Author Archives: AdoptiveBlackMom

About AdoptiveBlackMom

I'm a single Black professional woman living in the DC area. I adopted a tween daughter 7 years ago, 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, 2013-2021. All rights reserved. (Don't copy my ish without credit!)

Hat Pin Legacy

When I entered adulthood, my mom gave me a hat pin. I’m sure I put it somewhere super safe, which is code for do not ask me where said hat pin is!

Her mother, my grandmother, wore hat pins. As the story goes, back in the day–we’re talking 1930s/40s–hat pins were all the rage. Not only were they fashionable, but they were small weapons women could use to defend themselves against untoward behavior from men. You put them between your fingers and it’s rather hard to get away from you, but that pin can do a little damage.

The dude gets handsy, and you simply reach up, pull that pin, and poke them a few good times.

No more handsy.

So, my grandma told my mom, and my mom told me.

Now anyone who knows my mom also knows that she will try to stab with keys poked between fingers or whatever she might get her hands on. She’s a fan of the hat pin, even though I’m not sure I can ever recall her really wearing one. She doesn’t wear hats…but I digress.

She gave me a hat pin to potentially use as a weapon. I am the third generation of this hat pin saga, which I thought was pretty cool.

So, at some point, I told Hope about the hat pin. She thought it was absurd, really. And, she’s probably not wrong, nearly 100 years later, one might ask how effective might a hat pin really be at warding off an attacker.

During an outing to a jewelry show years ago, a vendor had lovely long hat pins and I decided to gift myself a new one and also get Hope her first pin. I made a big deal about it because it’s really a family tradition at this point. For Hope’s part, she was like, “Um, that’s cool; they are pretty.”

Fast forward a few years to this past weekend. Hope was showing me her outfit on Saturday as she was about to head out to her first Pride event with friends. She had on a black Pride tunic that was open in the front but closed with sexy safety pin closures–you could see her bra. She wore short biker shorts with black fishnets and boots. I had to remind myself that this ensemble was practically a church outfit compared to what would be visible out at the parade.

As she started getting her things together to head out; I asked all the usual mom questions about who are you going with, and what time can I expect her. I told her to be careful.

Hope: “Yeah, I’ve got my pepper spray and my pin.”

Me: “Pin?”

Hope: “Yeah, my hat pin.”

And there it was on her tunic: her hat pin. I didn’t even notice it because I was distracted because her bra was visible. But she had it on.

Y’all my daughter is one of the messiest, most disorganized people I know, but the hat pin I bought her years ago, what right here on her shirt, ready to be pulled out and used for getting stabby.

My voice hitched a little when I said goodbye.

A fourth-generation was stepping out with a hat pin ready to face the world.

It was so symbolic of our bond. A couple of days later, I still get misty about her wearing her pin. It was just such a surprise, a pleasant, loving surprise. It seems so silly, but that moment means so much to me.

It’s moments like these when I am reminded how fortunate I am that I get to parent Hope and that she accepts me as a mom. What I didn’t really allow myself to dream about was whether she would want to carry on some of our family traditions; to find that she embraces them…it was just a beautiful moment.


Ouch!

I’m traveling again this week. I went from no work travel for more than two years to two back-to-back trips.

Tonight is night 3 of 5, with the 5th night on a red-eye back to the East Coast.

I’ve been looking forward to this trip because I could see some great friends and my favorite conference, visit a dispensary or two, and enjoy some really good wine.

A couple of days before departing, I started to piece together my old travel habits. I started making a grocery list, doing laundry, making packing lists. I started getting really anxious about making sure that Hope had food in the house, that I should make a casserole and a couple of dishes for her, did she remember how I prep Yappy’s food in the morning and was she going to use his buttons and make sure he got enough engagement throughout the day? (Yes, my fixation over Barkley reached new heights during the pandemic. His separation anxiety is unbearable and I am his emotional support human. But I digress.)

I was telling Google to put some things on the shopping list, when I suddenly asked Hope what she wanted me to make for her before I left.

“Oh…mom you don’t have to do that. “

“I know, but I mean, I gotta leave you something to eat. I’ll be gone nearly a whole week!”

“Yeah…..no. Please, don’t bother.”

My face.

I swear some small tiny place in my heart broke. Just a little tear, like a paper cut….IN MY HEART.

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Because if I don’t make you something I’ll be a bad mom.” I have no idea where that deep down dark fear came from, had no idea any feelings like good mom/bad mom truly lurked in there like that..triggered because I was told I didn’t need to prepare food for her to eat while I’m gone.

Hope rolled her eyes. “Are you serious right now?”

::whispers:: “Yeah. I feel like if I don’t leave something I’m a bad mom.”

Now keep in mind, I typically cook on Saturday and Sunday for most of the week. If either main dish is not visible from the very front of the fridge, it does not exist for Hope. It’s always been like that. Sometimes I legit “refresh” the view just to let her know that there are more options available to her.

Most weeks, Hope and I only get to hang out a few hours early in the week or on Fridays. We actually have such different work schedules that we are like ships passing in the night.

It took me a minute to process what Hope not needing/wanting me to cook for her really felt like.

It hurt.

Not because of Hope, but because of me. Hope is a young adult. She orders food all the time. Buys her own little special groceries once a month at one of the local international market. She goes out with friends and always brings home leftovers.

Hope can certainly manage on her own for a week. She doesn’t need me for that anymore.

That. That part. That “anymore” part.

That’s the part that hurt.

When Hope came home from college for spring break in 2020 and ended up living back at home for 2+ years later, it seemed easy and appropriate for me to turn to slip back into Momming activities for Hope on the daily. We needed the nurturing of it during a damn pandemic raging while Satan was president (Don’t fight me, fight ya mama).

But she’s over it. I mean, I’m sure she loves having food options at home when she has blown her UberEats budget, but she is more than capable of ensuring that she will not go without food if I’m gone for a week, and I’m sure more, especially if I leave the Costco card behind.

This is great and bittersweet. It means she’s confident and capable of taking care of herself. I’m sure she will make different decisions than I might desire, but she will be fine. She’s stretching and taking some baby steps. That is so cool. I’m so proud of her.

I really am. And I’m a little sad because my little girl isn’t a little girl anymore, and while I know that getting her to this point is has taken a lot of hard work from both of us, I feel that sadness that parents feel when you just feel like the crazy joyride of parenting goes by so damn fast.

Hope has no idea (until she reads it) that I think this is her biggest successful flex on me. And without any irony or sass. She didn’t need my casserole.

Again. Ouch.

And again my need to step back in this way is in recognition of her increasing skills in adulting. And that’s so awesome. I just didn’t see it coming into clarity for me in this way at all. I had no idea being told that my Momming Activities weren’t needed in this way would hurt my heart so much.

Well, I split the difference for this trip. I did pick up a few groceries for Hope and made sure that I bought a few treats too. But I did not cook anything. I just created through that and all the related activities and move on down my list.

For now, I still see the empty space on my mental calendar and know it’s because Hope doesn’t need me for that thing I used to do anymore.

That anymore still hurts, but I know that this is a win.

I’ll cook something special for dinner this weekend in celebration.

Ha!


The Maddening

Have I mentioned that parenting Hope through this adult transition is the most maddening?

This transitional period is hella maddening.

As I type this I am silently raging. The last two days with Hope…Woooosaaaaaaa.

Silently raging.

Disrespectful, dramatic, clueless, hypocritical…I could go on, but suffice to say she is doing a whole ass step show on my very last nerve. And just when I head home to talk this out with her, she hits me with some more bullhitsay.

And what is even more triggering?

Knowing that she genuinely sees none of this the way I do, genuinely. Because despite my daughter’s fervent belief that she is fully aware of the world’s secrets, she just fell off the back of the Target truck.

The fact that I know that she’s clueless and emotionally dressing up in my high heels, wanting to be seen at times as…an equal? Roommate? Bestie? The fact that I know this makes her ridiculous behavior seem that much more annoying and obnoxious.

I love my daughter with my whole heart.

But I do not like her right now and would love see her successfully transfer back into an on campus experience and do this dumb shit away at school the way the Holy Homeboy intended.

How I have any black hair left is a sheer miracle after the last two years of drama.

You know, I knew middle school was trash. We had some good stretches in high school. I thought I had really averted disaster. But noooooo, the bucket of mess hit during a pandemic with us living together for the first time in nearly 2 years. I had no idea or indication we would end up with me replying to a text, “we’ll just go” with “bye. [sarcasm/eye roll/neck roll implied, you had to be there].”

I’m pretty sure that the stress around our never ending drama saga is also at the root of this arthritis flare I’m experiencing.

So yeah, I’m mad and I hurt, which honestly makes me more mad.

Why didn’t anyone tell me that this transitional period is some bullshit? Was everyone else’s kid away and they missed it [like my folks]? Did earlier drama make this seem mild? Is it just not annoying to you? I’m over here doing my best not to do some super petty shit that will make things worse but give me enormous temporary satisfaction.

Adulting and parenting are so damn hard. I mean, I knew it was hard, but why is it getting hard-er? I legit thought I’d made it through the teens; this transition should be good! Too good to be true.

How did you get through this period of extreme boundary pushing?


We Need to Talk about That Draft

So, it’s not surprising to me that Roe is on the brink of being overturned. Conservatives have been on this march for a long time. The Senate Turtle was delighted to prevent Merritt Garland from getting a hearing while practically running a sprint to fill RBG’s seat.

Never mind that BIPOC women, and especially Black women, tried to tell y’all…repeatedly.

Now WW are out here dressing as handmaidens and chastising BIPOC women for not running to their rescue in droves. Ladies, we been here. Been voting for errbody’s interests consistently and holding it down. *Now y’all want to step into leadership.*

This is that allyship for suckers.

I’ve lowkey been withdrawing, talking to elders, subbing indigenous folks’ social media as they drop contraception and abortion knowledge. I’m not out here marching; I’m trying to learn the old ways of helping women retain their autonomy.

But I digress.

The draft. So, there’s a footnote in the draft that makes reference to 2008 adoption data by the Centers for Disease Control. The footnote basically stated that the number of children relinquished at or soon after birth was practically none. It didn’t take the internet many steps to interpret this as a supply/demand issue in which outlawing abortion could result in more babies to meet the unmet need.

Sigh…Yeah, I know, but the background isn’t quite done.

Fact-checkers have dismissed this interpretation as false. Rather, they argue, the footnote suggests that fetuses that are subsequently relinquished at birth will find homes because of the presently low numbers of available children.

Say what now? A tedious, semantic difference with little distinction to me. Make it make sense, y’all.

I recognize the irony of saying this as an AP, but work with me here…We are not entitled to other people’s children. Full Stop.

All children deserve to be planned, welcomed, desired, loved, etc, etc, etc. Yes, even unplanned birthed children.

There are almost a half million children in foster care who would love to either return home or join a loving permanent home. They are here. They breathe now. They have needs right now. They need us, right this minute. And as they live and breathe, they have rights. Those would be one-day siblings, in utero, do not. Full Stop.

Yet, there are folks out here who believe the first moments are not to be in the embrace of the person who carried them, but a family who is foreign to the child. That new family can be beautiful, loving, etc etc, but that separation from the start is…whew. Sure for many adoptees it works, but for many others, it begins a life of questions that may or may not be answered.

Socially, are we cool with that? Are we ok with forcing women to physically go through the rigors of pregnancy, childbirth, and the loss for both folks with uteruses and the subsequent children born because 5 people on the court are…”originalists?” I mean, I was only 3/5 when I did get a shout-out, so if we’re going back…Or are we just picking and choosing stuff?

It’s never been a secret that I’m pro-choice. I won’t apologize for ending a pregnancy with someone who was emotionally abusive. Years later when I saw my former partner, he was in rehab trying to get off drugs. Miss me with any lectures about my choice. No regrets and would do it again in a minute. If that meant I needed to cross state lines or hop a flight, I would do it without hesitation. Everybody can kiss my grits too.

I respect how folks feel about the issue; it is a deeply personal issue. For many, it is a spiritual issue as well (even though the Holy Homeboy doesn’t drop any verses on it), but all of that stops an inch from my nose. You don’t get to decide what I do inside my temple. It’s my temple, not yours and not the community’s.

I should’ve known adoption would come up in a very loud way as we make our way to this decision, but ugh. I hate it here.

There’s so much more I could gripe about, but WW and this adoption narrative vex my spirit something terrible.


Thoughts on Gratitude

When Hope and I first matched, I remember being so grateful that I’d such a great, smooth, and quick process heading towards adoption. It took me longer to gather all the paperwork and get my home study done than it did for me to get matched. Hope was the first profile I was ever sent. I looked at a few others as we were exploring whether she and I would be a good match, but it was like I knew from the moment I opened that email that she would eventually be my daughter.

I was naïve about a lot of adoption stuff back then, but I was eager to learn. I really leaned into my work skills to listen, read, learn, navigate and avoid some landmines (not all of them, but many). I got rightfully dragged a few times, and what I feel is wrongfully dragged others. All of it hopefully made me a better mom to Hope.

An early lesson was not to expect my daughter to be grateful for being adopted. Few moments have really crystalized this lesson for me more than one day when Hope and I were talking about what our fantasy lives would be like.  When I asked my daughter what her fantasy would be, she quickly responded that it would be to still be living with her dad. I was really struck by how easily she answered the question; it shouldn’t have been surprising. I should’ve known that she thought of continuing a life with him. The fantasy would’ve been never having even had to meet me.

That’s not to say that Hope isn’t grateful to have been adopted, but I’m a second choice. I get that and respect it. I think all APs should.

During the pandemic, Hope and I have had a lot of discussions about gratitude, and most of them have not been about adoption. But indeed, some have. We’re in this transitional space where Hope is going through big changes as a young adult, and ever so often she will openly talk about what her fears and feelings were about possibly aging out of foster care vs. having been adopted. She will talk about feeling fortunate for having been adopted so she didn’t have to age out. It’s less about me and more about the trajectory of her life is different and she’s still processing that.

To be honest, sometimes it makes me uncomfortable because she will be really specific about what could’ve been and what “I saved” her from (her language, not mine). I try to remind her of the joy she’s brought to my life and that I’m so fortunate that she agreed to the adoption and accepted me as a mom. I don’t like being on the receiving end of the expressions sometimes—she deserved a family, she deserved permanence and stability and she could have chosen someone else to parent her. I’m grateful she chose me. She doesn’t owe me anything.

There was a FB post recently where a new AP expressed a lot of frustration about her daughter’s behavior and overall lack of gratitude in general. She was looking for guidance on how to change that behavior. It made me really reflect on these 9 years with Hope, especially the early years. What did I expect from my daughter? What behaviors did I want to see vs. what I did see? Did I want to “change her” or accelerate her healing?

I’m not going to lie, I felt shades of all of it. I never vocalized it, but I did feel it. I learned to resist those urges and focus on getting her the support she needed. It wasn’t easy. I realize now that sometimes the frustration I felt was really about the lack of gratitude I felt from her. I had to do a lot of personal work to figure out where that came from. The short version is that as an adult in midlife I adore my parent more now than I probably did as I child. I see in retrospect the sacrifices they made for me and my siblings, how they did their very best in raising us even if it wasn’t perfect, and for those things I dwelled on as mistakes that I can see with a lot more grace than I did before.

But I’ve been adulting for over 30 years; I would hope that my relationship and view of my parent had evolved over that time. I realized that I wanted Hope to see me with the same rose-colored glasses but now instead of 30 years from now. Not ok, not fair, not appropriate. Why would I expect Hope to have understood me that deeply or extend the grace that I don’t deserve after this relatively short period of time? I shouldn’t and I don’t.

Hope and I are still evolving. We do regularly tell one another that we are grateful for the other, but not through an adoption lens, but that backdrop is always in the frame for me. I do hope that we will continue to work through this gratitude thing; it’s complicated. I just know that I’m glad she is in my life as my daughter. I recognize that this was not an ideal situation for either of us by a long shot. I also know that we’ve created a great life together.

And I’m grateful for that.


Hola!

Hope and I are vacationing in Mexico. This is the first vacation of this kind that I’ve shared with my daughter, and let me say, it takes some getting used to.

I am learning so much about my daughter on this trip. First, she is as goofy and clumsy as ever. She is a young woman; she may not be grown=grown, but she is blossoming. Some aspects are great to see, others are awkward and still, others are “I could go to my grave and have lived well not knowing that piece of information.”

I’ve always tried to create a strong line of communication between me and Hope. It isn’t always comfortable, but it works. It allows me to gently point out miscues, work harder to meet her in the middle and feel a bit better about some of her decisions, many of which are different from mine at her age. There was a time when I would have really disparaged those decisions, but as I continue to unpack my own baggage, I try to lay down the judgment and stay present when she needs me.

Not easy, but it’s a constant goal.

I usually take this kind of trip alone or with friends; it has been a bit strange doing this with her. Not bad, but strange, like I’ve crossed some boundary. I get to set the boundaries, I decided I wanted her to have this experience of a beach/pool vacation full of rest and relaxation. We’ve checked that box; maybe we will do it again sometimes. I don’t know.

Today has been the first day that Hope got snippy with me. I knew she was moody, and why so I just apologized and moved on. As the day unfolded, we talked about the moods, the feelings (sorry, no love match at the resort) and how we just gotta move on. Meanwhile, one of the workers at this place has decided that we’re a couple, Hope is his stepdaughter, and that he’s coming back with us to the US this weekend. Amusing. It’s unrequited love, but it’s a nice ego snack.

In any case we’ve got a couple more nights here together, and I’m eager to see what happens next.

Ruins at Tulum
Our panoramic view

New Hope, Who Dis?

Yes, I know after being absent around these parts it’s rare to post twice in a week. Don’t get used to it! That said, this weekend Hope and I head to Cancun for some much-needed R&R, and I actually tend to post a bit when we are on vacation..soooo, who knows!

Anyhoo, I had to drop a quick post about Hope. I don’t know what version of Hope this is…maybe 3.0? 5? Whatever, the point is that Hope is changing right before my very eyes.

As much as I might grumble a bit about the challenges of parenting a young adult who is living at home doing the sometimes dumb things that young adults do, I am getting a close-up view of Hope really growing up and into the person she wants to be. That’s pretty cool.

I’m sure you’re like, Um, ok, what’s up with Hope?

So, this semester she is taking 2 courses at the local community college. I was clear that I expected her to not goof off and apply herself. Even though I didn’t really expect all As, I told her (and I actually do believe this) that she is capable of A quality work. Hope has struggled with school since we became a family. Everything seemed hard for her. The content. The deadlines. The teachers. The environment. When she withdrew from college a year and a half ago, she was already on academic probation. So, while I wanted to set an expectation, I’m going to be transparent and say I really wasn’t sure how this would pan out.

I ask her how classes are every week or so. A few weeks ago, I asked how she was doing with due dates. She noted that she hadn’t missed one yet.

Y’all my daughter has ADHD, and it’s been a devil to manage. Last year, her docs took her off of all meds; I worried but they said trust the process. Um, ok. So, she’s doing her assignments and turning them in on time. I was stunned.

Then I booked our vacation. I honestly only took my schedule into consideration when identifying dates to travel. I stay busy with work and next week was mostly free with no external engagements. Hope was excited when I told her where we were going; she frowned a bit when I told her when. Turns out that next week is midterms.

Ooops!

She’s been anxious about it for a few weeks, but the reality that we were finally getting back to some semblance of normal in resuming our vacation schedule (spring and late summer) kept her excited.

So today, I stop by her room to chat and check in about today’s work schedule. She announced that she had a B in math and that she was getting a jump on midterm things that are due next week so that she can maximize her time away.

Wait what? You have a B in math? You hate math! A B!!!

You’re planning ahead? You’re getting a jump on things? You’re maximizing?

Seriously, if you have a kid with ADHD or is otherwise neurodivergent, you KNOW that this is beyond a breakthrough, this is like an effing miracle! I can’t even really articulate how stunning this is.

I am so proud of her. I’m so proud of how she’s figuring out her way. I’m trying to push back all my new expectations. I don’t want to crowd her and I don’t want to upset the apple cart. But wow, what for some folks seem like tiny steps are just seismic shifts for us. I’m actually stunned.

I always have known that Hope is smart. I didn’t know how long it would take for things to catch up and work themselves out, but it seems like we are entering a phase where some of that is happening. I’m over the moon happy for her. I see her confidence is much higher. I see her figuring things out and not asking me to do it for her. It’s all happening right here, right now.

And as much as I hate having gone through a pandemic, new traumas and so many downs, this up, this high makes it worth it. I believe in Hope and can’t wait to see how she finishes out the semester and how she continues to move forward.

It’s the same Hope, but different, a bit more mature, settled and rooted. I’m so happy for and proud of her!

I see you Hope!


The Balancing Act

Yes, my balancing act of parenting a young adult continues. I try to remind myself that Hope is absolutely normal. That the boundaries she’s pushing are normal. She’s defining herself, stretching, growing. I see the development happening, and some days I marvel at how she’s blossoming.

And then other times, I’m just hella annoyed.

I’ve written before that I have few rules: No drinking from my liquor cabinet and no cannabis flower in my house. Beyond that, respect me and respect my house. This is our home, but in terms of property—this is my house.

Paying the mortgage grants additional privileges.

If you unpack my rules, you’ll see that they don’t say *don’t* engage in drinking or cannabis. I would strongly prefer Hope not to do these things, but I also am not foolish enough to pretend that she doesn’t.

I am a natural contrarian. I loathe rules. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have my own rules/codes that I live by, but to have an external set of rules not set by me governing my behavior has always been a tough pill for me to swallow. I just don’t like rules or a lot of oversight.

I’m fortunate enough to have had parents that allowed me a lot of rope and to have a boss that has given me free rein over my programs. I value that trust a lot and I don’t abuse it, but I do stretch!

Hope is in a stretch period of life, and I get that. Again, it’s kind of fascinating to have a front-row seat. But when I have to make a rule because I see it’s necessary it really pains me and pisses me off!

Last week Hope got in at 5 am after a night out. I was not a happy camper. As she was telling me *why* this happened I was like, um, this is an excuse and not a legitimate explanation. So now, she has a curfew.

This means now I also have a curfew. I am annoyed. We were doing just fine, and now we have a curfew.

This week’s dilemma was she was clearly oversleeping and would not get to work on time. Do I wake her up to help get her going or do I mind my business?

I woke her up. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. This time I did.

She’s still going to be late, but she’ll be there.

It’s always a choice to be made though on whether to step in. I want to help her be successful, and sometimes that means letting her fail for now.

I’m honestly struggling with this. I’m not sure what I expected with this phase of parenting.

That’s not true—I thought Hope would be away at college doing whatever without my watchful eye like I was away for school and not with my parents. I didn’t anticipate a scenario in which she would be home during this period.

The pandemic really changed all that, and to be honest, even though Hope has a goal of eventually transferring to a college to finish up her degree, the world feels so different now that I have no idea if that will really happen. I know I will support that effort, and my worries have less to do with Hope’s ability to work hard and make it happen and more to do with the fact that the world is a growing shit show.

I don’t know, the attitudes of the teen years in retrospect seem more predictable. That’s probably the rose-colored glasses talking, but this season of parenting seems really unpredictable. Will she or won’t she make it home before midnight? Will she or won’t she get off the dating apps because I’m afraid that she’ll run into a serial killer? Will she or won’t she drink my high-end moonshine?

It seems silly, doesn’t it? To some extent, I suppose it is.

But it’s real. Thanks for reading my never-ending processing.


Passing Time

At this rate I’m only posting once a month. I wish I could commit to more, but things are really crazy! I’ll get there.

There are currently so many things happening all the time and then you remember: there’s still a pandemic and we might be on the brink of WW III.

Anyway, Hope and I go on vacation in 25 days.

We’ve both been battling a bit of the blues lately. I think mine is related to work juggles and hormones. Hope’s blues are related to some social issues she’s wrestling with. I noticed things shifted a few weeks ago. I didn’t say anything; I just kept an eye and ear out. I reminded her that she could talk to me without judgment. She declined. As the lead up to my annual conference bore down on me, I could see her withering a bit like a flower. The week of the meeting–everything was a blur.

But within 24 hours after the meeting I was ready to call the therapist, the psychiatrist, and the PC doc. Things had declined fast. We eventually talked about it and even though I was worried, I saw my daughter express herself better. I saw her tell me what she was feeling and why. She engaged in healthy self-protection behaviors. I saw someone who was suffering, but this Hope had more tools and better coping skills.

I’m always proud of Hope, but I made a point to tell her I was proud of how she was handling things even though I know she felt kinda shitty.

I still called and made the psychiatrist appointment today. I’m super proud of her, but we both think she could use some help with brain chemistry as she works through some things. But wow has this kid grown recently. It is the coolest thing to realize; it really is.

Hope commented today that it didn’t feel like we had been together 9 years as a family. I asked her how long it felt; she said, I don’t know, just not 9 years.

I’m pretty sure it’s the specificity of the number. Some days it feels like we’ve always been a family. Other days, it feels like the time is moving so quickly that it just couldn’t really be that long. Layer pandemic time on all that and it just feels like a long, comfortable time.

So, yeah, that’s what we’re doing: having a time. Living, working, studying, teaching Yappy how to talk using AAC buttons, dating (both of us are dating and that it a hoot), and just living.

The living ain’t exactly easy, but we’re doing ok, still. 🙂


Emerging from the Darkness

I do not particularly like the notion that “everything happens for a reason.” Often we hear it said when we try to explain things that should largely be unexplainable. We retrofit the notion to explain how some awful event sent someone on a new trajectory on which they began to thrive.

No, sometimes ishttay stuff just happens to folks for no damn good reason.

I tend to post about depression and anxiety a lot on my personal social media channels. It’s something Hope and I live with and have lived with most of our time together. Surprisingly, we are both in a fairly healthy place right now. I’m on meds–but I’m always on meds. I’m down to one, and frankly, these days it’s really about managing my perimenopause symptoms than anything else (incidentally, OTC Estroven is a wonder drug). Hope is not medicated at all right now. She’s been in remission for more than 6 months.

This is the only time she’s been medication-free since I’ve met her, and it is amazing to see her emerge from what was the darkest period of our time together. We’ve been through some stuff these 9 years, but in 2020 it was like the floor dropped from under us. It wasn’t just the pandemic, though that didn’t help our mental health at all.

I continue to shy away from the details of what happened that summer on through the winter of 2021, but suffice to say it was a series of events that would shake most parents’ foundations. I swung from wanting to pack up Hope and move her far, far away to just saying eff it and committing 1st-degree murder. It was a horrible situation, and honestly, it’s one we occasionally still have to deal with sometimes.

There were weeks when getting Hope out of bed was my primary goal. I failed a lot that fall. She ended up taking a leave of absence from school. She was suicidal. It was…a lot.

Even though I had support, everyone thinks they understand depression until they really see major depression up close and personal. We think it’s just a really bad case of the blues, until it’s not. Until everyday you have to check to make sure your kid is still alive. Until you have to drag her to the bathroom to shower so that you can change the sheets, freshen the room and try to get some food in her. You are in constant contact with the primary care doc, the psychologist, and the psychiatrist trying to keep the ship upright. Oh, all while working a job that was emotionally exhausting in its own way because a bunch of White folks discovered racism in 2020.

The support I had, I’m grateful for, but it was rarely the kind of support I really needed: Someone else to come stay to help look after Hope and me, cook, walk Yappy, laundry, whatever. I couldn’t even articulate what I needed it was so overwhelming.

But we are a year past it now. And Hope? She’s emerged so much stronger and a bit more mature. She’s had a job for nearly a year now. She’s bought a car. She’s back in school this semester and turning assignments in ON TIME (for parents of kiddos with ADHD, y’all know what a miracle that is!). She has friends. She’s dating. She is living. Not as much shakes her now; she handles disappointment better.

Oh, make no mistake, she does incredibly silly things, age-appropriate things, irritating things. Last month, I nearly took the door off her room and the bathroom, threatening to replace them with shower curtains for some privacy, because of a major trust violation. The Council of Uncles talked me down from the ledge and she kept her door, but I confiscated every bit of contraband and have random searches in place for another month and a half as a result.

I refuse to believe that she endured trauma to get to this place. It didn’t have to happen this way. I do believe that she learned some things from that chapter, but I think she could have thrived without 6 months of BS trauma. I think she has spent the year doing hard emotional work and pulling herself back together to get here.

It’s been like watching her blossom, and every parent wants to see that.

I’m hopeful that she will continue on this track. Again, I’m not so naive as to believe nothing bad can happen moving forward, but I know that we both are in a better coping place. We don’t blame the trauma for that.

We credit the hard healing work for the strong emergence from the darkness.


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