Today I struggled. And by struggle I mean…wanted to strangle Grammy and Hope at different times and for different reasons.
I love traveling with my mom. It’s easy. She’s easy going, we love on each other and it’s just epic. We sometimes even cry together because the time together is so special. This trip has had all that but Hope is with us and that’s changed our dynamic. Hope is an attention hog, and I tend to dote on my mom when we travel. I’ve tried to mete out the doting, but I rarely get dedicated time with Grammy so I’m sure she’s winning the doting war.
Then, despite showing epic growth this summer and in the last few weeks, in the matter of a few short days Hope has regressed into some of her worst behaviors. She’s annoying with a bit of a smart mouth.
Emotionally demanding, and then, as we arrived in Switzerland, again had to go through the absurd routine of being *shocked* that the country has insects. Why didn’t I warn her?
Yeah, she has a phobia. Yes, I know that there’s components of phobias that are completely unrelated to reason, but Hope has turned the ancillary showmanship around her bug phobia into a high artform.
In the last couple of days her behavior has been quietly grating on my nerves…and I’m not the only one.
So by the time we arrived at the airport today, I’d survived Grammy’s worry that the car service wouldn’t pick us up at the hotel and Hope’s lollygagging in getting ready because she was up until the wee hours watching Kdramas in the dark. By the time we got through security and got Hope something to eat and made her do some of her required school reading, my shoulders were finally starting to relax. Grammy starts talking about how different Hope is from my sisters and me, and I get defensive. This is really the first time she’s seen Hope’s true colors up close and personal. Stuff that I understand now, stuff that I let go, stuff that I think is a parking lot problem when I only die on mountain style problems, just baffles Grammy. I get it, but I also know how to parent this kid (even when I want to strangle her), and I can’t parent her the way I was parented. It’s not better or worse, just radically different.
I briefly raised my voice, and then I lost my four day fight to hold back tears. I didn’t sob, but I did cry. Grammy pulled back and said she got it. I know she doesn’t totally get it, but I appreciated that she does on an intellectual level at least.
Then I felt like a failure for not managing to keep it together and disrupting our trip with this exchange. I ended up apologizing and trying to make it right later.
I get us to our AirBnB. It’s a charming apartment. It’s huge, everyone has their own space (precisely why I chose it). I find us food nearby. I manage Hope’s latest bug phobia drama and hand her a couple of Ativan. I video chat my dad and my sister. During my call with my sister, Hope declares that she’s not having a good time, and she wants to go home. Stunned, I abruptly end the call and began sobbing.
I’m exhausted, the airport meltdown took something out of me and then I was wedged into a seat with a dude who wafted funk with every move. (Bless the French and their apparent hatred for quality deodorants.) Just yesterday we went and saw all the stuff in the Apesh&t video at the Louvre, and it was epic. Today, in typical 13 year old in a 17 year old chronological body, Hope declared her teen angst misery, and I, completely depleted and fed up, skidded into the spin and claimed the dramatic southern woman wailing part in the tableau.
Seriously, the trip of a lifetime and misery abounds. Can’t I just get 10 days drama free? Please?
I adore Hope. There is little I won’t do for her, but don’t get it twisted, parenting her is hard. It’s exhausting. Sometimes it’s downright withering.
And sometimes on days like today, after having given Grammy a lecture on the need to have different kinds of expectations for my daughter, I heap on a serving of hypocrite to my parenting dish because for the life of me, I have no idea why I would think that Hope would really love/appreciate a trip to France and Switzerland. She barely appreciates when I pick up a nail polish that I think she will like or make sure that her special Korean ramen is in the house.
It’s not that she’s not thankful for some stuff, it’s just like…some of the things are so far beyond that she’s not sure how to handle them, so she doesn’t handle them well. It’s like she can’t process it in her operating system She’s not handling this trip well, which means we’re not handling this trip well. And I wish she would step up, because I know she can but just won’t, so I blame myself because I know what her default setting is: chaos. When in doubt, cause chaos, because for her, that’s something she understands.
After I got myself together, I told her that I am sorry that she is not having a good time. I do not regret bringing her, but I got the message that this isn’t her thing so I will be sure to extend an invite, but not assume she’s interested in going on these kinds of trips in the future.
I had hoped that after our Grecian adventure earlier this year that she would have got the travel bug, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. That’s ok. It’s not for everyone. I know that she will have these memories–however she frames them–and I’m glad for it.
As for me, I’m heading to my conference tomorrow and I’m looking forward to interacting with non-relatives for a few hours. I’m looking forward to just getting into a zone where I know I do good work, where I can learn, where I can just feel like I am seen and perceived as successful.
Quiet as kept, I’m looking forward to seeing the city, but I will also look forward to going home, seeing and cuddling Yappy, settling into my empty nest routine and going out with my new bae.
I’ve got 5 days though to get through without killing anyone. Prayers, if you’re into that kind of thing.
August 26th, 2018 at 12:52 am
Hey, I was just walking through the Louvre and Tuileries Gardens last week!
My twins are terrible travelers. It is horrible to go anywhere with them. Their thing is that everything stinks. They will walk through the most beautiful places and talk about how much it stinks and then they will have the most God awful laughing fits and only they are getting the joke. I know it is some kind of coping mechanism that triggers when they are in unfamiliar places but it is extremely difficult to deal with.
I hope you can have some fun.
August 26th, 2018 at 2:00 pm
Praise the lord for Ativan! I hear you. The caregiver-attention-panic is real. The travel panic is real. Kids with developmental trauma are just wired for danger. My daughter will ignore me but absolutely grab for attention in crazy ways if I even speak to another person. She’s hard wired to believe that my lapse in attention means her needs won’t be met and she will DIE. It’s hard. It’s really really really hard. I’m not the mom who sticks around to watch my kids’ sports practice/rehearsal/play date. I run, not walk, to my car and escape for a break. It’s hard. It’s worth it but it’s HARD. I think that’s ok. Hugs to you.
August 27th, 2018 at 3:32 pm
oh, I am remembering our trip to Hawaii to get married and I feel your pain. We spent it dealing with a surly hostile 18 year old whose complaints included: “it’s too hot here, and there’s too much water.” She did pull it together for our actual wedding on the beach, but the rest of the time she was pretty much a jerk. It was 2 years before we attempted another vacation with her!
One thing we have noticed with our daughter is she likes to go places and see new things, but she hates to be away from home more than about 3 days. That’s her limit. We love to travel, so it’s hard, but I think it has something to do with her being moved around so much growing up. To us, travel means seeing new and exciting things. To our daughter, it’s associated with being uprooted, disoriented and feeling unsafe. Like to us, the treat is to get to go somewhere new and amazing, but for her, being home in her own bed is a treat.
August 27th, 2018 at 3:34 pm
This is an important realization that hadn’t occurred to me. Thanks.