After spending all of 2016 trying to orchestrate Hope’s success, I slid into December exhausted and frustrated. My daughter was frustrated and exhausted. Our relationship felt no better than it did at the beginning of the year.
I feel like I threw out everything I knew and just said, “Eff it. How bad would it be if I just stopped?”
Here we are nearly 8 weeks later and a calm has fallen over our home. With the exception of the ongoing chatter about all things Kpop, Hope and I seem content, actually happy.
She’s a delight to be around
most of the time.
I’m not angry
much, so I’m guessing I’m easier to be around too.
We spend time together in the evenings and chat about all kinds of things including politics.
We started planning a grand trip abroad for spring break, and then she asked me if we could go visit family instead.
For three years, I have been trying to help her to build her confidence to ask for what she wants and needs—she’s doing that now.
Some of her trauma-related behaviors are well controlled. We have slid into a period of just regular 1st world teen problems. And you know what? That’s awesome! We’re both closer to normal, delightfully normal.
One day last week, she loaded the dishwasher and tidied the kitchen completely on her own. I was initially suspicious about this, but she said she knew I was tired and it wasn’t a big deal.
I give her a list of a few things to do, and for the most part they get done.
I was chatting with a neighbor this weekend and I just said so proudly, Hope is such a good kid.
I mean, I knew that she was of course, but it’s like she’s sloughed off some of that hurt and that anger. She still hurts; she’s still angry, she’s still fearful, and sometimes she’s still stuck in the past. But it’s so much less than it was even 3 months ago.
It’s not just that she’s healing. It’s like when you’ve had that big injury and the scab falls off and you know that you’re on the other side of the mountain of healing. You’ve got a ways to go, but you know it’s going to be ok. I can see Hope’s new skin after some of the scabs I’ve nursed for 3 years have finally fallen off. That new “skin” is bright, soft and supple. It’s regaining its color too. She’s going to be ok.
As a parent to a kid who’s experienced so much trauma, I feel like I can breathe again.
It’s like a big inhale, and a lovely 8 count exhale.
I think she’s breathing easier too.
When your kid reaches that turning point in healing, it’s like a bit of freedom for both of you. I feel like maybe I can trust her more now not to freak out over innocuous things. Even her severe fear of bugs is easily managed now (which is great since I no longer fear being pushed out of the car).
I feel like she can trust me more too. She finally is comfortable enough to ask me to order her something or ask to go hang out with friends. She didn’t use to do that. Those are tangible things happening that tell me the trust is real.
The most amazing thing about where we are right now is that since the ongoing crises are over, we have time to really look to the future. Hope is beginning to seriously think about her future now. We’re exploring how she will define what success looks and feels like for her. We’re looking at her post high school options. These are such extraordinary things. It’s not that I didn’t think they would ever happen; it’s that I had no idea when they would.
Last week, she announced that maybe she might want to be a translator one day. She said she might want to move and live in a foreign country at some point to immerse herself in the language. She thought I might be sad.
I was thrilled. My daughter has gone from no dreams to big dreams.
I told her that I will make sure I keep my vacation savings account flush so that I can afford to see visit her and have her show me around.
Saying that it would be a dream come true for her to step into that kind of reality is an understatement.
It’s great when other people tell me that I’m a good mom. It feels weird though when people assume I’m a good mom because I “saved” Hope or that I get a pair of angel wings just because I adopted an adolescent. I politely rebuff those kind sentiments because I know that I just wanted to be a mom, and Hope just needed one and somehow the universe smushed us together.
But sitting down and taking a moment to reflect on where we’ve been and where we are now, well, that makes me feel like I’m getting it mostly right. It builds my own confidence in my parenting. I’m hardly an expert, and I’m certain I’ve probably gotten more wrong than right on many, many, many days. But I love my daughter, and I’ve done everything I can to help her heal, tried to use whatever privilege I have to shield her from harm in any way necessary, and loved her with my whole heart.
Who knew? That recipe seems to work! So, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. I look forward to continuing this path and helping Hope blossom into whomever and whatever it is that she will become.