- Hope is coming along with the work thing. I stopped her a couple of nights ago to just tell her I loved her and was proud of her. Still doing silly baby adulting things, but she’s progressing. She regularly picks up groceries!
- I’ve lost 6 lbs! I’m not really doing anything special; just logging what I eat gets me in line. I’ve picked up my exercise a little, but really it’s just so I can eat what I want in better moderation. I have no desire to be chisled or buff; I just want to be kinda healthy.
- I realized something this weekend; I’m fortunate to be parenting in an era when so much more information and resources are available. I know I still make countless mistakes, but there is so much more to learn from and it’s at my fingertips. That’s got to be good right? I hope that all APs work hard to fill in our knowledge gaps.
- Because parenting is hella hard.
- I booked my vacation last week. Cancun for a week in 2 months. I can’t wait. I’m going alone so I can just really rest without having to entertain anyone else. I am so excited. Hope is excited to work and stack her coins.
- She is really committed to saving for a car. I am enjoying her chase a goal; it’s been a while.
- The internet was out in our home most of the day. It was like living in 1985. Of course Hope missed the tech blackout because she was sleeping. Lucky her. The episode sent me into a tailspin of anxiety. I was able to work most of the day using my phone as a hotpsot, and I was productive. But I was still super anxious about not being able to fix it myself.
- I’ve got some major electrical work to do in this house; hoping that the estimate isn’t too crazy. The breaker box needs to be moved and replaced. Oy vey.
- I’m also thinking about spring vacations with Hope. I’m hoping and wishig that folks would take this varient seriously. I need to get back to real travel. Folks not willing to take appropriate precautions to prevent spreading COVID are making it terrible for everyone. This pandemic is the worst group project ever.
- I had a lot more to say, but I’m really distracted; so I’ll just wrap this up. ❤
Tag Archives: Lessons Learned
- Man, this year is really flying by. I recently accepted some of my first speaking engagements for 2022, and that just feels super weird to me.
- I finally called my doctor and got the much needed medication adjustment. Now we wait and see how I feel in the coming weeks. I still haven’t called the electrician to come figure out all the work that needs to be done.
- I’ve been thinking about nature versus nurture recently; I think that I started kicking it around after Hope and I said the same thing at the same time. It wasn’t everyday things; this was different. This was a very particular idea and string of words. We giggled when it happened. Admission: I realized very early in this journey to have low expectations of me “rubbing off” on Hope. 1) I didn’t want to be crushed when it didn’t happen, and 2) it’s so unfair to ‘want her to be like me.’ So now, year’s later to know that we genuinely share things like finishing sentences and inside jokes. It really makes me happy.
- And then silly things happen that just make me go: Dear Lord, what are we doing????. Hope and I didn’t have a “why is the sky blue’ chapter. Instead we have a ‘why do my nipples itch?’ I mean we have that now, right now, today, tonight, seriously she just walked into my room and asked me that, while scratching.
- Parenting is wild.
- So, it’s looking like Mexico at the end of September. I haven’t decided if I’m going solo yet. I know Hope would love to go and would have a blast, adding another stamp on her passport. But then it becomes a trip. Stay tuned. The vision of sitting on the beach with a cool drink snoozing like my trip to PR a couple of years ago.
- Hmm, remembering the solo trip to PR makes me seriously consider going alone. That trip I walked every morning, snoozed on the beach everyday, grabbed a calzone every night from the place across from the hotel and slept. It was one of the most decadent things I’ve ever done for myself. Except maybe go to Mexico for a week alone at an all inclusive.
- I will be emailing the travel agent as soon as I finish this post.
- Hope is finding a groove with work. She’s happy, and I really can’t articulate what a relief this is for me. She’s making friends, she’s eager to pick up extra shifts. She has created her own budget–which includes paying me for her cell phone and paying a token towards the housekeeper. I didn’t tell her I was just going to put it in her investment account every month. But she just happened to mention her allocation for her “recreational things” and my eyebrows went up! Could the financial education class I made her go to early one Saturday morning and my modeling good management have had an impact? Seriously, after the year she’s had and how bad things got, I am elated to see her thriving again. It makes my heart burst. I am so proud of Hope.
- Friday, the last person that we had helping us with caregiving so I could travel is getting married. Hope and I will be there. I know I’m going to cry. P was a godsend, truly. Back then when I asked for referrals from the service I used I saw her info and realized we worked in the same building. Knowing where she worked was cool; many years ago, I started my care at that organization. She was going to grad school where I went to grad school. We had to have crossed paths a lot, and we had. She was one of the best decisions I made in my life. She is marrying the man she met right after she started watching Hope; we’ve watched their journey. That man is a gem; he passed Hope’s tests. When I realized that if I was traveling on a band night, and P was at the football game; this dude came to the game too since P was there I knew he was super smitten early on. Seriously, he spent a couple Friday nights at a high school football game to hang out with the woman who was standing in for me while Hope did the marching band thing? He was in deep! I’m so thrilled to be able to watch them get hitched.
- Yeah, so work reentry is rough. Busy, busy, busy. I have so much to do. It would’ve still been insanely busy even if I had not taken a week off, so no regrets. I do wonder if/when America will get over this ridiculous “week long” vacation situation and consider a 2 week minimum. The work ethic here is killing us.
- Hope is saving up for a car, y’all. As we begin talking about his process, I’m acutely aware of how much I take for granted in terms of environmental learning from my family. My dad was a mechanic, and took enormous pride in fixing EVERYTHING, including his cars. I honestly am struggling to remember how I learned certain things about purchasing and maintaining a car; I just learned it along the way.
- Even though I’ve been intentionally talking about these things with Hope for years, I’m realizing the extent to which my daughter has been unable to take in and retain information. Trauma is a beeotch. I’m convinced that these 7 years has just been a brain “rest” period; the result is that Hope has been oblivious to a lot of the environmental learning that just happens in families. It’s not intentional; she probably was listening but just could not process the information.
- Case in point: I do not ever remember learning what mileage on a car was; I just somehow learned and knew that that was how many miles the car had driven. Last night Hope asked me if mileage represented how many miles the car had left to drive. I was like, “an expiration date?” Whew, I have laughed about it for 24 hours because: HILARIOUS. But then I think about what the question represents, and I wonder how many other things Hope just missed learning because of her rocky start in life. Makes me sad.
- These last two weeks or so, I’m seeing so much growth in Hope. She’s regaining some much needed confidence. She enjoys working. She’s helping out around the house more, even picking up groceries. She’s quick to remind me that she needs me, but I’m starting to see glimpses of her future. I’m excited to see how she progresses.
- The truth is that Hope is probably more stable than I am right now. I’m still feeling overwhelmed by most things. Running simple errands can be challenging; lack of motivation. I’m in my head a lot, which is not unusual, but it’s not a good thing these days. I really need a meds adjustment, but the simple act of dialing my doc’s number–which is on speed dial–just seems like…work.
- Even on the weekends, I’m likely to just stay home all day. This isn’t like me. I’m an extrovert; I like being around people. I get off on the energy. But even thinking about going out much is enough to shut me down for a couple of days. Some of this is pandemic fall out, but the rest of it…is just me.
- I am logging my food and stepping up my exercise. I might not have hot girl summer, but it will be toasty girl fall!
- Yappy is currently sleeping in the middle of the bed. I’ve been relegated to the edge because the look he gave me when I attempted to move him about 30 mins ago was wanton rebellion. He ain’t moving. I’m not sure how a 10lb dog because the master of me, but here we are.
- I have a serious case of wanderlust. I am eyeballing trips to Iceland and Costa Rica. My fantasy would be to go alone, like I did with Puerto Rico a couple of years ago. I just need some decompression time. Where should I go? Open to suggestions! I’m concerned about the delta variant, but I am vaxxed. I am unwilling to travel for work, but I need to get on a plan sometime soon.
A couple of years ago, Hope, Grammy and I were having dinner at a cute restaurant in Basel. It was the most expensive dinner we had on a two-week vacation to Paris and Basel. You’re thinking, “Really??? What did you have?”
Two burgers, one steak, one dessert and two glasses of champagne. The damage was close to $200 US. It was outrageous. Burgers for $35!!! Which is why I just went ahead and got the steak—it was $38. On the walk back to our flat, I decided that this Swiss dinner was going to be my new currency benchmark.
The mortgage is 6 Swiss dinners.
Hope’s new sneakers were half of a Swiss dinner.
Her college tuition was…well you get the point.
This week, Hope finally understood the joke my mom and I thought was so funny about my currency reference.
Yesterday Hope turned 19; sadly, I had to work all day. After I wrapped up, we went to get Korean takeout and hit up one of Hope’s favorite little Korean import store which carries all the latest KPop cds. Delighted to spend her own money, Hope purchased 3 new cds.
This is where things got interesting, and Hope and I started really talking about money.
Since Hope started working, she has put money into a savings account. She’s a bit overwhelmed by the influx of cash, and it’s a bit of a delight to see her contemplate purchases.
Hope has largely been oblivious to the cost of things. To some degree I protected her a bit. She had some really difficult and impoverished years. I wanted her to know that we were stable and comfortable; actually, I didn’t want her to know, I wanted her to believe we were stable and comfortable.
I ended up with a kid who at times came off as spoiled. She didn’t necessarily ask for a lot, but she didn’t take care of her things either. She would just ask for replacements, and it annoyed the hell out of me. I usually said no or delayed the replacement until such time as I thought she had earned a replacement. I thought she would learn to appreciate her things; most of the times, it seemed she didn’t.
Enter “Working Hope.”
Working Hope counts her pennies. She actually has 2 separate savings accounts. She studies her pay stub. She estimates her take home. She’s money conscious.
She’s treated herself to a few things, but really hasn’t spent much. The cds were the largest single purchase, and she fretted over the expenditure. I reminded her that she could afford the cds, it was her birthday, and that we all deserved the occasional treat. She grinned and said, “I’ll take these” to the cashier.
On the drive home, I asked Hope, “So how many hours of work was your purchase?”
“How many hours did you have to work to get your cds?”
“Oh.” She started trying to calculate the hours in her head but offered up a guess. It wasn’t close. I told her to pull out her calculator to figure it out. In the end, she determined that the cds represented two days worth of work. She was surprised.
I discouraged her from regretting the purchase; instead I encouraged her to consider the value of her hard work and consider that as she makes purchases. I don’t want her to fret over money, but I do what her to respect it.
Hope started asking me about the household bills and about what it takes to maintain our lives.
I told her to clear her calculator and start over.
Then I told her the rounded figures for the mortgage, the car, insurance, cell phones, internet and TV, condo fees, electric, monthly donations, grocery bill, personal care and maintenance expense, medical insurance and expenses, and a few other things.
The amount was sizeable, and I hadn’t even included my student loans, credit card, savings and investment contributions and “play” money.
She sighed and said, well, there are adults who work where I work. I wondered how do they afford these things? I told her that there are lots of people who can’t afford those things.
We went on to have an interesting discussion about money, income and income inequality, and why I have been pushy about education. Education doesn’t solve all problems, but it certainly can position you to better deal with some of life’s problems.
She had a mini meltdown and asked if she would ever afford to move out on her own. I told her that yes, eventually she would be able to afford to live independently. I don’t think she believed me, but time will prove me right.
This seems to be Hope’s coming of age year which is crazy because pandemic, social justice protests, murder hornets, Saharan sandstorms, cicadas, elections…etc, etc. *This* is the year that is when things are seemingly coming into focus for Hope.
I hope to keep talking to her about money. I’m hoping that in addition to the other lessons she seems to be learning that she will also learn the value of her time—it’s the most precious commodity we have. I hope she also learns to be discerning about her financial choices and continues to develop good financial habits.
One thing that is coming clear to me in all this is that Hope is starting to really see her own future and what the possibilities look like. It’s kind of like watching an alien see and consider earth. She’s surprised, full of wonder and confusion, while also curious and dreaming.
Thinking about Hope imagining living independently makes me smile. I’m proud of her. She’s come so very far in 6 years. I hardly know how to process what I’m seeing with her.
I just know that I’m proud of her, more so every day.
So, Hope and I are back to our Pandemic Normal. I’m finally feeling fully recovered and Hope has finished her first year of college (amazeballs). Now we’re trying to chart out our summer.
Due to a variety of absurd reasons, Hope was unable to register for the first session of summer school (she’s nearly 19 but they still wanted a form from a legal guardian). So, we had to do a hard pivot—it is time for Hope to find a job. I told her that she needed to find creative ways of volunteering if she couldn’t find a paying job. I was ready for her to consider doing UberEats and/or do shopping for some of the older residents in our building. She spent yesterday morning hunting for and putting in applications at grocery stores and fast food places.
Honestly, given how trash the economy is, I didn’t think that she would really find a job. I realized on my morning walk this morning that the universe has other plans for Hope for the summer. In a single day she was able to set up a couple of interviews for this week, one of which has already sent her the onboarding information. Clearly, schoolwork isn’t what was supposed to happen this summer.
I’m excited for Hope and this new experience she’s going to have this summer.
Our relationship has changed so much these last two months, and honestly, the relationship we have now is kinda what I’ve been chasing all these years. We have our own inside jokes. We have deep philosophical conversations. With both of us at home, Hope is able to get a much better sense of how I hard I work, and I think she is much more understanding of why I get pissed when she’s particularly lazy or entitled. I get to see her habits and how she works; I can see better what coping mechanisms really work for her and what things she probably still needs to work on. I think we both have a lot more patience with one another; there’s just a lot more grace and a lot more understanding.
In many ways, I’m grateful for this time with her even if I did wish she would just spontaneously clean the kitchen without me asking her.
And me? Well, I’m learning to crochet. I’ve resumes my exercise efforts. I can’t handle a lot of intensity these days, so I make up for that with more workout time. I’m reminded that I have a gym membership for when the weather is bad, and cold isn’t bad weather. I still would rather bundle up and go walk a couple of miles. I bake bread a few days a week because it’s so yummy, and I enjoy cooking a real dinner for us a few days a week. (By the way since it’s become so hard to get bread flour at the store, I now get it from a local bakery and it’s AMAZING!) I have started a daily habit of trying to find beauty when I take my multiple walks throughout the day. I try to post the pictures on my private social media accounts.
I’ve zeroed in on my skin routine; during a recent video call with my sister, my brother in law even commented on my skin. I’m transition to more natural deodorants because this seems like as good a time as any to do that—when I’m around just 1 other person! LOL. I get enough sleep each night which has radically changed my outlook on a lot of things. It’s really amazing how tired we all are when the world is “open.” I’m increasingly convinced that we’re all just overstimulated. I luxuriate on the weekend because after I make the grocery run, I can chill. I bought a zero-gravity chair and Yappy and I hit the balcony when the weather is nice. It’s nice to be rested.
Yappy is also doing well. He gets way too many treats and is gaining weight. I worry about how anxious he will be when I finally return to the office, but for now, he seems incredibly content to have his pack all in one place. He seems to be at his happiest when we take a walk as a family in the evenings. It’s a delight to watch him, and it’s comforting to cuddle with him.
In all, Hope and I are doing better than ok these days. We are still wary of the world opening back up, fully aware of the dangers that await but also relishing in this special time together. I’m realizing that if Hope doesn’t boomerang home, this might actually be the last substantial period of time when we live together. I think of that often, and I let it guide my engagements with her. It’s not that I want her to boomerang home; I hope she is able to take flight. But if she does come back I want to be sure that we have a new baseline of what our life can be like with a mother and her adult daughter living together.
Of course, that’s in the middle of a pandemic, but I still hope it will create a reference point for whatever might be necessary in the future.
But for now, Hope and I are enjoying each other and getting a window into each other’s lives in ways we didn’t pre-pandemic.
So, I’m hopefully making progress on this COVID-19 thing.
The nighttime is the worst time. I can power through the day, but once night falls, the coughing starts again, the difficulty in regulating body temperature comes back and once I get comfortable, I actually feel like I could eat something.
I feel better overall, but I’ve learned not to trust it—even if it lasts a few days.
Mostly though, I am tired a lot. I didn’t take a nap yesterday and I’m paying for it today. I just feel like I could sleep for days.
But I am feeling better. I also feel like it’s just going to take a while to feel like myself again.
Hope has been amazing since my symptoms came back last week. She checks on me, always asking if I need anything. It almost makes me want to drag this out a bit. #kidding
We have many masks in the house now and I’ve been ‘officially’ cleared to walk Yappy as long as I have on a mask and maintain distance. That makes me feel better—getting out for fresh air and a little exercise. Of course, I overdid it this morning by walking my usual 2 miles. Now I feel like I could sleep 8 hours.
I’m logging back on to work tomorrow; I have a wonderfully supportive office. I’m a little anxious that my schedule looks heavy tomorrow, so I’ll have to rearrange things a bit. I know I want to work, but I have really come to grips with my physical limitations right now
I’m not well—and my wonderful reader Rose dressed me down properly with that declaration this weekend (again, thank you so much!).
There really has been so much discussion in the media about the physical symptoms of the virus, but there hasn’t been as much discussion of the emotional toll this is taking on both the sick and the well.
Social distancing has been hard for folks, especially those of us who are extroverts. The lack of energy from others has been challenging for me. I had two solid meltdowns before I became sick. I am careful not to rely on Hope to fill that need. 1) It’s not her job and 2) I’m sensitive that she’s an introvert.
Being in quarantine has been especially difficult and isolating. Before my post last week, I had told only family and a few close friends about being sick. I still don’t share it with many outside of the blog. In some ways it is like watching the world go by. Most of my friends are not sick and don’t seem to know many people who are sick. They are adjusting to the new normal and while they take the pandemic seriously, it hasn’t necessarily touched them personally.
I’m happy about that. I don’t wish this on people.
But it’s isolating. And who knows, maybe they are just like me and not broadcasting it. I don’t know, but it is lonely being one of the countless people directly affected, even in the midst of something so widespread.
Then there is the fear that this will happen again. We don’t even have enough tests for confirmation of symptomatic cases, and we’re trying to get serology and antigen testing, but now folks are second guessing whether having it might make you immune to having it again. That is hella scary. The thought of going through this again this fall is really frightening. I don’t even want to experience this “mild” version again. I probably will volunteer for the vaccine trials due to fear—damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
There’s also the folks who seem intent on sacrificing all of us. They don’t want to social distance. They don’t want to wear masks. They think this is a hoax. They think this is a play to move the country more socialist. They think their rights are being infringed upon. They wave confederate and gadsen flags which dog whistle all kinds of stuff. And they don’t believe science, which is increasingly baffling to me.
I totally get the awful way the economy came to a screeching halt. I also get how desperate families are to get and keep needed resources, food and housing in particular. We are talking basic Maslow’s Hierarchy here. I get the fear and desperation. I also know how privileged I am to not be in that predicament where I am missing paychecks, wondering if we can afford food and if I’ll be able to pay the mortgage. I get it.
But I don’t get the crazy parts—the dash of white supremacy and refusal to believe science. That is just point-blank crazy to me.
Let me hip you to a reality: Science is a thing folks, and it is not antithetical to religious tenets. I was always taught that science is God’s way of showing us the awesomeness of his creation. The miracle of life is truly mysterious, and science is revelatory. God gives us peeks beyond the veil through science.
COVID-19 is not the flu, and it’s not a hoax. It’s killed over 40K people in just two months in the US, and it will kill more. You can’t be pro-choice when it only benefits you. You can’t tiptoe through religious texts to cherry pick that parts that uphold your hollow arguments. You can’t prioritize the economy while ignoring “Blessed are those who mourn…” or “Blessed are the merciful…” I mean, sure you can, but be ready for folks to call you out on the abject hypocrisy of doing so.
This whole thing is a dumpster fire, and we have a fire hose with low water pressure.
Anyway, I am on the mend—hopefully. I initially wanted to believe this was just a 2 weeks and done thing. For some it is, for some others, 3, sometimes 4 weeks is more realistic. I seem to be in the latter category. I’m learning to respect my limitations, even if I loathe them. I’m learning to take a daily nap. I’m learning that rest is essential. I do not know what the rest of this week will look like; I’m guessing it will involve some rescheduled meetings and a lot of breaks.
For now, I can only listen to my body and her needs and respect what she tells me to do.
Be well folks.
What are 4 things I’m grateful for in the context of adoptive parenting?
One of the questions people tend to ask folks on the cusp of becoming parents is, “Are you ready?” Usually the question is surrounded by a bit of levity, maybe even said in a joking matter with a wagging of eyebrows for effect.
I remember folks asking me and my response was always deadpan: Hell no, but I’m doing it anyway.
Of course, stepping into parenthood is beautiful and all, but it’s hard. It’s exhausting and expensive and discombobulating.
And largely wonderful, even if it is punctuated by many less wonderful experiences.
In the grand scheme of things, my parenting journey has been good. Some would even say that it has been relatively easy for a family coping with the long-term effects of trauma and grief. I don’t disagree with that, but yes, it has been challenging.
And there have been times when I felt like parenting broke me.
Since becoming a parent, I have had to have several increases in anti-depression and anti-anxiety medications—so I’m now taking two meds at true therapeutic doses. I’ve had to resume intensive therapy to help deal with my own mental health during these years. I’ve survived but it’s taught me a lot about myself, my limits and my coping mechanisms.
There has been a lot of growth during these years for me and Hope.
So, what are the things I’m most grateful for in the context of parenting?
- My primary care physician. Dr. G has been my doctor for 21 years. He’s rocked with me through major health challenges, weight gains and losses, cancer screenings, preventive health you name it. I remember when I had to take the form to him to give me a clean bill of health to share with my adoption agency, he was so kind to me. He and the entire staff have always been so supportive. He’s been fantastic with Hope. He’s patient and considerate. He gives sage advice and counsel without judgment.
I realized recently just how much I adore him and how he has supported Hope and I through this journey when he went out of medical leave and I legit panicked that he might not come back. Dr. G has been there rocking with us since the beginning and I’m so grateful.
- I’m grateful for the grace Hope’s family has shown me. Every holiday we get two cards in the same envelope sent by Hope’s biological grandmother. The big card is for Hope and the little card is for me. It’s so thoughtful.
These last few years, Hope has not had a lot of contact with her family. This has been her choice. I encourage her reaching out, but I don’t push it. I understand why it hard for Hope, and I know that her reticence to maintain contact has been painful for her family. I’ve often worried that they thought it was me blocking contact; they have kindly reassured me that they know that I’m not. I try to send letters, lots of pictures and updates on how she’s doing. I feel a real pain in my heart knowing and seeing this estrangement and not being able to smooth it over. I’m a fixer, so I want it to work out.
I don’t know what the future of the relationship will be, but I’m so grateful that they have been kind to me and have welcomed me into their homes and hearts. They are wonderful people, and I’m grateful for them and what they’ve brought to my life.
- I’m grateful for this this goofball, Yappy, and his predecessor, The Furry One.
When Hope moved in, I was doggy mom The Furry One. I’d had him since he was 8 weeks old and he was closing in on 15. Most of my truly adult life I’d had this dog.
The expansion of our dynamic duo to a trippy trio was very hard for The Furry One. He was old, delightfully grouchy and still forever my sweet baby. He passed away about 7 months after Hope’s arrival, and I was devastated.
My grief was overwhelming. For months I couldn’t look at another fluffy white dog without bursting into tears. I know my grief was magnified because Hope and I were headlong into beginning to really cope with challenging behaviors, mental health issues and more. I was also still trying to integrate my new realities with my career. I was a mess.
It took me a long time to realize that The Furry One had a long life and his last gift was his affection during a really hard transition.
About 4 months later, we got Yappy through a Craigslist ad and I’ve been hopelessly in love ever since. Yappy is seriously the cheeriest dog I’ve come across in a long time.
He is super social and affectionate. He loves people so much that I rarely take him to the dog park because all he does after his business is lap surf all the other dog owners sitting on benches. He is my constant companion, snuggle buddy and wordless cheerleader. He looks at me like I hung the moon and the stars.
Sure he has severe separation anxiety, but hey, he ADORES me unconditionally.
- I’m grateful for my sisters. I have amazing siblings. We are close, very close. We love hard, and we try to show our love constantly in our support for one another. We each have our own ways and love languages, but we are always there for each other. My sisters have been unwavering in their support of me and Hope. They’ve listened to me cry. They’ve been there to celebrate. They’ve sent gifts. They hosted overnights. They shopped with us and for us. They’ve been the best aunties ever. We’ve always rode hard for each other, but during this chapter of our lives, it’s been amazing. And I’m grateful beyond measure.
Of course there are many, many other things for which I’m grateful. There have been so many people along the way who have touched my life, helped me be a better parent and helped me get myself together. It is more grace than I deserve. It is humbling and beautiful. So I’m sending a big thank you to the universe for so much on this journey.
Fall used to be my busiest time of the year, but these days have me gallivanting all over the place all dang year.
And you know what?
It is exhausting!
I haven’t been on this kind of grind in nearly 10 years, and I definitively know that I did not miss this pace. And did I mention I’m 10 years older now? I mean, I’m still fly, but it’s still a whole arse decade!
Anyhoo, I’m launching into a month of travel with a legit vacation wedged in there around week 3. #costarica
Because of this grueling schedule, I’m suffering from some major writer’s block, aka “productivity exhaustion.”
So, all of that to say, I’m using some writer’s prompts to help me keep writing through the layovers.
This post is about the things I had to unlearn on my parenting journey with Hope.
There were a lot of things I had to “unlearn.”
Like a lot.
A lot a lot.
Ok, here are the top 3 things I had to unlearn.
I had to unlearn my existing identity when I became a parent.
When I began my adoption journey, I was single and not even dating, about to be 40, entering my dissertation year, and about 6 months past one of the most serious health crises in my life. Up until those few months prior, I had focused primarily on my career. I enjoyed brunching with friends. I didn’t particularly enjoy dating, but I did enjoy the notion of finding my person. I had been traveling for a number of years, but still not yet to the real adventures I wanted to take on.
Life was good, but of course, something was missing.
Once I was parenting Hope, I learned quickly just how hard the self-sacrifice that parenting required was on one’s identity. Initially, it was like my life shrunk instead of expanded and I had no idea how to handle that.
I’m a contrarian by nature, and seriously sometimes I say no just because. No reason, no rationale, for no possible reason that could make sense. There are times when saying no is so clearly not in my interest and I cannot stop myself from declining. I’ve been this way since I can remember.
This made sharing my life so stinking hard at first. I wanted Hope here, but having someone in the house after living alone for so long was super hard.
I am an overachiever. I constantly felt like a failure while parenting Hope. Initially it was when I inadvertently triggered her. Or when I felt like I made the wrong decision for her wellbeing. I thought I would make life worse for her.
I had to get to a place of really letting the old me go and rising up as something new. It was hard, but I think I finally got the hang of it. Now I’m realizing that I’m struggling to reintegrate my old identity and elements of what’s on the horizon.
I’m back into work hardcore in ways I wasn’t in recent years. It feels different. I’m reassessing what it means to have a kid in college and what does the next chapter looks like.
I’ll be 50 in a few years, and that’s a big year. I’m not immediately sure what’s on or in that horizon. It’s like I don’t even have a 5-year plan right now. I know I’ll still be working, quite probably at the same organization. I’ll be wondering what’s up with Hope. I don’t know academically or professionally what she might be doing. No idea. I don’t have a plan, but I probably should.
So now I’m learning that I’ve got to recreate myself again, somehow. I thought evolution was more linear, clearly, it’s not.
I had to unlearn my preexisting ideas about parenting.
I have loving parents who worked very hard to raise me and my sisters. I definitely do not always agree with them on many things, but I thought that they were a good parenting model.
The problem was that my parents created 3 overachieving, highly intrinsically motivated, bright, curious, minimally rebellious during the teen years women.
This meant that our standards are absurdly, and as many therapists have told me, sometimes unachievably high. We’ve surrounded ourselves with similar folks. Our friend circles are populated by some super cool, wicked smart and highly successful folks.
Hope came to me performing well in school. She’s bright. I marveled at how she had managed to endure her past and still make such good grades. I thought, “awesome, she’s bright and will continue to slay at school!”
But then the neurocognitive issues really emerged, and depression, anxiety, and PTSD all pushed their way to the front and center stage in her life.
Grades plummeted. Self-esteem plummeted.
I was flummoxed. It took me a while to figure things out, get the proper diagnoses and advocate for her. And yet with each grade…each one, I realized that nothing I was doing was actually resulting in improved academic performance.
Hope felt awful. There were definitely times when I didn’t appreciate her depression around this like I do now.
As for me, I felt disappointed on multiple levels. Why couldn’t I get Hope to do her work and do it well? I felt shame because I run with a crew who shares my love of high standards, so *of course,* they routinely asked how Hope was doing in school. I felt frustrated and low key mad all the time. Why couldn’t I fix this? Why didn’t she try harder? Doesn’t she know what’s on the line here?
I had to unlearn all the scripts about what achievement looks like in childrearing. More than not, the achievement is raising a child who feels safe and confident. Sure, I tried to provide that for my daughter, but what that looks nothing like what I thought it would.
I knew it would be hard, but I thought it would be easier. Not looking for any credit or criticism; I thought my logical outlook would get me through parenting. Ha!
As I’ve unlearned my preconceived notions of parenting; I’d learned that there is nothing logical about 90% of parenting.
It is all magic though.
I had to unlearn a bunch of stuff I thought I knew about loss.
I realized through parenting Hope, that I needed to recalibrate how I thought about loss. I don’t mean to suggest that there’s a loss Olympics—there isn’t. Folks feel what they feel.
I definitely have had my struggles over the course of these 47 years. But real talk; the losses I’ve endured and the hurts I’ve survived though deeply impactful to me are radically different than what my daughter has experienced.
I thought I new loss and grief. I thought I understood the emotional burden therein. I thought I got it.
I wasn’t even close to getting it.
I’m very privileged when it comes to loss in the grand scheme of things. Meanwhile, Hope can practically tell me dates of those moments in her pre-adoptive life where she felt small, out of control, grief-stricken and more. I didn’t save her from those moments. She lives with those moments daily still.
Getting over and around loss and grief is enormously challenging. Of course, folks do it all the time, but it’s hard work for many of us. I had to realize that I had a lot of impractical mythology around loss. I had to set about to unlearning that stuff and replacing it with knowledge and strategies to help Hope and me work through huge emotional stuff on this journey.
I’m grateful for the notion of “unlearning.” I’m still learning and unlearning stuff. It’s a routine with no end in sight.
Hope has had a bit of the blues this week. She’s texted me just about everyday and this morning “made an appointment” to talk to me this afternoon.
She’s kind of keeping up with schoolwork and she seems to be settling into a nice routine. Medication management continues to be an issue for her, and it looks like I’m going to have to go back to holding the scripts, getting them filled and mailing them to her.
She finally came clean and told me she had been off of one of her meds for nearly a month. We had to revisit an important confab about taking meds daily and the academic and emotional consequences of not taking them.
“Ohh, yeah, that makes sense. You’re right. “
I’m really getting better at keeping my screaming and yelling on the inside and keeping my nice, supportive Mom voice together when talking to Hope. I gotta admit that it’s hard when you have to revisit the same issues over and over and over and over again.
I’m like, how did you forget that when I have left notes, emails, snail mail, texts phone calls and various other kinds of reminders. Do I really need to hire a skywriter to remind you to pop those 3 pills every morning and the other one in the afternoon?
Knowing she needed a bit of a pick me up, I told her the story of a student who called me earlier this week and shared a huge recent accomplishment with me.
I med A nearly 5 years ago when I launched a podcast at work. He was one of my production interns. He was such a great person to work with and had great ideas for the show that I still sometimes look at for inspiration years later.
After about a year and a half, A stepped down from the position. I never found anyone to replace him, but we kept in touch, even managing having lunch one day when I was in town.
Much like Hope, A’s journey was a bit rocky (don’t worry A, I’m not going to tell all your business!). I quietly fretted that he might give up or that he would change course away from a long held career dream.
I have worked with literally thousands of students over the years. I call the one’s I really develop personal relationships with my Pocket students. I keep them on speed dial or check in on them on social media. They all have my cell number and call to talk about all kinds of things. I’ve been to weddings, funerals, baby showers and other celebratory events.
There are those times when they call me to tell me the best news; A did that this week. As he told me about his latest achievement; I sat in my office basking in a rush of emotions.
I was so incredibly happy and proud of him and how far he has come. I reflected on previous chats and email exchanges and those times I peeped around to anonymously see how he was doing (yes A, I know all!). The last few months I’ve been distracted and hadn’t check in on him so when he reached out to chat, I was delighted.
I had two thoughts.
First, this young fellow is going to do great things because he stayed on the grind, didn’t give up and reached this particular goal.
Second, this is the kind of person I want Hope to look up to. It’s people like A that give others hope and serve as an inspiration and role model.
So, during our downtrodden call today, I told Hope about this guy I have known for a few years who has experienced some similar struggles and how he persevered.
She “uh huh’d” me politely, and then asked some questions. After a couple of back and forths she said, “That’s cool” which every parent knows is high praise.
I tell Hope about a lot of my pocket students, and it’s cool know that she’s getting close to the age when I usually meet them for the first time. I’m starting to see her through that lens as she figures out what she wants to study, what kind of work she wants to do and how she will define herself as a young adult.
It’s such a different view of her than being my daughter; it’s envisioning her as an adult, completely separate from me but still connected. It’s cool and weird and exciting and hopeful.
I know that Hope finds A’s story as a good model. I think it will sooth some anxieties she has about what can happen even if she continues to struggle at school. With support and hard work, she can still achieve the goals she sets for herself.
So this post is dedicated to A, the goal he has achieved and how he is role model for my precious kiddo and no doubt many others..
A, I am so ridiculously proud of you and all that you’ve gone through and done to get to the fantastic news you shared with me this week. It will be one of my career highlights. Sometimes you don’t get to see how things turn out for someone or you see it at a distance. Thank you for personally sharing this with me and thank you for being the awesome person you are! Know that your impact extends way, way beyond your immediate circle! You are making waves, and I’m honored to watch on the sidelines!
Hope and I are so very proud of you!
I’m eagerly anticipating the return of the empty nest.
Don’t get me wrong. It has been wonderful having Hope home for the holidays. We have had some nice moments of quality time during the last few weeks. It’s been cool.
That said, this is the longest that Hope has been home since the summer, and before that she was in boarding school and would only come home occasionally on the weekends.
She’s not returning for spring semester until next weekend…10 more days.
Now, I feel kind of guilty anticipating Hope going back to school, but the feelings are real.
Hope only came home twice during the semester, during fall and Thanksgiving breaks. Consequently, I got used to my alone time.
I cooked but not nearly as often since I could eat cereal or make a quick cheese toast for an after work bite along with wine, you know for a balanced meal.
I did my laundry and left it in the basket for days.
I picked up groceries on the weekend, and they actually lasted all week!
If I wanted to walk around in my skivvies, I walked around in my skivvies.
The occasional overnight guest? Not a problem.
Yappy and I had a cool routine and I was getting him reacquainted with his crate due to his separation anxiety.
Since Hope has been home, we are constantly running out of food even though occasionally she will not eat a real meal for a day or two. Then she’ll eat *all the food*.
I have to cook nearly every day…like actual meals. #LOL
I feel like I have to finish my laundry so that she feels compelled to finish hers.
It’s impossible to keep orange juice in the house; she drinks it like water.
I can’t walk around half-naked, and there are no guests.
I have to remind her to take her meds.
I have to ask her to walk the dog.
I made her get back to volunteering this week so that she wasn’t watching Asian dramas all day, because the Holy Homeboy’s children have to work in this house. (Yappy’s job is being cute and providing emotional support in the form of too much attachment).
Dishes are everywhere.
I adore my daughter; she really is amazing. This first semester of college was really rough academically (like OMG rough) even though she really seemed to do much better socially. She needed this time to recover a bit and just rest. I get it. I support it. But…after a few weeks, I’m kinda ready to get us back to our new normal.
Is this what my parents felt? Did they love when I visited, but also loved when I returned to school? Did they feel kinda guilty about that? Can you really have the three day guest rule when it’s your home?
I never, ever want Hope to feel like this isn’t her home. This. Is. Her. Home.
But I’ve gotten used to her being at school! I have adjusted and like my life as a empty nester.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot as Hope preps to go back to school. We’re deciding if I’m driving her back or if she will take the train. I’m wondering how this semester will go, will she find her academic groove, will she want to continue? And if she doesn’t, what will our life be like with her back full time? What can I do to prepare myself for that? How did I let myself get so comfortable? And what will my grocery bill look like with this young adult living back in the house?
So many questions swirling….
But in the meantime, I legit am excited about her going back to school and me walking around in my skivvies, eating cereal for dinner over the sink and feeling kinda guilty about how excited I am about it.