Category Archives: Lessons Learned

Onward

It’s the day after Labor Day in the US, and that marks the beginning of fall. It’s my least favorite season. I mean, I love the clothing evolution–booties and cozy sweaters–but emotionally it tends to be one of my most challenging times of any year.

Despite my best efforts, I usually succumb to depression by the time winter rolls in. I’m kinda nervous because I know I’m already a bit down, so it’s going to take extra effort and intention not to fall down the rabbit hole.

I kinda chuckle at the irony of needing to fight depression, when the absolutely LAST thing you feel like doing when you’re depressed is to fight anything. It’s just so much easier to lay down into it.

But, I’m pushing forward and creating some things to look forward to and work on.

I relaunched my little crochet Etsy storefront–I sell sweaters, blankets, and other handmade items for dogs/cats. I also do baby blankets on commission as well.

I’ve initiated a modest master bath renovation. I’m costing it out and of course “modest” is really, really subjective. The highlight of the upgrades is an electric bidet on a “comfort height” toilet. Seriously, I’ve had a non-electric one for years and love it, but I DESERVE less of a squat, heated water, and warm air on my aging tushie.

I’ve scheduled a beach trip for next month, and if I can get my Mr. to take a few days off, I’m hoping we can do a long weekend in a glamping situation.

I’m also trying to pull myself together to modestly increase my workouts, schedule massages, and check out a local stretching studio. (If you are on Fitbit, hit me up. I’m all about the weekly challenges!)

I’m trying y’all. I’m doing what I can to keep my head up.

And yet, things still are what they are in terms of the home. I miss the way things were with Hope. I hate that we have this conflict that has cracked us apart. Last week in therapy I started out saying, “Hey, I think I’m doing ok; I seem to have a handle on things.”

Narrator: And then she cried for an hour.

The grief is just overwhelming sometimes. I’m constantly hoping on the 3 days I go into the office, that things will be and feel different at home when I return. They don’t.

I know some of this is growing pains. I know that some of it is the long tenacles of trauma–hers and mine. I know some of this is untreated mental health. I know some of it is both of us being headstrong and deeply, deeply hurt.

I’ve written many times about being a fixer. Daily, I have to talk myself down from *fixing* us. I know that this is something I can’t fix. I know that all the things I would usually do to fix things will not work; they would potentially make things easier in the short term, but I doubt a “fix” would hold more than a few days. I also know that “fixing” things would mean that I would have to go back on my word; I know for a variety of reasons that would not help things in the long haul.

So, while I grieve the loss of the closeness I had with my daughter, I feel helpless too.

I anticipate that the intensity of these feels will only grow the closer we get to the end of the year. I seriously have no idea what will happen to us on New Years 2023. I do not know if Hope will be ready to move out. She has made it clear she doesn’t want to discuss it, so it just looms over us…kind of like a guillotine. And it makes me feel guilty, not because I do not believe the consequences are appropriate. No, I feel guilty because I fear she really isn’t ready and that she is willing failure to prove to both of us that all she’s capable of. I stay researching alternatives, solutions that will head us off to a different resolution.

And yet, I know that the course we are on…is what it is right now. I’m really trying to be helpful, loving, affirming and a believer in her capacity to do great things. I know she can, but I don’t know if she knows she can.

So, another week has passed. There are other updates, but they aren’t mine to share. I can say that I know that Hope has had great opportunities for explanation and healing of past trauma recently. I’m hopeful that seeds are planted and that they will bloom in the coming months. I’m hopeful for the continued sense of peace, or at least detente, in our home. I’m hopeful for a lot right now.

So, for this week, the motto is simply: Onward.


Letting Go of the Wheel

This last week has been incredibly difficult. Without revealing too much, Hope and I had a substantial blowout, and her reaction to it set off a series of events that just have created what feels like a drama cycle that will never end.

Basically life is a shit show.

I have so many emotions. I ended up having 2 therapy sessions just so I could process my own shit after last weekend. Yesterday I realized that a lot of what I have been feeling can be best described as grief.

Grief is hella messy and can be an amalgamation of so many other feelings.

I am sad. I’m furious. I have regret. I have love. I care. I feel fragile. I am confused. I’m just a mess.

And despite her protests, so is Hope.

Although I’ve just tried to put on a brave face this week, the truth is I really am a mess.

One of the only things I can do is to let go, and my natural instinct is to coddle her, draw her close, hug her, care for her, and smooth the path for her; I’ve come to the chapter in parenting when I have to stop some of that. I have to let go of the wheel and let her drive.

At the moment it appears that she might purposely drive it into a ditch just to prove that she can, but she has to drive herself.

It’s hard. It hurts.

I’m here to catch her if she falls, but having to actually allow her to fall is so hard. So much of this life has been helping her progress towards adulthood and making it as smooth a process as possible. I feel like I failed.

I know I didn’t, but it really feels like I did.

You know those new NASA pictures, I want that for Hope.

Hope, I think, is just glad that she didn’t age out of foster care. It’s almost like this is a delayed reaction to coming of age. Also, it’s like she never allowed herself to dream or think about what she might want to do in this life.

Trauma is a bitch. Trauma did this.

I don’t know what the future holds for Hope and me. Things are serious enough that I’m considering ending our online story because it’s just too hard to write about. I have about 5 different versions of this post and none of them, not even this one, adequately captures my feelings and experiences of the last week.

I’m headed off to go see a friend for a bit because I need to get out of the house. Send Hope lots of good energy and positive vibes. We need them, but she needs them more.


I’m Trying

Last weekend Hope turned the magical age of 21. We were supposed to go to NYC to celebrate, but sadly, she got really sick, and we had to cancel. I hope we can go later this summer.

The good news: she didn’t have COVID.

The bad news: we don’t exactly know what she has. I suspect it was a case of the flu.

I can say that it was super gross. And when Hope gets sick, she really gets sick and she really gets dramatic.

I wish I could say that I turn into this mushy mom figure when she is sick, but I do not. Don’t get me wrong, I do what I can—try to get her to eat, to shower, to rest, manage symptoms, etc. But that sit at the bedside, Flo Nightingale stuff…no.

I’ll even admit that I struggle with leaning into the mushy mom troupe. I’m not that chick. I go into non-emotional mode because it’s a problem to be managed and/or fixed.

My ability to compartmentalize emotion is a handy skill in my line of work where a DEI professional being hyper emotional is just not going to work.

That skill for momming is problematic because Hope thinks I don’t care.

Additionally, Hope’s penchant for dramatizing her ailments has me usually thinking she’s crying wolf. There were times when we were regulars at the Patient First (after several expensive trips to the ER where NOTHING WAS WRONG! Some of Hope’s emotional challenges manifest psychosomatically, which really complicates things).

I absolutely do care, and I’ve improved in doing mushy stuff over the years. Sadly I think I’ve lost some of that ground though.  

I think I’ve backslid recently because the last 2.5 years have been exhausting in dealing with some of Hope’s shenanigans. Without telling all of our business there was a whole host of bad 19-20-something decisions that resulted in some unfortunate entanglements, health issues, law enforcement engagement, and more.

It’s a wonder I have anyblack hair left on my head. I don’t have much, and I figure in the next year to 18 months I will be completely grey at this rate.

During the height of our COVID drama I had to put my emotions on the shelf to just get through it. I just put those mushy feelings away and went about navigating us out of the dark forest.

Now, I’m realizing some of those emotions are kind of stuck on the shelf.

I’m exhausted.

My sisters and I left home at 18 and never returned to live at home—this being 20+ living at home is foreign to me. Sister K also has a 20-something living at home, and frankly, she’s as baffled as I am, just with a lot more emotion.

I find myself frustrated that Hope is chronologically 21 and emotionally 14, 15 at most. Bridging all that goes between those numbers is…a lot. It’s like she wants to go clubbing and she wants me to fix her baby food all at the same time. It’s dizzying, and I worry often that I just can’t do it. I do not have any effing idea how to parent through this. It’s like an uncontrollable roller coaster.

I know that I have unrealistic expectations; I’ve been spending the last few weeks of therapy really trying to get my brain on the same page as my parenting realities. When Hope actually was 14 and 15, I felt like I could really manage things better. At 21 she has access to sooooooo much more than I think she’s ready for, and the stakes seem so much higher and riskier. More than anything I want to protect her.

I also want to protect me.

I really feel somewhat powerless, and I don’t like the feeling. It’s not that I want to control her every move. On the contrary, I want her to be autonomous, to be free, but the trouble that she can get into feels so much more dangerous and life altering at this point. I hate rules, but I had to institute some this year because of poor decision making. Poor decisions at 14 and at 21…both are unpleasant, and both can have long consequences. But the reality is that I made it through the age 14, emotionally 7 period of poor decisions. Living through age 21, but emotionally 14 poor decisions feel a lot different.

To be truthful, Hope is a “good” kid, but she has triggers that just make her spiral and reliably do dumb shit.

And I’m older now. I don’t feel quite so resilient. I’m tired and a bit worn down. Worrying feels different. It’s exhausting.

My therapist gave me some homework and good friends have suggested I need some respite. Both are right. I’m working hard and will be trying to make some plans to get away.

I know Hope is also struggling and it is painful to know that I am not currently able to meet her where she is.

I’m trying, but it’s really hard. I am trying and I’ll keep trying tho.


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.


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!


Establishing Healthy Habits

I have been “thick” all of my life. There are pictures of me around 3 years old with cute chubby thighs. When I got to high school, I played sports–soccer and tennis. I didn’t get thin; I got strong. My mom would say my legs were like tree trunks when I was playing soccer.

I was so proud of my legs then. They were strong, powerful and mostly lean. My thighs and calves were solid.

Losing or maintaining weight has been a part of my lifestyle forever; for me it also resulted in me developing an eating disorder my second year of undergrad. That spun into its own struggle for more than a decade.

I’ve worked out my entire adult life. I can’t say I love working out, but I do love moving my body. My mood is better, it’s easier to maintain my weight and as I get older, moving ensures that I *keep* moving. At a minimum, I get a walk everyday either outside, by YT video or on the treadmill.

When Hope came into my life, I made it a point to invite her to workout or at least move with me.

My daughter loathes exercise. She does not want to move. Hope can legit stay in bed for 24 hours if relieving herself and food weren’t issues. There have been times when she will go for a walk with me, but with the bug phobia, the conditions have to be just right or she becomes an epic pain in the arse because she’s running around and will even run into traffic to avoid a gnat.

Her year at boarding school and semester at college gave her some freedom to order food and to develop new habits. Military school enforced workouts; but college did not. Then the pandemic hit and well…yeah.

Last year, Hope gained quite a bit of weight. Enough such that the medical team has been a bit concerned. She’s got a family history of some not so great thing (we are fortunate to have some of that info about her family history), so they strongly encouraged her to adjust her eating habits and get some exercise. She’s largely ignored that guidance. In fact, she’s doubled down on the eating and has gained more weight.

What I love about Hope, especially during this time, is how much she loves her body. She delights in the size of her bottom and her boobs. She has repeatedly stated she only wants to lose weight in her belly, a notion I often remind her is not really how weight loss works. I don’t want to do anything that jeopardizes her love of her body–Lord knows I don’t want to make her feel towards her body the way I used to feel towards mine.

Recently we were chatting about food and exercise. I noted that a few changes and a little exercise might be a healthy addition to her life. Maybe a 15 minute cardio video and ditching the daily Dr. Pepper could be a start, or you know one of those. I rarely drink soda, but I drink a lot of seltzer, sometimes adding a little bit of juice to get a soda fix.

She scrunched her nose.

Ok, how about weening…switch to diet Dr. Pepper?

Maybe.

As for the videos or a little time on the treadmill?

I hate cardio.

I mean, I don’t always love it, but my body and mood are better for it.

<Side eye>

Ok. I drop it. It’s hard for me to figure out where the line is between nurturing and harassing. I don’t bring it up often; and I am cautious never to be negative. I just want to encourage some healthier habits. I want her to always love her body, but a part of love is taking care of it.

So, 2022 will involve me inviting her to walk with me, do some workouts with me and finding new recipes to try. It’s all fun and games in your 20s when your body can absorb a lot of foolish choices; but then one day you’re 35 and you’re body is like…”Yeah, this metabolism? We’re going to slow that rate to half.”

Oh, just me?

How are you imparting healthy habits to your kiddos?


A Party Ain’t A Party

This stage of parenting is seriously turning out to be the biggest mystery for me. Seriously, so much of what Hope is going through, I went through far away from my parents’ view. I was away at college. Now, I’m guessing, that many more folks experience this early adult parenting than I anticipated with more than 50% of college students living at home.

So, apparently, this is kinda the norm?

Ha, it doesn’t feel normal. Even though I’m a first-generation college student, both of my parents moved out shortly after their high school graduations. My dad went into the military and my mom moved to the city. Like everyone, they made their way and figured it out. Again, they were away from their parents’ view as well.

Me, I’ve got a front-row seat to Hope’s shenanigans. And I find that parenting through them is a big discombobulating because these were not conversations that I or my siblings had with our parents, and they didn’t have them with their parents. I’m like, WTF am I supposed to do or say?

Hope had a party earlier this week.

Yep, in the middle of a pandemic surge, she invited about 15 folks over to a party in the condo party room. It was supposed to occur about a week or two ago, but it got snowed out so she rescheduled to this week. I was not a fan of a gathering, but she contracted to use the party room all on her own—which I was really happy about ‘cause those folks were not coming to my house.

She was very excited, and I was excited for her. Social relationships have always been anxiety-inducing for Hope. She finds it hard to make new friends and sustain healthy friendships. Her current job seems to have a nice collection of young people close in age, both younger and older. I’ve met a number of them and many seemed a lot like her in the anxiety-awkward department so she found her tribe.

Well, long story short, only about 5 people showed up for the party. The day after it was clear that she didn’t consider the party a success, that she was really upset that folks who RSVP’d didn’t show, that she felt like she wasted money, and on and on. I asked her if she enjoyed the company of her guests to which she replied yes! Did they bring food? Yep. Did you have leftovers? Already handled. Did they help clean up? Yep, they even helped me pop the balloons! Wait, you had a party with balloons too? Um, ok.

By my estimate, you found your core, solid pals, but Hope and I do different math. She didn’t go to work the next day. She said she was embarrassed, and my heart broke a little.

After I really tried to listen to her and watched her openly wrestle with her emotions, I got to parenting. Hey, don’t give the people who didn’t show up so much attention when these other five folks came out to hang with you. It was 12 degrees that night; you know how I get when it’s that cold—other people get like that too. We just want to curl up in the covers; we will totally be no-shows. It’s not personal; we still love you, and we are still going to bail on that invitation. It’s a whole arse pandemic out here; it’s not a bad thing that fewer people showed up. Risk reduction! I’m sure that if these folks are your friends and they care about you, they’ll apologize for missing your party.

Welcome to the rest of your life and invitations to stuff that you accept only on the day of to explore every possible legitimate, and some illegitimate, excuse not to go to the event.

Afterward, I pondered when and how I learned that. I thought back to parties I had in my twenties, and I just don’t remember. Sure, I have a little pit feeling wondering if people will show, but somewhere I learned that sometimes they just aren’t going to make it and it’s not the end of the world. Somehow I learned that it didn’t mean they didn’t like me or worse. It just wasn’t the big deal I made it out to be.

I don’t know if I helped Hope through her feelings just like I have no idea how I got to the realization that it wasn’t a big deal, in the grand scheme of things. I find I keep bumping into coaching Hope through these kinds of things and I have to really think about how I learned something and when. I mean, this stuff was 30 years ago; it’s hard to remember. Or I remembered how I originally learned it and then learned something new later but not being able to figure out how to explain it. Then explaining more nuanced things…it’s just harder than I anticipated.

I don’t think I’m messing up, but I wonder how other kids who live at home learn this stuff. Are y’all having these kinds of conversations? Is learning through coaching better, worse or no different than learning through lived experience? Does any of this even matter?

I just didn’t expect to coach through some of these experiences, and it feels even more strange than usual.


Reflecting on 2021

Well, first of all, whew; I’m glad that’s over! I mean, losing Betty White on the last day of the year was just…unnecessarily mean behavior from the universe.

Last year was a bit of a rough ride for me and Hope. It started with the absurdity of the January 6 insurrection—I can’t tell y’all how many friends and family fretted about our safety. We were fine, but having worked at the Capitol early in my career, my partner at the time worked at the complex. I have many friends and colleagues who work there or frequent the complex. Aside from the emotional proximity–that was some wild White people-ish. My career has been devoted to making this country better and to see what we saw…It was as stunning to me as watching the towers fall 20 years ago.

Hope and I would endure a major trauma just days later that was just…Nearly a year later, it is surreal. I remember feeling guilty, angry, pained, devastated. It took months for Hope to recover as she was already flat down given traumas from 2020. But, as always, she is the strongest person I know. Thinking about the last 2 years, Hope had a rough entry into baby adulting.

And then one day, thanks to a great team, she was better. She got a job, started saving up for a car, and started pushing all kinds of boundaries that left us sporadically at each other’s throats. I’m not going to lie, I spent a lot of time mad this summer. This period also left me with some major trust issues, that I’m just starting to unpack now. I came to realize a couple of things during this time. First, my intrinsic motivation made me behave very differently at Hope’s age. I didn’t *really* cut up until I was out of undergrad and had a home of my own. Second, what boundaries I strode across at Hope’s age was done 2 hours away from home and my parents’ knowledge. It helped me remember that her behavior was delightfully, annoyingly and trust-bustingly normal. I did find solace in that.

I said no a lot at work last year. I hope to do more of that this year. My priorities with work are evolving. I’m fortunate to have a lot of autonomy, but something is missing. I’m not being intellectually stimulated in a way that feels good. The last 2 years have been crisis management. How do you sustain anything when a 2 year crisis is quickly turning into a 3 year crisis? It’s exhausting and doesn’t leave much for intellectual creativity or curiosity. I think I’m busier than ever and bored, really bored. I took a 6 week philosophy course that ended last month and the readings, discussions, they were both hard and invigorating. I also realized that this class was honestly the hardest I’ve intentionally worked my brain since the accident. I turned my camera off and hit mute one night because I was overwhelmed by the fact that my brain “still had it.” I didn’t realize how fearful I was that my capacity would always be affected. Anyway, that’s also how I realized, I was bored.

I took a vacation alone; I recommend it. Hope bought a car. I’m so proud of her. My perimenopause symptoms worsened–like WTH? This is really some trash, but I’m glad my circle is normalizing talking about it; it helps to know your repro-revolt isn’t any more or less weird than your sista friends’ experience. I started a small crochet business making pet sweaters and scarves (for now!). Hope made a big decision about her relationships with her biological family. She also has the most amazing Afro now that her hair has grown out, and the best part is that she finally seems to really love her hair. I was partnered and now I’m single again. I was reminded that straight men really have no clue what BS straight women have to contend with. I really need us to do better parenting and modeling healthy romantic relationships because there are a lot of jerks who didn’t get schooled.

As we celebrated last night, Hope and I talked about our desires for 2022–a return to normalcy, the end of the pandemic, a return to living in residence at college, possibly the sale of our home, companionship for both of us and a trip to Vegas for Hope. Yappy just wants us to never leave him ever again–I really need to start working on that in hopes of getting out of the house more.

It was a tough year, but Hope and I ended it on a positive note–dressed up for homemade pasta, playing Mario Kart with frosted sugar cookies, and Costo’s Bailey’s knockoff.

Happy New Year Peeps. Thanks for rocking with me, Hope, and Yappy for another year.


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.


This Week in Parenting

Ah yes, the purchase of a car triggers all kind of adulting issues! There is some work that the dealership still needs to do on the car; I made sure it was included in the contract. I’ve left it to Hope to make the appointments to get it done because it’s her car.

Well, you know how adult-adults talk to baby adults? Yeah, that. This dealership has given her all kinds of run arounds all week. Frustrated, she came to me on Thursday to complain (again).

Now, you know how you have to put a bit of bass in your voice to convey meaning and authority? Most 20 year olds don’t have that yet, so, I asked her if she needed “Dr. ABM” to call; she sheepishly said yes.

I dial up the dealership and leave the sales manager a nice, but firm message that this needs to be taken care of immediately and that there will be no more shenanigans from any other departments: Make it happen sir.

It’s such a whole new world for Hope; I forget how much we model things for our children.

Well, the car is getting the last of its work done this week, just as I gently suggested on the phone.

Interestingly, the sales manager didn’t call me back; he called Hope a few minutes later. She laughed afterward because he told her to be sure to tell me that he called me back right away and that things will be handled in short order.

You got that right.

This is just such an interesting time since I am constantly trying to figure out when and how best to help Hope. I want her to feel supported, but I also want her to feel like she can handle an increasing number of things herself. I always feel like I’m practicing one extreme or the other.

I felt like I did ok this go ‘round. I stood back and allowed her to try to handle it; when that didn’t work, I asked her for permission to help.

This parenting thing really does keep evolving.


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