Tag Archives: Mothers

My 4th Mothers Day

This weekend marks my 4th observance of Mothers Day. Thinking about that makes me smile, and then I remember how complicated this holiday is for my daughter and I and my smile fades a bit.

I know that I adore Hope. I know that Hope loves me very much.

In a perfect world, we would never know each other. Hope would be feting her biological mother this weekend 3,000 miles away. They might go to their favorite restaurant. There might be a card; there would be lots of hugs and “thank you mom, you’re awesome” statements.

I would be at my own brunch with my biological children, smiling, laughing with them marveling at these little miracles that came through my body.

But this isn’t a perfect world, and Hope and I have each other, each with all our imperfections and challenges.

I think we both ponder that, even unconsciously, during this holiday. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t a solid family. It does mean that we still have to make time and space for grief.

I know that I won’t have a card waiting for me in the morning when I wake up. I made my own brunch reservation at one of our favorite restaurants. I plan to make her use her debit card (which I finance) to pay for said dinner so that at least I have the illusion of being “treated to brunch.” I figure it will also help her learn what she’s supposed to do—not necessarily for me, but in general regarding these kinds of things.

And then, I will post up at a local hookah bar, order a glass of something yummy and puff away the afternoon. This will give me some time to enjoy myself with no drama (join me if you’re in the DMV area, just drop me an email!). It will also give Hope some time with her own thoughts, which, I’m finding she needs.

During our recent trip to see some family, we acquired some pictures of her mother. I recall just watching Hope look at the pictures. During our time as a family, I’ve gotten pretty good at reading her emotions, but I couldn’t read Hope’s reaction. It was almost vacant; but I know it wasn’t vacant at all. There were and are a lot of tangled up, complicated emotions going on just under the surface. She had no desire to process it with me either.  In a nutshell, Hope’s emotional connection/reaction towards her mother is complicated and it’s very much exclusively hers at this point.

I imagine that one day Mother’s Days will be different me and Hope.  That we will have a different kind of balance between grief and celebration. We will have fun brunches and lots of smiles and lots of love. This weekend we will have those things, just tempered a bit. It’s ok. Monday will be a new day and we will have gotten through another year of this day, together.


Grown Lady Chats

So, Hope and I have been talking a lot this last week. And by a lot I mean, so much that I could kill a bottle of wine each night after our chats.

As I’ve mentioned on occasion the Constitution of the Sovereign Queendom ABM provides Hope limited privacy rights.  I mean, clearly, she has a door on her bedroom and bathroom and I don’t routinely rifle through her things. That said, if something is fishy, I maintain a benevolent monarch’s right to have all the tech passwords and access to all messages without question. I have only needed to exercise my right to invade on one or two occasions prior to last week.

This most recent episode was triggered by super shady behavior by Hope, and her dying need to tell me about what was going on but knowing that she probably shouldn’t.  So, at dinner one night, Hope rambled on for 30 minutes some disjointed story that included no names, some “friends,” lots of giggle and teen angst and just all kinds of boring yet fishy details. It was hard to follow, but I picked up enough to know that I needed to exercise my rights to start logging into some accounts for some late night reading.

And so I did.

And then I needed to lay down, so it was good that I was already in bed because what I read would make any good Southern woman need to take to her bed.

It was super clear that me and Hope were in serious need of a chat about grown lady issues.

I reached out to a few close friends, worked through some of my emotions and gathered some useful advice and steeled myself for what I hoped would be a casual, non-confrontational, supportive chat about sex. A chat that would be followed by me taking several shots of whiskey in the privacy of my bathroom as a part of my recovery plan. This wouldn’t be our first chat about sex, but it would be the first time that we needed to talk with a lot more detail about choices, values, self-worth, self-esteem, so-called friends, emotions and behavioral patterns.

When I finally got up the nerve to talk to my daughter about sex, she was mortified.

ostrich

Hope tried to bury her head in the couch.

I persisted, and we had our first real grown lady talk. I kept my composure, there was no yelling, little emoting beyond trying to be empathetic and patient. I was firm about certain things, but acknowledged that some choices aren’t mine to make. I insisted on making an appointment with a health care professional to answer some questions—I mean, I could answer them, but I know the value of having a 3rd party say what should be said and that’s worth the $10 co-pay.

I wanted her to know that while I’m not her friend, I am the safest person to talk to and share things this deep with. That’s what I’m here for.

Afterwards, she retreated to her room and I grabbed a few shots and leaned into my couch.

In the aftermath, I wasn’t really sure what she thought about the talk. I mean, I high fived myself, because I thought I did pretty well. I kinda wished my mom was willing to talk to me like I talked to Hope about grown lady stuff. I thought to myself, “Self, you *might* be on the road to being that cool mom you aspire to be!”

ladyg

And then, just when I thought I’d cracked the door to our grown lady chats, the flood gates opened. #IWASNTREADY

Last night on the way home from an outing Hope resurfaced the conversation with way more details and an offer to read a series of messages that I hadn’t read during my privacy invasion.

Oh dear…I don’t want to read those messages. Nope, nope, I don’t wanna. You can’t make me.

Nah, I’m good.

Distewwwmuch! Distewwwmuchtoosoon!

We stayed in the car for 30 minutes talking about grown lady things, with me genuinely happy she feels safe talking to me and asking questions, while also really needing to take to my bed immediately because I was…done for.

Oh yeah, we are all into the grown lady chats now.  I know this means I’m totally slaying this mother game this week, but the loss of my own parenting innocence is kinda sad. I mean, I’m not naïve; I knew Hope was having all these thoughts and feelings; I remember what kinds of things I wanted to know and experience in high school, and I only imagined that it was like that and worse now. I just didn’t count on finding out so much so quickly. I know that we will establish some kind of boundaries with time, and so I’ll treasure this time of knowing so much and being able to parent, coach and mentor her into womanhood.

Sometimes I really sit down and think about how Hope is already in high school and this chapter will be over so soon, but we just found each other. We’re having all these experiences, and we’re cramming all this life into what feels like tiny chunks of time. Before you know it, we’ll be on to the next mother-daughter crisis.

Two years ago, I knew Hope and I would someday have to have grown lady chats, but it seemed so far off into the future.

And now we’re here.  I’m so proud of the progress we’ve made and how quickly it has happened, but I’m also like, wow, it’s all flying by so damn fast. I know it’s a mess of confusion and hormones and emotions for Hope right now, but it is also a mess of emotions (and probably some wretched hormones) for me too.

So, for now, I’m open to listening to every hair raising, slow-blink inducing grown lady chat that Hope wants to have with me.

I’m also stopping by the liquor store on the way home, you know, for my private after party.


The First No

Shortly after the agency sent me info on the child I am currently pursuing (aka Hope Kid), I got an email from the agency about another child that my social worker mentioned a month prior.  This child became a point of interest for my social worker and the agency because I was open to taking a kid who self-identified somewhere on the LGBT spectrum.  That self id is not a big deal for me, but I know it would be a big deal for some other folks.  Who you love or how you gender identify isn’t really a big thing for me.  Live and let live.  I just want a kid who I can help reach their full potential and who will help me reach mine.  I want to be a mom.

 So, I open up the email and read and stared at the picture  Then I sat looking at the screen, waiting for something magical to happen because, well, the previous email I received was like opening a present that had sparklies and unicorns and rainbows.  Why didn’t that happen with this profile?

I’d heard from some folks that you would know when you saw your kid.  It didn’t mean that you would get that kid, but that you might have some kind of cosmic connection to a kid whose profile you received.  How was it possible that I felt that the first time I got a profile, which happened to be for Hope Kid?  I dismissed it when I first felt that feeling (it really defies words…except sparklies, unicorns and rainbows).  I figured it couldn’t possibly be real; it really must just be the excitement of getting the first profile.

I’d also been warned that the opposite might happen.  That I’d get a profile, and I would feel compassion, but no attachment, no cosmic anything.  Nothing, nada, zilch.  It happened, and I could only feel guilt and shame because I didn’t feel any anything more than compassion and it wasn’t enough.  How could I not want this kid?  My social worker thought it might be a perfect match; my agency agreed, and the child’s social worker was over the moon with my homestudy and calling my agency repeatedly.  And here all I could do was send my agency’s follow up calls to voicemail, close my office door and cry because, well, clearly I was an awful, horrible person who was seemingly a match for an amazing kid, and I could barely manage more than a mumble.   I was hiding from my own cell phone because rejecting this kid was unthinkable, and now it was my fault that this kid would not have a forever home.

Oh yeah when I do guilt and shame, I go hard.  I mean all the way there.

So I tried to figure out if there was something…anything there that I could and should see that everyone else apparently saw in the tea leaves.  Every child has value; every life has meaning.  Maybe I just needed to dig for it.  I did have a lot of questions about this child, and I dutifully sent them off to her social worker.  Maybe there would be a sparkly unicorn in the answers that came back to me.  There was no unicorn.  But I did learn that this child has some significant issues that I am not sure I could handle even if a giant unicorn with a sparkly leprechaun riding atop showed up to take me to work each morning where there would be a pot of gold sitting on my desk.  And yet, she was beautiful and lovely and needs a home.  But she wasn’t my kid.   She just wasn’t.

And I had to say no.  And I had to do it clearly and firmly.  No one, especially not the child, would benefit from me pussyfooting around a soft no when I knew it was a firm one.  And in my heart I knew it was a firm no from the moment I opened that email.

I cannot speak for others’ adoption journey, but I cannot think that many of us consider saying no to kids.  Isn’t that why we’re doing this?  Because we want to be moms and dads?  How could we say, “No, that’s too much for me, and for whatever reason, I do not feel connected to this child?”  Rejection is horrible, and one of my biggest personal fears has always been rejection.  I feel like the lowest of the low because I feel like I was the one doing the rejecting.  And I know it is more complicated than that, and that I can easily also say that I knew she wasn’t my child, but I still had to say no.

I’m not quite sure when I will recover from having to call my agency with my decision.  I know I have to forgive myself, and that my getting out of the way hopefully clears the path for her to find her true forever home, but damn.

It sucks.  Royally.

When you’re going through this process, the trainers and social workers all talk a lot about the resilience of the children.  No one talks about the would-be-parents’ resilience.  I know I’ll get over having to say no, but I will not forget it or any of the emotions attached to it.  I have learned that what I felt with Hope Kid was real, which is super cool, and it makes me happy.  I do not know if I’ll feel it with other profiles, and I do not know if I will have to say no in the future.  I have told the agency that I do not want to see other profiles until I see what happens with Hope Kid.  I have found it is much easier being on the receiving end of rejection than it is to be on the delivering end.

And I guess that is an important personal lesson for me.  I know that I am resilient enough to face one of my worse fears.  I know I will be heartbroken if it does not workout between me and Hope Kid, but I do not see myself saying no to this match and  that brings me some comfort.

A friend calls these experiences my version of labor pains.  I don’t know about that (I don’t know nothing about birthing no baby!), but it does hurt.  But it will pass.  It’s just another part of the journey.


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