it, but it will also be a reality check in some ways.  There are journals and letters and declarations of love and everything captures just so, so much drama.  It’s good stuff.

I’m so ready to be a mom.  I ready to be Hope’s mom. 

Off to the airport!

Just Three Days More!

Time has flown even when it felt as though it were dragging.  Hope and I are ready to get this visit going!  The room is ready; I put up the bubble decals and put on the lovely new bedding with the personalized pillow case.  There’s still at lot for us to pick out: more shelving and storage, lighting and another piece of furniture.  She tells me she has 11 boxes of stuff to ship here (so far), but Foster Mom assures me that some of those boxes are filled with foolishness, like nearly empty lotion bottles, that *may* get lost in transit.  We’ll see.

I just can’t wait to give her a hug and bring her home.  When we first decided on a two and a half week visit, it seemed like such a long visit.  Now that the visit starts in three days, I am already sad about saying goodbye.  My sadness won’t consume the joy of the visit, but just knowing that I have to take her back and not knowing when she will be home again just makes me sad.

I’m delighted to step away from work for a few weeks.  I love my job; I really do.  I think each of us, deep down, hopes that we are so important to our jobs and careers that stepping  away for a while may cause near chaos for the folks around us.  I know that life goes on without you though; the office will be fine, and I happen to be in a supportive environment where nearly everyone will respect my nesting time and leave me alone.  Of course there’s always that one person from the planet Zoron who is dumb enough to call, but I figure I’ll deal with her when the time comes.   I do have to give a speech early one morning during my leave; I couldn’t get out of it.  Hope will get a chance to see new mom at work since she will have to tag along.

I have to also admit that I’m delighting in telling folks I’m going on leave because it gives me an opportunity to tell some colleagues I’ve known for years this special news.   I’ve been with my office and my members for 12 of the last 16 years; it’s been very cool to just give a peek behind the veil of my life.  I’m a new mom!

In other news…How is it that my lovely Hope, who has a beautiful singing voice and a natural gift for percussion, is so taken by the tenor saxophone?  Don’t get me wrong, I love that she loves music.  I love that she loves learning music.  I love that she wants to try.  I love that she wants to sing for me, and I love that she wants to play her sax for me.

But, oh my goodness, it really sounds like she’s killing a flock of geese when she plays.  It’s sharp and flat and just…horrible.

There I said it.  Yeah, I said it! Last night’s saxophone concert was in a word awful, but I oooh’d and ahhhh’d  and clapped.  I am practicing not grimacing because I don’t want to grimace in front of her—well at least not too much.

I have many friends with kids who have endured painful band and choir concerts over the years.  I have seen their comments on social media.  I heard the stories of would-be bleeding ears.

Reading Facebook comments and hearing the stories is just not the same as enduring it live.  I have a new respect for these folks.

Wow, last night’s musical concert was a mix of what kind of sounded like Jingle Bells, St. Nick, Frere Jacques, and some other songs  that I really, really struggled to make out but simply could not.

Lord knows, I love this child and want to nurture her gifts and talents.  She wants to take band when she moves here and I totally support that move.  But ABM is going to HAVE to get some noise cancelling ear buds (the all-out headphones will be much too obvious!).

I suppose it could be worse, she could be playing a straight wind instrument.


Paperwork, Schmaperwork

“I honestly can’t tell you how long it will take. “

~~My adoption agency

Nothing says “we want this family thing to happen” like waiting on a mess of bureaucrats sign sheets of paper to keep things moving along.

It’s really likely that Hope will not be home for Christmas.


After several months of anticipating the permanent placement of my kiddo in time for Christmas, I accepted the reality that this may not happen today.  It really is like Santa is dropping off a bag of coal at Casa ABM this year.

So Hope’s home state still hasn’t sent the paperwork to my state to do the initial contract, and until that happens the actual ICPC paperwork just languishes.  Oh sure, there are promises on all sides that the paperwork will get pushed through, but…really, who am I kidding?  I am not sure I believe that it’s going to happen with 26 business days left before Christmas.

I want to have faith in my own Christmas miracle, but with my and Hope’s faith resting in some papers on a desk somewhere out there, my faith is a bit shook.

The paper pushers have turned me into a Doubting Thomas.


Except that it’s not.  Damn, you Adoption Boogey Man.

How sad will it be to have to take Hope back to her foster family without having any idea when she will be home permanently?  She’s packing and I’m prepping, and there’s a stack of papers somewhere that we’re hoping someone picks up, signs and FedEx’s somewhere to the next person who needs to rifle around their desk, pick them up and sign them, and again send them somewhere.

Both Hope’s and my anxiety levels are running high.  I’m already sad about having to take her back before she even arrives.  I don’t want to.  I just don’t want to.  I just want her to stay here with me and The Furry One.  I just want to start grappling with our stuff together and getting on with our life.

I worry about what the delays will mean for her and what she will make of them.  Our little family is totally dependent on other folks doing a bunch of paperwork.  She’s young and a bit immature and will she blame someone?  Will she blame me?  For her little circle of friends and frenemies to whom she’s bragged about being adopted since September, will she have to save face about coming back and not really moving for however long this takes?  Will her anxiety and behavior worsen (the anxiety is really starting to get to her)?  Will this make us take longer to discover our version of normal?

Will my heart break after spending two weeks living and loving this kid only to take her back and not have any idea when that obnoxiously pink room will be filled with her tween laughter and sulking again?  How will I focus on anything after a two week taste of being a family and then not have her with me for however long this takes?  Will Christmas even feel like Christmas after I said I would decorate (I loathe decorating the house)?  Is there even a need for me to drag out Christmas decorations?  I guess I can put that decision off for a while.

I don’t like this one stinking bit.  Not one bit.

The Countdown

One week from today my daughter, Hope, will get off of a plane, hop into my car and walk into what is now our home for the very first time.

One week.

I am so emotional.

So excited! Like 5 year old on Christmas morning excited.

So stressed.  There are still elements of the room that we’ve previously discussed that I like to have in place before she gets here.  I also still need to finish purging the closet in her room. Gosh I’m going to miss that extra storage.

A little scared.  This is a rubber hits the road moment.  It’s real now.  It’s really real!  Everything I’ve learned about parenting children experiencing trauma, grief and loss is about to be tested.

I’m wondering what time I’ll have to breathe during the upcoming weeks.  Is my personal battery really charged up?   I’m wondering will I have time to ponder the next phase of writing for my dissertation.

I’m wondering what will happen with my extended family.  I know they’ll be great, but I just need so much patience, support and encouragement right now.  I feel a bit like a bottomless pit of need right now.

Did I mention I’m so excited!  My daughter is coming!

I’m looking forward to seeing her come off the plane.  I can’t wait to see her face when we drive up and she sees the condo building for the first time.  I can’t wait to see her face when we open our front door.  I pray that The Furry One is snoozing in the living room so he can hear us come in (he’s nearly deaf).  I can’t wait to see her face when The Furry One comes over to greet her, sniff her clothes then scurries into her lap.  I can’t wait to see her go into her room for the very first time.  I can’t wait to hear what she says, watch her inspect the details.  I can’t wait to order our first pizza in our home, click through Netflx to pick a movie to watch on our TV in our living room.  I’m looking forward to visiting our church for the first time.  I’m geeked about playing our Wii with her and getting our competition on!

One week from now the next phase of this journey will start.

A year ago I was attending an adoption expo, visiting booths, trying to choose an agency that would assist me in creating my family.  A year later I’m prepping for my daughter’s arrival.

I put a number of things on my vision board in 2012 for 2013.  Most of them have come to fruition.  By far Hope’s—looking much like the picture of a young, beautiful brown girl I clipped from an image gallery and included on my board—arrival slays every other amazing thing that happened this year.

Just one week and she’s here!

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