Category Archives: Lessons Learned

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.


Ten Things on Thursday: 10/21/2021

  1. Things are good. I haven’t been overly busy this week. I had lunch with a pal today, a boozy lunch, the best kind. I’m glad for a slow week; last week was a doozy.
  2. I even cooked this week. I’ve struggled to get back into meal planning and cooking on the weekends since I got back from Mexico. I’ve cooked a little something but I’ve not been on my game. Until yesterday I whipped up some smothered pork chops, mac and cheese androasted zucchini. It was delish. I’m going to get back on my game this weekend.
  3. So, I know this is random, but trust me, I’m going somehwere with this. I’ve thought long and hard since my vacation. I’ve thought about where I want to go next since the world is beginning to reopen. I might go to another resort after the holidays; I think that might be a good vacay for Hope. I’ve not taken her to one before; I probably should wait until she’s 21. It seems kind a cruel to take her just a couple of shy of her 21st, doesn’t it? Now there probably was a time when I might’ve been petty enough, but it genuinely seems like an awful and I love Hope more than anything.
  4. But I digress…
  5. I have decided that I may never wear a one piece bathing suit ever again. Which I do have feelings about because I have some super cute suits. But when you’re on vacation, your belly is filled, so is your tumber with a humongous daquiri, and totally vibing, the last thing you want to do is go to the bathroom. And then it dawns on you that you have to get nekkid to relieve yourself. It was exhausting. The stalls were small. I was unstable because that tumbler I mentioned was not the first tumbler of the day. One time my straps got tangled and I lost my balance and my obit flashed before my eyes.
  6. “Middle Aged African American Woman Dies Due to a Broken Neck Caused by a Fall. ABM was found dead alone in a bathroom stall, tangled in the straps of her one piece swim suit. She likely lost her balance due to severe inebriation.” The horror. Then I started thinking about why I wear one pieces–“because it hides things that I believe/know other people find unattractive.” It is literally deadly clothing chosen out of shame to a body that done its best by my. So, if you run into me on the beach in my bikini–I’m fully committing here! None of that tank-ini ish, because, I would be catering to the eyes of others–so, yeah bikini, letting it all hang out: Mind the business that pays you! I’m happy and safe, and if I die in a resort bathroom I’ll at least be half dressed.
  7. In other news, Hope had to get a second root canal today; same tooth as before. Seems the young miss has super long roots, and so they didn’t get it all the first time. She started having pain last week. I’m noting that while she might not be complaining about the dental work, her body does not like it. This is the 3rd appointment and she’s got one more. She crashes after every appointment. She’s been asleep since early afternoon. I made her get off the couch and get in her bed. She never turned her lights on. She just climbed into bed clothes and all.
  8. This weekend, I’m going to start doing some purging in her room. We’re looking at wallpaper and furniture. It’s past time to update her room and de-cluttering is overwhelming for her. I’m excited about this project and learning how Hope’s style has evolved.
  9. I’ve also really been reflecting on what have been silver linings during the pandemic. Hands down it has been getting to know Hope and Yappy with a few more years of maturity and wisdom for all of us. This last year has been so hard for Hope; so much of it had me scared for her. I know there were months where she was at her lowest, just could not get out of bed. And she fought her way back from the edge and is on the brink of thriving again. She is an amazing human. I am humbled that I get to walk with her and guide her. I’m so proud of her. And Yappy? My love for this critter is so pure and soulful. I can decipher all his expressions now, and I watched him step into the gravity of his full stubbornness. I learned that he can truly get board, so now we have multiply play times during the day and I got some puzzles for him. I learned that he hates the weight management food I had to put him on; he pretty much said he only eats it because it’s wet food, which by definition is a step above dry food. He eats both, but definitely has a preference. We have full on conversations with our eyes. I love this little boy beast.
  10. So, yeah, things are good this week.


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.


Ten Things on Wednesday: 8/11/2021

  1. Work is just non-stop as usual. I’m tired. Yesterday I put on my pjs at 5:55pm. I was in my bed by 6:30. I’m going to need to take sometime off soon.
  2. Hope is learning some adulting lessons. She overslept one day and called out and then the next day, putzed around and was late again. I know time tracking is hard for her, and we all have days when we’re just off. I struggle with how much to intervene; on the second day I popped my head in and was like, “sooooo, you going to work?” She was oblivious about the time. I know that this job is key to keeping her stable, but I also believe in natural consequences. I end up feeling very anxious about whether or not she’ll make it in on time. I wish I could turn that off, but as of yet, I can’t. It creeps in, even as I’m absorbed in my own work.
  3. She’s also learning about banking. I’m a co-signatory on her bank account…at least until tomorrow. She’s overdrawn her account twice in the last month. It’s not like she doesn’t have money; she just uses an app as banking her checking as…I dunno, but she doesn’t keep enough in it for whatever it is she’s using. I told her the first time to work on managing it since overdrafts cost money. It’s been an exercise in teaching her that poverty costs. She has the money to cover it; I’m also here to bail her out if necessary. I’ve encouraged her to think about what if neither of us could cover it? Yep, that 18 cents ended up costing $30. Nope, it’s not fair, but it is reality. First time it was an accident; this time it was irresponsibility. I told her I have pristine credit and I love her, but I’m coming off that account. Will still be here to help if needed but I need to step back and let those natural consequences to work a bit more.
  4. My efforts at eating better have been…let’s just say unfocused for about two weeks now. The exercise is still hitting hard, but my eating isn’t consistent. I’ll get there. My clothes are fitting better tho, so I’ll take it.
  5. Earlier this week Hope, Sister K and I went to see the Van Gogh Immersive Experience. If you have a chance to see it in your town, do it! I’m a fan of impressionists (yeah, I know, he’s post-impressionist). The exhibit is amazing! The lighting, the music, the color, the stories, it was all just wonderful. Check it out!
  6. There is apparently a version for the Sistine Chapel coming here in January. I’m on a wait list to get those tickets. I’m totally doing that. Even though I got to see it on a vacation a couple of years ago, I just know that an immersive experience will be amazing.
  7. Yappy is coming along using his buttons. Even though he doesn’t use them consistently, he does use them. I added a “Love you” button this past weekend. He seems to love it. He also likes to tap his outside button when we go outside. It really is kinda cool. He’s no chatterbox, but I know a time will come when he will probably use them independently. That’s cool.
  8. I bought a 2 piece bathing suit recently. Years ago, I bought a couple of tankinis, but I’ve never been confident enough to really rock a bikini. I decided, well, let me just buy it, try it on and see. I actually like it. I might buy another for my trip to Cancun. I’m telling being almost 50 can be life affirming if you let it be.
  9. I got to meet a few of Hope’s co-worker/friends earlier this week. I’m amused that she always seems to find the ragtag group of slightly awkward young people. It’s her scene. The kids were lovely, polite and nice…and yeah, a little weird. But the most amazing part? Hope is the stunner of the group. Yes, I know I’m a bit biased; she’s gorgeous. But OMG, she’s a bombshell. Her hair has grown out, and she’s figured out how to really do her hair. This week it just hit that magical stage where the Afro is just…amazing. She strutted, and I loved every minute of it.
  10. I’m going to go put my pjs on now. My bed is calling!

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