I used to love The Winans. When I was a kid they had this gospel song called Tomorrow; pretty famous song actually. I have always loved that song. Last night after a meaningful conversation with Hope, I thought about that song a lot, like a lot a lot.
On the drive back to NoVa from Christmas celebrations down south, Hope and I got to talking about what a beeotch on wheels I’ve been for the last month or so. I tried to explain that this time of year is stressful and sad for me. There’s so much to do, and I also get to remembering all the people I miss so much. I tend to be reflective this time of year and it takes me a long while to get to the good stuff in reflecting; it doesn’t usually happen until that very last week of the year when I consciously beginning looking forward as I put together my vision board for the next year.
I also really have a hard time with the minimal amount of available sunlight, and, well, I’m just grumpy.
This year I’ve been thinking about how much life has changed for me, with an emphasis on the hard stuff and I’ve been feeling a little resentful about how hard it is. It’s just been a really tough fall for me emotionally.
It’s always a tough time for Hope; she’s becoming more open with me about how that’s the case, all the time now. It makes me sad..or rather sad-der.
As she was telling me about her feelings last night, I asked her what, besides me being less beeotchy, could I do to help her.
LOL, she said, basically be less beeotchy. I chuckled.
She pointed out that I seemed to understand that Yappy does dumb stuff and I don’t punish him harshly, that I understand that as a puppy dog that he’s going to do dumb stuff. She said, but dogs just want to make their people happy. Why can’t you be more like that with me?
Just understand that she’s going to do dumb stuff that annoys the hell out of me and not flip out and think it’s going to ruin her future.
I explained to her, as best I could, that I just want so much for her, more than she is capable of wanting for herself right now. I’ve known for sometime that this was a dangerous path for me because It set me up to be critical of everything she does. And while I don’t comment or tell her that I judge everything, I’m sure I’m constantly giving off that energy and that’s not healthy for either of us.
I explained how those desires are rooted in my love for her, but I acknowledged that it meant I probably was rarely meeting her where she was. I was so focused on “tomorrow” that I was just neglecting her immediate needs for just accepting her awkward-still-trying-to-figure-out-her-adoptive-teen-life.
So, I got to thinking that I’ve really been overthinking some things. Hope needs me to worry about her “today” not her “tomorrow.” She needs me to just zero in on helping her get through each day without worrying if she’s on the path to say, college. She’s just trying to get through today and get to tomorrow.
As strong as I know she must be to have endured all that she has, she is incredibly fragile. She just can’t process thinking about more than today or maybe to the next weekend.
This is so radical to me because I have always plotted everything; I’m always looking at the macro-view of my life to plot my next steps. Hope is a micro-thinker who needs me to drill down with her to just help her stay on task day to day.
I get it. I admit, that this isn’t new; I heard it before, but I think I really get it this time. I’m really fortunate that Hope can break this down for me sometimes; I can’t imagine having to figure this out with the really little ones! [Bless y’all for home fostering and adopting the littles is a calling…I’m so not built for that!] #Idigress
So, I’ve got to do some rewiring of my own brain to figure out how to better meet her where she is.
[I wonder how many adoptive parents parenting kids with histories of trauma have had before and after PET scans to see whether/how our brains must change to adapt to therapeutic parenting…must hit Google Scholar later…] #Idigressagain
Anyway, Hope announced she was sleepy and drifted off mid-sentence, leaving me to my own thoughts.
Although I see so much talent and promise in my beautiful girl, she is still in survival mode. While I do an ok job at this mom thing, Hope still isn’t feeling safe enough to make the conversion to thinking longer term. We’re still white knuckling it. I mean, I knew I was struggling and I knew she was struggling, but I didn’t realize how my hopes for her wanting more was undermining her ability to just focus on getting through each day. #boo #parentingfail
All of this got me to thinking about the Winans’ song Tomorrow. It talks about how we shouldn’t put off salvation until tomorrow because, well, tomorrow isn’t promised to us. In fact, the Holy Homeboy is practically doing jumping jacks to get us to move today rather than waiting for the unpromised tomorrow. The last line of the song urges us to forget about tomorrow because tomorrow might be too late to get on the party train to the pearly gated club up yonder.
I’m guessing the Holy Homeboy was stepping in to hip me to the fact that Hope needs me to just forget about tomorrow right now and help Hope just get through today. These early teen years are such a mess for any kid, but I can only imagine what it must be like when you’re dragging an extra bucket of messiness around in your head. I gotta not sweat what things will be like 3 years from now; it will be what it will be. Hope needs me to stay present with her, right here, right now.
It’s hard for me to put a lot of that desires on ice, but if I want any of that life to be within her grasp, I gotta adapt and help her just maneuver through today.
So, for now, tomorrow is going up on the top shelf in a pretty box with a note saying “Open when you get to tomorrow.”