I’m experiencing all kinds of cognitive dissonance over here. So, this is the summer of life skills, right?
Right. I’m all in on making sure I foster competent independence in Hope.
And then, I’m constantly wondering if she ready. I’m constantly doubting whether she’s as competent as I hope she is. I’m overwhelmed when she is unable to do something; I try not to say it out loud, but it just lingers.
And then sometimes I just think, what the WTEntireF?
Last year, when Hope interviewed for a spot at her boarding school’s summer program, I remember sitting watching the interview and how my girl was charming, smart, poised, and confident. Even if I know she doesn’t usually feel like any of those (#depression), she rose to the occasion and really hit it out of the park.
I’ve found that sometimes Hope really can perform like a 17 year old who is college bound and ready for the world.
And then, there are times like when I was away on the business trip recently and Hope texted me that the remote control to the main TV stopped working.
I sent her this.
She actually texted me back to ask what should she do?
I am nearly 2,000 miles away. I dunno, maybe watch TV in your room with your TV?
She texted me about the remote control, y’all.
And you know what, 2 weeks before that, she texted me, from her phone, a Google-able question.
These are the moments, ironically usually by text, that keep me up at night. She’s not going to be interviewing every day….no, no, she’s going to be watching TV while asking me questions she can ask her phone. It’s the daily tasks, the ordinary stuff, yeah, that, that’s the stuff she can’t do.
Or won’t do.
I found Hope a volunteer opportunity that would allow her to work every day, though I’m voluntelling her that she needs to put in about 20 hours a week.
Me in the AM: Hope, call the store to set up your schedule.
Me in the PM: So, what’s your schedule?
Hope: Oh, right. Yeah, I looked on the website.
Me: Huh? I told you to call.
Hope: Yeah, but I looked at the site.
Are we even involved in the same conversation? I’m not even sure anymore.
We went around like this for 2 days, until I announced that tomorrow I would just have to physically sit next to her to bear witness to her calling to set up her schedule. #unbelievable
Contrast this with her performance during her college orientation this weekend. *That* version of Hope was anxious, but made conversation, asked questions, and charmed a few other parents along the way.
I know that a lot of this is normal, but it is dizzying.
I am reminded that Hope is a bit behind the curve. She’s still immature; her emotional age still lags behind her peers. She’s catching up; I can really see the gap closing, so deep down, I know that she will be ok, but that gap tho…
I think about the emotional age gap and the depression and the anxiety, and the trauma and the and the and the, and sometimes I feel like we’ll never catch up. And then I spend time wondering what “never catching up looks like?” I wonder what it will look like for me. I wonder what it will look like for Hope.
This transition is certainly less scary than when Hope and I transitioned to be a family. The stakes are really so much lower, but I’m still feeling like…is she ready? Do I believe she’s ready? Does my angst mean I’m possibly not ready?
I dunno…I also feel like Hope’s ability to survive or thrive in college this fall is a reflection on me and my parenting. Did I do everything I could to help to Hope? Did I provide her enough safety? Did I support her enough emotionally? Did I invest enough in her education? Did I try enough different kinds of therapy? Was I the best mom I could be to her and for her?
I feel like I’m about to be graded, and I never worry about grades, so why am I freaking out about whether Hope is going to get to college and text me that she has a hole in her sock, wanting to know what to do?
As I spiral this post out of control topically, I’m realizing that I’m wondering if I’ll be judged on what is probably dumb ish that all kids do because ours is an adoptive family?
I mean, in adoption, you get the halo because you “saved” a child (I hate this) or the horns because you “saved” a kid but didn’t “really” save them because they are still a dysfunctional hellion.
And I thought I’d stopped caring a long time ago about being judged for my parenting activities and choices.
Looks like I care after all.
I also know that when Hope needs to be great, she’s more than steps into that. All the other times she is what’s probably a normal slug of a kid.
I know I did my best for Hope. There’s always room for improvement, but I would like to think I’ve done a good job mothering Hope these last few years.
I also know that I am spending a fair amount of time every day thinking about how it will all feel if Hope doesn’t have the best experience there.
So, while I continue to press on with Hope’s life skills curriculum this summer, I’m going to try to trust this process and where it will take things with Hope. She’s going to be ok. She’s going to learn how to do the things she needs to do.
She will be fine, and so will I.
June 18th, 2019 at 10:58 pm
Trauma history and ADHD here. Also, a hyperfocusing perfectionist who went to an elite college, earned a grad degree, and survived it all by never stopping and never letting myself process what would happen if I stopped living forever in crisis mode. I’m *used* to trauma. I’m *used* to high stakes, life-or-death, crisis mode thinking. I turn “on” and don’t think and outrace the panic in my own mind just to survive. Then, when things start to feel “safe” and all that overwhelm that I’ve been out running through crisis-to-crisis thinking suddenly catches up with me, I rebound panic spiral, become overwhelmed and helplessness, and start to believe that everything *will* crash down on me finally. It’s not the true emergencies that almost paralyze me. It’s those mundane moments when safety feels like an illusion and my life feels like it’s balanced like a Jenga tower and one *tiny* thing goes wrong that can tip me over the line from brilliantly coping to a dissociated puddle. I have – no joke – had my own moments in the past year (which was a genuine trauma emergency for much of it) wherein trying to figure out how to deal with the fact that I somehow screwed up the picture frame size on our t.v. almost undid me. This despite the fact that I simultaneously took on a broken system, maintained a fairly high-tier job and lived to tell the tale over that same time period. I panic begged my Partner to fix the t.v. for me. He tried to show me what he did, but I remembered none of it. On most days, I’m perfectly capable of figuring out very complex electronics out and building computers from scratch. But, on those bad mental health days when even a t.v. remote is too much, there’s something very safe and emotionally regulating about the fact that my Partner cares enough to recognize what is happening and will just *do* it for me. It reinforces that not *everything* is a tightrope and sometimes it *is* safe to fail. That wasn’t a lesson I learned in the past. I know there’s a line to walk with a young adult between being Hope’s “safe person” and a shelter from the internal emotional storm when she is highly triggered vs. becoming a crutch who reinforces she isn’t competent on her own. But, based on my experiences at least, it is possible in the world of trauma to simultaneously be highly successful and also sometimes just shut down so hard that the very simplest of tasks seem insurmountable. I don’t know if that is what is happening with Hope, but, hopefully, my explanation of what I’m feeling when I feel “helpless” might provide some context and basis for discussion with her around how seemingly radically swings in “adulting” are a thing in those who experienced complex trauma, but don’t preclude success in college. (And also how to tackle the emotions that might be behind those “do it for me” texts.)
June 19th, 2019 at 2:12 am
“Never catching up” – you know, I think at this stage you’re actually aging out of the phase where there are set milestones every year kids are supposed to be meeting academically/socially/etc. Later on, if you do this or that or mature in x way at age 25 vs age 23 doesn’t make that much difference or cue so much judgment. You can just hang out with people a bit younger than you or older than you. As long as she’s on a positive trajectory, I wouldn’t worry too much about the long term. And you will still be around to support her through this current transition.
Also, you are right that lots of kids struggle with these things (especially boys!) Lots of boys are advancing through college without a clue what to do with themselves and lacking basic executive function skills to like, sit down and fill out job applications. They do fine. Hope already has a jumpstart because she’s been away at boarding school.
June 19th, 2019 at 3:03 am
I can relate to Hope. I fail at some completely basic adulting even though I’m hitting 30. I would rather check the website than call the store, for example. Because social anxiety. I struggle with an inability to plan, especially anything which takes persistent effort.
Yet in other ways, I’m pretty damn high functioning – like when I worked my job. Uneven development!
June 19th, 2019 at 8:07 am
One of the challenges in parenting ‘adult’ children is that we need to support them in their decisions (except in extreme cases :-)) even if we don’t think they’re ready. Be there for them, but accept that they are responsible. It’s hard! And I think you’re doing it well.
June 19th, 2019 at 9:17 pm
Oh boy what a tough but wonderful spot to be in. I get it, totally anxiety provoking and I do something similiar…if my kid can’t get X then I have failed to parent effectively. But, and you can remind me this later, it isn’t the case. You and Hope have made so much progress and she definitely can do it for sure. Yes there is stupid things she calls you for because she has to, she has to know that even with stupid stuff you will have an answer for her even if its Google it. She has to know that no matter how trivial you are still there and guess what you are so she will be fine too. Deep breath, some yoga and maybe a glass of wine. You got this and so does she!!!