Tag Archives: Christmas

Merry Meltdown-a-mas

We are in the thick of the holiday season, and other than desiring to ability to see some family, sleep late and nap with Yappy, I really wish I could hit the fast forward button. Christmas shopping went out of control since I had to buy a new HVAC unit, and Hope wanted everyone in her new family to have some kind of present. I’m dangerously close to just writing checks and putting them in boring security mailing envelopes or finding myself as one of those sad people still shopping at the 24-hour Walgreen’s on Christmas Day.

Clearly the holidays bring about unique stressors like spending cash, spending a LOT of time with other people, year-end reflection and just stuff. Add to the mix a new daughter who misses some of her first family and is reflecting on the massive changes she’s endured during the last year, and it’s just one wave of a meltdown after another. This season seems to be tough for both of us.

Adding to our drama was the recent resurfacing of a legal case against someone who was really ishtty to Hope several years ago. Oh, yeah, that was fun and no doubt shaved a few more years off of my life. #sarcasm Nothing like waking up one afternoon and realizing that you might’ve seen your life on a previous episode of Law & Order.

We’ve been so stressed out that Hope, and I were about ready to claw each other’s eyes out ahead of family therapy last week. Fortunately, Absurdly Hot Therapist is really, really good at what he does. We were both able to acknowledge just how overwhelmed we are; how we aren’t as far along as we each thought and some stuff that we both need to do differently.

(As one of the few bright side giggles lately: Hope has recently become fixated on commenting on how big Absurdly Hot Therapist’s feet are. Every time, I can barely stifle my gleeful giggles, because you know, I’m totally inappropriate. He has big hands too….just sayin. #dontjudgeme)

Today marks the first day of winter break, which means two crazy glorious weeks together. Yay or nah?

Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with Hope. Love it!

I’m getting really good at listing to “These are the Days of Our Lives: Middle School Edition.” My patience is growing, though it still has a lot more to go. My ability to try to parse out adoption stuff from annoying teen stuff seems weaker than usual or maybe it’s just that they are overlapping and related. Technology and access to it continues to be a problem—trying to find balance in giving her sufficient access so that she learns how to use it appropriately, particularly is social settings still feels like a slow painful death to me. And feeling Hope’s resentment because Yappy loves me more (he does; it’s a fact) makes me sad, even if Yappy unwavering preference for me makes me love him even more.  Yep, it’s all good, even when it’s bad, I guess.

Hope has come so far this year. I mean we both reflect back on the drama of 11 months ago, and it’s shocking how much things have improved. Shocking. And yet we still struggle.

Life: It’s complicated.

So I’m hoping we can pull it together and keep it together enough to not have too many more meltdowns during the next couple of weeks. I am looking forward to Christmas festivities, new traditions and time with family and friends.

Merry Christmas folks!


Twas the Day after Christmas

On Christmas evening I hopped my way across the US back to Seattle to see Hope.  Thanks to Hotwire I didn’t break the bank and got a decent package deal; the only downside was discovering at 10pm PST that my hotel was a flippin’ 30 miles away.    Oh, that of course would be 30 miles further away from where I needed to drive the next morning.  Oh yes, going to see Hope after traveling 3,000 miles was going to require an additional 55 miles.

Ain’t life grand?

So after crashing in my hotel, I got up, hit the free breakfast, googled the nearest Starbucks, picked up a venti-iced and hit the road.  Got a call from Foster Mom that my girl was is a pissy mood that morning.

Super awesome!  I did manage to guess correctly that Hope was a pill with her fosters because I was in route.   I know that she cares for them greatly, but it was an interesting discovery that somehow my arrival was important enough to give me some primacy in Hope’s rankings.  I don’t like the fact that she treated them poorly, but I would be lying if I said that my ability to figure out her behavior and its trigger as my own reassurance that I *get* this kid.

Hugs greeted me and along with a urgent need for me to open my Christmas gift!  Yeah, Hope also *gets* me.

winestopper

I wondered to myself after opening her gift, “Did she really see me drink much wine during our visit?  I was dry until she went to bed, and I rushed to dispose of the bottles!!!”   Then I shrugged, knowing I’d done well on my visit, giggled and gave Hope a hug for her thoughtful observation of my imbibing habits.

Hope was delighted with her new sparkly sneakers (though they were “off-brand” #girlbye with your no job having self! LOL), Bieber perfume and gift cards, but mostly with the perfume.  Grammy gave us both diamond cross necklaces.   She seemed to forget about the absence of electronics for the moment.

After the gift exchange we ventured off for some time at the mall that quickly turned into boy watching, tween crap buying, and friend peeping.  Things I learned:

1) Bless her heart, Grammy really needn’t have spent money on real diamonds; Hope hasn’t a gem discerning bone in her body.  At some point I’ll have to take her with me to a real jeweler for a crash course on gem stones.  For the record, silver tone bracelets with giant rhinestones that spell out BOSS from Wet Seal are in no way real.  For a child that is going through that phase where she swears that wearing “fake stuff” will make her limbs fall off, she’s should be a limbless, jolly, green girl by the time she gets back to the east coast.  Again, #girlbye!

2) Light skinned brothas are, in fact, back in style.  Sigh…I think every brown girl goes through this phase of sweating the fair skinned fellas with the curly hair and if you’re really lucky, dimples.  It’s such a cliché of epic proportions.   It’s ok to be attracted to whomever you’re attracted to, but her colorism issues are real right now, including her belief that she’s not really worthy of the fair skinned fellas because she’s dark.

No, just no.  Sigh.  I have so much work to do with her.

Aside from the fair toned dudes that we peeped for hours on end, I also realized I’m going to have to watch my girl like a hawk and forcibly put her in every activity I can think of and afford.  Her boy craze is so serious; I know she is particularly vulnerable to the lackluster charms of any dude who might look at her with modest interest.  She’s desperate for the attention with a side of twisted validation of her beauty and worthiness.   It’s so sad.  I hope to help build her self-esteem while cloistering her a bit until she’s healthy enough for a decent teenaged crush.   Pray for me!

As an aside, can we get just one Black boy band group? I mean, I dig One Direction and whatever that other little group is, but dang, can ABM get her sweat on to some brown bubble gum pop?  I mean I grew up with New Edition and Boyz II Men!  Can I get some diversity in these new age boy bands, please??

3) Hurt can easily equal painful anger.  Hope had a flash of anger while we were at an arcade that resulted in her banging a pinball machine so hard she bruised her hand.  Game winning is another way that Hope pursues some sense of self-worth; losing can easily result in a meltdown.  I discovered this during our Thanksgiving visit, but I saw it all over again during this short visit.  She mentioned that she has issues with anger, but I know that it’s really about hurt under the surface.  This is definitely something we will have to work on in therapy.  Life’s game has lots of losses; she’s going to have to learn to cope with that without getting so angry.   I’m cognizant of the fact that one day she’s really going to blow and rage with me; I’ve got to be ready to deal with that in a constructive way.  It’s going to happen.

4) I have achieved hottie status in my head.  Ok, not really, well maybe, kinda.  Hope ran into a few of her friends at the mall—including the one who actually smokes weed, SMH (another post for another day).   I politely stood to the side while she chatted, giggled, pointed out boys and acted crazy when she thought a boy looked remotely in her direction.  She never introduced me to her friends.  Yeah, I felt some kind of way about that, but oh well.  After the little kitty-klatch ended and we walked away, she told me she told me that she told her friends that I was her mom (that still makes me smile) and they said, cool, I was pretty.

Hot damn, the tweens think I’m pretty.   It was an unexpected ego snack.  I’ll take it.  Don’t judge me.

5) Hope’s ready to move.  She’s still a bit anxious about what life will be like here, but her general anger and angst about the imminent move has subsided.  It makes things easier to know she’s coming to terms with this major change.  My life is about to change dramatically, but I know she’s giving up a lot moving so far from everything she’s ever known with worries that I’ll reject her.  I got clued in that she was increasingly resigned to the move and coming to terms with it when she did not flip out when I denied her purchase of a CD and a game with adult ratings.

Maybe this seems like a stretch, but I laid out some rules/expectations during her visit here.   Hope’s been exposed to so much that it is like trying to put Pandora back in the box, but I’m committed to reigning her exposure to crap in dramatically.  It annoys her but she’s come to respect it.  She understands that there are things she has to earn—like the tablet, the cell phone and whatever other little thing she manages to come up with each week.  And she will still test the limits but there isn’t a meltdown when the limits hold.  Hope respects my authority, my position, my final word.  This is as much a power choice as calling me mom was.  She’s ready to move, even if she does hope she gets to go on the field trip next week and the band concert later in the month.

So, in all it was a lovely visit, even if it cost me about a $100 for every hour I spent with her (ouch when you put it like that).   I’m feeling good about us.  I love her so much.  I read often that love takes a long time to grow with adoptive parents.  I am no fool; I know there are times when I really will not like her very much.  But I do love Hope, of that I’m sure.   I am also proud of myself for taking time to sort through what I’m learning about myself and Hope as we transition.  It helps me know that it’s not going to always be an easy path, but if I pay attention and take a breath I can see the street signs and take heed.

In other news, I submitted chapter 4 of 6 to my dissertation director tonight for comment.  On to the next one!

collageChristmas


‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

I’m currently heading west to see Hope.  I’m excited and, well tired.  Last night, just before midnight east coast time, Hope called me up, clearly hopped up on sugar and full of cheer.  I was already in bed and a tad groggy.  We exchanged hellos and I pulled my sleepy mind together just in time to hear this:

“I wanted to tell you Merry Christmas, Mom.”

Even writing it and remembering it now makes my eyes water.  She finally called me mom.  And she was serious about saying this one word.  She stressed it, emphasized it.  She let me know that she’d consciously chosen to call me mom.

I remember dreaming one night this past summer about what it would be like to hear my adoptive child call me mom.  In my dream the kiddo was in his/her room and just called out “Mom!” as though he/she was calling me to see something in their room.  I remember I was heading into the kitchen when I heard the word, and I gasped, put my hand to my heart, and closed my eyes for a moment as I savored that single word before yelling back, “Yes?”

I remember thinking even though it was a huge deal, I didn’t want to make a big deal about it.  In my dream it was such an organic moment that I wanted to treat it as though it were normal, just like any bio-kid might say to his/her parents.   I remember it being so incredibly precious, and so organic and…so normal.

So, it’s an interesting juxtaposition to how I actually became Mom.   Hope’s and my path to our “Mom Moment” was so different than I imagined.  What to call me has been a frequent conversation ever since I flew out to see her in October the first time; even over our first meal together.  Hope was removed from her mother’s care at a very young age and the absence of a mother made it weird to finally, possibly be getting one.  Our conversations about what to call me continued right through her recent visit to VA over Thanksgiving.  It was then that I realized just how much she thought of me as her mom; she didn’t call me mom, but she referred to me as mom when talking to her friends on the phone or social media.  I remember writing about how that realization made being called mom not really matter.  I knew in my heart that seeing and accepting me in that role was far more important to me than whether she ever called me mom.   I was content with that.   It didn’t matter.

It didn’t matter until she deliberately chose to call me Mom mere minutes before the east coast clock struck midnight, marking the arrival of Christmas.

It was her gift to me.  And it was so incredibly amazing and precious and wonderful and just the best thing ever.

The.  Best. Gift. Ever.

And I tried to play a little cool, but really how cool can you be when you just received the gift that you deep down wanted more than anything in the world?  I tried not to cry, I wished my baby girl Merry Christmas back and I said the only thing you can really, humbly say when you get a gift like that.

I said thank you, Hope.  I love you.

Hope and I still have many miles to go and bridges to cross to make this thing work, but she’s made a choice.  She’s chosen me.   I chose her months ago, but she chose me.  She chose me at Christmas.  It is world-rocking and amazeballs.

She did follow up by asking if she was getting an Ipod when I pick her up tomorrow.

Kids, right?

No. She’s not, but bless her heart she is persistent about the techie-gadgets though, none of which she will be getting before she is permanently placed with me.

I’m en route to the west coast and will be there for my own little Christmas miracle first thing in the morning.  I’m still a bit disappointed that she isn’t home with me for Christmas, but knowing that she’s chosen me is surely the next best thing.

Now, back to dissertating at 35,000 feet.   Merry Christmas to all.


Holiday Anxiety

Ok, first off, I wish I wasn’t anxious and I wish I wasn’t feeling whiny.  But I am and I do feel anxious and whiny.  My shoulders hurt from stress and anxiety.  I feel prickly and irritable.  I would really prefer to withdraw and just hide in my house for a few more days.  But it’s Christmas and that would be sad and somehow just wrong.

In an hour or two I’ll head a hundred miles south to visit my parents for the holiday.  Grammy and I are tender with each other; we love each other very much, but I know we both are still hurt from our drama from the last few months.  My new/refurbished cell phone doesn’t give off its own wifi signal so I can’t just hide in my old room and work on my dissertation.  Going all the way there just to retreat to the Panera to practice overt avoidance doesn’t feel right.   Maybe I’ll go visit a few friends.

Oy vey, I just realized that I didn’t get my godson a Christmas gift.  Sigh…

Christmas afternoon I’ll head west to go visit Hope for all of one day (Thursday).  I’ve spent the last week and a half trying to manage Christmas expectations.  Interestingly, Hope asked for two sets of books and an Ipod Touch.  Originally she asked for Beats by Dre headphones; I quickly explained that new mama didn’t believe in spending more than $10 on headphones, so $50-$200 were wholly out of the question.  The Touch is really a no go at this point; although Hope will have internet access here I’ve found her not ready for it quite at the tip of her fingertips, especially if its portable.   I’ve decided to bring her a pair of sneakers, the Bieber perfume and some gift cards that we can use when we go shopping that day.

She’s excited that I’m coming to visit.   I’m anxious about her reaction when I get there; she’s been fickle since she’s returned.   It’s probably good news; she goes monosyllabic on me like any other kid her age.  She’s being normal in a most abnormal situation.  Her behavior has been stellar since I took her home; no detentions, no suspensions; no visits to the principal’s office or notes home from teachers.   I’m so proud of her.  Of course, she’s highly motivated because of a deal I made about her getting a cellphone this spring if she could stay out of trouble.  This brings me to my anxiety about this trip.  I don’t want to do too much too soon, so I’ve kept the gifting light (especially since I have to carry this stuff).  My family gifts but we tend to do just one or two gifts and that’s it.  Of course we’ve not had a kid in the family for many years, so all of this is new.  I also know that I need leverage and motivational points with Hope; this works with her in helping her be less impulsive.

I have to realize that I can’t control how Hope will react to the gifts I bring.  I just need to spend time with my girl and try to have the best time I can with her for this expensive but short visit.   I’ve got a house full of stuff for her, but I just want to mete it out over time on my terms rather than this huge explosion of gifts just because it’s Christmas.

I’m hopeful and prayerful that she will be home for good soon.

For now, I just want to get there, see her and give her a hug.  That’s all I want for Christmas.


Paperwork, Schmaperwork

“I honestly can’t tell you how long it will take. “

~~My adoption agency

Nothing says “we want this family thing to happen” like waiting on a mess of bureaucrats sign sheets of paper to keep things moving along.

It’s really likely that Hope will not be home for Christmas.

<sob>

After several months of anticipating the permanent placement of my kiddo in time for Christmas, I accepted the reality that this may not happen today.  It really is like Santa is dropping off a bag of coal at Casa ABM this year.

So Hope’s home state still hasn’t sent the paperwork to my state to do the initial contract, and until that happens the actual ICPC paperwork just languishes.  Oh sure, there are promises on all sides that the paperwork will get pushed through, but…really, who am I kidding?  I am not sure I believe that it’s going to happen with 26 business days left before Christmas.

I want to have faith in my own Christmas miracle, but with my and Hope’s faith resting in some papers on a desk somewhere out there, my faith is a bit shook.

The paper pushers have turned me into a Doubting Thomas.

Awesome.

Except that it’s not.  Damn, you Adoption Boogey Man.

How sad will it be to have to take Hope back to her foster family without having any idea when she will be home permanently?  She’s packing and I’m prepping, and there’s a stack of papers somewhere that we’re hoping someone picks up, signs and FedEx’s somewhere to the next person who needs to rifle around their desk, pick them up and sign them, and again send them somewhere.

Both Hope’s and my anxiety levels are running high.  I’m already sad about having to take her back before she even arrives.  I don’t want to.  I just don’t want to.  I just want her to stay here with me and The Furry One.  I just want to start grappling with our stuff together and getting on with our life.

I worry about what the delays will mean for her and what she will make of them.  Our little family is totally dependent on other folks doing a bunch of paperwork.  She’s young and a bit immature and will she blame someone?  Will she blame me?  For her little circle of friends and frenemies to whom she’s bragged about being adopted since September, will she have to save face about coming back and not really moving for however long this takes?  Will her anxiety and behavior worsen (the anxiety is really starting to get to her)?  Will this make us take longer to discover our version of normal?

Will my heart break after spending two weeks living and loving this kid only to take her back and not have any idea when that obnoxiously pink room will be filled with her tween laughter and sulking again?  How will I focus on anything after a two week taste of being a family and then not have her with me for however long this takes?  Will Christmas even feel like Christmas after I said I would decorate (I loathe decorating the house)?  Is there even a need for me to drag out Christmas decorations?  I guess I can put that decision off for a while.

I don’t like this one stinking bit.  Not one bit.


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