Category Archives: Lessons Learned

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!

My Issues

When I became a mom, I knew it wouldn’t be an easy job. Parenting is hard. I did think that it would become easier at some point.

Let’s just say, some point has not yet arrived.

Parenting Hope at 20 is as challenging as parenting Hope at 12; the challenge is just different. She had a taste of freedom when she was away at school, and while I don’t have a lot of rules, the ones I do have I’m pretty serious about. We bump heads occasionally over it, but I’m the mom and the mortgage payer–I make the rules.

My fears for my daughter are different in some ways. Good decision-making has been a struggle for Hope this last year, and unfortunately she has felt the heavy gravity of some of her poor decisions. It’s been hard to watch, and it’s also hard to trust her in some areas as a result. I’ve learned that she doesn’t really get that trust is hard earned and easily lost. My trust issues when it comes to Hope feel so trauma based. I sometimes even feel panicky when I think about what has lead to my distrust. It doesn’t feel good.

And low key, I sometimes feel like, does my kid have any idea how her decisions, actions, choices affect anyone else besides her? There’s almost always a financial cost. There is the emotional cost and when she pays the consequences, sometimes I’m caught up in that foolishness as well. So, yes, there is a deeply selfish component that drives me nuts too.

And then there’s just decisions that leave me perplexed and wondering what’s going to happen next. For example, Hope has been working for about 3 weeks. She’s called out twice. The first time she said she didn’t feel well–she didn’t seem sick. Today, she didn’t have a reason. As a manager, I would be concerned that she wasn’t the best hire and that maybe she isn’t terribly responsible. A third call-out would very likely result in a termination–there are just too many people in need of a job for any company to deal with a lackadaisical work ethic. I just don’t get it.

When I discovered she wasn’t going to work today, I silently fumed. I’ve been telling myself to chill out because after a year of doing so little that it would take a while for her to find her footing. When she worked last year, she was a dedicated, reliable and a strong team player. Now, not so much. And, right or wrong, it’s driving me absolutely nuts.

I take a lot of pride in my work ethic. I routinely pull 50+ hour weeks; I cram as much as I can into my work day. I’m super productive. I have learned this year that my anxiety drives a lot of this behavior, which isn’t good, but somehow I make it work. Motherhood changed my work and career priorities a lot; it was wonderful to pull back and find self-worth in mothering. These last couple of years, I’ve been able to dive back into work, and I hopefully set an example for discipline and productivity.

Yeah…that doesn’t seem to be the case though, and honestly I seethe because of it. I want Hope to be successful at whatever it is she is going to do. For me success is 80% hard work and 20% luck. I’m not sure what equation Hope uses in terms of success or even if she’s thought that far. I just know that her approach, such that it is because I do not think it is planned or thought out, is just to float.

This is driving me nuts and I’m fully aware that ultimately it’s my issue. Hope is going to do what she’s going to do–or not.

As calmly as I could, I told Hope about the possibility of self-sabotage, and I got a blank stare. I told her the truth that I was disappointed to see her calling out twice in as many weeks for no clear reason. I also told her that how I feel about how she handles her employment is my issue and I’ll have to work on it, but it really is triggering me (that’s an understatement–I’m really emotional about it). I also told her I loved her. I also retired to my room because my own emotions–however illegitimate they might be–are real and I was really struggling with how to engage in healthy ways.

The idea that I need to withdraw because I know I can’t manage my emotions seemed to get to her. It doesn’t change her behavior though, so I’m still in my room with Yappy, noshing on cookies and writing about my parenting emotional hangups.

I know that Hope will get it together one day, not today but one day. I know that; I believe that. For now, I just need to get a handle on my expectations, my emotions and my own dreams for Hope. She’s got to find her own way, in her own time. I desperately want so much for her and I’ve done as much as I can to smooth a path for her, and that’s it. It is up to her.

So these feelings and all that underpin them are my issues. I’ve got a lot of stuff to talk to my therapist about because I can’t stand feeling this stuff. It’s not healthy, and it’s probably not fair.

Parenting is hard.


Realizations

Hope and I have had an interesting journey. The first year was tough–getting used to one another, trying to create a sense of normalcy, trying to get the healing started. I remember when my depression kicked in and when I started learning about secondary trauma. Hope was in yet another school–she’d already been to so many, and had difficulty making friends.

We connected with some birth family, dealt with a lingering criminal investigation back in Hope’s hometown, estrangement from my mother and oh yeah, finishing a dissertation. I think of that year often nowadays; there’s something about 2020 that reminds me of our “bonding’ time the first few weeks.

I made a cake every week.

I have baked cakes most weeks since March. It’s one of my ultimate comfort foods. As Hope doesn’t really get into cake like I do, I also do not have to share my cake. Yes, that admittedly gives me some petty pleasure. And yes, I just had my nightly piece of chocolate frosted cake.

I have struggled with depression most of my adult life. It’s managed by meds and therapy. Even though my very high intrinsic motivation is one of several triggers for my depression and anxiety, it’s also likely the thing that keeps me from tumbling over into the abyss.

My drive and inability to sit still for very long has meant that I won’t just lay in bed watching the ceiling fan for hours. There have been times when I have wanted nothing more than to do that because the sadness, emptiness and darkness had taken over. The anxiety keeps me up and functioning. It’s frankly an awful vicious cycle.

Proof? I took today off to rest, to just be. Instead I worked on finishing up setting up my new desk, checking and responding to a few emails and drafting a couple of things that need to go out tomorrow.

I did lay on the couch for a couple of hours with Yappy while playing on a coloring app, so there’s that.

Today it really, really sunk in that Hope’s depression and anxiety don’t look anything like mine. They aren’t even in the same neighborhood. They manifest so differently that it has taken me 6 years to realize this. I feel really foolish that I’ve failed to see it as clearly before. I’m also embarrassed and ashamed that there are times when I said things without realizing Hope’s emotional limitations in the moment. I am certain that there are times when my dimwittedness really harmed her and our relationship. That will weigh on my heart until I die.

I’m grateful for whatever grace she has extended me because I certainly don’t deserve it.

Tomorrow brings another parenting pivot. I never stop learning and try to incorporate the new knowledge and make changes. This pivot requires some significant changes. I expect to stumble…a lot, but Hope needs some things from me and those who love her that I really didn’t understand.


The Summer of 2020

We all know that 2020 has been a complete shit show. As we enter the final quarter of this crazy year, I’m frankly wary. This summer has especially been hard for me and Hope.

As a parent you do what you can to help your kids learn to make good decisions. It hurts when you watch them not make the best decisions, and you just hope no one gets hurt and wait close by to help pick up the pieces.

That’s what the last couple of weeks have been, working to maintain our home as the safe space to recover and heal. I thought the crisis was over weeks ago, but it got one last breath of life and as it finally expired, it left a hot mess in its wake. It’s been hard for Hope and for me. It’s so hard watching your kiddo suffer natural consequences.

Hope will be ok with time; I believe that. But I’m guessing like everyone, 2020 has changed her. In some ways I see her having gained some wisdom, which never comes easy. She is strong, and while putting your bad decisions under a microscope is always hard, I see her replaying things in her head, turning them over in her mind, questioning her reactions to all sorts of scenarios. Of course we all do this. Sometimes it’s healthy, sometimes it’s not.

During this time, I have done double duty. I’m mom first, but my daughter also needed a good girlfriend to talk to sometimes. It’s a hard flex to go between these identities, but she needed a friend sometimes. I shared my more of my own bad decisions, and the proof that life goes on. I talked about what I needed to do for me to move on to better choices. I told her she would find her way and what worked for her. I enlisted friends and her godmom to help prop her up. Hell, at one point I actually offered my daughter an edible because I saw she needed help settling down and trying to get to sleep. She declined–Mom ABM was shocked and happy she declined.

And then I mommed. I mommed so hard. I cooked, a lot, nearly daily. I made appointments. I juggled work and parenting in ways that felt like our early days. We watched our binge show on Netflix. We talked. We cried. I got her up and pushed her to get showered and dressed daily. I talked to our medical/mental health squad, sometimes late into the night. These last few weeks have been intense, and soooo reminiscent of our early days.

It made me remember just how challenging it was learning about how to help Hope and how much I needed to learn about trauma. It made me go through my own process of revisiting some of my decisions 6 years ago, wondering if there were things I could’ve and should’ve done differently. I had a breakdown, wondering if the summer of 2020 was my fault. I begged our family therapist to tell me what I did wrong to increase Hope’s risk of being harmed.

End the end, I realized that in spite of our decisions, Hope and I are still standing. We definitely have some dings, dents, and rust spots, but we’re ok.

Hope is taking some time off from school, and after the election, we might pack up Yappy and relocate outside of the US for a few months. We could both use a change of scenery. When Hope was originally planning to be in residence at school this fall before they went remote, I looked into packing up Yappy and going away for a while. Now I’m looking at moving all of us for a few a spell. I’ve joked that depending on the election results, I might just ask for asylum.

This year has a been crazy and this summer…well, it was rough. But we’re ok.


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