I’m not exactly who spring break is a break for, but it doesn’t really seem to be a break for me. I know Hope is happy to be out of school but here it is pushing midnight heading into Thursday and I’m exhausted physically and emotionally. Hope and I have covered a lot of ground in the last few days and frankly, I’d appreciate acting like she does in our therapy sessions—avoidant.
But alas, I’m the grown up and thus am in the position to actually be required to act as such on a semi-regular basis. So there’s the road trip to Philly.
“Is there anything here besides historical sites?” Hope says while standing waiting to go see the Liberty Bell.
Sigh. I found our spring break trip to the City of Brotherly Love an exercise in reminding me just how selfish I really enjoy being, but can’t actually be anymore. Oh and I’m petty too. It’s ok, admitting it is the first step to recovery.
Case in point: Hope had a hypothesis that Subway cheese steaks would taste better than an actual Philly cheese steak (on what planet??). So we skipped on over to a shop near our hotel that came highly recommended by the concierge. We get to the front of the line, and Hope chokes on her sub order: “Well, I don’t know what I want…how is it normally served?”
Dude taking our order is looking at me like, “For reals? It’s a cheese steak!”
After putzing back and forth for what seemed like an eternity of indecision but was really only about 45 seconds, I ordered two cheese steaks, one with onions and one without, since she managed to pantomime that she didn’t want onions. Once back at the hotel she, was insistent that she have half of my sandwich to taste test the difference between onions and non-onions. Wait…what??? But you didn’t want onions!?!?! I complied, but I seethed. I wanted my damn sandwich intact. I gave up the radio station. When we switched to my Google Play, I let her favorite song go on repeat. I listened to her read Teen Beat and learned about people who I didn’t know existed who were supposed to be famous. I endured Big Bad Wolf style huffing and puffing about seeing historical sites. Got dang, can I have my whole onion filled sandwich???
Apparently not, for half of my sautéed filled onion sandwich made its way over to her plate—where it lay untouched and eventually discarded.
UGH! Yeah, just ugh. I wonder what will trigger a deeper level of selflessness in me and when…clearly it didn’t happen on this trip. I was really in my feelings about only having half of my delicious sandwich; Hope’s half was ok, just bland. Booo.
After a long drive home in a wicked spring monsoon, I was grouchy, tired, sore from stress and just really needed a hour of recharge in my room. An hour I didn’t get because she wanted to watch Believe (the Justin Bieber movie) on Amazon. Awesome. #notreally
By bedtime, I was a mess and totally botched a talking to about picking clothes off of the floor and putting them in the hamper. Not even sure why I picked that fight at that time. Things deteriorated fast, and in my head I saw the reproachful glare of our hot family therapist, who I telepathically told to kiss my ass in the moment, even as I KNEW I was botching this corrective action and going down in flames. #ifyourepissyandyouknowitclapyourhands,
Awesome. And this morning the saltiness simmered as we got ready for another road trip. We recovered.
Instead of bickering, we covered emotional sinkholes. After the giant eff up of the night before I was actually impressed by my ability to navigate confabs about the spiritual presence of her dad, the introduction of new extended family, fleeting memories of how her biological mom smelled, the loss of a puppy pre-foster care days, how foster parents didn’t keep their promises regarding countless things and on and on and on. There really seems to be no end to the emotional sinkholes, none. But I’m conscious that her ability to talk to me about this stuff is evidence of our growth. At the end of the day trip I was again, exhausted, and we spent the evening untangling a skein of yarn and putting it into a ball.
I swear this yarn thing is going to be my new adoption metaphor. Trying to help a kid untangle the mess around them and make sense of it by reorganizing it.
As we were going through the nightly ritual of twisting her hair before bed, I came across a letter she wrote to me during a fury filled moment this morning. It was a cogent, expletive filled essay on how to introduce new ideas and corrections to her—ie not in the way I had done the night before. It was impressive in its thoughtful argument and colorful use of language (I appreciate a well-placed, well-used curse word every now and again, though not from 12 year olds). I was somehow both amused and hurt when I flipped it over and read, “Yeah, I hope you read this you son of a b*tch!!!!!” scrawled in huge letters. In short, the gist of her letter had me dead to rights—it was good parenting advice for her. I’ll be sure to follow it in the future
So much ground we covered today.
But she was horrified because well, she wrote it more than 12 hours ago, and it hardly seemed relevant anymore. It was a coping strategy to deal with her anger. And well, was I snooping (if it’s in plain view, addressed to me as “Mom-B*tch” then I don’t consider it snooping)? She wouldn’t even show me her face to me this evening. And again, I felt sad for my sweet girl who struggles with her emotions. It must be so hard to feel so deeply and strongly and also feel like you’re dragging the world around with you. She actually refused to look at me anymore out of I dunno, shame? Embarrassment? Worry? Anger? I tried to soothe her. I told her that her advice was good, and I would follow it from here on out, but hey, um, could you not call me out my name?
Tomorrow the trampoline park, where I will pray I don’t break anything.