Tag Archives: African American Single Adoptive Mom

Ten Things on Wednesday: 1/20/21

  1. Today I breathed. It’s not that I think Biden/Harris will solve all the problems, but I certainly don’t think they will cause as many as we’ve seen during the last administration.
  2. Watching VP Kamala Harris take the oath of office with Justice Sonia Sotomayor with my daughter this morning was…amazing. #RepresentationMatters
  3. I can’t really describe the relief I felt watching the Troll in Chief and Troll Barbie take flight and disappearing.
  4. My only sadness is that I couldn’t take Hope down to the mall to watch it in person. Don’t get me wrong: inaugurations are cold (it flurried here this morning) and usually crowded, but the energy is amazing. It’s actually very cool and super patriotic.
  5. Did y’all see Michelle Obama and that guy she’s married to? (I love him too.) My gawd that woman is gorgeous. The hair, the outfit, the lashes…the gorgeous former president. I live!!!
  6. I really needed today. It’s like a bright spot in a dark time for me. The pomp and circumstance! The lofty, aspirational charge of it all. The hope. I needed it really badly.
  7. Things around here are still precarious. I’m still fighting burnout. I’m still trying to prop Hope up in the midst of new traumas.
  8. I think I’m going to tackle my front closet and my bedroom closet. They are both a disastrous mess. I was always taught that your closets are a reflection of your life, and well, those 2 closets are a disastrous mess. I’ve been consciously avoiding them for months. I know that tackling them will help.
  9. I also need to do some purging. Things feel really cluttered around here. So, stuff has to go. Of course I’m also still shopping for a new low profile treadmill; so part of my motivation is to make room for new ish.
  10. I’ve been really trying to be more introspective right now. I’m honestly feeling a bit lost. Motivation is low. I slap on a functional face on workdays and feel like collapsing after 5pm. I really have not experienced these feelings in a very long time. I don’t like it, but I’m fighting through.

Ten Things on Wednesday: 1/13/2021

  1. 2021 is shaping up to be a trashtastic year already.

2. We’re only 13 days into the year, and I swear it feels like it should be like May 2021. This year has somehow started counting in dog years or something; I’m convinced of it.

3. I’ve concluded that I might be fully gray by the end of this year. I’m ok with that; I figured it was going to happen anyway. And now that I’ve found a good temporary color hair wax, I can switch up colors at will. #brightside

4. Parenting is hard work. Parenting during a pandemic coupled with ongoing social unrest sometimes feels like insanity. I’m glad that Hope is much older; I really don’t know how you guys will littles are doing this.

5. We still struggle with Hope’s lack of impulse control; this weekend that issue tipped off a series of really awful events that will ripple through our lives for a really, really long time, quite possibly forever.

6. And I’m exhausted, and frankly over everything. I’m appreciative of friends who are checking in on us and on me and making sure I am getting the support I need through the latest upheaval. It’s hard to even articulate what I need right now. I’ve made sure that the standard supports are in place, but honestly, it’s like my mind and short-term memory have just checked the eff out.

7. So yesterday I made a huge batch of mini cupcakes. They are specially infused cupcakes in little mini portions. That was a highlight of my day, besides eating a cupcake with a tumbler glass of wine after the workday was over.

8. Tonight, we’re having mac and cheese with brisket for dinner. A friend in TX sent us a lovely gift of TX BBQ. I’m going to put a bit of butternut squash in the mac and cheese to make up for the fact that there will be nothing green anywhere nearby. I need comfort foods, and I need it now.

9. I’m thinking of taking a short leave of absence from work. I am realizing that a) I’ve got a lot going on, b) my own mental health is starting to get sketchy, c) Hope needs more of me than I’m probably capable of providing despite the fact that we’re both in this house 24 hours a day and d) I’m starting to feel like I’m not quite burnt out, but my edges are pretty crispy. Not my hair edges, they look marvelous.

10. I want to spend all day under my weighted blanket looking at Italian greyhound reels on Instagram. I’m not sure how I tripped down that rabbit hole, but they really do crack me up. Oh and did I mention I also feel like failing at pet parenthood because I pulled a tick off of one of Yappy’s toes yesterday that, by its size, clearly had been on him for a few days.

We’ll see if I can keep up with this 10 things bit! 😊


Let’s Talk about Sex

Hope and I have always talked. She tells me just about everything, and since she can’t keep a secret or lie well, I’m pretty sure of that. I’ve mastered the non-judgmental face while sometimes I scream on the inside; BTW, there’s been a helluva lot of screaming in 2020.

screaming season 2 GIF
via Giphy

I’ve also always been open and honest when it came to discussing sex. I committed to having a sex positive home very early on. Now there are times when that’s been especially hard, really, really hard. But sex positivity remains the goal. Too many kids don’t get the chance to ask open and honest questions about sex, the feelings, the challenges, the ups and downs and the values I have around it. Parents often say they’ve taught their kids about sex, but they focus almost exclusively on the values associated with it, rather than the mechanics, the more detailed body stuff that we tend to learn either from friends or trial and error. I have always wanted Hope to know she can talk to me about sex; I want to be the first stop for inquiries! And I don’t claim to have all the answers; sometimes I have to say, “ya know, I don’t know the answer to that. Let me research and get back to you.” And then…I do.

Anyhoo, with COVID and the trauma of 2020, Hope and I only have each other day in and day out, we talk a lot and really substantively. And we talk about EVERYTHING.

Even when it’s awkward, I think, “wow the fact that we are doing this, talking like this is really mind-blowing.” I can’t even imagine my parents having some of these kind of chats with me at her age. Heck I don’t see us really having some of these chats at my current age and I’m pushing 50. It’s just not done!

This week Hope brought up some very specific questions and concerns that left me thinking….

not ready GIF
via Giphy

Seriously, in the moment, I plastered on my “Oh this is totally normal” face and thought, “This is a wicked time for me to fast from alcohol cause I really need a cocktail.”

I allowed for a long pause, thought about how I’ve handled this issue in my own life, and then I made some recommendations. What I recommended shocked even me to be perfectly honest!

Nbc GIF by Good Girls
via Giphy

And it’s kinda got me really in my head. Not because I question the decision to make some pointed recommendations, but because these conversations really force me to confront my own hang ups and insecurities. I’m realizing that I’ve really got some stuff to unpack on my own, you know? #morestufftodiscusswithmytherapist

I want Hope to have a full, loving, meaningful relationship with herself, her body and hopefully one day a partner. Heck, I want that for myself too. It’s so taboo to talk about these things, and I feel especially so for women of color. I want Hope to know that how she loves herself directly influences how she looks for love externally. It took me way too long to learn that.

So, we’ll keep talking, and with this pandemic, all anyone around here can do is talk.

So, what does sex positive parenting look like for you?


Election Anxiety

In undergrad I majored in government and politics. I worked on Capitol Hill during my senior year of undergrad. I went on to study public policy in graduate school before switching over to education for my doctorate.

I have loved politics since…well, before I can actually remember. One of my earliest memories is this US Bicentennial dress my mom dressed me in during the summer of 1976; I was 3 years old.

I know the shine started to dull with the 2000 election and the drama with “hanging chads.” As a Democrat, I was heartbroken by the outcome. I lost friends over it.

Today, the 2000 election almost seems quaint.

Today, the US election is taking place, though just about everyone I know personally and professionally has already voted. The stakes for this election feel really high. Will we pull back from the brink of all out devastating crazy or will we push our poker chips all in?

Up until about 2 weeks ago, I really wasn’t fretting much. But having endured two elections where the outcome was completely unexpected, I know better than to trust the polls any more. I started getting a bit worried. This weekend my anxiety really spiked.

Can me and Hope really do another 4 years of this? Do I want to? Where can we go? Do I really want to leave the US?

No.

No.

I dunno.

Maybe.

I really could use a major change of scenery, but essentially going into exile seems dramatic–but so is having a White supremacist as head of state. I am seriously considering heading somewhere at least for a few weeks–but with our COVID -19 cases spiking…I’m guessing no one in their right minds are welcoming refuge seeking Americans in the middle of a pandemic.

So, I’m doing my best to cope here. I’m limiting my news consumption. Staying off of social media most of the day. I stressed shopped (blowing any sense of a budget, mind you) and bought me and Hope our favorite foods, because I needed comfort food. I’m getting my Fitbit steps in, and I made devil’s food cake for dessert.

It’s not enough though. It’s hard enough to suffer through the pandemic and Hope’s challenges right now. I’m usually in my bed by 8pm; and folks have no boundaries. People will still call or DM me. It seems they’ve figured out that my phone snoozes messages after 5pm, so folks routinely text me as late as 10pm. I’m sooooo exhausted. Last night, I dragged my weighted blanket to my bed and crawled under it. I slept soundly.

Today I will rally. I celebrated Hope’s first time voting weeks ago. I was excited for her, but sad that she didn’t get the full experience of going to the polling place and getting her sticker. I will work most of the day, scoot Hope to an appointment late afternoon, use my coloring app, leave the TV on mute or off all together and check in periodically to see what’s happening on Twitter. Despite all of the food I’ve purchased, we will likely get takeout tonight, because I frankly don’t see myself being functional enough to pull together dinner this evening.

How are you practicing self-care today? Are you anxious like me? What’s at the root of your anxiety? What are you telling your kiddos? Do you have a “post-election plan?”


Realizations

Hope and I have had an interesting journey. The first year was tough–getting used to one another, trying to create a sense of normalcy, trying to get the healing started. I remember when my depression kicked in and when I started learning about secondary trauma. Hope was in yet another school–she’d already been to so many, and had difficulty making friends.

We connected with some birth family, dealt with a lingering criminal investigation back in Hope’s hometown, estrangement from my mother and oh yeah, finishing a dissertation. I think of that year often nowadays; there’s something about 2020 that reminds me of our “bonding’ time the first few weeks.

I made a cake every week.

I have baked cakes most weeks since March. It’s one of my ultimate comfort foods. As Hope doesn’t really get into cake like I do, I also do not have to share my cake. Yes, that admittedly gives me some petty pleasure. And yes, I just had my nightly piece of chocolate frosted cake.

I have struggled with depression most of my adult life. It’s managed by meds and therapy. Even though my very high intrinsic motivation is one of several triggers for my depression and anxiety, it’s also likely the thing that keeps me from tumbling over into the abyss.

My drive and inability to sit still for very long has meant that I won’t just lay in bed watching the ceiling fan for hours. There have been times when I have wanted nothing more than to do that because the sadness, emptiness and darkness had taken over. The anxiety keeps me up and functioning. It’s frankly an awful vicious cycle.

Proof? I took today off to rest, to just be. Instead I worked on finishing up setting up my new desk, checking and responding to a few emails and drafting a couple of things that need to go out tomorrow.

I did lay on the couch for a couple of hours with Yappy while playing on a coloring app, so there’s that.

Today it really, really sunk in that Hope’s depression and anxiety don’t look anything like mine. They aren’t even in the same neighborhood. They manifest so differently that it has taken me 6 years to realize this. I feel really foolish that I’ve failed to see it as clearly before. I’m also embarrassed and ashamed that there are times when I said things without realizing Hope’s emotional limitations in the moment. I am certain that there are times when my dimwittedness really harmed her and our relationship. That will weigh on my heart until I die.

I’m grateful for whatever grace she has extended me because I certainly don’t deserve it.

Tomorrow brings another parenting pivot. I never stop learning and try to incorporate the new knowledge and make changes. This pivot requires some significant changes. I expect to stumble…a lot, but Hope needs some things from me and those who love her that I really didn’t understand.


Hitting the Wall

This week, I feel like I hit the wall. I’m just over and done with everything. I feel like I could just crawl into bed and sleep indefinitely. I’m just emotionally exhausted.

Nothing about this year has been easy, but these last 4-5 months have just been brutal. Work just exploded after the murder of George Floyd, and while the intensity has died down some the expectations and work haven’t. I decided about 2 months ago to stop accepting speaking and writing engagements. That hasn’t stopped people from asking though, and I’m getting better at saying no without explanation.

My job cuts across so many other programs within my organization. During a recent meeting I swear I hear my name over and over and over on projects led by others. It was then that I realized part of why I am so effing tired. I’m spread pretty thin.

And then of course there’s home life. While we are past the crisis of the last two months, we are still very much in a tender phase. We’re stable, but fragile. I don’t feel like I’ve had much time or space to process anything because I was just trying to soldier us through it. I threw myself into finding support for Hope, figuring out what needed to happen with the rest of her college semester, dealing with health issues and just babying her, because she needed it.

Oh and can’t forget about Yappy and the day he shat all over the living room and dining room. Or the second COVID scare. Or the inability to get away from here and take a vacation. Or…Or…Or…

And Thursday evening, I feel like I just cracked. I don’t even want to watch TV. I don’t want to read. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want much of anything but to be left alone to just drift away to lala land. My brain just doesn’t wanna. I know that after I post this I will curl up on my couch and go to sleep. I already have my blanket and my pillow.

I’m not sure how to get on top of this. I’ve taken another day off next week and I’m committed to trying to block off more time to just rest. I’m realizing that I’ve got some ego issues (but I just HAVE to be a this meeting) and some issues about disappointing others that I really need to confront and wrestle with because the status quo is not sustainable.

I’m also worried about how my mini-breakdown will affect Hope, who is coming off of her own crisis. I believe it is important that she remember I’m human, but I don’t like her seeing me like this. It can be triggering for her. But I also know that I”m simply incapable of faking it right now. I’m just empty–and this is after having a weekend completely free last week when she went to visit the grands.

I know I’ll be ok, but right now I just feel blah with too much to do and a lot of responsibility that I’m not sure I can handle. Rough times…


The Fall Season

The fall season is typically my most challenging of the year. While I am usually ready for sweater and boot weather, I struggle with the diminishing day light hours, less outdoor time–which means less patio time–and the sense that we should all be nesting.

This year, I feel like we’ve been force nesting for the whole year. When quarantine started for me and Hope, it was the just the second week in March. Since then, we’ve only been out of town once to visit my parents.

I buy the groceries, typically over 2-3 quick outings a week. We see most of our doctors online, but we have had several in person visits, including more frequent visits as of late. We’ve “risk splurged” and gone to the beauty supply store and a recent trip to Ulta to just…browse. I’ve hit Michael’s a couple of times for yarn. I’ve gone out to happy hour/dinner (outside only) with my podmates maybe 7 times (roughly once a month) and I recently started seeing someone and because of concerns about risk, we mostly hang out at his place.

Now that I write it out, it seems maybe like a lot, but it really hasn’t felt like it. Hope has definitely had more time outside of the house than me. She’s worked two jobs during this time, and at one point was out of the house nearly everyday. Both jobs are in the rear view now and she has withdrawn from school for the rest of the semester.

Hope is the epitome of a homebody. She will stay in pjs for days, snacking in bed (and sleeping with the litter of wrappers), and happily go down Tik Tok/YouTube video rabbit holes if I let her. While she might genuinely want to be more social, she can be content chillaxing in her adult onsie.

I like having the choice of staying home, but I’m social. I appreciate being out and about. I’m frankly worried about my emotional health going into the fall. I don’t feel like I have that many choices, and zoom and MS Teams are just stand ins. It honestly feels like things are closing in.

I’ve pulled out my therapy light. I’ve got several craft projects, and I’ve finally logged into some of the free movie apps. I recently started the couch to 5K program to see if I can build up to more time outdoors during the winter and fall months. Hope and I are binge watching Lucifer on Netflix, and I’m sure I’ll find something else for us to watch when we’re done.

Hope needs a lot of attention and nurturing right now. It’s been a rough few months. She’s doing great, but I’m worried about what if I can’t be what she needs during the dark months ahead? What if I go down my own rabbit hole? It’s not like I can call family for back up because of the pandemic. I mean, sure they will come if things are really necessary, but at what point is that? I haven’t really developed comfort with going away for a weekend–I worry about COVID exposure. We probably will for the holidays, along with pre-travel testing.

I am also worried about the upcoming US election, the fall out, these whackadoodle “militia” groups and just chaos. There was a “proud boys” gathering less than 2 miles from my home this week. Should I, too, stock up on weapons? Can goods? Am I even crazy for thinking about this?

So the fall, it’s here and…I’m fretting.


The Summer of 2020

We all know that 2020 has been a complete shit show. As we enter the final quarter of this crazy year, I’m frankly wary. This summer has especially been hard for me and Hope.

As a parent you do what you can to help your kids learn to make good decisions. It hurts when you watch them not make the best decisions, and you just hope no one gets hurt and wait close by to help pick up the pieces.

That’s what the last couple of weeks have been, working to maintain our home as the safe space to recover and heal. I thought the crisis was over weeks ago, but it got one last breath of life and as it finally expired, it left a hot mess in its wake. It’s been hard for Hope and for me. It’s so hard watching your kiddo suffer natural consequences.

Hope will be ok with time; I believe that. But I’m guessing like everyone, 2020 has changed her. In some ways I see her having gained some wisdom, which never comes easy. She is strong, and while putting your bad decisions under a microscope is always hard, I see her replaying things in her head, turning them over in her mind, questioning her reactions to all sorts of scenarios. Of course we all do this. Sometimes it’s healthy, sometimes it’s not.

During this time, I have done double duty. I’m mom first, but my daughter also needed a good girlfriend to talk to sometimes. It’s a hard flex to go between these identities, but she needed a friend sometimes. I shared my more of my own bad decisions, and the proof that life goes on. I talked about what I needed to do for me to move on to better choices. I told her she would find her way and what worked for her. I enlisted friends and her godmom to help prop her up. Hell, at one point I actually offered my daughter an edible because I saw she needed help settling down and trying to get to sleep. She declined–Mom ABM was shocked and happy she declined.

And then I mommed. I mommed so hard. I cooked, a lot, nearly daily. I made appointments. I juggled work and parenting in ways that felt like our early days. We watched our binge show on Netflix. We talked. We cried. I got her up and pushed her to get showered and dressed daily. I talked to our medical/mental health squad, sometimes late into the night. These last few weeks have been intense, and soooo reminiscent of our early days.

It made me remember just how challenging it was learning about how to help Hope and how much I needed to learn about trauma. It made me go through my own process of revisiting some of my decisions 6 years ago, wondering if there were things I could’ve and should’ve done differently. I had a breakdown, wondering if the summer of 2020 was my fault. I begged our family therapist to tell me what I did wrong to increase Hope’s risk of being harmed.

End the end, I realized that in spite of our decisions, Hope and I are still standing. We definitely have some dings, dents, and rust spots, but we’re ok.

Hope is taking some time off from school, and after the election, we might pack up Yappy and relocate outside of the US for a few months. We could both use a change of scenery. When Hope was originally planning to be in residence at school this fall before they went remote, I looked into packing up Yappy and going away for a while. Now I’m looking at moving all of us for a few a spell. I’ve joked that depending on the election results, I might just ask for asylum.

This year has a been crazy and this summer…well, it was rough. But we’re ok.


Looking Forward

This week I received a blast email from Hope’s college president explaining the institution’s decision-making regarding coming back to campus. It was like 5 paragraphs long, and in my opinion, the major takeaway is that it’s very unlikely that Hope will be returning to in person classes in the spring semester.

I think it is the right public health decision. Her school is very small, less than 1,000 students, and while it is well resourced it simply can’t mount the surveillance protocols necessary to do routine testing and quarantines. It’s disappointing that they don’t, but most of the schools in my state, including the very large ones, do not have the ability to do it either. So, it’s definitely the right health decision.

Socially, I fret a bit about Hope’s continued development. She has always struggled with cultivating friendships, but at school she had settled in with a nice group of kids and seemed to really be developing good relationships. She was also getting more engaged in extracurricular programs. Academically, she still had some challenges, but I was delighted that she was doing well socially. I was starting see some wonderful developments, and then COVID-19 happened.

And now, our world is a lot smaller. The whole of this time home I’ve quietly fretted about what this loss of time will mean for Hope and other young people like her.

For my part, I am constantly engaging people, often to the point where I have little desire to engage after work hours. Even still, I regularly schedule happy hours and chats with family and friends so that I can get a bit of my extrovert energy boost.

Hope didn’t take to online chat fests where her school friends. Having a job helped a lot; she was able to meet folks and develop some social relationships. I had really resisted letting her work during the school year, but honestly, I feel like she needs the outlet. Overall,  I’ve seen Hope regress back to the small world she’s had for most of our time together. I worry that not being in a space where she can really practice socially will really be harmful the long run.

As a parent, honestly, I have so many worries. Our recent crisis, which frankly isn’t over we’re just in a period of stasis, taught me a lot about my own fears. It taught me that some of those fears are well founded and that others are less so. It’s also taught me that parenting this period of early adulthood has some really unique challenges. I want Hope to be independent, but what that looks like the middle of pandemic is a bit of a mystery. I want her to develop healthy relationships, but there are some specific vulnerabilities that worry me and again—what does that look like during this time? When the risks of getting sick, spreading the virus and frankly possibly killing someone, figuring out what’s allowable while still giving some space and grace seems really complicated.

Adding to all of this is that several months ago I decided that I would try my hand at dating again. It’s been a slow, cautious endeavor, and I’m not even sure it’s been the right decision. I don’t go out much; I try to focus on talking and connecting a lot. Dating was always complicated and now it just feels moreso. I’m also stuck trying to figure out if me stepping out to date is fair to Hope.

I just don’t know.

With each week, I think we all feel the isolation and limitations a bit more. I’m trying to be optimistic about what will happen over these next couple of years with me and Hope. I mean, I believe we will weather this storm, but I do wondering if/how much collateral damage this pandemic will leave us with when it’s all over. What social skills am I losing and what skills is Hope being prevented from developing? Will we feel safe traveling and having adventures again? What is going to happen next in a year that honestly feels like a colossal dumpster fire?

I just don’t know, and well, this part of my parenting journey feels a bit like a black hole. I just don’t know what’s next. I’m hopeful. I’m optimistic, but I’m also a realist and I worry about our health, safety, mental health and overall wellbeing.


The Sun is Shining

My last post was a lot. As Hope would say, a lot a lot. I learned that my description of my family crisis was really upsetting to some adoptees. I want to acknowledge that sometimes I write  things that may be triggering for some readers. I will write more about that sometime soon, but I want to acknowledge that reality. 

Today is a new day, and the crisis is over. There are just waves of relief. My daughter is safe.

These last few weeks have really been scary. There are always times when I worry about Hope; I worry about her in some form or fashion all the time. This was different. The stakes felt higher, the threat to our relationship seemed higher, and I was just scared, really, really scared for her. 

I know I feel lucky. Parenting is hard; it just is, and some days are just harder than others. And some days, for some parents turn into weeks, months and years. 

The thing I’m most grateful for is being so close to Hope.These last few weeks have been an emotional ringer for both of us. We kept talking. We spent quality time together. We ate together. We used good communication strategies. For most of the time we were really patient with each other, and when we were able to articulate why. I feel like we are even closer now. 

There are and will continue to be some reverberations from this episode. There’s some monitoring and support that needs to happen to make sure things stay safe. There will probably still be some tears (from both of us). There will be lifelong lessons to reflect on (for both of us). 

But this morning, I’m just happy that the sun is shining and that Hope is ok. 


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