Tag Archives: Adoptive Mom

A Beautiful Day

I went into Mother’s Day with some complicated feelings. I find that it helps to simply acknowledge them, make a plan and keep it moving. I’m glad I did; it made for a nice low bar that set us up for a really lovely, lovely day.

I took Yappy on a three mile walk; he was super worn out afterwards and slept most of the day as a result.

Hope and I started our day at the local UU church we’ve been attending. Rather than go hang out with the other teens, my daughter chose to sit by my side. She even wore a dress—gasp! It was flower communion, and after some gentle coaxing, she even came with me to get a blossom. I lit a candle and said a prayer for Hope’s first mother. I prayed that she was as happy and healthy and that hopefully she knows that Hope found a permanent home as is no longer without permanence. I prayed that one day a healthy reunion would be in their future.

We headed to brunch at one of our favorite restaurants. We have celebrated all major family events here—my successful dissertation defense, our finalization, and her completion of middle school, just to name a few. We both love the food choices, and I especially love the wide range of beverage offerings. She suggested we order the usual—I reminded her that it was mom’s choice and I wanted to shake things up. I have a particular fancy for fries; I ordered up truffle-Parmesan fries to start, with a yummy coffee laced, chocolaty stout for me.

I think I opened Hope’s eyes to a whole new world related to quality French fries. She raved, danced in her seat and marveled at how yummy they were. I still smile to myself about how fries made her so happy. I actually have video of her; it was awesome.

We ordered our entrees, and bickered to the enjoyment of our waitress.

I told her that I was proud to be her mother; that even in the rough times I loved her so very much. I told her that being her mom has hopefully made me a better person all together. She smiled. She thanked me for giving her a permanent home that allowed her to call a place home, allowed her to not have to start over and over, that allowed her to just have a chance. I smiled and we went back to grubbing.

Yep, I used her account to pay, because…Mother’s Day. #noshame

We headed to the bakery across the street to find something for dessert. We selected individual key lime pies with beautiful meringues to go.

We took a few hours apart. I did some shopping and hit the hookah bar for a while.

Once home, we ate our desserts, and watched TV on the couch with Yappy, who incidentally, loves when his people are together on the couch. We have a huge couch, but he loves when we are huddled up so that he can sit between us and snuggle. I love that our dog wants his family close.

She gave me her homemade Mother’s Day gifts; a beautiful friendship bracelet that I immediately put on, and a beautifully decorated sheet that required me to pull off some cotton clouds to reveal the message underneath.

It was a far more detailed expression of gratitude for adopting her, for loving her unconditionally and for giving her a good life even when she’s a pain in the butt. She apologized for not getting me something fancy, but her message reduced me to a puddle of loving tears. She complained and eventually wriggled out of the vice grip hug I enveloped her in after reading her message.

It was perfect.

I have never wanted Hope to be grateful about her adoption; I hate thinking of the things that necessitated her adoption. That said, I got her meaning—it was about us being a family, about stability, about permanence, about unconditional love, about parenting, or in our case mothering, and about normalcy.

And I am grateful for those things too.

She didn’t say thanks for being her mom; instead she thanked me for meeting her needs.  I know that meeting her needs is what I do as her mother. The language is different, but the meeting of the minds is there, and to hear that from her—I’m so proud and blessed to have been chosen for this gig.

Those moments were a beautiful capstone for the day. I could not have planned it. I could not have anticipated it.

It was a beautiful day, and I will treasure it forever.

I love you, Hope.


My 4th Mothers Day

This weekend marks my 4th observance of Mothers Day. Thinking about that makes me smile, and then I remember how complicated this holiday is for my daughter and I and my smile fades a bit.

I know that I adore Hope. I know that Hope loves me very much.

In a perfect world, we would never know each other. Hope would be feting her biological mother this weekend 3,000 miles away. They might go to their favorite restaurant. There might be a card; there would be lots of hugs and “thank you mom, you’re awesome” statements.

I would be at my own brunch with my biological children, smiling, laughing with them marveling at these little miracles that came through my body.

But this isn’t a perfect world, and Hope and I have each other, each with all our imperfections and challenges.

I think we both ponder that, even unconsciously, during this holiday. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t a solid family. It does mean that we still have to make time and space for grief.

I know that I won’t have a card waiting for me in the morning when I wake up. I made my own brunch reservation at one of our favorite restaurants. I plan to make her use her debit card (which I finance) to pay for said dinner so that at least I have the illusion of being “treated to brunch.” I figure it will also help her learn what she’s supposed to do—not necessarily for me, but in general regarding these kinds of things.

And then, I will post up at a local hookah bar, order a glass of something yummy and puff away the afternoon. This will give me some time to enjoy myself with no drama (join me if you’re in the DMV area, just drop me an email!). It will also give Hope some time with her own thoughts, which, I’m finding she needs.

During our recent trip to see some family, we acquired some pictures of her mother. I recall just watching Hope look at the pictures. During our time as a family, I’ve gotten pretty good at reading her emotions, but I couldn’t read Hope’s reaction. It was almost vacant; but I know it wasn’t vacant at all. There were and are a lot of tangled up, complicated emotions going on just under the surface. She had no desire to process it with me either.  In a nutshell, Hope’s emotional connection/reaction towards her mother is complicated and it’s very much exclusively hers at this point.

I imagine that one day Mother’s Days will be different me and Hope.  That we will have a different kind of balance between grief and celebration. We will have fun brunches and lots of smiles and lots of love. This weekend we will have those things, just tempered a bit. It’s ok. Monday will be a new day and we will have gotten through another year of this day, together.


Parenting While Exhausted

sadabmSo this week Hope is back in school.

A moment of joy silence for the end of summer vacation.

She’s fine, just anxious about band stuff, but getting on swimmingly.

Me?

Getting us back on schedule and committing to exercising daily and running Hope everywhere she needs to go has damn near killed me.

I had such hopes for the week. I was meal planning just 5 days ago. I was planning on making homemade ramen (she loves it), a Kraft chicken and broccoli braid thing (she loves that too) and maybe some more pulled pork bbq.

I was going to take Yappy to the dog park. I was going to crush my walking and stretching goals.

Sooooooo, yeah, then reality hit and I’m one step above drooling on the couch by 8pm.

I have kinda kept up with the walking, but the weather turned hot again.

Hot weather meant that Yappy’s park time got cut back.

Band practices and tutoring ran later than expected.

I needed to run some unexpected errands because *someone who is not me* keeps stepping on her earbuds.

And then there was dinner….poor dinner.

After a long day, I ask, “Hey Hope, you hungry?”

“Nah, not really. I don’t want anything.”

Me silently: thank you sweet baby Jesus, because all I was only going to suggest you make yourself a sandwich out of that Costco rotisserie chicken or that salami that you didn’t eat last week. Otherwise, I got nothing but like some cheese toast to offer you.

I have relied on my daughter’s low appetite all week justify not cooking dinner.

<hangs head in mock shame>

I figure, she’s a teenager, if she’s hungry, she’ll eat, right?  There’s food in the house; she’ll be fine. It’s only a few days and no ribs are showing.

I’ve been living on sandwiches, hummus and wine or cider all week, kinda like when I was a single, no kid-having person. Next stop will be cereal, so I figure, I haven’t hit rock bottom yet.

Note to self: buy some Lucky Charms in case of exhaustion emergency.

I’m so tired, like I’m “fantasizing about sleep” tired. I can’t wait until Saturday when I drop her off for an event and let Yappy run at the park for 45 minutes. I will then retire to my beloved couch. I’m there, so there. I pray nothing gets in my way of realizing this beautiful fantasy.

In the meantime, there’s a kid pickup to make, a podcast to record and a paltry chicken sandwich to make—with a side of chips.

Did you catch that shameless plug for Add Water and Stir?

#mustgetmoresleep


Big Emotions

Sigh.

This holiday…this Mother’s Day thing. It seems like such a lovely idea. Really it does. But the truth is I kinda hate it.

I am reminded of my own loss. I’m reminded that Hope’s birth mother is out there somewhere, and I imagine that she wonders where her little girl is. I think about my own complicated relationship with my mother. I think about how Hope feels about mother’s day—she so wants it to be good, but, well, it’s complicated. I think about how tough my experience with motherhood is, and frankly…I’d just prefer not to have this day of reflection.

I’d prefer to just not as Hope sometimes says.

Things at Casa d’ABM are just miserable right now. All of the efforts to pull my daughter to the next grade have taken their toll. The schedule changes, the testing, the endless meetings, phone calls. Oh, and the money. It’s been stressful for both of us.

I haven’t been exercising as much. I’ve been eating like I escaped fat camp. I’m constantly exhausted. I feel the release of cortisone every few hours—no really, I can actually feel the flush of hormonal release. My head hurts, my shoulders are up near my ears. Those thin muscles behind my ears are tight with stress.

I had a three Ativan day one day this week.

And I’m drinking sangria out of a red cup.

Oh, I also have managed to get two speeding tickets and a red light ticket in three weeks.

Oh, it’s bad. It’s really, really, really ishttay bad.

But yesterday, I realized how my struggles pale in comparison to Hope’s.

While visiting family yesterday, Hope had two crying meltdowns of epic proportions about boys, schools, being dumb, being awful, being stupid, being friendless, being lonely, being sad, being mad, being grief stricken, being depressed, just being Hope.

It’s rare that all of our version of life spills out of our home or our therapist’s office. It’s rare that it anyone sees the full extent of our emotions swirl around. They might get hints. They might see strange things, but our full-on unbridled emotion rarely has witnesses.

But yesterday, it did with my parents, and it was unsettling for them and there seemed to be some shame for me and Hope, even though there was nothing to be ashamed of.

The drive home can only be characterized as manic with Hope chattering for two hours straight. I finally turned the podcast we were listening to off because I couldn’t focus on what she was talking about since she was ALL OVER THE PLACE for two solid hours.

When arrived home, the anxiety about school took over. It was like watching her run hurdles in the Olympics and then tip one over and go careening to the ground in a mess, taking a couple of runners with her—just all emotionally.

Around 11:30, I gave her something to help her rest and went to bed.

And now it’s mother’s day and shortly, I’ll awaken my beautiful daughter. We’ll attend church because she wants to and finds solace there (I don’t) and then instead of snuggling on my couch all day, I’ll be working on Algebra, English, History and French all day, because….mothering.

We’re having pizza for dinner because…exhaustipation.

Happy Mother’s Day to all kinds of mothers…there are so many, too many kinds of moms to name. To all of them, be blessed.


When Life Gets Real…

You’re not going to want me anymore after we’re together for like a month.”  ~ Hope

Oh good grief, here we go.  I’ve read the books on loss and abandonment.  I get it.  I do, but wow.  Sitting in the middle of this conversation was hard for both of us.  I love that my Hope is so transparent and forthcoming, but this stuff just kind of comes out and catches you off-guard.

Hope’s rationale was that a fun weekend together isn’t real, and that when real life starts after she comes to live with me, school, work and other stuff would be real.  It would be different, and I wouldn’t want her.   She said this was better than just jumping onto all of that stuff, but she was worried.

So, in some ways she’s right.  This weekend is very artificial.  It is an extended date for an arranged relationship.  We won’t be going to the museum, the great wheel or the Cheesecake Factory every day after we start our new lives together.  It will be different and likely weird for both of us.  It’s bound to get tense sometimes.  But I don’t ever plan on sending her back.

So, eventually after hearing her explanation, I replied, “You’re right that it will be different, but I don’t plan to send you back.  How do you know you won’t want me anymore?”

“Well…I don’t know.  I know I’ll want you.”

“Good.  Sometimes I don’t know how I know either, but I know I want you.  I just know.  We will work together at being a family, and we will be ok together.”

Overall, we’re bonding just fine, I think.  We have moments of light discipline, but we talk about why there is a need for it.   Today in order to just be a little more real, we’ll do brunch and lay low most of the day.  We started reading our huge novel out loud last night and watched cartoons for a while.  I have a day and a half left with her; less is more at this point.

Hope will give me great big challenges.  Some aspects of how she moves through the world seem to suggest she’s more like a 5 year old, while others clue me in on the fact that she wishes she was older like 16 or so.  We spent an hour at the touch pools in the aquarium as she touched everything she could, like a little kid (she was the biggest kid at the touch pools most of the time).  She has moments of hyperactivity that are somewhat exhausting.  Other times when she’s just a tad withdrawn, and I have to make a decision to draw her out a bit or let her be.

I hope she will have a chance to visit me before she moves, but funding seems to be an issue, so I may return to have a short weekend with her.  I think we’ll be talking every day from here on out, so we can try to hold this bond together and strengthen it.

Still learning:

  • Gift shops are the devil.  Seriously, Living Sand for $20?
  • Our sweet teeth are a problem.  We will have focus on less processed sugar and making yummy treats at home.
  • We look the part!  A cashier at lunch commented on us as a mother/daughter pair.  It caught both of us off guard, but then we smiled.
  • I am exhausted.  The quiet this morning is great, but I think I’m going to roll over and snooze a bit more.
  • My rough origami skills have improved modestly.  Origami is definitely not one of my talent gifts so I’ll stay in my lane on that.  It’s been a nice way to spend some time together.
  • I love this kid, but this isn’t going to be easy.  This isn’t a new lesson, but I am getting constant reinforcement of this lesson this weekend.  It really is stepping into a new purpose.


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