It’s Friday and things are better. Today is the second snow day this week and I’m wondering will the kids get any summer break around these parts.
Hope was delighted by the snow day; she’s a hard core nester/homebody. She never got dressed, never bathed (I let it go for yesterday), and just was happy as a clam.
I was still sick with a racking cough. I still have the racking cough, actually; I imagine it will be with me for a week or so. I was kind of miserable. I gave her lots of tablet time, made her practice her sax (Hey, it actually sounds like music now!) and lay in bed. I fretted bit about how the house felt filthy to me, how I just wanted to sleep unencumbered and how I needed to go dig the car out so that it wasn’t so bad when the second storm hit later in the day.
I started to think about what I’m learning during this process. I have been blogging more about my emotions in the moment and straying from the learning part. It’s just been so overwhelming. So here goes my current list of observations and learned gems.
- I know we’re improving even if it feels like walking across hot coals in hell. She comes to me, she wants to be with me, and she gets frustrated when I say no but she is increasingly less likely to push me on things. She’s never again asked to be taken back to WA.
- There is a difference in when she decides to be straight up oppositional and when she is just being a typical annoying teen. My dissertation research is, in part, about how personal values shape viewpoints on a particular issue. There is a personal value called “face” that really is much like the desire to protect and preserve our public identities. Anything that threatens what Hope perceives to be as personal identity space she digs in and digs in hard. So teacher notes invade a space in which she is constructing her public persona. School incidents are particularly threatening to how she sees herself and she will go down swinging to preserve her “face.”
Typical annoying teen stuff, she’s more likely to come to me later and tell me that her feelings were hurt by something I said or did—like when I told her “Fine, don’t wear your coat in 22 degree weather when you have a sinus infection. Catch pneumonia <shrug>.” Later she politely told me that hurt her feelings because she could die from pneumonia and surely I didn’t want her to die. (I reminded her, no I didn’t want her to die, which is why I insisted on the damn coat #girlbye!) Glad this dissertation is worth something more to me.
- There so many things, like boundaries, that she wasn’t taught and must learn. My biggest peeve is her traipsing into my room. Yesterday she got into my bed. Yeah, yeah, snuggling and all that, whatever. I am desperate for some sanctuary and personal space, and my bedroom is IT. I still tiptoe into my parents’ room back home. Bedrooms are sacred space for me. And despite several polite conversations, she just traipses in whenever she gets ready. She’s walked in on me in my bathroom, getting dressed, you name it. Drives me nuts and when I say something it’s all, “You don’t want me in your room,” with lots of attitude. Yeah, you’re right, I don’t. There I admit it. It’s the only safe space I have.
While doing a puzzle in the living room yesterday during the storm, I also realized that she didn’t really know how to work on a puzzle with someone else. She sucks up the table space by leaning all the way over such that her hands hang over my side of the table and will actually pick up pieces I am working on. I had to take several breaks because it was almost invasive in a way that ruined the experience for me. Yesterday was not the day to teach more about personal space, but clearly that’s something I need to work on with her.
- There is a kindness of spirit in her. She has made me tea every day that I’ve been sick. She knows her skills of caring for me are limited so she focuses on what she can do. At her core, she is such a sweetie.
- A trip to the veterinarian determined that The Furry One is in the very early stages of kidney failure. At 14 and 3 months, it is a normal sign of old age. Given his overall health though, the vet confirmed that yeah, the rug pee fiasco of last week was indeed an declaration of war. He’s actually engaging Hope more appropriately this week. Had he been sicker I would’ve asked the vet to duct tape and paperclip this dog together, I’m way to unstable to lose The Furry One right now. That would send me right on over the edge.
- The weather is effing up my best efforts to get us on a consistent schedule. I mean really, I can’t win for losing! Two days off this week. No band practice. I’m increasingly behind at work. It’s all a mess, I tell you. And I know that the scheduling thing is going to be the way to glory for us. I really need to have a talk with Mother Nature.
- Prayer works. Hope and I pray together twice a day. She is responsible for one of the prayers. I notice how her prayers have changed over the weeks. The things she prays about are changing, she prays for our family. She prays for The Furry One even though he peed on her rug. She prays that she’ll have a better day at school. I can’t honestly say that I’m deep in meditation when she’s praying because I’m trying to tune into what she’s saying and maybe not saying. But her prayers are changing and I’m encouraged by that.
- Hope is finally getting the concept of salvation. She told me early on that she had been saved twice but it didn’t work; it didn’t “take” because she is so bad. Lots of distilled theological conversations up in Casa de ABM. She’s now talking about baptism and salvation and such. She had a mini-meltdown this week when contemplating a lost family member and whether they were in heaven or hell; she didn’t know if they were saved. It was a heartbreaking moment, but it revealed a few things to me: She’s thinking about our talks, she’s applying those discussions, and she’s still grappling with grief. I was sad for her, but I was also happy to know that I’m getting through that tough candy shell of hers.
- She enjoys a little decadence, like we all do. She gets excited to try new things, do things with me that foster families had previously promised but didn’t do and is thoughtful about each experience as it bonds us. I’m the one who’s following through, who’s showing her something more. She appreciates that. One night a week is pizza night; during previous weeks we got take out. This week I needed a fabric napkin experience as a Maslow’s Hierarchy element in my life (I loathe fast food) so I decided we would go out to eat. She was almost overwhelmed by the local restaurant; she relished having a small appetizer and dessert. She was tickled by the whole experience. I was getting terribly ill during the dinner but I found such pleasure in watching her take it all in.
- I had no idea 12 year old asked so many why questions. Oh. My. God. Why? Why? Why? Why to random stuff that I’ve never heard about that happened when she was 8? Why to random stuff that happened last week? Why to something that happened on a random show she watched but I didn’t? I thought in going with an older kid, I would bypass a lot of the “why” stuff. No, not really. I can see how stunted in some areas she maybe. She wasn’t in environments when she could ask why; she is now. I can see that I’ve created a safe space for her to do that. I’m increasingly comfortable with say, “Sweetie, I don’t know. Can we Google it?” By the 18th time I try to recite that without sounding annoyed and exasperated.
So, it’s Friday, one of the days when I can be a bit more reflective. Hope is still snoozing and I’ve tidied the house, taken out the trash, opened a window and let some cool air in to air out the sickie germs, and written this here post. If I hurry, I probably can get to the grocery store to pick up a few things and GASP—get some Starbucks and some Valentine’s chocolates that I don’t have to share!!! OMG, OMG so exciting!!
OMG—Hallelujah! Peace out!
February 14th, 2014 at 9:42 pm
Girl, Have I mentioned I love reading your posts? I love your honesty. Your raw, in-the-moment, here’s where I’m at and I’ll try to see both the good and bad, honesty. Love it.
I just wanted to support you on the bedroom thing. I know, as do you, that there’s a whole school of thought that thinks kids should be in the bedroom with you, snuggles, bonding, start them sleeping with you as babies if you can, etc, etc, etc. I can see value there (but not much, if I’m going be honest as well). I am totally behind you on the “my bedroom is my own” thing. Married or not, keeping our bedroom private is totally not only about avoiding a kid walking in on an “adult moment.” It is about so, so much more. Boundaries, for one thing. Respect, for another. And a third would be “just because I’m the mom and I said so!” I haven’t got too much advice on how to take her from here to there (I just told my kids “don’t ever pass this line without express and explicit permission and that was all it took) but I do encourage you to try. I also do not believe that even at her age you need to set up one of those “you stay out of my bedroom and I’ll stay out of yours” things. No. You are her mom. If you choose to respectfully knock or ask permission before entering, that is wonderful but not required. But it is your house and you can go wherever you want. She, on the other hand, is your daughter and does not have the same rights. Ok. I think I’m coming across a little strong here. I’ve just seen a lot of people lately trying to negotiate with children (most of which are so much younger than Hope and hellooooo, children at that age just need to be told what the boundaries are, negotiations come later) and all it does is cause confusion and chaos. So anyway, that little epistle to let you know that I agree with your stance, and the sooner you are able to carve out that safe haven in your own home, the sooner you’ll feel a tiny bit more peaceful even in the stress of it all.
I also wanted to say that I think the prayer thing is AWESOME!!! Who cares if you’re not meditative through it (I most certainly do not feel meditative while mine pray, and my eyes are open almost the whole time looking around, making sure one is squeezing another or trying to do something else foolish, etc) but it is so good for our children to not only pray, but to pray with us. Not to mention all the insights we gather as they pray. It can be so uplifting to hear their genuine concern over a certain situation, or to realize that something is a bigger deal that you thought it was. I love this. I have one who struggles with deep rebellion. How a kid this small can be this rebellious is a mystery, though I have been called a rebel more than once so probably shouldn’t talk too loud. Anyway, he will do something and I seriously just want to smack his little behind but I can see the look in his eye and I know it would do no good but would just build that wall higher. So on more than one occasion (when I can step outside of myself) I have just gotten down on my knees, told him to do the same, and asked him to pray about it. Of course he doesn’t want to. And I don’t immediately demand that he ask God to forgive/help him – I want him to start out by talking to God and telling him what’s up! (This really confused him at first, and he still looks at me weird.) It usually takes a few minutes of me saying “No, we aren’t going anywhere until you just tell God what is going on here. Because I am at the end of what I know of to help you, so we need God here. So tell Him what happened. Tell Him what you did. Tell Him how you are feeling right now. Tell Him what you feel like doing right now. I don’t really care how you say it or what you say as long as you tell God about something going on here now.” And after a few minutes of him resisting for all he’s worth, it usually only gets to about “Dear God, I’m soooorrrrryyyyyyyyy…boo hoo, sob sob, please forgive me for…sob sob” and a hug for mama. It’s true that God can break down those walls that we just can’t even begin to access. I know He’s working on your Hope too. I love that she’s so sweet and you notice that. Ok. My comment is getting as long as a post. Perhaps I should go write somewhere else…!
February 14th, 2014 at 10:20 pm
Hey there Instant Mamma! Thanks so much for cosigning!! 🙂 The bedroom thing is something we are really going to have to work on. It’s driving me nuts. I was aghast when she pulled back the covers on my bed and got in. On some level I was like, oh, she is really connected; but viscerally I was like, Get the heck outta my bed!!! No, it’s MY bed! But I figured saying that out loud would ruin the moment. lol.
We had an epic meltdown about praying a couple of hours ago. She’s been shifty about the praying thing the last couple of days and tonight decided she wasn’t going to pray over our dinner. Um, no. No. No. No. It felt weird being in a power struggle about prayer, but that’s a non-negotiable for me, I was going down swinging on this issue. So the remainder of her tablet time got slashed in half. She announced she wanted to go back to WA, life was unfair and then went and sobbed for about 30 minutes. The dog, ironically, consoled her. We had a talk about it later and we recovered (and I high fived myself). We’ll see what tomorrow holds, but I’m sure I’ve put this particular power struggle to bed for now.
February 14th, 2014 at 10:33 pm
Awww. It never fails that I blog about something that is going great and the next day (or minute) my kids totally make a fool of me. Life. Oh, I meant to say something about the dog too. I had to laugh about the confirmation that it was an act of war. That is so funny. And I really hope that he is around for a super long time and has many more opportunities to console Hope (though hopefully it will be from school or other issues – not Mom!).
February 14th, 2014 at 10:04 pm
Oh, and one more thing. You mentioned Hope’s struggle with her lost family member and the heaven/hell thing. I can only imagine the added trauma that someone who has “been through hell” would experience thinking of people they love in a place of torment. I had a similar conversation with my kids. Do you mind if I post a link that I think may really help her out (or more accurately, give you more ammo with which to help her out, though it is something you could look at together too if she were really interested in studying it). There are so many misconceptions out there, but when we look at what the Bible (not a denomination or a person) says about heaven and hell, we see such a loving God who would never subject His children to eternal torment for a few years of sinful living, but we also see God who loves us too much to just let us have our way and so He does impose consequences and boundaries. This one sheds some light on what hell really is:
This one covers related material, and at the end also addresses a lot of the questions people have because there are verses used to back up other beliefs – both views can’t be right.
Anyway, it has just been so amazing to me to understand what the Bible/God/Jesus teach about this huge topic. It makes me love Him even more. But if you don’t feel like this comment adds to your blog (yes, we are a little off the topic of adoptive parenting older children from foster care) then feel free to delete it. Though when I explained this to my kids, I loved watching the relief and peace on their faces. God is good. And you are doing a great job with Hope.
February 14th, 2014 at 10:36 pm
Thanks for the references. After I recovered from the initial shock of her emotional predicament I talked about how God loves all his children, even those of us who haven’t figured it all out. I’ve always frankly been resistant to the neat and tidy teachings of heaven and hell and bend more towards the teachings about earthly living. The delayed reward system…eh, it’s not a motivation system that resonates with me (I’m much too impatient!). I’ve always preferred deepening the understanding of living in grace and living *up* to grace. We can never be truly worthy of it, but we should aspire to live as though we are! While I didn’t directly tackle Hope’s wrestling with the outcome of this individual–I’ll probably write more on that at some point–I did use it as a time to talk about aspirational living as a part of salvation, and how we have choices. Sometimes we, and the people we love, will make good choices, sometimes not so much.
February 14th, 2014 at 10:42 pm
I love where you took it. I don’t understand those who call themselves Christians but then try and say that God hates [insert person/group of their choosing]. Jesus didn’t teach that while on earth, and the Bible doesn’t either. Jesus did teach that there is a way we can live now that is better (and with a relationship with Him, can be continued in heaven later) and He said he wants to give us life more abundantly – now! That whole, not-everyone-will-make-good-choices thing can be hard to swallow, but it is the truth. Just praying we mamas can help our little ones actually make those good choices – the sooner the better!
February 14th, 2014 at 10:50 pm
Oh, there’s a post all about diversity and inclusion that I’ve been chewing on since she got here. I’ve got a lot of teaching to do. She continues to be astounded that I don’t bat an eye about issues of difference, and also how I will not tolerate bashing language in my home. I work in the D&I field, I can’t have open bigotry in my home. I will not tolerate it at all. And I’m sure to let her know that part of this is my living and teaching her how to be a believer in the Word. I’m not a preachy gal, but my Holy Homeboy kicked it with all the lowlifes–there’s a lesson to be learned in that.