Category Archives: Parenting

Hat Pin Legacy

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

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

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

No more handsy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me: “Pin?”

Hope: “Yeah, my hat pin.”

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

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

My voice hitched a little when I said goodbye.

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

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

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


Ouch!

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh…mom you don’t have to do that. “

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

“Yeah…..no. Please, don’t bother.”

My face.

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

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

It hurt.

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

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

That. That part. That “anymore” part.

That’s the part that hurt.

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

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

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

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

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

Again. Ouch.

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

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

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

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

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

Ha!


The Maddening

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

This transitional period is hella maddening.

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

Silently raging.

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

And what is even more triggering?

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

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

I love my daughter with my whole heart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Hola!

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

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

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

Not easy, but it’s a constant goal.

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

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

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

Ruins at Tulum
Our panoramic view

New Hope, Who Dis?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ooops!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I see you Hope!


The Balancing Act

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

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

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

Paying the mortgage grants additional privileges.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Passing Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Emerging from the Darkness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


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