I’m in a hotel room in New York. I didn’t go to the parade Hope was marching in today. It was chilly, crowded and Grammy desperately wanted to see the Fearless Girl down in the Financial District. I have bronchitis, and it’s gotten worse in the last 24 hours. So, I took mom to Wall Street to get her picture of Fearless Girl, and then we came back to the hotel where I watched the parade on tv and on YouTube. Then I slept most of the afternoon.
Hope is on her way back to campus. Her band marched, and then practically marched right back to the bus and rolled out. But not before Hope could attempt to set off a bit of drama.
It’s become clear that school trips are triggering for my daughter.
Kids get excited about school trips. They pick hotel roommates, seatmates for the bus, who to eat with and all the things that kids do on trips. Hope has a hard time navigating social relationships, and there’s a lot of socializing on school trips. Hope also is always desperate for attention, and if kids won’t give it to her, she will go to her old standby, illness, which brings the sympathetic adults running.
There is always a stomach ache, and thanks to raging anxiety, there is no doubt that it really hurts. Sometimes there’s headaches, other times there maybe other various ailments. But trust, it’s always something. One time I was traveling and I had to dispatch that Grands to go fetch her from a trip to spend a recovery day with them and then rejoin the trip the next day.
Hope texted me last night to tell me she didn’t feel well. Then today she nearly demanded that I come gather her up and take her home (our home). Um, ma’am? I reminded her that I wasn’t leaving New York for another day, and that I didn’t drive here and would need to buy a ticket to take her back to the DC area. Soooo, no love, she was going to need to get on the bus to go back to school.
Why did I even bother coming to New York?
Then she just was mad.
I get it. I am supposed to rescue her. She is a damsel in nearly perpetual distress, and I’m the damsel’s mom—the prince stand-in.
Sometimes it is so hard to remember that she is still very much a scared little girl inside a young woman’s body. Sometimes she stuns me with how well she can hold it all together, while other times I swear it feels like parenting a bunch of scattered marbles.
It’s also sometimes hard to reconcile just how little progress has been made in the face of progress that is like moving light years. It’s like always feeling like, “Oh, I thought we were past this.” No, we may never be past this.
And sometimes Hope and I lament how we may never be past it. There are moments when she is self-aware enough to recognize the behaviors and wish she could be/do different. Those moments are almost as hard because I can see her own internal struggle to heal rise to the surface, recognizing that she is engaging in behaviors that aren’t great but essentially enslaved to them for basic survival.
I try to comfort her, but sometimes I have to say no or to force her to finish what started or to face her fears. All in love, but sometimes also for my own self-preservation.
I know that my damsel has the potential to suck us both into a dark place. One of us has to keep it together and well, that has to be me.
So, tomorrow I’ll head home for more rest after what’s turned out to be a lazy trip to New York. Hope will be back on campus soon, and I’ll make plans to see Hope this week and try to meet her need for attention.
Parenting just doesn’t get easier.