She whispered, “I’m not ready;” then she started to quietly cry.
My heart dropped, and I sighed. “I know.”
This is what happened when I told Hope about her moving date last night. I told her gently, without a lot of hoopla, tempering my own emotions to make way for hers. She didn’t get hysterical. She didn’t wail. She just quietly cried and sniffled. She asked how long I knew. She told me how her friends were happy that she returned to school from Winter break, even if no one knew how long she was going to be there. She said she thought she had more time.
She asked for a few more weeks in Washington. I replied no. She counted the days until the move, sounding more anxious than happy. She complained about not having enough time to pack. I explained that I talked to her foster mom about making sure that her things were packed and shipped. She sniffled some more.
I reassured her that I understood all the emotion. The idea of moving across country, away from everything she’s ever known, is overwhelming. The idea of getting a mom, when you haven’t had one, and a family who wants you, when you haven’t had one, is great but also overwhelming.
And she’s only 12; she’s just a kid.
I didn’t try to make her feel bad about her emotional reaction. I sat quietly to just give her some space to think. I told her I loved her. I told her that it was ok to feel all she feels.
Hope’s foster mom saw her crying, and asked her why. Hope told her about the move.
“Why aren’t you excited???” she said. I could sense that Hope was a little stung by the reaction. First she realized that foster mom knew before her. Second, there was a sense of rejection; like foster mom was ready for her to leave rather than happy she was getting a family. Foster mom followed up with more happy, happy, joy, joy encouragement.
Again, I followed up by telling her that it was ok to feel whatever she was feeling.
After about 10 minutes she asked me could she call me back after doing a few chores. She just needed some time to think. Sure.
Here’s what I didn’t say but felt the last couple of days. I’m told it’s all “normal,” whatever that is.
- I went from excited to terrified and back.
- I’m suffering from disruptive sleep—either insomnia or falling asleep spontaneously.
- I’m panicky about the list of a million things that need to be done.
- I’m fretful if I made the right decision even starting this process (I know I did, but I’m totally irrational right now).
- My eating is disrupted.
- My stomach is in knots when I’m awake, which means just about all the time.
- I can’t focus on things so my productivity is in the crapper.
- I’m cranky (If this old witch in my condo building doesn’t stop asking me how my “roommate” is doing??? #b*tchplease!).
- I’m beyond sad and hurt because I never would’ve dreamed Grammy and I would be estranged during this time in my life.
- I’m trying to figure out who the new me will be; so many identity changes.
- I’m sad I’m single (this foolishness again??).
- I’m freaked about all the social worker/psychiatrist/therapist/doctor/principal/teacher visits.
- I’m worried about the health insurance premiums.
- I’m worried about the paperwork associated with changing all my benefits.
- I’m wondering when I’m going to find time to have my will redone.
- I’m worried I won’t be able to find the right voice teacher for the lessons I’ve promised.
- I’m worried she’s going to flunk this school year, and what that might do to her emotionally, and what that will do to me emotionally. I’m ok with the flunking, I’m worried about her reaction.
- I’m worried about getting my dissertation done, even though I had a huge breakthrough last night.
- I panic that she’ll just reject me outright at some point.
- I’m secretly jealous of adoptive parents with longer waits as though that somehow might make me more ready. It wouldn’t but the mind is so micky-flicky with irrational crap.
- I’m scared I’ll mess up.
- I’m glad she’s coming home, but I feel like I have no idea what’s going to happen after that.
And like I told Hope, I allow myself to feel all of this messiness. It feels like crap. Loads of crap. I’m exhausted just looking at this absurd list, and I know this list isn’t even everything I’m feeling. But, I know we’ll be fine. Intellectually, I know where our struggle spots are, but eh, it’s the emotional stuff driving this bus at the moment.
I know I’m ready, even if I don’t have the confidence to really feel like it at the moment. And I know that Hope’s ready, even if she loathes leaving everything she knows to start a new life with a loving family.
The 10 day count down starts today.