Category Archives: Hard Stuff

Thoughts on Reunion

I’ve often written about Hope being in reunion with some of her biological family. Over the years, the relationship has ebbed and flowed. While it isn’t what I always hoped for Hope, in total, it’s definitely been a good thing for her. I don’t know what I imagined the relationship would look like, or how everyone would deal with their own emotional stuff related to the separation, the loss, the adoption, and the reunion. I just know that everyone involved has tried to figure this thing out.

Years ago, I wrote about finding Hope’s biological mom. I remember when I found her, I felt like the information was burning my hand; I wanted to reach out to her. I wanted to orchestrate the connection. Thanks to my therapist (who is amazing!), I slowed down and really deliberated my reasoning. I wanted Hope’s mom to know that Hope was ok, that I was a good mother, and that I was hopeful that she could have a relationship with her daughter. I never reached out to her, and ultimately that was a wise decision. Hope has expressed minimal interest in reconnecting over the years. I ran the risk of really overstepping in reaching out to her mother; so I stayed in my lane. I just made sure that Hope knew that I would support her at any point in her journey if she wanted to initiate contact.

I’ve kept tabs on her mom; the internet is a scary place. For less than $50 I have her address, phone number, job location, and a lot of other information. I update the information every year just in case Hope changes her mind. I never wanted her to have to go through a big search in the way so many adoptees must endure trying to find family. I keep things in a digital file with a link that’s available to Hope at any time.

I think of all of Hope’s biological family on major holidays. I wonder what their dreams of their family looked like, I wonder what family recipes Hope is missing out on, what family traditions she is missing. Sure, Hope and I have our own traditions–pizza and gifts on Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving with family, brunch on Easter–but I know that there are other pieces that are just not here.

Recently, an opportunity for more reunion presented itself. At Hope’s request, I jumped into background check mode: web searches, image searches, cross-references, reaching out to someone, who knows someone, who knows someone. within a few hours, I was pretty sure it was a legit overture. Within 24 hours, it was confirmed. I kept Hope informed the whole time.

And then she made a decision that wasn’t a shock, but it did feel…I don’t know. I’m still figuring it out. But that’s my stuff. I’m sure that Hope is navigating a lot of emotions she hasn’t shared about the situation. I’m proud of her for articulating her immediate needs; I know those needs may change in time…or not.

For many adoptees, reunion can be complicated; this one isn’t any different. Emotions can be complicated too. Decision-making is also complicated. And you know what, there isn’t a single right answer.

That’s not quite true. APs just gotta support adoptees.

Eight years ago, I promised I would always support her having connection with her family if that was what she wanted. Certainly, there have been times when holding that promise felt hard for me, but I tried my best to support Hope. These connections are her birthright.

We’re all a bit older now, and a little wiser (I hope). And my decision-making in Hope’s life is decreasing as I try to create space for her young adult flexes. It’s an interesting time for both of us. I’m hopeful for Hope’s future and will continue to walk alongside her as she navigates decisions about reunion. I’ve kind of made peace with my own curious questions about her family; none of it is really my business. It’s Hope’s business.

But on the eve of another holiday, I can’t help but wonder about all Hope’s people out there. I hope they are thriving, that they are happy, healthy, and as whole as one can be when their child is not with them. I pray that one day everyone’s questions will get answered, and that everyone can get to the next level of healing.


Thoughts on Food & Eating

I’m pretty open about my eating disorder. I am a recovering bulimic. I’ve been clean for over a decade.

I developed the disorder during my second year of college. My friends staged an intervention. I started going to counseling. That lead to more than 10 years of trying to get on top of things. Along the way, I developed Barrett’s Esophagus, have horrendous reflux, lost my gallbladder, and have to take a cancer preventative for the rest of my life. I usually joke that the Holy Homeboy gave me scraps for a GI tract, but the truth is that my illness did this.

Anyhoo, my last episode was triggered by my ex’s alcoholic relapse. I tumbled right on in that hole after him. It took 2 years of Eating Disorders Anon, Al-Anon, Codependents Anon, and an application to my doctoral program to get me out of that situation. That was the last time I binged and purged.

Well, I’m going through a high trigger spell right now.

Hope is triggering me.

She’s oblivious to this, as she should be. But she’s engaging in food behaviors that my body interprets as disordered. And it’s kind of driving me nuts.

Generally speaking, Hope is not a morning person nor does she eat breakfast. That took a lot of getting used to. I grew up in a family that sees breakfast as a form of communal worship, and getting three squares is one of the many ways I cope with my bulimia. Left to her own devices, Hope will eat one giant meal because lazy wins when you compare cleaning after 2 meals instead of one.

In recent months. Hope has gained a bit of weight, enough to concern her doctor, and I’d wager she’s gained a bit more in the two months since we saw him last. I have been trying to make sure that she has access to healthy foods: I cook. I successfully compete against the urge to stop off for take-out on the way home from work. I figured that if she was going to binge then I would make sure she had high-quality food to do it.

A few weeks ago I started buying her a few Lean Cuisine’s for lunch at work. Keep in mind, she works at Target, where she could buy these same meals, but I have to make it easy. I also know that food is one ofo Hope’s love languages. I figured that these might help scale back the late-night binges, which takes me back into the first 3,4, maybe 5 years of us being a family.

Hope experienced many bouts of food insecurity as a child. She would sneak and steal food constantly. I made her one of those boxes with snacks and promised to refill as needed. She’s binge nightly for months on end. She was nearly finished high school before she really was able to self-regulate. Now she will eat every meal I offer, but the late-night buffet stays too.

All those years I was never tempted to binge and purge. She had my full attention.

But now our mother-daughter relationship is evolving rapidly. She’s a really cool person, and I enjoy spending time with her. But this food pattern has me feeling things I don’t like feeling. And I don’t know if this is a new version of food trauma, now that she’s older, or a conscious choice to just load up when her body says go, or just what normal college students today do.

(I hate the last part of the last sentence. Why don’t I just announce I am getting and feeling older? Ugh)

I know I’m going to have to talk to her about it. I’ll feel awful if she’s just currently wired to eat like this, it’s a preference. Actually, I’ll feel guilty for asking her to change the routine. But what if she might actually be wrestling with disordered eating? Maybe me disclosing my struggle with the request to change the routine for me would lead to her talking about her needs as well. I would want to help her save herself.

I hope it’s nothing. It concerns me that my ED recognized these behaviors. I have all kinds of triggers; hell my job is a whole trigger. I know what I know. So we’ll talk; and things will be fine. I just need to do this really soon; otherwise, I might slip down this slippery slope. Wish me luck and grace.


Ten Things on Friday: 9/24/2021

  1. I’m feeling the joy of knowing in a few hours I will be leave for more than a week. I seriously cannot wait to get on that plane, land and head to the beach.
  2. Hope will hold down the fort for about 5 days. I know she can do it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t also say that I fret. I’m guessing that’s just a mom thing.
  3. I’m also fretting about Yappy. He’s so attached to me and this will be the longest I’ve been away from him since the beginning of the pandemic. I know he will be a bit sad as a result, and well, that also makes me sad.
  4. I’m still going to the beach tho.
  5. I actually do not plan to do much big “thinking” on this trip. I’m tired of thinking. Work-think and Home-think have just been exhausting for the last year and a half. I do have some life decisions coming up to ponder, but I have no interest in pondering them next week. My brain needs rest, and I genuinely intend to meet its need.
  6. It feels like so much has changed in the last year, and somehow also that nothing has changed. It’s a really kind of confusing reality. The monotony of life continued, though it looks different now. You watch the news and it’s almost overwhelming how much is going on, but then again, didn’t I think that in the “before” times? Especially when that dude who was in office couldn’t stop tweeting? Anyway, I have some decisions to make about parenting, about my personal and professional futures, about home stuff, extended family stuff. Some things I need to move on, others can wait, and yet somehow everything always seems urgent.
  7. It’s not and I plan to rest. I’m nearly giddy.
  8. Today is the last day that Hope and I will be able to have dinner together before I leave so we planning to get takeout. It’s looking like we’ll be getting Indian food. Naan…..YUMMMM.
  9. I’m thinking about opening a small Etsy store for some crochet items this fall/winter. I’m thinking of selling custom dog/cat sweaters. I’ll be sketching out a few projects over the next few weeks. I enjoy it and Lord knows I’ve given away tons of stuff in the last 2 years. I think I’ll still have giveaway projects, but I think I’d like to hustle a little. We’ll see!
  10. Today I’m setting out all the self-care items I plan to take with me. I’ve got a short list, but I think I’m going to put them all out and make final decisions. I seriously can’t wait to get out of town.

Ten Things on Thursday: 9/16/2021

  1. Hope’s arm is healing nicely. Our family physician prescribed a cream with silver that is speeding the healing. Best part? No more pain.
  2. My daughter hasn’t worked for two weeks and that’s about as long as she can go without starting to get impulsive! So, she got her first tattoo this week. She’s been talking about it for a year. I encouraged her to wait, but I have several so I’m ok with body art. I came home from a post work walk and she announced she had an appointment for the next morning. She’s happy.
  3. I’m low key sad I didn’t get to take her. But you know, good for her on the adult flex.
  4. It’s her astrological sign, a crab. The art she chose isn’t really to my taste, but it wasn’t for me. She showed me beforehand and I had a neutral response. She knew that meant I didn’t like it, but again she stayed true to her own style. That’s my girl.
  5. The car is finally being repaired after Hope’s fender bender. Over $1K in damage. Another adult flex: Hope has already paid for my deductible – the natural consequence of the accident.
  6. I think I have already talked about Hope’s hair recently, but my gawd does she have a glorious head of hair! Today she had it up in the ponytail puffs, and it was adorable. There are many things I effed up in raising Hope, but love of her melanin and her coils and kinks…I got that part right. I’m hopping she lets me blow it out and straighten it soon. I just want to play in her head!
  7. It’s been a really awful week. And then today I realized I’ve had all the symptoms of a hormone flux. The last bad one was in January. Then I was in a rage all the time. This time serious depression. Gosh I wish there was a way to predict these fluctuations. This is awful
  8. There are 11 days until I hop a plane out of the country. I can’t wait to just stop for a few days.
  9. We are starting to have more tangible talks about returning to college next semester. We are going to plan and hope for the best. This Delta variant ain’t no joke! I know a few breakthru cases, and what’s really worrying me is my sister who’s a teacher being forced back into a classroom, her little kids, my parents, hell me! I’ve got 2 autoimmune diseases to worry about. Anyway, it’s feeling increasingly hard to plan for January.
  10. Today I know I turned the corner emotionally. I’m feeling a little better, a little more clear eyed. A little less fragile. It’s been a rough few weeks!

Until next time!


Adoption Musings on a Sunday

I just couldn’t manage a midweek post between work and tending to Hope’s injury. I’ve been to multiple stores and had multiple Amazon deliveries to make sure we have what’s needed. Dressings need to be changed often so even though I bought a lot right at the beginning, she blew through things quickly.

She’s improving a lot, though the pain is still pretty bad. Blisters popped and revealed the very tender, super vulnerable new skin beneath it. No infection and no worsening, so, so far, so good. Burn unit consult this week.

I’ve been thinking so much about adoption lately. I’m pretty certain because 8 years ago in August/September, I saw Hope’s profile for the first time. I remember there was a video of her having been on one of those Wednesday’s kids spots for the local news. I remember sitting at my desk at work, looking at the video feeling such a rush of different emotions. Love at first sight. Terror, as in, WTF are you doing??? Joy as I watched her bounce around. I excitedly sent the video to my mom, where she watched at her office desk. I called her and I remember saying something to the effect of, “This is her, this is the child that is going to be my daughter.” I just knew.

I have wanted to adopt since I was an adolescent. I’m not sure why I was drawn to it so young. I don’t recall knowing anyone who was adopted (that I know of anyway). I also knew I wanted an older child. Again, no idea why. The thing is I thought I would adopt a boy. We didn’t have any boys in my immediate family other than my dad. I thought I wanted the “boy” experience, whatever that was. The December before I met Hope, I did my vision board; I included a picture of a child’s bedroom and a faceless child. The images I selected clearly reflected “girlie” vibes. I remember thinking it was so different than what was supposed to be on the board. I was supposed to be a boy mom. Ha! The universe said, nah, at least not right now.

The fact that my current Beau is also an adoptee, also tends to keep the topic top of mind because he’s slowly telling me his story. From his perspective, it’s a doozy. And that’s real. I can see the hurt, trauma, desire, sadness, and more. My heart breaks. I can also see adoptive parents who probably did the best they could with what they had. That doesn’t excuse whatever was done or wasn’t done, but entering my own 8th young year of parenting I sometimes get feeling like every choice available is problematic for any of a zillion reasons and just trying your best to choose the one that will be the least problematic.

The truth is that parenting is probably one of the most difficult jobs anyone can possibly take on. It’s rough out here in these parenting streets, and no one gets out unscathed. And parenting books suck, and frankly so do a lot of online parenting groups, IMHO.

And adoptive parenting is its own beast. You come in thinking you just want to be a regular-degular, but somehow super duper parent, ie, neurotypical kid, same race, kinda looks like me, no trauma, no drama, super smart, gifted, talented, etc. etc. You quickly realize that even if those existed, you weren’t on that track. Precious little is discussed about some of the special needs and challenges. I think a lot of APs just think I want a child and then things will be…just normal, life will just begin and continue.

It does and it doesn’t, and maybe you low key actually were on that track after all.

My and Hope’s story started with a hospital stay and me working on my dissertation. It was rocky. The tears, especially for me, seemed endless. My relationships were strained; I felt alone; Hope couldn’t cope with much of anything because moving in was just overwhelming. We were a bit of a mess if you go back to that first year of posts.

But we got through it somehow and continue to thrive in spit of it all.

We continue to grow together and figure it out. I’m not the best parent, my flaws are many. But I have done my best to date, and Hope continues to have a safe place to grow, explore, and transition into adulthood. And ultimately providing that emotional place is the core of my job. So, I’m succeeding.

I’m not even sure what my point is with this stream of consciousness rambling post. This season is just triggering a lot of great memories about the genesis of my little family.

Anyhoo, have a marvelous Sunday.


Ten Things on Wednesday: 9/1/2021

  1. There are 26 days until my vacation. I need to go ahead and get all my papers together. I can’t wait until I’m heading to the airport.
  2. Last week was a doozy. Of course there was Hope’s fender bender. Then there was that time I just know someone had smoked in my car, but someone denies it. Then Hope got really sick; she couldn’t keep food down for a few days and then the head/chest congestion showed up. Oh, and did I mention she had a tooth with an abscess? By week’s end we were both locked down in the house waiting for COVID tests. Thankfully they were both negative.
  3. She’s better now, and back at work. As for me, it was another Wednesday on PTO. I read articles. I took a nap. I worked out. I crocheted. I watched a few episode of a new show I’m watching. I’m about to do a face mask.
  4. I am taking an extra long weekend for Labor Day. Going to a winery with my sister and some friends. And going to just putz around.
  5. I’m reading a book. I mention it because just sitting to read for pleasure is so cognitively laborious since the TBI that I take in most things audibly. I limit my eyeball reading to work stuff that is nearly impossible to get audibly. Anyway, I sat on the patio during quarantine this weekend and read for a couple of hours. It felt wonderful. Maybe I’ll be able to get lost in a book on my vacation.
  6. I think I will try to start planning a March 2022 vacation for me and Hope. Hopefully things will have improved by then. Of course that would require a lot of folks making decisions that will protect all of us instead of whatever the heck they are doing and thinking right now.
  7. I’m thinking Iceland. It just seems so beautiful and rugged. I hear it’s lovely. Cold, but lovely.
  8. Can you believe it’s September? That we are in the second year of living through a whole ass pandemic? It’s hard to process, really. It’s almost hard to really imagine what the post-pandemic world will look like. I sometimes think about how will talk about this chapter of my life with people 20 or 30 years from now. It’s just weird.
  9. Anyone else exhausted by the news right now? Afghanistan, fires, floods, earthquakes….It’s a lot.
  10. A friend resurrected a group chat with women who for more than a decade been my closest friends. It’s hard to admit what a dark place I’ve been in lately. It’s been hella dark. Having an ongoing chat with them like our early years is …let’s just say it’s affirming.

Ten Things on Thursday

  1. Hope is fine after her fender bender. She shook up, but she’s fine. It was a classic case of poor defensive driving; she attempted to “get out of the way” of another driver rather than allowing that driver to navigate on their own. It happens. Of course, now she feels some kind of way because there are consequences to having an accident. I’m not punishing her, but I am making her pay the costs not covered by insurance, like the $500 deductible. “But that’s not fair!” “Surely, you don’t expect me to pay these expenses when you are responsible for the accident.” “But it wasn’t my fault, the guy…he…” “Neither here nor there, you ran into a barrier and damaged the front end of the car that now needs to be repaired.” *pouts*
  2. I am officially burnt out. Work is draining my soul. There is never enough time to get everything done, and there’s always something new to do. I utterly refuse to work early, late or on weekends; I’m miserable enough. I’m certainly not volunteering more time to what feels like an endless black hole. I’m cynical, exhausted, barely able to be professional. I’m just effing over it. My vacation is in 32 days, and I already know it’s not long enough. I’m just blah. I’ve been taking off Wednesdays the last few weeks just to help me get through the week. I end up taking very long naps and catching up on the TikToks I’m too tired or busy to look at the rest of the week.
  3. Is anyone watching The Chair on Netflix? Seems to be the rage with higher ed folks right now. There is an adoption story line embedded. Sandra Oh’s character is a single adoptive mom; her daughter seems to be having some challenges. I’m only on episode 3, but I’m guessing there’s some attachment stuff going on. *Spoiler Alert* I really related to a scene where Oh’s character talks about how her daughter got a raw deal when they were matched; how she falls short all the time and that she’s a mess. Whew, been there. There have been many days where I have told myself I wasn’t good enough, totally messed up a parenting moment or otherwise dragged my own parenting. Was it true? Maybe, but I know those moments feel…overwhelming. I’ll keep watching because I just want to see what they do with that story line.
  4. Remember when I said I was going to log my food and tighten up? Yeah, the logging lasted about 3 weeks. I’m still working out pretty hard (except Saturdays). I’m trying to eat a little more balanced and responsibly. I get so busy during the day that getting lunch sometimes just doesn’t happen. Most days I try to grab some yogurt or some cheese and crackers. I’m still cooking a lot so that Hope has healthy food to eat. She’s got her own eating issues. Her eating is very disordered, but not because she’s trying to lose weight. That said, it’s something I’m keeping an eye on.
  5. Teaching responsible finance to my daughter continues to be a challenge. I got off of the joint account, and not a moment too soon since she’s overdrawn several more times. It’s not that she does not have the resources to cover her purchases, but she her saving behavior is more like hoarding and she’s not giving her self enough to support her regular weekly spending. It’s challenging to offer guidance because its seen as so critical. She’s learning and I want to be supportive, but I also want her to feel good about her choices. I’m guessing we’re back to that natural consequences bit again. She’ll figure it out.
  6. Today is a National Dog Day, so here are some snaps of Yappy looking adorable.
  1. Did I mention that my vacation is 32 days away?
  2. Yeah, so my vacation is 32 days away.
  3. I’ve got another browser open, looking for some new recipes. Why is it that recipe bloggers have to tell you their life story in 87 paragraphs before you can actually get to the recipe? I just need the ingredient list and a general sense of how to throw it all together. If I could find a blogger who just posted pictures and the recipe without the storytelling, I’d subscribe in a minute. Anyway, got any good recipes? We don’t do seafood and we like cheese.
  4. During the pandemic I’ve made about 9 crochet baby blankets. As soon as I finish one, I find out about a new baby or pregnancy. I’ve also made a lot of hats and scarves. I’ve also got a huge blanket for my own couch that I’ve been working on as well. It’s been a really great hobby that makes me feel good to just give away something I made. I love the colors, choosing stitches and edges/borders. I love seeing a project come together and start looking like something. Crocheting has definitely been a part of keeping me together during this wild and crazy time.


Seven Things on Wednesday: 8/18/2021

  1. Well, thanks to variant I’ll be working from home until after the new year. I was getting really anxious about being around so many people at the office; shoot, just riding the elevator feels risky.
  2. I took the day off; it was so nice to just let myself wake up naturally. I slept until after 7. I didn’t do much today, but that was the point. I’ve got a few projects I’ve got to wrap up over the next couple of days.
  3. I think I’m going to take Hope to a dealership this weekend. I know she’s been doing some research, but I think she would benefit from a more tangible, educational experience. I”m really proud of her; she’s saving much more than I thought she would. This is the most motivated I’ve ever seen her outside of her band days.
  4. It just occurred to me that her birth granny’s birthday is in a couple of weeks. I need to remind her. I”d like to plan a trip to see her. I need to check in with her; months ago she was vaccine hesitant. She’s almost 90, and while I would hope to see her make a different choice, if you can’t do what the eff you want at 90, then why bother? Respect granny, but we won’t be visiting until she gets vaxxed. I’d hate to bring something to her doorstep and she’s not protected.
  5. It’s 5.5 weeks before I leave for vacation.
  6. I made a cake yesterday; apparently it was too warm when I frosted it. It slide apart over night. Still tastes good.
  7. I’m off to sleep.


Things I Learned During the Pandemic

I think I may be more introverted than I used to be. I do miss my friends; I really miss my family. But I also realize that maybe I’m comfortable at home. Transitioning last year was emotionally rough because Hope also came home. I wasn’t used to being home this much; to not taking vacations, to not hanging out with folks, to not always making plans. After 18 months, I’m not only resigned to being ok at home; I’m coming to luxuriate in my home time on the weekends. This may change as fall emerges, and I fight another bout of SAD depression.

In some ways I’ve become more patient, but I feel like my hair trigger temper looms even larger. I just don’t act out on it, but I’m kinda always at a rage level of 4-5 on a 10-point scale. I don’t have a lot of places to put those emotions these days, so I try to do other things. It’s hard; I feel like the pandemic has riled up so many emotions for me.

I am sick of math. I love quantitative research; there are aspects of it that I really could get much stronger in, but I’m a solid researcher. Regularly having to calculate risk/reward probabilities in my head when making plans or going out is exhausting. Each week I head on over to the COVID dashboards on the NYT’s site. I look at my state, my county, the counties where my immediate family lives and where Beau lives. I think about what my own exposure level is—I have to take into consideration that Hope works retail and has a high exposure rate. It the idea of always checking the calculated risk of going out in public. I’m not completely fearful, but I really do enjoy being around a few people and I get to see my parents and sisters and nephews and niece now. I am actually just trying to make sure my risks are low so I can see them whenever I want. But the math…I’m sick of it.

Yappy is the sweetest and most stubborn dog I’ve ever known personally. This dog adores people; his disposition is absurdly sweet. He’s a cuddle bum and is very happy nestled up next to you with a light blanket covering him. And then he also can be this:

This is one of his daily standoffs that we are now known for in the neighborhood. I try to let him dictate the direction of our long morning walk but let me try to deviate from his plan—especially if it’s to something he *knows* he has no business doing—he goes from sweet to rooted in his spot, refusing to move. He’s a whole mess. I’ve also learned that even though I taught him how to use AAC buttons, he really can’t be bothered to use them consistently despite positive reinforcement and behavior modeling. He’s on his own ish. I low key respect him for that.

I’ve learned that my home brewed cold brew coffee is worlds better than Starbucks, even with cheap coffee. I used to hot brew and then ice, but I really like the richness of cold brew. It took me forever to get my preferred ratios together, but now, it’s always perfect. 1 cup of grounds to 8 cups of water. I put it in my brewing pitcher, shake, pop in the fridge for 24 hours. I bought these straining bags—kinda like cheesecloth but made into a drawstring bag. Pour into my regular pitcher through the bag and voila! Dunzo! I was on Keto years ago and the only think I kept was my penchant for using heavy cream in my coffee. I froth it and my daily coffee experience is elevated!!!

I’ve learned that after we really get on the other side of the pandemic, I might have to redecorate. I could stand to update everything. I’m also thinking about getting rid of my dining table and just setting up that space as my home office. I think at this point, it just makes more sense and is a better use of space. I want to paint, maybe get a new couch, buy a couple new rugs, consider wallpaper. I just need to switch it up around here.

I’ve really come to appreciate our mental heath squad so much more this year. I’ve gone to therapy since undergrad, and Hope has required varying levels of mental health care since becoming my daughter. But this year…whew, I feel like we’ve definitely got our money’s worth in terms of therapy, meds management, talk therapy. I know my marbles would definitely be scattered all over the floor if we didn’t have a team in place. This 18+ months have really taken its toll, but they’ve remained a steady part of our lives; I’m grateful beyond measure.

Hope really enjoys my cooking. I am confident in my cooking skills, and these last few months I’ve finally really settled into a cooking schedule for the week. I do a lot of cooking on the weekends and keep more convenience foods for the latter part of the week. I’ve also expanded my recipe repertoire. She eats just about everything. She’s always enjoyed my cooking, but I think she really, really enjoys it now. She loves seeing what I’ve come up with. This weekend, I made beef and cheese empanadas.

I’m really over this pandemic; like really, really over it. I can admit, though, that it really has given me an opportunity to reflect and think about what I’ll take from this experience. I’m hopeful that at some point we’ll get ahead of it and that others will get vaccinate or head to a closed colony or something. I am eager to see what the new normal will be; I’m eager to go to brunch again; to socialize, to just be free with out worry of consequences of someone breathing on me. I’m just ready to move on.


Another Parenting Transition

This month marks 2 years since Hope started college. It’s almost 1 year since she took a leave of absence from school. I’ve told her she has one more semester and then I would like for her to start taking classes again to ease back into the swing of things.

So much of parenting is adapting; this is only more intense for adoptive families. You’re adapting to different ages and stages, different needs and desires, and different behaviors. I knew going into this family thing that I would need to change a lot in order to make it work. I figured at some point, as Hope neared adulthood, that we would find some level of stasis, stability, a time that didn’t require so much adaptability from either of us.

I got a glimpse of that when Hope went to boarding school and then on to college. Of course then the pandemic hit and both Hope and I had the rugs pulled from under us. My transition was a bit smoother, but things were very difficult for my daughter this last year. Pulling her from the darkness was really hard, taxing, emotionally draining at times, but we did it. She’s stable and doing so much better.

In fact she’s doing so much better that she’s acting like a young, college aged person: testing limits, trying on decisions, behaviors, trying to figure out adulting.

Y’all, it’s driving me nuts. Historically, there were things I was strict about and things I let go. When Hope went away to college, there were a few things I asked her to hold back on, but I also acknowledged that I wasn’t going to be there looking over her shoulder and that I hope she would make good decisions. For the most part she did, and she did other age appropriate dumb ish. Ish I shouldn’t know about, but that Hope provided regular updates on. A few weeks in, I told my daughter that college was like Vegas–some of her extracurriculars should just stay there and I probably shouldn’t know about them.

She still told me. I suppose that’s a testament to how close we are or how much trust she has in me. All I know is that it drove me nuts. When she moved back home in March 2020, I told her that home was not Vegas. That lasted for about 3 months and then things went south. Since then it’s been a constant struggle of basic rule enforcement (and we don’t even have that many rules), common courtesies (I ain’t asking to use my own damn car) and nagging about chore management. UGH.

I tried to think back and get some sense of how did my parents handle this phase of life while I was in college. Yeah, I was away the whole 4 years except for like 2 summers. The most memorable incident involved me wearing an embarrassingly short pair of shorts (I was so happy that this thighs fit in them!) and my dad saying he didn’t think they were appropriate. I replied, ok, I will no longer wear them at your house or around you. And then I went back to school. It was a declaration of independence and autonomy. I never heard any more about it or really heard my parents exert any real control after that.

Developmentally, Hope is not quite where I was at the same age, so I feel like I still need to hover a bit, but it’s always a mystery about how much to hover and how much to enforce. There are a few non-negotiables and I’ve had to exert some real consequences on occasion for those breeches. Day to day parenting is a little rough for me right now. I’m constantly asking how much rope do I give, should I intervene because even Stevie Wonder could see what was on the horizon. Often times, I desperately try to redirect my energies, but the reality is that I still need her to follow the house rules and mind a few Ps and Qs.

I swear I feel like I’m constantly failing. I know I’m not, but it often feels like I am. I feel parenting stress today as Hope is 20 as when she was 14. I didn’t really anticipate that. I know that the pandemic threw us all a major curve ball. I’m grateful to have had this time to grow together; I’m grateful when she hit such a low point that she was here with me and I could immediately spring into action. I’m grateful both of us have survived.

All that said, I’m hopeful that this awful group project that we’re stuck in, aka The Pandemic, ends soon. I want her to resume her collegiate life and do some of this adulting practice at school where she’s not subjected to my watchful eyes. I want her to have some of that freedom. I know that I could simply drop more of the rules here, but I know I’m not going to do that–I’ve got some basic things that just have to or cannot happen here. #nonnegotiables

It’s just challenging in ways I didn’t imagine, in part because my own parents didn’t have the window into the college years that I do with Hope. If she gets to go back to school, I promise to listen to her tell me wayyyy too much information about her shenanigans; I just want her to be physically in a space where she has an opportunity to flex if she wants to. I know it’s going to be ok, but it just feels really challenging right now.


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