This past weekend I was dragging. I mean, the weather was perfect, and I would have been just fine if I never moved farther than the bed, the kitchen and the couch. Note the only reason the kitchen made the list was because I had to eat, otherwise, I probably could’ve relied on my fat stores. I just wanted to be lazy.
Instead, I rang up Sister M and enjoyed a late lunch and a few glasses of vino. Sunday, I planned to ride out to Hope’s school and see my daughter. By that morning, I was feeling funky, attitudinal and just meh. I wanted to stay home. I texted Hope, trolling for a reason to stay home and just video chat her.
Me: So, um, I know the arts showcase is today. Is the band playing too?
Her: You know the band sucks. Yeah.
Me: Yeah, I know you think the band sucks. IS that a yeah the showcase today or that the band is playing.
Me: UGH! Yeah to both?
I swear how teens have managed to be monosyllabic via text is nearly an art form.
Me: You want me to come (silently praying she gives me an out even though I want to see her, feel guilty about looking for an out, and am wondering if I should venture to the bakery for a piece of depression day cake.)
Her: Um, yeah. That would be cool.
I could only muster the K. Seriously, I look at that text thread and feel a bit guilty. I did and I do, but I also was like, “Dang it. I gotta get myself together, drive 80 miles when I really, really, really just want to change pjs and figure out if I can get UberEats to fetch me that cake.”
Two hours later I pulled into campus, walked into the gym, scanned all the Air Force band blues and landed on the back of Hope’s head.
It’s so amazing how you can actually recognize the back of your kid’s head. The first time I picked her out of a crowd I thought, “I might actually be able to do this mom thing.”
Anyhoo, Hope hadn’t spotted me, and I took a moment to watch her. She was joking around with some kids. She looked good, maybe a little thinner than when I last saw her a few weeks ago. She’s been really going through a rough patch, which is why I wanted to lay eyes on her. I watched her for another minute or two, before she turned and saw me.
The beeline into my arms.
The hug that was tight and long and…perfect.
Hope missed me, and the depth of my own emptiness from missing her hit me. I held back a little tear while she began to tumble out words about all kinds of stuff. I’m still not sure what all she said.
She grabbed my hand like the little girl she is inside and took me to see her graphic artwork.
Keep in mind that at no point did my kid tell me she had artwork in the showcase…because #teenager.
I looked at the exhibits and then I found a replica of the Christmas card she had given me a few months ago. I was shocked because what she had written to me was so emotional that the original card is tucked away with my most important papers in my fire box.
Hope is typically rather private. She is very open about being adopted and how much she loves her family—all of her family, birth and glued. But she doesn’t like to wear her emotions on her sleeve. She tends to keep a lot bottled up.
And yet, there was the short paragraph that she had written me in the inscription, on the table for everyone to read.
This card…well, my daughter wrote of her love for me and for giving her normalcy. I’m not much on the whole adoptee gratitude thing. Too many people expect adoptees to be thankful, grateful for having been adopted, not really thinking about the circumstances that led to the necessity of that outcome. As much as I want to give my daughter the world, the most important thing I could gift her was something akin to normal.
In some ways, of course, there’s nothing normal about our life. In other ways and perspectives, it’s delightfully normal. We get up, go to work and school. We had breakfasts and dinners together. I harassed her about chores and homework. I reminded her to turn out the lights when she left a room. We spent fall Friday nights at the football field, sitting with other band families, assessing the band’s field performance. We video chatted when I was away on business travel. I dragged her to mentoring and coaching programs for tweens and teens. We took vacations or really trips where we bickered on bed choice, food choice, destination choice, and whether I would let her have another dessert. I balked at paying $70 for jeans with holes and redirected us to that awesome Old Navy jeans for $15 sale. I wrestled my dress hating daughter into an Easter/Christmas/Band Banquet dress over several years and watched her go through phases trying on makeup, press on nails and every Korean skin care product her allowance could burn through.
Yeah, we are normal. That’s what I wanted for her.
And she let me know that we achieved that in spite of everything.
My heart hugged itself in my chest, as I looked over at her and she just nodded.
Me: You good with putting this all out there like this?
Her: Redirecting me as she sometimes does, “Hey I did a good job designing the fox on the front.”
Displaying the card was bold of her. It was also the sweetest, precious thing she’s done for me.
Hope continued her efforts to redirect me to her other artwork before I made a emo puddle in the middle of the gym.
Putting half her life story out in the showcase was cool. Me getting super emotional about it was too much.
So, I continued on in feigned interest looking the rest of the school’s art displays, glad that I roused my ambivalent arse out to campus.
Of course, then I endured more than an hour of a choral and band “concert.” Why do schools call these things concerts???? Hope’s school is very small and while a lovely little school, let’s just graciously say that the talent pool is…shallow. The “concert” of high school students served middle school concert realness.
Hope and I had a nice chuckle reminiscing about a 7th grade pops concert during which the school orchestra attempted to play the theme to Star Wars.
A auditory assault. #butidigress
Our chuckle? Also normal.
I headed back right after the concert, but not before Hope gave me another long, loving hug and I called her my big baby, which she hate-loves.
I was still exhausted and out of sorts when I got home, but there was a part of me that had clicked back into place.
Gosh I love this kid. And, even though I know she loves me, there are times like this one, when her openly showing it just fills me with joy.
17 days before she graduates.