Hope and Worry

I’ve been parenting for about 1,140 days. I am a babe in the woods. I have triumphed, and I have fallen down repeatedly.

Lately, I question everything I’ve learned these couple of years, and I’m scared.

I love my daughter, Hope. I have done my very best to help her heal, to help her grow, to help her catch up. I have tried to protect her from the world that has been brutal towards her. I’ve tried to protect her from herself when she has been unkind. I have prayed for and with her; I’ve wished for her. I’ve poured myself into her healing.

And for all the improvement we’ve made together, it’s still only 1,140 days, and I feel like we are in a bit of a free fall right now. It feels like I can never do enough. As a natural fixer, I am feeling woefully inadequate right now.

Something is wrong, very wrong. I know that Hope is struggling more than usual. I started paying close attention to moods, to behavioral patterns, to details that I had let go of a while ago. There are so many clues that something is wrong. I’ve seen them; I’ve started ramping all the support systems up again. I reached out to the therapists. I’ve scheduled appointments. I’ve been steeling myself to get back to the state of hypervigilance I used to maintain. But, I’m feeling my age now, remembering how exhausting the constant need for awareness can be. I’m wondering can I really maintain that level of being for an extended period of time, now. I’m also wondering what happens if I can’t.

I’m also wrestling with my own guilt. How and why did I get lax? Was I really lax? How come I didn’t know we had started spiraling? Why didn’t I just maintain everything? How did I let it get like this? Is this even something I can fix? How hard will this get before it gets better?

Is this free fall my fault?

I know intellectually that it’s not my fault but that fact really doesn’t matter, does it?

I see my daughter struggling. It seems she’s struggling with everything right now. School is hard. Social stuff is hard. Home is probably hard too. Emotions are thick; memories are vivid and on some kind of repeating loop. There are constant stomach aches and nausea and headaches and stress induced rashes. There are binges. There are hard core study times that swing to complete immersion into escapist fantasies. There is exhaustion, that’s really depression that swings from days of insomnia to sleeping for 18 hours.

I see it, but I can’t fix it. I gather those long arms and legs up and occasionally cradle Hope. I try to cook her yummy food. I try to be home as much as I can. I try to give her space, but I also try to smother her with attention. I try to give her lots of opportunities to thrive and to experience as much or as little as possible. I am strict but not inflexible. I’m compassionate. I try to meet her where she is, but I also walk away sometimes wondering if I did the right thing.

I want to heal her. I want her to be able to shrug off the effects of her trauma so that we can deal with the social challenges of blackness and womanhood. The reality is that we rarely get to wrestle with those because we are stuck in the quicksand of trauma. Her trauma suffocates us both. I fight with myself trying to just be ok with her life performance and trying not to worry that every bad grade will prevent her from a bright future.

I’m constantly forcing myself to abandon everything I conceptualized and believed about success. Our success is different. I know that, but it’s hard to believe that conventionalism is completely inappropriate in helping Hope navigate. So many of my firmly held, deeply etched values about life are constantly challenged and it is discomforting, disorienting, and dismaying. My prayers lately have been distilled to, “Lord just let us get through this day with no drama.”

And I still feel like we’re failing.

So, right now, Hope is struggling, and I’m worried. I’m not panicked by I’m really worried about the future, and by future, I mean next week and the week after.

I’m leaning back into my strengths: looking for possible solutions, marshalling resources and leveraging connections. I have no idea what happens next—long term is now just next month. I do think my daughter knows I’m trying; I don’t know what she really thinks about my efforts, but I know she thinks I’m trying to help her. I’m hopeful that she will continue to see me as helpful, reliable and safe. I’m hopeful I can continue to be that for her.

Hope and worry are sitting side by side for me these days.


About AdoptiveBlackMom

I'm a single Black professional woman living in the DC area. I adopted my now adult daughter in 2014, and this blog chronicles my journey. Feel free to contact me at adoptiveblackmom@gmail.com, on Facebook at Adoptive Black Mom, and on Twitter @adoptiveblkmom. ©www.AdoptiveBlackMom.com, 2013-2022. All rights reserved. (Don't copy my ish without credit!) View all posts by AdoptiveBlackMom

16 responses to “Hope and Worry

  • Rhondra

    This is beautiful but heart wrenching at the same time. Although, my child is much younger, I too sometimes wonder if I am doing enough or too much.

    The hypervilligance is real and exhausting … my daughter was recently ill for an extended period and I had many questions and concerns. This time, I did something different, I reached out for help, which I rarely do because I feel like everyone has their own struggles and lives.

    I appreciate your posts, perhaps you say what many will not 🙂 Thank you and pray for Hope’s continued healing and your strength.

  • Deborah the Closet Monster

    I can think of a hundred things I want to say right now, and every single one has all kinds of implications different than what I intend. So instead I’ll say: I have faith in you, and am holding hope for you as you navigate these difficult waters.

    May your still fairly new-to-her love shine through all the pain she lived before she got to have you as her mom. ♥

  • Kimberly

    Beautifully written piece about the tension we often hold as parents.

  • TAO

    I don’t have any wisdom, just here.

  • HerdingChickens

    So beautiful and so true. This kind of parenting can be a roller coaster sometimes. I will say that each “drop” gets smaller and smaller on the ride. Hope will always carry her trauma. It’s a part of her just like her blackness and her womanhood. It can’t be fixed but it can be helped. And you are helping her. She has you to fall back on. You are doing a fantastic job. I have every confidence that she will grow to be a strong, successful black woman. It’s going to take her more time and that success may look different. But in the end, she has YOU. And that’s what she needs the most.

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      This >>>>>”Hope will always carry her trauma. It’s a part of her just like her blackness and her womanhood.” I never had considered it quite this way before, but you’re so right, it is simply a part of her being. Thanks for revealing that to me.

  • Belladonna Took

    Hang in there, Momma. Your love and commitment will carry you both through – I am convinced of that. Sending a hug.

  • Sammie Mendez

    Friend, what a beautifully written piece…Callie and I were having a conversation about this the other day that went a little something like this.. “Just when you think you have ish figured out with your kids, they go ahead and switch it all up on you!” My mom says I haven’t been a parent long enough to see the changes like that in Mary yet. It’s easy to see it with toddlers because EVERYTHING at this age is so new and so fresh that it seems like it happens so quickly, but the changes as you grow seem larger and more spaced out. It’s totally normal (from what I remember as a teenager) to go through changes like this. But that’s the thing, you ARE noticing! it’s not a matter of WHEN you notice, but IF you notice, and it sounds like you are all over that, Mom!! Doesn’t make it any less stressful or any less troubling or frustrating, but KNOWING it’s happening is honestly MORE than half the battle. Hope things sort themselves out…

  • Kristen

    Thank you for sharing!

  • Colleen

    I needed to re read this. I am so many days in I lost count. Almost ten years. But lately I have been trying to juggle from afar. I know one it will be easier but then I think when. Then just as quickly I realize how quick ten years went. It is a yo-yo mom life for sure. Thanks for words.

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