Lots of snow days and cold weather have lead to lots of reflection and lesson learning this week. Oh and a ton of laughs.
Parents have lots of ‘splaining to do. In the year that Hope has been here I’ve had to break down song lyrics for her because it was clear that my blissfully naive daughter had no clue what the devil she was saying, often in public, often at a fairly loud volume. I made a strategic mistake last year not breaking down what a “surfboard” is in the context of Beyonce’s Drunk in Love song. Quiet as kept, it amused me. Tonight she was on speaker phone with a friend and started singing “surfboard” and my fun was over. I had to explain. She was peeved that I didn’t say something before. It was kinda hilarious. Um, it was really hilarious. #surfboard
I also had to explain what the Kama Sutra is this week thanks to some song lyrics. It was hilarious.
Because I’m brutally honest, we can talk about errrthang. I really am proud of the fact that Hope asks me all kinds of serious, important questions. It’s true what they say about kids talking during car rides. We have covered some serious ground in the car. And honestly I wasn’t ready for 97% of the questions she has asked during the last year. We’ve talked sex (in such detail that I took to my bed with a nerve pill in hand afterward), relationships, who we like, who we don’t, how we feel about social issues, religion, politics, race, sexuality and on and on.
I promised Hope when we met that I would always kick it to her straight, and I do. I’m clear about word choice, concepts, metaphors, context, as much as I can make perfectly plain, I do. For opinionated conversations, I share mine but give her space to come to her own conclusions. I try to bridge seriousness with humor, and despite not being blessed with any kind of poker face I try really, really hard to not show a lot of emotion other than, “Heeeeyyyyyyy now, I’m glad you asked that, so um…Yeah! Let’s do this!” Now on the inside I might have reactions ranging from “WTF, I ain’t ready” to “LOLOLOLOL” to “Well, now that’s a really pithy question, there.”
I know that’s when we bond the most. That’s the ultimate reward. The bonus? She tells her pals I’m a cool mom because she can ask me anything and I won’t freak out and I will give her an answer even if I have to find one. #whosaboss #coolmom
Teenagers tell time differently than adults do. Seriously, it’s like a time warp that is utterly non-sensical to me. Over the last few weeks Hope has been a party to all kinds of foolishness. Consequently, I have gone on high monitoring alert. NSA ain’t got nothing on me. We had to have a conversation about privacy rights in Casa d’ABM last night.
In Hope’s mind, certain infactions occurring more than 72 hours ago, or there about, are indeed prehistoric. They happened in a completely different era. Consequently she is regularly perplexed as to why I conclude that she has not addressed and/or repaired any trust concerns in that time frame–the same time frame in which she was asleep for approximately 30 hours of the 72.
We’ve discussed it with our therapist. We look at each other with furrowed brows like we not only don’t use same clock, but also speak different languages.
Apparently we do use different clocks and speak different languages.
It’s gotten so crazy that I’ve told her that if she could just go one week without some crazy, then we could talk about my NSA-like behavior.
So is that a week without weekends? A week with weekends? Does that includes snow days? If school starts late how does that work in the week count? Are you counting the hours I sleep? What about if I have an all day program on the weekends, where you know I won’t cut up? Do those hours count or do I have to keep it together other hours too?
Body issues are the devil. I’ve struggled with body issues and self acceptance for most of my life. I have never been skinny; heck I’ve never been slim. At best I’ve been fit because of decent eating and exercise. Years ago I fell into eating disorders trying to deal with my poor vision of self. I can reflect and say now, that the beauty of the last few years just preceding motherhood and settling into it and being over 40 have freed me from that burden.
I try to eat well and I exercise regularly, but listen: I am not about that self-denial life. If I want it, I eat it and I enjoy it. I might need to hit the gym at 8pm to mitigate the splurge but dammit I’m splurging.
And I’m enjoying everything. I recently declared to my doctor that I will NOT diet; I will not self-restrict to excess. I will up exercise in terms of time and intensity, but dammit I now know what this body is capable of and I have a better understanding of the psyche and soul that it houses. I respect that package.
I’m blessed to have arrived here as I begin to raise a teenage girl into a self-loving/self-assured woman. She has so many self-love issues to work through.
I want to model healthy habits for her. I also want her to enjoy dining, to enjoy trying different things. I would love for her to become more active. But most of all I want her to love herself and to appreciate how amazing she is and that the invisible “chubby belly” that she complains about is a figment of her imagination.
I have a chubby belly that I love, so I know what I’m talking about.
Perfection is the enemy of the good. So sayeth Voltaire and cosigned by numerous other philosophers.
Hope and I struggle mightily with the need to be perfect. We both have exacting standards about things we do, things we like, things we wear. We’re quite well suited in that respect. Or not, I guess.
I’m over 40, and I’ve learned to manage this personal flaw a bit over the years. I’ve experienced so many disappointments that I’ve been conditioned to know that perfection is elusive and that expectations should be realistic. I remember when I started my dissertation, someone told me that 1) the dissertation was just a project, 2) it didn’t have to be my life’s work, 3) it didn’t need to be a bigger BHAG–Big Hairy Audacious Goal–than it already was, 4) the project needed to be manageable and finally 5) it did not need to be perfect–it just needed to be approved as solid work by my committee.
It did not need to be perfect. So, then I became a member of #TeamGet’erDone.
Our latest perfection drama has been getting Hope to take care of her own night-time hair care rituals. For the last three weeks I have painstakingly (I’m not joking or exaggerating–my arthritis is killing me) blown out Hope’s hair and flat ironed it. She has been rocking that old school mushroom like the good Deaconess/First Lady, holy and sanctified from that church over in yonder township.
For the first week I put the rollers in at night and I took the rollers out in the morning. Last week I put the rollers in; Hope took them out in the mornings after I convinced her that removing rollers would not result in failure. That took several days of coaxing, but we mastered it by the weekend. This week I was hellbent on getting her to learn to put the rollers in at night herself. Yeah, yeah, those moments could be bonding time, but it really is something at nearly 14 that I need her to add to her skill set tool box.
There were tantrums. Ugh. There was door slamming, audible moaning, throwing of rollers. It was bad. These tantrums served their true purpose–to get me to put the rollers in instead. The first night, I asked her to do one roller, then two, then ultimately three. She fought and threw hissies all dang night and you know how many rollers were set?
Before the start of this week’s Add Water and Stir Podcast, I announced that she would be responsible for rolling her hair while Mimi and I were broadcasting. So, during the podcast I hear rollers snapping, grunting, heavy sighs and just random noises related to the roller struggle. #thestrugglewasreal At one point a picture crashed onto the bathroom floor.
After we wrapped the show, I tentatively opened my door. She almost knocked me down with excitement!
“I did it! I did it” #thatswhatsup
She explained that it wasn’t perfect; she told me about her technique and modifications. She was so excited and so proud of herself.
Yes! And frankly, her hair looked fabulous the next day. #flawless
I might have to lock her in the bathroom more often to get some stuff done!
So, that’s what we’re rocking this week. I haven’t been writing about these lessons as much lately, but I’m still learning and loving around these parts. We’re in for more snow today, so I’m planning a Black History Edutainment movie marathon. We’re beginning with Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, in honor of Brother Malcolm’s assassination 50 years ago today.
Peace be upon you.
February 22nd, 2015 at 11:04 am
ABM, I love reading you! You’ve got a wonderful “voice.” Also, so many blogging foster/adoptive mamas are raising/fostering littles. So many times, I hear people say that taking in an older child or teenager would be too scary. Your recounting of life with Hope shows us all that it is a beautiful, fun, fulfilling adventure.
February 23rd, 2015 at 3:44 pm
Awww! Thanks! 🙂 You’re right, most of the adoption chronicles are about kids much younger so I’m glad I’m around to provide a different story. We’re chugging along and it is definitely an adventure.
February 22nd, 2015 at 3:16 pm
So glad you refuse to “diet.” That word is banned in our house. I have a history of disordered eating, so there is no “restriction” or “eating less” of anything. Instead, we eat “MORE vegetables” and make “MORE healthy choices.” Eating junk food once in awhile is fine, but overall we just try to “make healthy choices,” never diet. All that fat-free, sugar-free crap is just being sweetened by chemicals anyway. You may be losing weight but I’m sure it’s putting holes in your brain!
February 22nd, 2015 at 5:23 pm
Thanks! I could really stand to drop a few lbs, but it’s simply not the priority right now. I’d love for Hope to be more physically active, so I think it’s more important to model that over food restrictions. I cook a lot more and I mix “real” and “fake” foods all the time–I like balance. It really is a journey, but in the end, I don’t want to diet and I don’t want to teach her too either!
Thanks for the read!
February 23rd, 2015 at 3:35 pm
I love when my now 7 yer old throws a tantrum becaue she “just can’t do it!”. And then she does, and lawd, it’s like the clouds parted, and there are rainbows and unicorns farting glitter everywhere that child is so happy she did it on her own. It’s the little things…and I can bet her hair was looking LAYED! Great Work Mom…
February 23rd, 2015 at 3:42 pm
Just wait until she gets to be a teen–the glitter farting reaches the outer hinterlands of the universe! Thanks!
February 23rd, 2015 at 5:00 pm
Surfboard has another meaning not necessarily pertaining to the Hawaiian coastal region??? Why knew! (Although you could have saved me some time by linking to Urban Dictionary…just saying).
February 26th, 2015 at 9:46 am
So I remember hearing things falling on our podcast…I’m glad to know the look was fantastic.
The self-approval/body issue struggle is real and I’m glad to know that you have reached that stage where you appreciate and respect that package. That will continue to be a lesson that we will learn because we all love to eat in our house but we need to get the healthy part down too.
February 26th, 2015 at 12:35 pm
I know the song, but I didn’t know exactly what surfboard meant. Urban dictionary came to my rescue. Love when you write about the little victories.
February 26th, 2015 at 1:17 pm
My 13 year old has just started doing her hair in the mornings too! She wasn’t happy about it, but wanted straightened hair, so there ya go, i bought her a straightener and taught her to use it! 😃
February 26th, 2015 at 1:38 pm
You are ahead of me! I’m scared to give Hope a flat iron and I *know* she would meltdown if I did! Kudos to you.