Tag Archives: Adoptive Single Parents

Drawing Her Back In

The thing I’ve found that helps Hope and I move past drama more quickly is to just draw her closer to me. All I usually have to do is text her and say, “You want to…’

Watch a movie?

Watch a show?

Show me some K-Pop videos?

Share some popcorn?

Make s’mores?

Have some cocoa?

With me.

Ultimately, Hope wants to spend time with me. She doesn’t want drama; she wants love.

So, last week, after I dressed her down about her BS excuses about school and told her she could not go to prom with her friend; Hope retreated to her room. She put on her headphones and watched videos nonstop for an hour or two. I let her be for a while. And then, knowing that we needed to get past my fussiness of school and prom, I texted her from the living room:

text

Next thing you know, Hope schleps out with her blanket, and we watch a couple of deep sea creature documentaries and all was well with the world. We were cool.

Even when Hope is in a lot of trouble, all she wants is the reaffirmation that I love her, that I want her, that she is safe and that we’ll always be cool. And we will be. We’ll be just fine.

I try to remember that when I get angry or frustrated with her; all I have to do is draw her back in.


There is No Magic

A few days ago Hope and I were in the car listening to a podcast. We were chuckling about the show, and then it ended and we listened to some of the commercials before the next podcast started. One of the commercials was about a new podcast on the magic of childhood.

I was only halfheartedly listening to the commercials. I caught the thought and let it slip through my mind.

But Hope was listening.

“There is no magic in childhood. None.”

She immediately had my attention. I didn’t know what to say.  All I could manage to say was, “Huh?”

“Magic? What’s magical about childhood? Nothing,”

We sat quietly at a light.

I quickly thought about all of her young years and the things she endured. I felt her trauma in my soul.

She didn’t say anything else, and I wasn’t sure what to say next. So, I didn’t say anything at all. It was one of the few times during our time together when I was completely stunned to silence. Usually, I can come up with something, but I had nothing. And I was just overwhelmed by the absence of magic in my daughter’s childhood.

I understand how she concluded that the magic of childhood was nothing but a farce. It breaks my heart. I have these fond memories of growing up. I remember my parents love. I remember birthday cakes and playing in the street with neighborhood kids. I remember when they took me and my sisters to Disney World and numerous other family trips. I remember feeling safe and loved. I remember so many little details that are clear to me know but seemed magical then.

I know that there are some memories that Hope has with her first family that are happy memories, but the number of those moment to moment memories are dwarfed by memories of instability, fear, and profound grief. The latter so crushing that she can barely see the good stuff in her mind. And she can’t separate those memories and just erase the bad ones. She has figured out how to reconcile the bad stuff; she can’t partition it to try to create some magic.

The magic of childhood is lost to her.

I wish I could change it all for her. I can’t, but I wish to hell like I could.

I have spent a lot of time and resources on helping Hope heal. I didn’t realize that I was also trying to create some magic in the waning years of Hope’s adolescence. I try to give her big and small experiences that will stick with her. I’m hoping they are special, magical, but knowing that she doesn’t think there’s any magic in childhood just makes me feel so sad.

I wonder will she still feel this way years from now when she has her own child? Did my silence, my failure to offer some wisdom about childhood magic, just reaffirm her grief? What can I do to make magic for her? Can I still create some magic for her?

I honestly don’t know what was I supposed to say in that moment that would validate her but offer a different narrative. I still don’t know what I was supposed to say to that declaration. I just don’t know what to say about there being no magic in childhood.


Three Years Ago

Three years ago today, Hope arrived at DCA with her social worker. She was originally scheduled to arrive the day before, but the weather on the east coast was so bad that her flight was canceled.

I remember heading to the airport that cold January night and waiting for her to emerge from security.

I was alone.

I was alone because I worried that a big group of folks would be overwhelming to a child who, for the previous few weeks, had resisted moving. Hope was afraid. She’s already experienced so much change in her life. She wanted to have some normalcy where she was for just a few more months.

Alas, all the adults thought that it was time to make the move. And so, she did.

I arrived at the airport early, snarfed down a couple of doughnuts from Dunkin’ Donuts while I waited for Hope to arrive and deplane.

This would be her second trip to see me and her final destination this go ‘round.

I remember she emerged from security looking tired, a bit overwhelmed and a bit afraid.

I hugged her. I was so happy she was here.

She hugged me back, but I don’t know if the hug really made her feel better.

We got her luggage, and dropped her social worker off at the hotel.

And then it was just the two of us.

It has been that way ever since.

In some ways, it seems like a lifetime ago, and others, it seems like just yesterday.

Hope has grown into an amazing young woman. She is creative, feisty, and musical. She is loving and kind. She is polite.

We have built an amazing life together.

We are growing and stretching. Sometimes it’s painful, and sometimes, it’s just the best thing ever.

I love Hope so very much.

This family is everything. It’s beyond whatever I could’ve imagined.

I’ve learned so much about myself during this time. I would not have ever anticipated what this life as a mom to Hope would have been like. It’s beyond my comprehension.

It hasn’t been easy. In fact, often, it has been devastatingly difficult at times.

It’s been difficult for both of us.

Transitioning to motherhood was swift. Understanding the true impacts of trauma and how to parent through it is a work in progress. Checking my anger is a learned process; I’m improving.

Ugh, and the weight gain. I’ve put on about 20lbs of teen adoption weight.

I’m older and wiser though.

Hope struggled with the transition to permanence. She got there with time. We still struggle with horrible memories and persistent grief. As she approaches normalcy we see latent issues emerge, and we tackle them.

She’s a little older and possibly a little wiser too.

We continue to observe these moments in our history; we may stop one day. I don’t know. But we still do count these milestones. We think about how far we have come. We think about how bonded we are now; we think about our futures.

We have a little something sweet.

And then we get on with the life we’ve created together.

I love Hope, and Hope loves me.


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


Serenity in Short Bursts

I’ve really, really, really been focused on maintaining calm in the household for the last week.  And you know, it works. I have let Hope’s stank attitudes about various things just roll off me like water. I’ve very calmly let her know when she has crossed certain lines and what certain expectations are. The energy I would usually expend being emotional with Hope, I’ve transferred into dedicated self-care.

I’ve exercised every day. I made it to bed one night at 9:30pm. I ate healthy. I enjoyed the sunshine taking Yappy to the dog park.

It’s been a peaceful week; well kinda.

Hope told a whopper this week (she even lies like a little kid); I busted her and punished her.

I also signed Hope up for a commercial tutoring program this week.  I did not spring this on her. I told her; we went to the initial assessment last weekend.  When I told her how this would affect her weekly schedule; she lost her ish. She was furious; I just let her be, but she gave off some nasty energy with her icy silent treatments.

Through it all, I remained serene. It was all good.

And then, this morning, the third morning in which Hope dragged arse in the morning. The thought of her missing the bus (again) and cutting into my workout (me) time made me hit my limit. I mean…I just couldn’t do the calm thing again. I lit right into her.

And she was ready with full on teen attitude.

She still had attitude later at the orthodontist. And I had no serene patience for her.

I’m realizing that I did pretty good for keeping it chill for a whole week. It gave me some perspective; I had time and energy to invest in myself. I felt better. I slept better.

Trying to keep things calm around here is a good goal; there are going to be flares and I have to accept that and know that it’s normal. I mean, really my blow up with still so much less intense than usual. My try for this month is really going to be to focus on parenting with calmness. I gotta believe that Hope will benefit from it, but honestly, I am doing it for me.

I need more serenity—and it’s not about knowing the difference about change vs. no change; it’s really about me having a sense of calmness and happiness. That’s my goal. I want to be happy. Parenting is hard. I told someone it’s the greatest bait and switch that ever existed.

You have the amazing drive to procreate and/or raise a child healthily and with your values and so much goodness. That drive is all about you, really. The reality is parenting is about constant sacrifice. It often is thankless and a lot of time, it’s chaotic.

For Hope and me, it’s always had a sense of chaos, and I’m tired of it. No mas. No mas.

I am seeking serenity and happiness in this life chapter, and that means that I need to step up, breathe and exhale into this like a complicated yoga pose that requires you to clear your mind and just open your heart.

It kinda hurts so good.

This evening it is back to calmness and a focus on how long can I stay in that space.


Pushing & Pulling

One of the toughest parts of adopting an adolescent kiddo is figuring out how to balance the need and desire to establish attachment by pulling the child close and the need to facilitate and foster the independence associated with being a teen and drop kicking kiddo out(ish). It’s a tough balance.

I’ve been spending a lot of time and effort really trying to do the attachment parenting thing, and I can say that it’s made life at Casa d’ABM better. Lots of time together, lots of patience, lots of deliberate effort to meet Hope right where she is. I’m really trying to pull her close, ensure her safety, and strengthen our relationship. I can see the fruits of this labor; less grumpiness, more willingness to be agreeable, less general upheaval in the house.

As I do this pulling, Hope’s friends are getting dropped off at the movies, at the mall, at the ice skating rink and anywhere else teens get dropped these days. Hope doesn’t get invited—like ever, but I try to make it happen with the few friends she has. It is normal for her to try to kick me to the curb sometimes. But she doesn’t; in fact she begs me to stay. Then I am on the spot to be present but invisible, but somehow cool all at the same time. I worry about when she will develop some independence and be on par developmentally with her peers. And when will I be able to just drop her off and come home and enjoy a glass of something until time to fetch her. (*Not so secretly hoping to regain control of my couch and remote on Friday nights…..)

I know it’s not a competition, but it’s hard not to compare Hope to other kids so that I can have a sense of what she might be doing if we had always been together, if she had been my biological daughter. I find it makes me sad that her life has been such that she’s stunted. I mean, what I’m dealing with here is a bit more than just “late bloomer” stuff. I find myself wishing her classmates would genuinely befriend her, that they would just invite her to hang out, that they would give her a chance to learn how to be a good friend. Watching Hope wrestle with this developmental hurdle has been hard; I know she’s lonely. I also know that she can occasionally wallow.

I also feel like there is a lot of feelings between both of us with me being both mom and proxy for a bestie. I mean, there have been seasons of my life when, without question, my mom was my bestie, but this is different. I always knew my mom and the privilege of having grown up with her allowed me the freedom to reclassify her as my friend as well as my mom. I know that Hope and I will hopefully get there one day, but for now, I am not sure how I feel about being both mom and best friend. I just want to be a space holder for a bestie, until she can develop the capacity to really nurture a friendship along such that evolves into a bestie situation.

Welcome to Crazy Town: I'm not your friend , I am your MOTHER!!!!

I never thought about how much effort goes into being a friend until I watched Hope navigate these waters. It is another thing that I’ve spent a lifetime taking for granted—I am very social and I make friends easily. Over the years, my job has had me on the road a lot, I went back to school and I became a mom. All of these things made me assess friendships and either work hard to maintain them or realize that the friend season was over with certain folks. But it was a luxury to just make those calls. I see my daughter so thirsty for genuine relationships. I try to teach Hope good skills so that she can be a good friend, but we are really behind the 8 ball—Hope’s emotional age is simply not the same as her peers and the capacity for the level of friend sophistication of high schoolers is pretty far above her head. It’s like watching a 4th grader hang out with some high schoolers. Cute for the first couple of minutes, painful for the remaining 58 minutes of an hour.

So for now, all I can do is pull her closer and try to help her feel safe enough and loved enough to let herself learn how to be appropriately social with her peers. I’m hopeful that we will work at this and succeed such that I don’t have to go to her senior prom with her.

Been there, done that…got the flamingo colored (I called it ‘coral’ back then) dress and dyed pumps to prove it. (You *know* you want to see that lovely one-shouldered confection with the drop waist…because 90s!)


Mama

On Christmas Eve nearly two years ago, Hope called me “mom” for the first time. It was the most precious gift I could have ever received since it was entirely her choice to call me mom instead of my given name.

I love the sound of her calling me mom. It’s become so routine, so natural now that I almost take it for granted.

And then something reminds me that mom, and other names or terms of endearment, are Hope’s little presents to me. I don’t know if she knows they are presents, but they really are.

In moments when Hope and I are really connected and things are good, she calls me mama.

On nights like tonight, when I’ve been out to a group meeting talking about this adoption journey and I call her on my way home to check in and see if she needs anything, she answers the phone excitedly, “Hi mama,” and I smile.

I know she’s excited I’m on my way home. I know she’s fine, but she missed me. I know she loves me. I know she’s been thinking about me.

I know that no matter the funky BS we may have been going through, she loves me.

Mama is music to me.

Mama reminds me that we’ll be ok.

I hope to be worthy of being called mama every day by my daughter. Most of the time I feel unworthy. Like a lot of parents I fret over whether I’m doing any of this parenting well at all or if I’m just really, really effing everything up and failing miserably.

I guess I’m doing ok. I’ve had a string of mamas this week. I’ll take that as some validation.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to earn this epic term of endearment again.

I think I can.

I think I can.


Weekend of Respite

As planned I booked the sitter and a hotel room less than 5 miles from the house and fled for some much needed respite this weekend. In fact by 8:30pm each night, I was sitting in my jammies, swigging wine from a bottle in my room, contemplating my bedtime.

I slept about 10 hours the first night. I walked 3 miles the next morning while shopping. I slept 3 hours this afternoon—like back in the bed, under the covers, knocked out napping. I hit the elliptical for 45 minutes that evening. I ate carry out from Whole Paycheck [Foods], and, yes, drank wine straight from the bottle.

Gosh I needed that. I called Grammy the first evening and when she heard I napped she exclaimed, “That’s not even in your nature? You don’t nap.”

Yeah, I know. I’m exhausted.

I’ve noticed a few things while on this mini getaway.

I eat horribly when I’m stressed and exhausted. No wonder I’m at my highest weight ever. Ugh! I actually listened to my twisted mind tell myself I deserved a bunch of fatty foods (tasted good though). Today I started the Couch to 5K program. Let’s go.

My carpal tunnel has progressed to the point where I need to seriously consider surgery. How did I ignore the weakening of my hand? I mean, it’s really, really bad! Calling my doc this week.

I am really tired, like really tired. Must go to bed earlier.

The moment I get away from Hope, I actually miss her. Not enough to run home, mind you, but I do miss her, and I miss Yappy too.

I miss her but I know she was fine. I know because she texted me like 18 times and called me once. She was irritated because I could not resolve her minor problem, and she sat in silence on the phone furious when she realized that I was not going to hurry home to find the key for the bike lock. Nope, Hope, not gonna do it.

I was proud of myself that I did not buy her anything while out shopping. Admittedly, I saw a bunch of stuff I wanted to scoop up for her. I mean, the 8th grade prom is coming up! But nope didn’t buy her one thing.

I took care of me this weekend. I need to do this more often. I really do.

I see how parents get so run down; parenting, working, and running a household is exhausting. I like to think I keep up with a lot of stuff, but I forget all kinds of things—like Hope’s sports physical this past week. It didn’t make the master calendar and thus in my mind did not exist.

Cooking, cleaning, running errands, paying bills, packing lunches, emailing teachers, figuring out birth family stuff, figuring out adoption stuff, therapy appointments, medication management appointments, puppy school, band concerts, and oh yeah, my job!

I swear I don’t know how it all gets done because this isn’t even close to being an exhaustive (ironic) list. I often think it probably isn’t that much easier with a partner, but it seems like it certainly would help.

It’s hard to believe I did a better job of having respite last year than I have done this year. I can only say it’s the curse of being post-finalization and having some belief that things are “fine” now.

They aren’t.

Weekly, when I’m mindful, I see the evidence of Hope’s challenges, and although we have come a long way; there is so much further we must go.

I’m going to have to take a better care of myself if I’m going to help her face her challenges.

Two broken wheels on a bike never makes sense.

So, I’m hoping to really care for myself this summer. I’m going to try.


Parenting Trials

I haven’t been in much of a writing mood lately, which is admittedly odd for me.  I’ve had a lot on my mind and heart but really, no desire to try to put words around it.  As the year draws to a close I find myself in my usual reflective cocoon, trying to make sense of the last year and creating a vision for the next.  I looked up today and realized that December is nearly half over and wondered if I could muster the umph to initiate my annual yoga challenge.  I usually challenge myself to 30 days of yoga, even if it’s just one piss-anne posture.  It stretches me out, usually makes my body more comfortable and at times more shapely, but finally and most importantly the challenge gives me dedicated time to just sit with memories and emotions, hopes and dreams, the messy and unmessy.

Last weekend, ComplicatedMelodi’s Mimi and I hosted our Add Water and Stir podcast and discussed parenting foibles: the good, the challenging and the ugly. Parenting taboos and challenges have been floating around in my mind ever since. I’m coming to grips with a couple of the reasons why there are so many parenting taboos.

Parent shaming is so dang real.

So a funny thing happened while I was out before dawn this week getting a script filled for Hope.  The pharmacist judged me for having my kid on a certain medication.

“You clearly haven’t done your research or you wouldn’t have your daughter on this medication.”

My foggy brain tried to pull it together. “Huh?”

“You could and should be controlling things with diet and exercise.”

“Um, not at 6:15am.  I’mma need you to back up on over to that counter and count out those pills and put them in that orange container, m’kay?”

Gosh, I felt like I’d gotten judged all over the waiting area of my local CVS. My ability to make decisions about my daughter’s medical care and well being  was openly questioned at the drop off counter, and I felt pretty put off by the whole exchange. The pharmacist didn’t try to educate me, she tried to shame me for making what she believed was a poor parenting decision.  Nice.

No wonder we are limited in how we talk about how we parent and the tough decisions we make for our kids.  If the pharmacist will judge my decisions, so will Jane Doe.

Everything my kid does reflects on me and my parenting skills.

While reading a great blog (My Perfect Breakdown) this week; MPB was discussing her struggle in deciding whether to be open to transracial matches.  It was a great post, check it out. As with many things the dirt is in the details, or rather the comment section; one commenter noted that as long as your child doesn’t grow up to be a criminal then you really needn’t worry about racial profiling or excessive force, especially if you’re in the “midwest.”

Girl bye. #bloop

That comment lit me up, because the subtext is so heavy–”Those parents raised a criminal and he got what he deserved.  His parents should have done better.” And let’s not forget “those crazy liberal, east and west coasters!”

Awesome.  And folks wonder why I worry about the well-being of my beautiful brown child.  She’s got a sharp tongue and a not so quiet loathing of law enforcement because of her early life experiences with them, and I wonder at what point will she get what she deserves?

I grew up in a nice working class neighborhood.  Kids played in the street and couldn’t ride their bikes around the block until they hit double digits.  Families went to church, celebrated together, cooked out together with Kool and the Gang and Sister Sledge playing in the background.  I slept over at friends’ houses.  My parents were considered strict, and at times it felt like they were very strict.  Other times not so much. It was a nice, wholesome experience. We had good people on our block, and I look forward to greeting them whenever I go home to visit.

And for our most immediate neighbors, 8 houses or so, my generation of kids grew up to be nurses, international attorneys, educators, engineers, members of the armed services, law enforcement and members of the clergy.  In the same homes, some of my cohort grew up to suffer from substance abuse, to deal drugs, to rob banks and to murder.

These folks all had siblings who did well, in the same home with the same parents.  It troubles me that those parents might be judged exclusively on the kids who grew up to make a mess of their adult lives, rather than the ones who excelled.  But because we are indoctrinated to believe we are responsible for our kids (even as adults), as opposed to our kids and that they are a complete reflection of our child rearing, the pressure we apply to ourselves not to eff up is crushing. And the truth is that often we don’t mess up, but our kids may very well mess up somewhere down the line.

If only child rearing, and child rearing while black, were so simple as to just not raise a criminal.

Chile, please exit stage left with that foolishness.

External judgment doesn’t hold a candle to the internal machinations of trying to figure out what the hell you’re doing on any given day. I have come to the conclusion that I’m, without question or competition, my own worst critic. I second guess ohhhh about 80% of my parenting decisions, maybe less, maybe more.  I usually ride them out, but I am tossing and turning over them at night.

Calling out for a lifeline?  Naw, much too embarrassing.  Some well-meaning folks in my life have said some really messy stuff about my knowledge about kids and my parenting so basically my therapist is the only one who gets the full download.

But I do suck in all that negative energy; add a bunch of my own lack of confidence and just backstroke my way through the day of figuring out how to raise a kid, a kid who has some issues.  It’s foolishness really.  All of it is just a bunch of foolishness. And it’s hard to remember that when you’re just trying to cope with the hard stuff.

I’m now far more careful about passing judgment on Hope’s first parents and their failings.  I have no idea what brought them to the places they’ve gone in their lives.  I can only imagine that in the midst of whatever it was they went through, they were probably dragging themselves down because it feels like it could be impossible to be successful. I can’t say I know the depths of that pain, but I’ve learned my own pains and fears in parenting this year.  And some days it feels really awful.

So how are you supposed to have a reasonable confidence level, especially when you feel shamed and judged and some of that is internally driven?

I swear I wonder how some parents get up in the morning.  I guess some just don’t.  And we don’t talk about much of this at all do we?  The shame of experiencing some kind of “I have no effing idea what I’m doing so I’ll just keep it to myself” drives the quiet.  But it’s there.  At least for me it is.

So as I muddle through one of my own personal challenging seasons, I guess I’m also looking at ways of considering self-care differently.  More positive self-speak, more moments of quiet.  More exercise, some yoga, better food, more positive self-speak.  More tuning out parent shaming, more tuning out twisted concepts that everything Hope does reflects on me.  More effort in reconciling that what I think will be Hope’s long term best, may not what she ends up doing.  More effort to just guiding her to be a self-directed, well-adjusted young woman.

And more effort just trying to build confidence in my own parenting skills, however fledgling they may be.


In the Midst…

I have just completed the last chapter of my dissertation.  And I did it during and immediately following one of the biggest, messiest crises of my life.  I’m telling you, my Holy Homeboy ain’t stunting on your “Woe is me, my life sucks,” kind of moments—he’s there to help you

Get.

It.

Done.

It is the only explanation for my ability to function during the last two weeks, much less finish up with the major writing.  Truth be told, I just want to lay in my bed for a few extra weeks  hours, which will occur tomorrow what with another DC area snowstorm scheduled to start at O-dark-30 tomorrow morning.  #sickofwinter

So, here’s my recap of this week’s life lessons and observations.

Hard times don’t last, but tough people do (with lots of help).  Cliché, right? It’s true.  Hope and I are settling back into our routine after a dramatic two week episode that saw the need for mental health interventions, a belligerent social worker who kept suggesting that I broke the kid, fall outs with Grammy that managed to include the word “failure,” tears, more tears, stress eating,  full on emotional meltdowns, phone calls, texts, instant messages from kind friends who dragged my emo butt through the muck and mire back to sanity, and one special person who managed to strap me to the couch for a day of rest on an emotional island.  Somewhere along the way I pushed out a few work projects and got this dissertation draft done.  I think I can really do this.

Resilience is a blessing.  As much as trauma is long lasting and contagious, our ability to bounce back from “stuff” is nothing short of amazing.  I had to do some really, crazy, “never thought I’d be here, but here I am” stuff during the last two weeks.  Hope experienced some schnitt that I wish wasn’t necessary on the path to jelling our little family.  I thought she would punish me (she still might); I thought I would lose her.  I thought about every possible catastrophic outcome.  And yet, in the end, here we are sitting watching some stupid kid movie on Netflix, soaking up some together time.  Occasionally, she gets up to just give me a hug.  I didn’t know if we would have this a week ago, but here we are.  Oh, I know that we will have drama in the future, but we will survive.  We will prevail.  We will be happy.

Some people really are just bullies. Never in my life would I have imagined picking up a phone call from Hope’s social worker to hear her just yelling into the phone, upset about all that was going on.  Where do they do that?  Does that strategy work?  WTH!!??!!

After getting a couple of those calls when the woman had been updated with all the available information on the status of our crisis, I finally had to just check her.  You know, the kind of check that comes in quiet but informs your adversary that you ain’t here for their foolishness one more got-dern minute.  I gathered her up quick and got us on the same page.  I know she was trying to do her job, and apparently some folks just accept her behavior as being passionate about the kids.  Um, no.  You can be passionate without steamrolling over people.  No ma’am, you can just stop that madness right, damn now.   #nothavingit  #trymeonemoginandsee

Your capacity feels tiny, but it really is limitless.  There were moments when I wondered whether I could do any of this.  There were moments when I felt just paralyzed by what felt like a lot of emotional chaos.  There were things that had to be done, calls to make, emails to follow up on, specialists to chase down, social workers to call.  I went to work.  I stayed up late writing.  I was and am exhausted.  And somehow I just kept going.  At least once an hour I thought I should just stop.  I doubted myself.  I doubted my commitment to Hope.  I raged at God; wasn’t it supposed to be a little easier than this?  Just a little?  Did you really have to flex and show me you could save us?  #ialreadybelieveddang

And yet every day, I got up and I did as much as I could.  I muddled through it.  Some moments were prettier than others and there are now stacks of papers and crap that I will consider stabbing someone if they dare touch said stack or move it.  I don’t know how I managed, but I did.  I’m too tired to think I’m a superhero, but damn if I don’t feel like I should go buy a t-shirt with a cape.  Once I get some rest, I might go climb the Himalayas or something, you know because apparently I can.  When tested, you can do so much more than you thought.

Everyone’s life is messy.   A year or two ago, I came across an article on Yahoo about how Facebook was making people depressed because they were comparing their lives against all the happy faced pictures that all their friends were posting on Facebook.

Well, really, who’s going to post all the crap pics?  You know the one where your eyes are closed, the selfie you took after you wedged yourself in that outfit in the dressing room, the vacation picture that seemed innocent enough until some a-hole in your group posted it tagged you and now you feel like a killer whale in a bathing suit?  Yeah, those pics.
Our public lives are carefully crafted, and while it looks great, it’s a big farce.  Everyone has at least one hot buttered mess that they are wrestling with on the daily.   As I shared the details of the recent drama, lovely people in my inner circle confided their stuff too.  On some level, misery does love company, but only because it can be humanizing, validating, and well, in a moment of brutal honesty, you feel some hope that someone’s mess may sound as bad or worse than yours.  Sometimes it just helpful to know that you aren’t struggling alone.  Everyone has it bad.

Sometimes you need drugs.  Yeah, sometimes I’d love a nice herbal or to just pray my way through stuff, but sometimes you just need drugs.  And it’s ok to make the choice and damn the people who shame you and tell you that your kid needs to take karate or that you just need to exercise more.  They don’t know schnitt about what you’re experiencing.

New drugs were introduced into our lives recently.   I was worried; I still worry.  I don’t want Hope on drugs forever and ever, but a week and a half in, I can see that this drug will provide us with the headspace to work on emotional coping skills and adjustment struggles.  The social worker gave me hell about this particular drug, but you know what, she’s never actually lived with Hope.  In a shared living environment, I’m seeing what Hope really struggles with and I’m working to get her what she needs to ensure her long term success.  Mama knows. This short term relationship with drugs is a good thing for us and again, if you disagree, just move it along.

It’s late and I’m exhausted.  And well, I just finished writing my dissertation, ok?  This is it for tonight.  I’m hopeful and optimistic that we will continue to heal and grow.  We survived because we’re survivors.


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