This week, I told a good friend and fellow AP, that I just longed to be normal. Merriam-Webster defines normal as “conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern.”
Hmmm, well, the truth is that Hope and I are a kind of normal. We are also below average and extraordinary. It all depends on the benchmark, right?
The reality is that there are days and sometimes weeks or months that I wish we were my kind of normal, the normal that I grew up with and as.
The normal that means maybe she was my biological child with a partner. The normal that didn’t include any sorts of the kinds of trauma that Hope has endured. The kind of normal that never considered Hope not having always been a part of this family. The kind of normal that included loving school and books and having a deep-seated, natural curiosity. The kind of normal that included different kinds of achievement, certificates, and recognitions. The kind of normal that looks and feels, upon reflection, easy.
Now that’s all true, but glosses over a kind of normal that had me running away more than a few times during my formative years. The kind of normal that made me often question whether I was “normal” at all. The kind of normal that made me shoulder a self-imposed burden of over-achievement. The kind of normal that had me wondering sometimes how I fit into my family. The kind of normal that made me so riddled with self-esteem issues that I wrestled with an eating disorder for years.
Yeah, that kind normal.
So, when I say that I long to be normal with Hope, what I really mean is that I wish this were easier, and doesn’t every parent want that?
This college application thing has given me a lot to ponder over the last few weeks. This process ain’t for punks, and I can see how easy it must be for parents to get so sucked into the possibility of bulldozing all the barriers out of the way. You just wish it was easier.
And then there’s the part that’s public in all this.
Your kid is a senior, so everyone asks what’s next? And *of course* you’re going to college, so where are you going? And certainly, it’s got to be a name brand school, right? ABM, is she going to your alma mater? What about this school or that school? There are so many questions, so many, and you just wish people would stop asking because 1) you don’t have answers and 2) you might not have the *right* answers for your social circle and the side eyes are forthcoming.
And yeah, I know I shouldn’t care, but I’m human.
I know that if Hope was my biological child, we would still be right where we are. That doesn’t give me comfort, because right here is uncomfortable.
The colleges are judging and evaluating Hope, and my contemporaries are judging and evaluating me and my parenting. And because adoptive parents are often put on these absurd pedestals and expected to save and rehab our kids, I fret that people are wondering why Hope isn’t applying to Princeton, which is simply absurd.
Yes, I know it’s absurd on multiple levels.
There is so much that the general public doesn’t get about adoption and trauma. People think that adoption fixes everything, when it’s just another starting over point in the journey. It resolves the issue of permanence and creates a potential environment for healing (hopefully) but that is a long, complicated process that doesn’t necessarily have an endpoint.
So, when some folks ask me where Hope is going to school, the inquiry feels as much about what’s next for her as it is about how successful am I in fixing her. And maybe all of that is just my insecurity—it’s possible. It’s possible I’m just centering myself (but hey the blog is about my journey, so…..). I just know I wish people would stop asking because this process is a trash heap and the May 1st deadline to decide cannot come fast enough.
And my feelings on all of this may change once a decision has been made. #idoubtit
The decision is something I fret about endlessly. I know what is in Hope’s best interest academically. I feel like I know what is best for her emotionally and psychologically. I feel like there are great options on the table that meet her where she is. That said, I feel like Hope is so overwhelmed by the options and just the whole idea of everything that it is somewhat paralyzing. I’m not sure what she wants, whether she knows what she wants, whether there’s even a clear sense to her thought process at all even though I can see her trying on different ideas and options.
Hell, she still thinks it’s possible for her to learn and possibly major in piano this summer. We’re not totally based in reality here.
It is exhausting for both of us. It is hard.
It’s probably both our version of normal and more generally normal in the grand scheme of things.
And I still just wish it was easier.
A decision about what will be next for Hope is coming, (technically she has made it but I’ve told her I want her to consult with AbsurdlyHotTherapist about her decision process), and then we will fret about the implementation of that decision. It feels like a black hole to me. I like to fix things and I can’t fix this.
I wish it was easy and a different version of normal.
April 8th, 2019 at 10:52 am
I’m sending hugs across the blogosphere. With our oldest people asked about college etc when he was living in his car. We were just happy he wasn’t incarcerated. I’d say “he’s taking time to figure things out. Who knows what option he’ll choose” and then I’d smile like a deranged Stepford wife until they became uncomfortable and dropped it. I don’t think there is a “normal.” To me that’s probably just “boring.” You’ve made this parenting journey because you are special. You are stronger. Hope is doing quite well. That’s what matters. Good job, Mama.
April 8th, 2019 at 9:34 pm
oh, how I remember this from my older girl’s senior year. people were constantly asking “where is she going to college?” and I just felt so “not normal.” Because she wasn’t even going to be able to handle community college and had no immediate plans at all. Then one day this response just popped out: “actually she has a lot of severe learning disabilities and we’re just really proud of her for graduating high school.” and then I realized it was true and I felt a lot better.
she is now a young adult with a full time job and an apartment. like her, Hope is where she is and is dealing with what she is dealing with, and at her own pace, she will kick ass.