Tag Archives: Adoption Lessons Learned

Changes, My Guest Post

I recently had the joy of having a piece published on Michelle Madrid-Branch’s website. In the article called, Changes, I took some time to think about how I have changed and what I’ve learned on my journey as an adoptive parent. You can find a link to the article below!

While you’re there, be sure to check out other posts and links on her pages! She’s pretty awesome! 😊

Changes by AdoptiveBlackMom

Seriously

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Sport Parenting

As a parent, I’ve learned a lot, but one of the many things with which I still struggle is the parent vs. parent struggle.

It’s the comparison game.

It’s funny because I thought I had a hard time responding to stuff like, “How’s your daughter doing in school?  “Joe” was honor roll last quarter!”

I did, I mean, I do still have a hard time responding to this kind of inquiry.

But that’s not it. I feel like what I’m struggling with is at the other end of the continuum.

I feel like I’m competing against other parents who are parenting children who have experienced trauma.

The good news is that I’m losing, or winning, depending on how you measure things.

I checked in with a number of adoptive parent friends recently and other parents online who are parenting children like Hope.

They’re struggles seem so much worse than mine.

Hope doesn’t have the same kind of tantrums.

She doesn’t really rage.

She doesn’t really lie much.

She doesn’t sneak out.

She doesn’t act out physically.

She’s got emotional issues, but they don’t trigger some of the dramatic behaviors I’ve heard about.

Comparatively speaking, I come away from some of these interactions thinking, what exactly is it that’s hard about raising Hope? I mean, why do I get upset? Hope is not doing any of those things.

Maybe I’m making mountains out of molehills.

I find myself minimizing the things Hope and I do struggle with.

So many kids have ADHD!

All teenagers pushback and go through phases where they don’t do what they are told.

Some kids are just so immature for their ages.

I began to think that in the game of therapeutic parenting I’m totally disqualified because we haven’t got the same problems as other parents. How dare I think our problems are comparable to other parents who are struggling to parent kids with profound grief and trauma!

Gosh this is silly, right?

Of course, sometimes I torture myself by thinking I’m lucky that Hope doesn’t act out the way other kids do. How great is it that we haven’t had to go through some of that stuff! Then I feel guilty because it minimizes what I know goes on in Hope’s head and heart, and how that affects us each and every day of our lives together.

In sport parenting, I don’t win or lose, and frankly, I’m not sure which one is which. The other things I often find myself wondering is: Why the devil am I trying to compare our experiences to that of other families anyway?

We’ve all got our own drama, and we all tend to have a lot of it.  Why would it all look the same?

And apparently, how I feel about what Hope and I endure seems to be similar to that of other parents…people tell me so. There’s an emotional similarity there. Even if the drama appears different the emotional upheaval is the same.

So, why do I still pull out a yard stick to assess how we’re doing compared to other families? Is this even natural behavior? Is sport parenting really a thing?

Are we always assessing how we measure up in our own parenting fantasy?

I don’t know.

I do know that I’m going to try to quit sport parenting in 2017.


Caught Up

During a recent session with AbsurdlyHotTherapist, I got incredibly frustrated. All Hope wanted to discuss was band and her crush. For 18 minutes I sat there stewing in my increasing frustration.

Really? Is this what we’re doing today?

We aren’t going to talk about the fact that there were bugs in your room?

We aren’t going to talk about no chores?

I’m paying a co-pay for this ish?

AHT eventually got Hope to mention several things that were bothering her since school started.

I shot him some side eyes as I clearly didn’t think *those* things were nearly as important as the fact that she had a room that lured bugs to it.

Oh, I was righteous in my frustrated indignation.

AHT eventually asked Hope to give us some time to talk without her.

He asked me what I heard, had I listened? He told me what he heard. I acknowledged those things, but still wanted my drama to be acknowledged too.

I grabbed a tissue as I dropped a few tears.

He smiled and said, but you didn’t really hear her.  She is having a very hard time in school already, and she needs your help with that stuff more than you need her to tidy up.

Wait, what?

But what about *me?* #mynarcissismwasreal

Then he told me the good news. Hope is behaving like a ‘normal’ teenager. Her ability to communicate even about challenges is light years better than what it was months ago. She doesn’t practice avoidance and her confidence is up in spite of her lingering and new challenges. She can see a successful future even if she isn’t sure how to get there.

And oh yeah, she still wants to make me proud.

Well damn.

He’s right. Hope has grown emotionally so much this summer.

And I seemingly have regressed a bit.

How did I miss when she evolved into a kid who largely behaved like other kids her age? She hasn’t caught up on everything, but wow she has caught up a lot, given that she was emotionally about 5 when she was placed with me.

And me? I missed that what she really needed was for me to be responsive to her, to help her with her new problems, to just shut up and listen.

She spends so much time talking about band (and we know that I hate that) and what she’s fretting about ish that might happen a year from now. And she goes ‘round and ‘round and ‘round and ‘round, for hours.

It has been easy for me to zone out after 20 minutes and take to my couch.

Instead this weekend, I stopped her and listened for that 20 minutes, and instead of zoning out and I asked her questions. I worked on redirecting her; I focused on solutions to current problems rather than imagined problems of 2017.

And I stopped the babbling and got some responsiveness.

She’s got some new limitations right now that we need to work through, and I’m going to have to chill. I’ve got to focus on being a cheerleader rather than a disciplinarian.

I’ve got to do the laundry. I need to meal plan so that I know she’s eating healthier, and I need to be sure she’s in bed at a decent hour whether homework is done or not.

I have a meeting with the counselor this week about additional support needs for Hope.

She’s finally catching up in some key areas, so it’s time for me to change strategy and catch up too.

This parenting is a constantly evolving game of come from behind and sprinting ahead.


Curious about Her

Earlier this year, Hope asked me how I would feel about her trying to find her birth mother. I immediately replied that I would help her any way I could and that if a healthy relationship was possible I would help facilitate it.

Then she never brought it up again.

I know it’s still in there somewhere. Hope has strong feelings about her mother; I’ll say they are complicated and leave it at that.

Having been found by her paternal extended family just after finalizing our adoption was emotionally challenging for both of us. It brought up a lot of resentment, a lot of grief, but also a lot of love and connectivity. Frankly, it remains a challenging relationship with our extended family, but families are complicated, right?

Right.

So Hope’s mom…I’ve always been curious. Not much is known about her. I know certain things about her and I know what Hope thinks she remembers, but was more likely told about her mother since they were separated at such a very young age. No one has pictures of her; I asked.

A few times I broached the subject with Hope about wanting to just know where she was, and Hope said no. She seemed intent on closing this door.

Given all that I’ve learned over the last few years, listening to adoptees, I figured it would come back around, probably more than a couple of times.  So, when she asked me about how I would feel about finding her; I wasn’t surprised by the inquiry. Actually I felt prepared for it.

Now that I look back on it and our growth through these last few months, I suspect that she was might have been curious  about*my* feelings on finding her mother than on her desire to actually find her mother.

But, even the most remote interest gave me permission to pull out my keyboard and start searching.

I had her mother’s name and not much else.

About two months ago, I thought I found her on Facebook. Some of the sketchy details matched up; not everything, but really close. I could not stop looking at her picture. I searched it for Hope’s features, her skin tone. I wondered what my daughter looked like as a newborn; did she look like this woman?

I was consumed by this profile for a good week or so, and then one day I convinced myself that this was not Hope’s mother.

I was disappointed.

I wondered why was I looking, would it be better if I waited for Hope to be ready? Clearly, this was more about my curiosity at this point than hers. What would I do if I actually found her? I wondered if she even wanted to be found. Most of all, having realized that I didn’t find her, I felt a little twinge of pain in thinking she was lost to me, to us, to Hope. I wondered what that twinge of discomfort felt and how exponentially magnified it must feel for my daughter…to be lost again.

I walked away from the search that day.

A few weeks later, one Sunday morning, while sipping coffee in my PJs and watching Law and Order, I found myself searching again.

I can only explain it as a deep, bottomless curiosity about my daughter’s background. I wanted to know her full story; I love her and want to know everything about her. I want to know or at least see the person who birthed her. I didn’t know what I would do if and when I found her, but I just wanted this information so badly. I’d like to say I wanted to have it for when Hope was ready and I could just give it to her, the truth would be that I desperately wanted to know for myself.  Who is Hope’s birth mother? What does that biological link look like?

I don’t know if it’s my own infertility grief or that I’m nosey, or if knowing would somehow bring me even closer to Hope. I still had no plan for what I would do with the information after finding it. Who would I tell? What would I tell Hope? Who would support me in this crazy wild goose chase?

I never doubted that searching was the right decision; I just couldn’t comprehend what I would do with information about Hope’s mother when I found it.

Well, thanks to the power of the internet, a big hint on a search string and $35 I found her in short order from the comfort of my couch that Sunday morning. It took me longer to get out my credit card and decide whether making the information purchase was the right thing to do than the actual search for the info.

Before I knew it, I had her address, her phone number, and a background check. Two minutes later I was looking at her face on Facebook.

When I saw this woman, I knew right away, this was Hope’s birth mother. I saw that as much as my daughter looked like her paternal family, she bears a striking resemblance to her birth mother: the shape of her face, her eyes, her hair, her long limbs. It was meaningful to see the woman who gave her life because so many people comment that Hope looks like me and I think that it’s just not true. Putting me side by side her birth mother and the blood relationship is apparent.

I read the report over and over, committing some of it to memory. I saved it to the external hard drive. I printed out a copy and put it in my file box.

And then I went back to Facebook stalking her. There wasn’t much to see, with us not being friends. I saw a few pictures, a few pictures of friends and relatives.  I would check ever so often in hopes that she was one of those folks who changed their profile picture frequently. She’s not.

I began talking myself into reaching out to her, but what on earth would I say? Was that the right thing? Who was I reaching for—me and my own curiosity? Or Hope? Was this contact in our immediate best interest? What if the contact was completely rejected? What if the contact prompted a lot of expectations?

The what ifs are endless.

I eventually discussed it with my therapist. She asked a lot of questions, a lot, over a couple of sessions. She convinced me to put the brakes on things. She also asked me to broach the subject with Hope and AbsurdlyHotTherapist.

I sat with it for a couple of weeks, worried about Hope’s reaction.

During a game of 20 questions I asked Hope how she would feel if I found her birth mother. She grimaced, and said very little. I let it go for a couple of weeks. I circled back around and reminded her of our conversations about finding her and how she reacted to the possibility of finding her. I told her I had found her, that I knew where she was and knew how to contact her. Hope thought quietly and said, “That’s ok, I don’t want to.”

And so, I dropped it. The file is away on the hard drive and the papers are in the box. I sense that we’ll revisit it when she’s ready. I’ll be with her every step of the way.

I would be lying if I didn’t say I thought of her birth mother often. I still have all of these questions. I still want to know if there are baby pictures, what Hope was like as an infant. I have a deep desire for answers about our daughter’s life. And I want to know about this woman who gave Hope life. I just want to know more about her, since she’s just such a mystery to me and to Hope.

But that’s all for another day. I may find out, I may never know. I’m not even sure I’m happy I found her since it feels like she’s kind of off limits. She’s like money burning a hole in my pocket, I want to spend by asking a million questions. But it really…all this curiosity is for another day.

I know that, for now, the status quo is what Hope needs to feel safe and secure. I don’t know what is behind her birth mother’s door, and I have to trust that Hope’s memories and stories are what they are. More than anything I want to support my daughter and her continued healing and development, and right now, it seems that she wants me and just me.

So, curiosity won’t be killing me this time.


On the Humble

Sometimes, it hurts to think about how my learning curve impacted Hope.  I mean, I think we’re doing great now that I finally got a clue and because I’m constantly working to learn how to parent her and meet her needs. I’m proud of my growth, but yeah, I get sad and a wee bit embarrassed to admit what a bit of a parenting shrew I was in the early days.

I also recognize that I may be hard on myself, and I have had folks tell me to go easy on myself. I guess because I know that a lot of people were hard on Hope and didn’t go easy on her that I won’t allow myself that grace in her name.

In either case, that learning curve remains steep.

We are sliding into our match anniversary soon; three years ago, some crazy professional people thought I would be a good match for Hope. Their decision changed our lives.  I remember so many people asking me if I was ready to parent a tween who had been in foster care for years.

Um, nope, but hey, I’m going to do it. We’ll get through it.

And we have, but not without so many struggles.

The transition was a dramatic struggle. At one point I thought that this would never work; she was having such a hard time.

Convincing her to buy into my idea of family life after having been in foster care was a struggle.

Food choices were a struggle.

School is a struggle.

Social interactions, yep, you guessed it, a struggle.

Therapies, medical care, medication compliance, all a struggle.

Understanding the full grasp of diagnoses and whether the labels help or hurt have been a struggle.

It hard. It’s all hard. And me and Hope, despite our narrative and this blog, we aren’t special. We’re just everyday folks trying to live from one moment to the next. I reject all the halos and angel wings folks try to foist on me; we’re just a family trying to make it.

One late night recently, I was catching up on reading some posts in an adoption support group. I was reading about a struggle a new parent was experiencing that Hope had endured and that, frankly we still kick around a bit: chores.

I reflected a lot as I was trying to type out my answer on my phone.

My biggest struggle in being Hope’s adoptive mom is checking my entire ego at the door. Admittedly I have a huge personality, I give off big energy, I like having a big voice and probably at some point in my life even demonstrated a few bully tendencies. Setting down my ego and keeping it in check is one of my life struggles as a mom.

Chores are a big flash point in my need to ego check.  Like many foster kids, Hope moved from place to place in trash bags. Valuing and caring for material things was a rare practice because things routinely disappear, are lost, stolen or otherwise just or go missing . The chaos in her room tends to reflect her emotional state. She loathes doing chores (who am I kidding, so do I). She wants to earn money, but she is so used to not having things over her short lifetime that she isn’t strongly motivated to do chores for money. Her ADHD typically means that unless the task is directly related to something she wants to do, is time bound, and personally beneficial, it really doesn’t ring her motivation bell.

It took me a year to realize that me telling Hope to clean her room actually jived with her desire to have a clean room but operationally she would try to clean every drawer, refold all the clothes and dig under the bed and the cleaning exercise would turn into a 10 hour, yell, cry-laden experience that made us both miserable. When my light bulb went on, I realized that I would have to be responsible for deep cleans and that Hope needed a short list that represented a tidy room daily.

My point really is that everything I thought I would do parenting Hope was, frankly, off course. My therapist sat me down one day and said:

“Do you want to be right? Do you want to give an ish about what other people thought about me and my parenting? Or do I want Hope to thrive? If it’s the last option, you’re going to have to put that ego of yours and those preconceived notions of yours in a box and put them on an emotional shelf in the back of the closet because they have no place here.”

Well, damn.

Part of checking my ego is about redefining success. I’m forced to constantly adjust myself and family assessment. I was away for nearly a week for work recently. What did success look like when I arrived home:

  • Hope took her meds every day.
  • Yappy didn’t poop in the house due to anxiety.
  • Some of the healthy food I left behind was consumed.
  • Chores while I’m gone? What are those?
  • Yappy got a bath while I was gone, not because I told Hope to bathe him but because she said he needed one (10 extra points for Hope).
  • I know that she bought school clothes that met my criteria for just one step outside of her jeans and tee comfort zone (30 extra points for Hope).
  • Her room was nearly spotless when I got home from my trip.

I treated her like she won the super bowl for Casa d’ABM because she showed initiative AND followed directions remotely.

The rest of the house was a mess. There were dishes in the sink that might have been there long enough to wave at me.

I made a short list of things for her to do the following day that began to get us re-regulated.

I used to be furious to have to do that. I used to get mad at the nanny for not taking care of more stuff around here. But then I realized that my absence was stressful; that the nanny’s job was to keep Hope and Yappy alive and entertained and that my job was to play my position—to love the kiddos, not judge them as they survived the stress of my absence and to get us back on our regulated journey.

The irony is that in fact, it was all about me. They missed me, and I missed them (note Yappy gets all zonky too, so yeah, it’s them). But my job is to help alleviate the stress and fear that I’m not coming back; in those moments, it’s not about me at all. It’s all about them.

Parenting is humbling, it really is. The decisions are tough, the expenses are crazy, the scheduling is consuming. It really is like just thinking of yourself as a cup and pouring it all out for the benefit of your kid. It is pretty selfless and pretty exhausting.

But ahhh, those moments when Hope tells me some parent-approved version of her secrets, smiles when we are in the kitchen together or just texts me that she loves me, those moments are everything. They are the greatest reward for learning to practice humility.

 


We are Enough

You are Enough

Parenting a child with trauma is exhausting, and often doesn’t feel as rewarding as we know it is. The return on our love and attention investments is a long-term proposition. And it isn’t about just us and our evolution in parenting, and it isn’t about finding all of the new folks that this quote suggests. It is about helping our children find themselves, their true selves. Our job is to help them realize who they are and who they can become in spite of all they’ve been through, all they’ve endured and all they survived.

And despite having so many unmet needs, as human beings and as parents, our job is to  show empathy and to help our children find themselves and their work. It really isn’t about us. That’s hard, and sometimes it’s very painful.

I hope one day I will look at my daughter and see the return on my investments. Parenting her is the greatest challenge of my life, and I learn about myself through her every day.
Some of what I learn I’m not proud of, and some of what I learn surprises me. I never would have thought I was this strong; I never would have thought I was this courageous; I never would have thought I could work this hard. I also never realized I was this weak; I was this sensitive, or that I was so easily hurt.

This journey changes you.

I hope it changes Hope too.

In the meantime, we are enough as we are.


Lessons Learned #8741

I haven’t officially written about lessons learned while parenting through adoption in many moons. As I sit in a hotel in Michigan this morning I realize that I really learned some cool things in the last few days.

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Business travel is a form of respite. This isn’t really a new lesson, as much as I really need a reminder sometimes. Hope and I actually get along much better when I travel at least once a month for work. It can be such a hassle getting everything in place to go away without a bunch of worry. She’s also a little older now and when I leave she tends to step up a bit more. Seriously, just being in a hotel where I can leave my clothes on the floor (something I don’t do at home) is simply indulgent. Even room service—wow, someone brings me food without kvetching about it. The validation I get after a lecture or a meeting; that’s something I don’t get at home much, so the ego stroke is super nice. I’ve been on the road for 5 of the last 7 days and it’s been marvelous.

Travel also gives me perspective, which is essential.  Back during the first year to 18 months, Hope and I would video chat while I was away. It was fun since we would also download apps that would allow us to draw on each other’s faces and make funny noises and everything. And then, one day, she didn’t want to anymore.

I was sad. I was kinda hurt too.

Every time I head out of town, I ask, “Hey you want to video chat while I’m away?”

“Nope.”

When I was leaving on Friday last week, she said, “Dang mom, you’re coming back!”

It was like a light bulb went off.

Hope knows I’m coming back. She believes I’m coming back. She’s secure in knowing I’m coming back. She doesn’t need to see me, sometimes acts like she doesn’t even need to talk to me, while I’m away, because my daughter who was afraid of being deserted knows I’m coming back.

I smiled because that’s probably the biggest positive development ever—she feels safe, even when I get on her nerves, even when we bicker, even when we yell, even when it all falls down around us, she knows I got her.

I am overwhelmed in trying to figure out how to handle all of this education stuff.  It’s not that I don’t know how; I’m so fortunate to work in education and to have some street cred with the whole doctorate. It’s really that I’m swimming in information. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, a lot of research, trying to figure out strategies might help us, what might help click some things into the right place. Trying to get a plan together is exhausting—who knows what will work.

I’m still not good at patience; I’m still not all that great with figuring out long games versus short wins. I’m still developing those skills, I guess.

Tomorrow I’ll get the latest psychologist report back and start that planning process all over again.

Hope use to groan about all of the appointments and conversations; she doesn’t anymore and I know it’s because she also wants to believe we can figure this life knot out and help try to smooth her path a bit.

I want to believe it too.

Yappy is turning into one of the great loves of my life.  I honestly didn’t think I was capable of loving a pup again the way I loved The Furry One, but my terror of a terrier has wormed his way into my heart. He really is a comforting critter when things are hard, and his attachment to me…it’s probably unhealthy, but gosh, I love that he loves me more. It ain’t right, but it’s real.

You could not pay me to be a teenager again.  I remember these years—they are coming back to me because really, I had banished it from my memory—these years kinda sucked. I mean, there were some awesome times with my best girlfriends and all the football games, the sports I played, the fellas I pined after and/or dated. But the insecurity, the hormone swings, the drama, so much drama. The boys and what I liked about them and what made me dislike them.

Over dinner out this evening, Hope was telling me about some boy in her band section that she must’ve had a 15 minute crush on. She went on to say how the crush abruptly ended when she saw him sleeping ugly on the charter bus on the spring band trip.

What, that’s it? That’s all he did?  He slept ugly?

Yep, that’s what did him in.

I start scrolling through my phone pics, “You mean like this one? Or this one? Or what about this one?”{all pics of Hope sleeping less than ‘pretty’.}

“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM!”

I’m also reliving a good portion of this developmental phase because Hope loves to talk. Now, I’m incredibly grateful that she does talk to me and that she wants to talk to me, but some of this ish is so utterly ridiculous that I actually feel precious brain cells slipping away.

It is hard feigning interest after say, the first 45 minutes of really trying to follow along.

Dear Holy Homeboy, help us all. Teenager-dom is hard work. Hard, hard work that is sucking my brain through a small, painful straw.

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So, the lessons are always coming, even when I don’t write about them! We are on the upswing and this time apart is giving us both an opportunity to breathe, think and reflect.


New Car, New Chapter

Yesterday I bought an SUV.

Other than the exterior color, it’s really amazing. It’s fully loaded and pretty lux. But the truth is that while I am happy about the new car, and new car smell and all of that, I kinda hate my new car.

Or rather, I hate what it represents, which is another piece of pre-Hope identity kicked to the wayside.

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In recent months I’ve really embraced motherhood and really tried to meet Hope where she is. We both have benefited from this effort.

But there’s something about this car purchase that sits on me like a giant thud.

Yesterday morning I was the owner (free and clear by the way) of an adorable little red Mini Cooper that I called, the Chili Pepper. “Chili” was my dream car. I’d wanted a Mini for years, but really never thought I’d get one. I’d had a sports car right out of college and then I had a cute sporty wagon. So when I started my doctoral program, I took the plunge and headed to the Mini dealership, where I fell in love with Chili.

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I loved that car. Me and Chili had seen a good chunk of the east coast. Like all of my previous cars she was a stick shift. and I loved the handling and the power this little car channeled. She was distinctive with her little personalized plates. People would walk by Chili and  smile. People would ride in Chili and marvel at just how awesome she was. When Hope moved here, my ownership of Chili was definitely an indicator of my potential “coolness.” She was different.  Did I mention that I loved her?

I owned Chili for 5 years, almost to the day. Her warranties were just about up and repairs and upkeep can be pricey on Minis.  She’d just endured a repair that would’ve been about $6K but for the fact that it was covered under the warranty.

Then there was Hope’s instrument; she plays a tenor sax. The dang thing took up the whole boot trunk. If I ever offered another band kid a ride they couldn’t be from the low brass or percussion sections, that’s for sure. And Hope plans to take guitar lessons this year so there’s really a need for more room.

Finally, there’s the trip to Boston and Martha’s Vineyard of 2015. I had to get a roof bag to accommodate all of the luggage. We stayed at the sexy Boston W hotel for a few days, and when we drove up, we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies traveling in a clown car. It worked, but it was clear that it wasn’t optimal and that something was going to have to change. I was simply too cute to look like a traveling vagabond on vacation. The faces of the uber hot valets when they saw up pull up invoked all kinds of shame.

Sigh.

So yesterday, I cleaned Chili out and sold her out for an SUV—a Nissan Rogue. It’s gray, which I hate, but it is what it is since the deal was just something I couldn’t walk away from.

So, what’s the rub?

Losing Chili for a much needed family car is another way my life has changed since becoming a mom. It was the end of another chapter. It was another thing I gave up for the good of my family.

Love-and-Other-Drugs

I don’t regret it, but I’m so sad, so so sad. I’m all in my feels. Cause I’m a wee bit selfish and petty.

I knew trading Chili in would be hard for me, but I teared up as I stood in CarMax, looking at her one last time, reminiscing about our good times and how I was sad to close this chapter on my pre-Hope single, footloose and fancy free life.

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Since then, I’ll admit that I’ve had two all out snot-riddled sobbing sessions since coming home with the new car.

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Grief is a beeotch and it hits you in the worst ways at the worst times.

I know it’s not about the car; it really is about what the car represents.

Now, instead of this distinctive cute car, I’ve got a great car that is just like everyone else’s great and reasonable car. . Heck I’ve already tried to break into two other cars like it while shopping ,and it’s not been quite 24 hours since I signed the papers.

I always knew where Chili was in a parking lot. <snif>

And did I mention that Hope is unimpressed?  The source of disinterest in part stems from the fact that I deviated from my intended purchase plan.  In essence, she’s salty because I didn’t buy the car I originally intended to test drive and purchase and plan changes generally don’t make her feel safe. So, there’s all that drama left to unpack too.

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The new car is new and different in a cool way, but it’s another change, it’s another accommodation required of this life, that frankly I didn’t give a lot of thought about until about 6 months ago. Another naive parenting pothole for me, I guess.

I will fall in love with the new car. It will get a name and develop a personality, and I will learn to find her in the parking lot.  In time the new car will allow me to cart Hope and some friends around, take her to summer band camp and maybe even take her away to college. This will be a great chapter. I know it will.

And in time, I will be able to remember Chili and our time together and not be sad. I’ll remember it for what it is—a chapter in this life—and I will think about when I’ll be able to get another Mini. It will happen, and we’ll all be happy.

Until then, I’m a bit sappy about this required change.


Hopefulness in 2015

I’m glad that 2015 is coming to a close. It’s been a good, but tough year, and these last few months have left me feeling emotionally spent.

I have changed a lot this year. I’ve learned a lot about myself. I have developed better skills in a number of areas. I’m aware of shortcomings and areas I need to work on, even if I haven’t really begun the process of working on them.

It’s easy when you are going through a reflective period to pick yourself apart as you examine all your faults.

I have spent many hours replaying things in my mind, heavy sighing and shaking my head as I contend with my shortcomings and perceived failures. I often feel like I’m failing at this mother thing; I am realizing that all parents wish they were doing better, even if what they are doing is their best.

I spend hours replaying how I might’ve kept my temper and my mouth in better check with Hope as we’ve head butted worse than a couple of rams in the last few months.

I’ve mourned the life I envisioned and at times discounted the life I have because sometimes it’s just…hard.

I haven’t acknowledged how I have pulled together a support circle, instead of still sitting around waiting for validation from individuals from whom it may never come.

I’ve focused at lot on the struggle rather than the triumphs, and there have been triumphs. I put together our holiday video card during the last week and I had a grand time picking out pictures for the montage. There were definitely triumphs.

I’ve seen my daughter start to grow socially.

I’ve been able to keep a level head and not freak out when things reached critical points.

I kicked arse at work this year.

I focused less on weight and more on health.

I made time for fun.

I improved on my ability to let anger go more quickly.

Nothing major fell through the cracks.

I sustained a healthy, loving relationship with Elihu, and he and Hope finally met, allowing me the ability to integrate bits of my life together.

I activity sought help when I needed it.

Moment to moment, I did my best, even if it wasn’t *the* best for the situation.

I did ok this year.

And I’m hopeful for next year.

I’m hopeful that I will be a better person and a better mom.

I hope that Hope and I will work through our attachment issues that threaten us both so much.

I’m hopeful that I can continue to marshal the resources to help Hope be her best self.

I’m hopeful that Yappy will get over his separation anxiety.

I’m hopeful that my confidence in my home life begins to mirror my confidence at work.

I’m hopeful that maybe Hope and I can get a little closer to the visions that we had for mother and daughter.

I’m hopeful that I will focus more on triumphs and less on failures.

I’m hopeful for just…better.

And it will be better.


Better

Ahhhhh, this week has been…good.

Sometimes I find myself crawling to Friday evenings. I’m tired, worn out and emotionally drained. This week, I’m happy to report, I only felt tired and worn out.

I wasn’t emotionally drained!  In fact there were many more moments this weekend when I thought, “THIS is what I thought life would be like as a mom!!”

I haven’t had a week like this in a while. I needed it. Hope needed it.

Ahhhhh. Inhale…exhale.

So what was different about this week?

I colored. I colored a lot. It really is meditative; it is calming and my tolerance for everything is a bit higher when I color. Of course, I’m coloring so much that I’m worried about my healing hand…repetitive movements are probably not all that great post-op for carpal tunnel. #whatever

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I was in bed by 10, 10:30 at the latest. Sleep is restorative, and Yappy is a precious cuddle bug.

I worked out everyday. Fitbit challenges have me going hard daily! I’m hitting 5-6 miles of steps a day.  That’s definitely contributed to good headspace.

I felt good after seeing friends and family over Thanksgiving.

I realized that I’m not alone on this journey.

Hope and I stayed away from meat this week after she announced her desire to go vegetarian recently. I didn’t eat much meat before Hope came along, so two years of hardcore carnivorous behavior has wreaked havoc on my body. ABM’s bod was much happier being more plant based and Hope LOVED my veggie cooking.

And finally Hope, Yappy and I had quality, real bonding quality time this weekend.

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Family movie night featured Max. Yappy is a fan. 

For once, I took care of myself and committed to meeting my own needs. know that every week won’t be like this, but dang it; I feel like a new person. It’s a powerful reminder that we parents need to practice routine self-care. The absolute bonus was getting a peek at the life I aspire to; it was totally dope!

The other bonus I discovered was that Hope’s behavior was dramatically different after pulling back on the meat. I hope that it continues; I hope it’s sustainable. It was dramatic. She was more focused, more thoughtful, more motivated about school. She was a bit more mellow. Hell, we may never eat meat again! (Hahahahah, just joking, I like bacon way too much.)

One of our weekend movie nights was Inside Out; I wish I’d gone to see it in the theater. If you have or know an adolescent and have any curiosity about the mayhem going on inside their heads emotionally, this is the movie for you. Today we talked a bit about how Hope felt when she moved here to be with me, when she started a new school and just day to day emotional upheaval. Being a teen ain’t easy; being a teen who’s a former long-term foster kid, now adoptee ain’t a walk in the park either. I can’t pretend to get it, but I feel a little closer to getting it and that’s important.

I’m optimistic. I’m going to keep plugging away and hoping that things will settle down for a little while.  It’s nice to have a little less drama during a time known for lots of it.

 


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