It’s hard to believe that two weeks have passed and Hope’s visit with me has ended. We’ve both got mixed emotions about this next part of our journey—waiting for paperwork. She needs time to say goodbye, and I need time to “dissertate” and get the rest of our support team set up. It’s a lot. The therapists I’ve reached out to haven’t returned my calls. There’s some additional room decorating that needs to happen. And let’s not forget that I’ve got a mess of work to catch up on—including one journal article that needs to be revised in less than a week so I can meet the next deadline.
Hope and I have finally, in the last few days, settled into a delightful kind of normal. There’s a comfort with each other; there are really challenging moments but we’re in a good place as we head back to the West Coast. The last 4 days have been delightfully—gasp!—fun. They’ve been a mom and her daughter just kicking it. So, here’s my lessons/observations/whatever as I reflect on the last couple of weeks.
10. Lots of things are just not that serious.
Sometimes Hope plays in the floor like she is a 5 year old. Truth be told, I hate it, but really, I love hearing her giggle more than I hate it. She’s laying in the floor, playing with the dog, she’s giggling, she’s being a kid. She’s being a kid.
I want her to be a kid. So, I just need to chillax and let some things just go. It’s really not that serious.
There are way more parking lots in this life than in my previous single with no kid life. I realize that I have a lot of single girl hang ups about food and space and exercise and clothes and… you name it. In two weeks, I’ve learned I need to go into parking lot rehab. Most of it is really just not that serious.
9. Timing is everything.
I’m growing accustomed to living my life in 20-30 minute increments. Hope does not do well with sudden changes. Sudden change equals life upheaval; so we need to avoid all of that. Having been childless the ability to change my mind at a moment’s notice never affected anyone else. I can’t live like that now. In fact, I need to announce what the next day’s schedule is, remind her and set timers. I never thought that my adoption registry for my upcoming shower would include a timer, but yeah, I need timers all over the place.
I use them to have a timekeeper for electronic screen time (in addition to parental apps). I use them to say we need to be dressed to leave by a certain time. I use them for everything! Life is much more manageable with the timers. Thank you Jesus for timers.
8. Speaking of Jesus…
I am Christian, but I’m not, nor have I ever been particularly preachy or proselytizing of my faith. I don’t hide it, but for the most part, it’s one of the areas of my life that I tend to not talk about with folks other than close family and friends. I mentioned in an earlier post that one of my mountains with Hope is my insistence that we go to church. I don’t have an expectation that she necessarily join or that she even get *saved.* I hope she comes to those choices, but they are choices. Despite becoming a believer at 7 and being raised in the Baptist church, I can’t say I took my faith as bedrock until the last 10, maybe 15 years of my life. And even then, I identify as a progressive, liberal Christian and ideologically, I am increasingly finding it hard to fit and to find a place where I fit. The current Christian landscape in the US is kinda creepy to me.
Anyhoo, Hope asked me about being saved and baptism and just some basic theological questions that at her age I took for granted because I had always been around the Christian church. I was delighted by her questions because I could explain things with ease and confidence and the moment lived up to visions I’d had in my head about spending time with my daughter through this particular lens.
Church was great (you know when that message is really YOUR message—yeah, today was that sermon) and I cried because I was just so happy with my life—the ups, the downs, this amazing kid sitting next to me and the blind and nearly deaf dog we have at home.
I don’t know if Christianity is for everyone; I know that I do my own thing and have found a church that works for me. I will say that whatever your faith, this adoption thing is a beast and I know that you have to lean into whatever it is you believe in. You will need to lean in hard, dang near perpendicular! The grounding in something beyond yourself, something supernatural, is necessary. One of the things the speaker reminded the congregation about this morning: faith is not grown on the best days; it’s grown on the worst. If you’re traveling this path, you need to believe in something. Jesus happens to be my homeboy; he might be a good homeboy for you too.
And that’s pretty much my annual quota of religious proselytizing. <shrug>
7. Mountains are worth the effort.
The great Dr. Seuss 10pm bedtime standoff from last week was clearly our turning point. OMG!! I am still so proud of myself for standing my ground, clicking the lights and hunkering down in that power struggle. I’m most proud that once she caved and went to bed that I was able to go in, kiss her good night and tell her I loved her. We haven’t had a serious bedtime issue or major meltdown since.
I’m a natural stubborn debater. I like to be right. I like to win. I’m reminded with Hope that the need for humble grace after having won is really what makes you hit the summit of the mountain. It’s not about winning the power struggle, it’s about loving after the struggle is over.
6. Physical touch is healing.
Hope has some issues with being touched in certain ways. Fortunately she can’t seem to get enough of hugs. I hug her and kiss her forehead 50 times during the course of a day, even when she is being a real pill. Midweek she just really started spontaneously hugging me on her own. We held hands in church. She kisses my cheek. This physical affection is so meaningful for both of us. It heals what’s ailing us, even if it’s a temporary salvo right now. I’m going to miss hugging her for the next couple of weeks. The Furry One is going to get hugged a lot more as a result. We humans need physical touch.
5. I’m a little worried about going back to work.
For the first time in years, my focus is completely devoted to something else in my life. This new identity business is really a BFD! I’ve got a mess of stuff going on and I know that people will have the same expectations of me as they did before, but 1) I don’t really have a desire to work the way I did pre-Hope, at least not right now; 2) I don’t care about being defined by my professional identity right now. I know it will all shake out in time. I’m near the top of my own personal professional game right now. I have a job that I love; one that I thought I’d have a hard time walking away from ever. Today, well, hmmmm, I could.
I guess like I have to figure out what Hope’s and my normal will be, normal will also have to be redefined in my professional life too.
4. This culture undermines parents.
I can only imagine and apologize for some of the utterly silly things I may have said to the folks around me who are parents over the years. Please forgive me. It really is pervasive though.
In the last two weeks I have had folks attempt to shame me for some of the early decisions I’ve made concerning how I intend to raise my daughter.
Do you think it’s wise to force her to go to church?
She really should have a cell phone; I don’t think you’re being realistic, everyone’s doing it.
Oh hot chocolate? You know, she would probably be fine with decaf coffee.
Oh, this is the light stuff. Everyone has an opinion, but so few bother to filter them or think about how they affect conversations that should happen at home. Most things are innocuous, but, ugh…let’s just say, I had no idea how challenging this culture is with respect to raising a kid. In my happily single, childless haze, I just had no idea that my big mouthed ideas should probably be left to myself.
3. Kathryn Purvis is changing my life.
About a month ago, I finally picked up Purvis’ book The Connected Child. I’m still wondering why no one at my agency recommended this book to me as I was wading the paperwork. A few chapters in and it just made sense. I tried to use it to help educate my family about things to expect with Hope. There’s a great website (http://empoweredtoconnect.org/) and a Youtube channel with short videos as well. I’ve got to practice the techniques more diligently, but Purvis’ work is extraordinary and will have a meaningful impact on me and Hope.
I’ve read several books and scanned a dozen more on adoption and older child adoption topics; The Connected Child seemed to provide me one stop shopping for information and resources.
2. I’m still in paperwork hell.
All I want for Christmas is Hope.
Whether Hope and I get each other for Christmas is dependent on the ICPC paperwork being completed in the next 15 calendar days, 11 business days.
Waiting still sucks.
1. Happiness is a by-product.
Last week Hope told Grammy that my job was to make her happy. Grammy corrected her and told her that my job was to make sure was safe, had what she needed and loved her in healthy affirming ways. The result of my doing these things is her being happy. This was a great lesson. Lots of people chase happiness, but don’t chase given their life meaning. The latter is what ultimately will bring you much closer to your desired state.
Hope coming into my life has made me very, very happy.
Tomorrow I head back East for a long day of travel and possibly several weeks of waiting. It’s all good though, I’m happy!
December 10th, 2013 at 12:08 am
Great wrap up of your time together and you’ve had so many revelations! Congrats on an amazing 2 weeks and I pray the paperwork comes through soonest so you can get back to building your family!
I share many of your thoughts and feelings, even though you are “birthing” a 12 year old. Everything will change at work, with your life, thoughts about pop culture – everything. That’s what surprised me most – I was 13 years into my career when I had my kid and I didn’t realize how much my world could still be rocked and the center of gravity completely shifted! I found I was actually more effective at work – didn’t realize how much time I wasted before. Now I didn’t have time to screw around, take long lunches, etc – my work day was now bookended by my child so I was hyperfocused, I also had to throw my cards down and miss meetings with the boss, stay home when she was sick/snow days, etc – hard for a career woman but doable and others will respect you for it – can never go wrong if your child is the center of your priorities.
I was laughing at your discussion about Hope rolling on the floor giggling,,,I swore that I hated Barney until my own kid loved the show, then I saw how it teaches manners, cooperation, etc. So I also had to learn to let go of my preconceived ideas about what was silly and just let her be a kid. Even at 15 she’ll still do something childlike – the other day at the store checkout she asked for a small can of playdough. Whatever! I know she’ll be gone in a few years and if the smell and feel of playdough makes her happy and brings back good memories, throw it in the cart. Sometimes after a long day she’ll still curl up in my lap and let me play with her hair while we talk or she naps. These moments are precious and fleeting and I savor every second. I would throw my entire dissertation and work life down the drain for her. No one from school or work is gonna be sitting on the front porch with us when we’re old and rocking in our rocking chairs!
Well it’s obvious to me that the kid loves you just as much as you love her. Spontaneous hugs and kisses (in public – GASP!) says it all! Can’t wait to hear more about your journey! Safe travels, friend!
December 13th, 2013 at 6:08 pm
#4. So agree with that. #4. #4. #4.
One more thing:#4!
December 13th, 2013 at 8:40 pm
Yeah, it really is amazing how open people are to sharing their thoughts on your parenting in the moment. I found myself giving lots of WTH/F followed by MYOB faces during our visit. It is humbling to know that I have been so guilty of the behavior. Even now, I’ll be sure to hold my tongue as not to undermine fellow parents ever again!