Ugh. So the last few days I’ve really struggled. I mean really struggled with Hope. Honestly she’s been fine; I just haven’t. Therapy was rough on Friday, mainly because while I’ve been enjoying the routine and the joy of motherhood the last few weeks; the reality is that I’m not sure how much of it is real. Hope has a way of shutting down or acting out in therapy that rattles me somewhere deep inside. It makes me not trust myself to pick up on how she’s really feeling. It makes me realize how desperately I need respite time away from her that isn’t just me going to work. It just cascades from there…I have learned things this week, but these things feel much darker than in recent weeks. I’m feeling navy blue and off my game at the moment. I hate feeling like this week’s recap is a slam post about my daughter, but I try to be really transparent about what I’m going through when blogging and well…it is what it is.
I need respite time. So I’m in the process of interviewing caregivers to help out with my little family. Hope is a handful and she exhausts me mentally, physically and emotionally. When stuff goes left, I hit the wall hard and I need a break. My level of resiliency is not what it should be; a horrible afternoon can send me spinning in the wrong direction for several days. I honestly have no earthly idea how I’ve gotten through the last couple of months other than divine assistance. I’m tired…worn out. The need for respite is also a constant reminder that while I have a village of folks who are loving and supportive, the one person I want in my corner is just not there.
I continue to struggle with my own emotions and reactions to Grammy’s visit nearly a month later. I know I have family and friends that read this blog and probably think I’m running my mom down in ways likeI feel she’s done to me recently. The truth is that I’ve concluded I am overwhelmed by grief about the crumbling of this relationship. I’m devastated to conclude that after months of planting seeds of doubt concerning my ability to single parent a kid with a traumatic history that she was the first person to actually cut and run. It hurts to have friends’ parents call me and check on me and offer encouragement while my phone sits silent, waiting for my mother to call. I’m resentful about feeling like I need to swallow the disappointment and anger because I still want Hope to have some relationship with her Grammy and Grandpa. I worry about whether fostering what feels like such a dangerous relationship with my mom is even in her best interest.
So I am deeply grieving the unmet expectations and the perceived abandonment.
I feel like a hypocrite. So I gave a lecture at Iowa State this week. It felt good to get out and flex a bit professionally since I’ve been behind on just about everything in the office for going on 3 months now. The lecture was good and well received. I felt sharp. During the Q&A after my lecture someone asked me a question about success in diversity work on campus, and I found myself talking about the need to have reasonable expectations and different definitions for success.
I often tell a story about a program one of my organizational members launched with a partner institution. Three years into the program the partnership yielded fruit; the secondary partner was delighted that it only took three years; my member was frustrated because it took three years to get this one “fruit” from the partnership. The member took their toys and left the partnership. The point of the vignette is that the partners never agreed on what success would look like to cement the partnership.
Playing that script in my head during a three mile walk this morning led me to believe that I have a skewed perception of what success will look like for me and Hope. Oh sure I know I want to see her be well/better adjusted, safe, secure, fully functional, emotionally age appropriate etc, etc…but what do I see as success for our relationship? Hmmmm. Can I describe what success looks like for me and Hope? Not exactly; not in concrete terms. Everyone says we’re doing really well, but what does that mean? How can I counsel folks on defining success and expectations when my house is such an effing wreck?
Hope gets on my damn nerves like 60% of the time. My sister was telling me about a comedy show she recently went to, and the comedian joked that he loved his daughter the most when she was asleep. Yeah….that. Ok, the percentage of nerve rattling ebbs and flows, but I’d have to say on a big picture evaluation, 60% sounds about right.
Hope wants to live in a world of absolutes, one of those absolutes being that she wants to be right 100% of the time even on the ridiculously, absurd things she tends to say. She only wears X brand of jeans and utterly refuses to consider any other jeans. She still occasionally breeches the sanctuary of my bedroom without asking. She eavesdrops like a mug, so I’m trapped in my house with no privacy. She whines constantly about phantom aches and pains for attention. She’s gotten comfortable enough to start lying and being manipulative. This week she decided she wasn’t going to go on a class field trip; she sprang the permission slip on me on Friday morning, 10 minutes before she needed to catch the bus. Her manipulation game is crazy weak though; girlfriend needs to call me after studying the Art of War and Machiavelli’s The Prince in a few years. She was furious that I allowed her to miss the bus while I informed her she was taking that damn $2 and that signed slip AND this completed chaperone form ‘cause WE were going to Lake Accotink in a few weeks. Her plan B? To just not turn the forms in to her teacher—I literally could see the plan forming through her forehead. ABM’s end game? Preemptively email her teacher that she has her forms and $2.
It seems that my early rising patterns are rubbing off on her. Initially I complained about her ability to sleep to 11 or 12, but when she strolled into the kitchen this morning at 8:49am, I cursed under my breath because the couple of quiet hours in the house I’ve come to relish on the weekends, being pseudo alone, evaporated into thin air. She wanted a hug and to whine about something and cereal and…whatever.
I love her madly, but she gets on my damn nerves. I feel some shame about that because I feel like adoptive parents are held on this pedestal where we are supposed to love our kids and marvel that they manage to poop every day after their arrival. Oh well, I guess I fail at staying on that stupid pedestal; I spike her water with miralax so I know she poops, but I can’t say I care or clap about it.
It’s hard living with someone who isn’t capable of even asking if you’re ok. This is an off-shoot of the expectations issue, and I know that to some extent it’s really not fair for me to expect Hope to care much about me. I also hear that the level of narcissism exhibited by tweens and teens is stunning. But it would be so nice just once for Hope to ask, “Hey mom, are you ok? How are you?” Living without that kind of compassion or empathy is hard, especially without a partner in the house with me to offer it from somewhere else. It’s just hard minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day knowing I have to just be ok with possibly not hearing it anytime soon…maybe even never. I don’t know if we’ll get there; maybe we will, but for now, it really hurts. I know I’m not supposed to take it personally; I know I’m supposed to disassociate these behaviors, but ugh.
I am depressed. I’ve been here before. I’ve been a tough adoption soldier these 10 weeks or so, but I have more than the blues. This is something else. My eyes are exhausted from leaking tears. I mean I can only manage a good hard cry every week or so, but other times, my eyes just leak tears. Hope notices sometimes and other times I think she pretends not to notice. It’s time for me to visit doc and look into better living with chemistry. I was aware of this dark cloud sliding over my head, but despite several weeks of really wrestling with these clouds, I know I just can’t shake it by myself.
So, that’s where I am this week. I’ve got to finish working with the dissertation editor, and I’ve got an education module I’m behind on (again) and then tomorrow is picture day for Hope, so there’s hair to do tonight. Sigh…Ok week, let’s get on with it.
April 7th, 2014 at 6:43 am
Oh ABM I am sorry you feel this way. Yes respite will help and realistic expectations will assist in minimizing the constant challenge that kids can sometimes be. You are strong and can do this.
April 7th, 2014 at 8:14 pm
Started interviewing potential caregivers this evening. Hopefully I’ll have someone in place in a couple of weeks. Thanks as always for your encouragement.
April 7th, 2014 at 9:06 am
I echo AdoptiveNYMomma. Respite is essential and having someone who can listen to your vents and not be judgmental would be so helpful too. Take care of yourself first so you can take care of your
Hope. You got this.
April 7th, 2014 at 8:15 pm
Sometimes it is so easy to put yourself last, but you’re right, self care is essential. Thank you.
April 7th, 2014 at 7:18 pm
ABM, there is no doubt you are going to make it. In fact, you are making it. Fighting the good fight is not about winning or losing — just fighting it. I marvel at your transparency especially in the face of family reading this blog. We all know that very many family members can feel oh so entitled to judge as if sitting ringside to your life gives them the authority to make the calls. You have poured your heart and soul into this process on so many levels. Ultimately, there is no way YOU can lose — even if certain things (people) are lost along the way.
April 7th, 2014 at 10:55 pm
I’m fortunate to have supportive family; it’s just one of those times when I need my mom. I really do believe that this is the Holy Homeboy’s way of teaching me many things about how to raise Hope, who never really knew/remembers her own mother. I’m not motherless, but for whatever reason in this season there’s a barrier to accessing her. I’ll get around to writing about that theory at some point. Yes, fighting the good fight.
April 7th, 2014 at 7:22 pm
A quick afterthought… gosh it can be sooo much easier to encourage others than ourselves. Why is that? 🙂
April 7th, 2014 at 8:03 pm
Beats me! So uhm, how’s that degree coming? 😀
April 7th, 2014 at 7:29 pm
I remember feeling very lonely in all the “mess” going on at home. It’s that scary & almost shameful moment when you just feel like making multiple stops so you’re out the house longer. (Maybe that was just me!!) Chin up, beautiful. As you said, divine assistance will keep you even when we don’t feel like it. Psalm 139 really blessed me this week. Check it out ♡
April 8th, 2014 at 9:19 am
Puddin, I don’t avoid going home, but it’s that AM quiet time…oy! I’m a morning person, but I realize that I need that time in the morning to just ponder, wonder, putz and it is becoming increasingly rare to have that precious time. I guess I am probably practicing some avoidance behaviors though. Yes to Psalms 139. 🙂 Psalms 31:24 is my jam.
April 7th, 2014 at 7:55 pm
Respite and a non-judging friend who you can barf all over 🙂
Your feelings are perfectly normal…even being annoyed by your kids while loving them at the same time.
April 7th, 2014 at 8:05 pm
I am blessed to have some folks in my life who lend an ear and a hug when the going gets rough, but there is still a sense of isolation, you know?
Thanks for the validation. I love Hope but goodness she can find my last nerve and bounce on it until its ready to snap! ❤ 🙂
April 7th, 2014 at 8:07 pm
Yes it can feel incredibly isolating…get out and get some you time.
April 7th, 2014 at 8:10 pm
And feeling isolated and trapped isn’t just a single mom thing. I have a completely supportive husband but there are still times i feel isolated. Then people say “well this is what you wanted…” Such a ridiculous comment. Of course it is what we wanted…that doesnt change the fact that it us just hard at times.
April 8th, 2014 at 9:21 am
You know I realized that its brown on both sides of the fence while I was doing my coursework. People with families at the time just had different challenges and much more responsibility than I had. Some relationships really suffered. I no longer assume that having a partner necessarily makes it any easier–it just makes it different, yet still hard.
April 7th, 2014 at 9:28 pm
The good thing about this little place in the interwebs is that most of the people reading understand that talking about your daughter no way diminishes the love that you have for her. We take that as a given. I’m glad you are able to recognize that you need respite and meds and speak about it. You may not realize it but your story and transparency gives others permission to reach out and ask for the help they need.
April 7th, 2014 at 11:09 pm
Thanks Mimi. You know I’m anxiously awaiting some updates from you, but I know what it’s like getting settled. 🙂
Blogging has definitely helped me, and it’s always great to hear that someone else is getting something from my journey. I’ve struggled with depression off and on for years; it is nothing to be ashamed about, but I often find how uncomfortable people really are when faced with discussing mental health. I do wonder how many AA adoptive families stumble in this area since it is so taboo to ask for this kind of help within the community. Something for us to write about when we come up for air, eh?