Tag Archives: Parental Resiliency

Big Emotions


This holiday…this Mother’s Day thing. It seems like such a lovely idea. Really it does. But the truth is I kinda hate it.

I am reminded of my own loss. I’m reminded that Hope’s birth mother is out there somewhere, and I imagine that she wonders where her little girl is. I think about my own complicated relationship with my mother. I think about how Hope feels about mother’s day—she so wants it to be good, but, well, it’s complicated. I think about how tough my experience with motherhood is, and frankly…I’d just prefer not to have this day of reflection.

I’d prefer to just not as Hope sometimes says.

Things at Casa d’ABM are just miserable right now. All of the efforts to pull my daughter to the next grade have taken their toll. The schedule changes, the testing, the endless meetings, phone calls. Oh, and the money. It’s been stressful for both of us.

I haven’t been exercising as much. I’ve been eating like I escaped fat camp. I’m constantly exhausted. I feel the release of cortisone every few hours—no really, I can actually feel the flush of hormonal release. My head hurts, my shoulders are up near my ears. Those thin muscles behind my ears are tight with stress.

I had a three Ativan day one day this week.

And I’m drinking sangria out of a red cup.

Oh, I also have managed to get two speeding tickets and a red light ticket in three weeks.

Oh, it’s bad. It’s really, really, really ishttay bad.

But yesterday, I realized how my struggles pale in comparison to Hope’s.

While visiting family yesterday, Hope had two crying meltdowns of epic proportions about boys, schools, being dumb, being awful, being stupid, being friendless, being lonely, being sad, being mad, being grief stricken, being depressed, just being Hope.

It’s rare that all of our version of life spills out of our home or our therapist’s office. It’s rare that it anyone sees the full extent of our emotions swirl around. They might get hints. They might see strange things, but our full-on unbridled emotion rarely has witnesses.

But yesterday, it did with my parents, and it was unsettling for them and there seemed to be some shame for me and Hope, even though there was nothing to be ashamed of.

The drive home can only be characterized as manic with Hope chattering for two hours straight. I finally turned the podcast we were listening to off because I couldn’t focus on what she was talking about since she was ALL OVER THE PLACE for two solid hours.

When arrived home, the anxiety about school took over. It was like watching her run hurdles in the Olympics and then tip one over and go careening to the ground in a mess, taking a couple of runners with her—just all emotionally.

Around 11:30, I gave her something to help her rest and went to bed.

And now it’s mother’s day and shortly, I’ll awaken my beautiful daughter. We’ll attend church because she wants to and finds solace there (I don’t) and then instead of snuggling on my couch all day, I’ll be working on Algebra, English, History and French all day, because….mothering.

We’re having pizza for dinner because…exhaustipation.

Happy Mother’s Day to all kinds of mothers…there are so many, too many kinds of moms to name. To all of them, be blessed.


Thoughts on Resiliency

Oh, y’all thought I was going to talk about Hope’s resiliency? No this post is about my own elasticity.

Honestly, nothing is wrong at home, really. Hope and I are doing fine, being normal (whatever that is), but there’s just messiness all around that has me feeling stretched and tired and cranky and just ugh.

Overflowing toilet, faux belly aches, missed buses, rejected dinners, continued village fallout, a nosebleed that lasted more than an hour, a demand to do laundry for one item, a sick dog, an epic grief attack, a meeting with the school counselor, the attorney, the adoption support rep and the fact that my hair looked remarkably like Fredrick Douglass’ hair yesterday.  Seriously, Frederick Douglass…I know that sounds vain, but don’t you find that you can handle things better when you’re having a good hair day?


Frederick is serving some serious side eye. Yeah, I was channeling this yesterday. I’ve even got the mean silver streak. Sigh…

Last night I poured a big glass of wine, fixed myself a cookie butter sandwich and washed my hair. Then I set about to google “Adoptive Parent Resilience.”

Ugh. Oh that was fun. #notreally

It always amazes me that while there is tons of research on child resiliency, there seem to be little about parental resiliency, much less about adoptive parents. Certainly there are resources, and it would seem that having access to resources seems critical to nurturing parental resiliency, whether you’re an adoptive parent or not. That said, I find myself wondering how parents just deal.

I mean, I just do deal and I know the adage that parenting is the toughest job…blah, blah, blah. But when it seems like Rome is burning and you’re the empress and you have a personal fan instead of at least a fire extinguisher, you might feel inadequate on a good day; absurdly stupid on the next.

So my next search string was “Self-care for adoptive parents.” This search was much better; apparently I stumbled on the right lingo.

I did find this article: Self-Care: Barriers and Basics for Foster/Adoptive Parents. I found this particular barrier resonated with me:

“Fourth, too many parents simply do not know what would help them. They know something is missing, but can’t put their finger on just what might make them feel better. Parents are often told, “Call if there is anything you need,” but it is hard to call and ask for help, especially when you cannot even articulate what you need. This leaves many parents vulnerable and exhausted.”

And also this because I just posted how someone is always doing worse:

“Compounding matters, recent disasters—9/11, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the earthquake in Pakistan, and the prolonged conflict in Iraq—remind us all that there are always other people who are worse off. We are taught as children to be happy with what we have since other people have it much harder. It is little wonder we sometimes feel guilty because our ongoing trauma pales in comparison to these catastrophic tragedies.”

Yeah. That.

So, the recommendations in this document are cool. Yeah, I need to find a few more things to personally look forward to and I need to just be ok with being different. I thought I was, but I’m not. And yes, connecting with other parents helps—there’s a delightful notion of finding commonalities in the countless struggles. It is validating, and reinforces that this stuff is “normal’ for this population, but does it make me feel better? Not really. And giving yourself permission to ask for help feels useless when you really can’t put your finger on what really would be helpful other than a good cry that can happen somewhere other than in your master bath with the bedroom and bathroom doors closed, sitting on the toilet because that’s the most private place in the house. #maybeIshouldtrythewalkincloset

On other sites I stumbled over, respite is the be all, end all solution to my resiliency problems. But as a single parent, I don’t have a partner who can pick up some slack and I’m sensitive about how I use the geographically accessible village and I love my sitter service and it’s worth the money, but “respite” makes for a pricey night out before I even leave the house.

So, now what?

Oh, I pray a lot. A lot; a lot.

So here’s my current approach to trying to practice self-care:

Lower expectations. Seriously, I’m lowering them all the way to the floor. Having so many unmet expectations can’t be healthy, so that’s where I’m going to sit down and take a rest for a while.

I’m tired of having expectations that the school counselor is going to respond to my email about bullying on the same day or that I’m actually going to get to play Boggle with Hope when she gets home from school or that some folks in my life will ever meet me where I am on this journey or that the Absurdly Hot Therapist’s scheduler will actually give me a consistent set of appointment dates or that Hope won’t lose her shiz every time she sees a bug as tiny as an ant or that I won’t cry inside when Hope and I go out and I get the crazy eyeballs from people while she’s in the middle of a meltdown because I can’t stop it and I feel like it’s a commentary on what kind of parent I’m perceived to be. I’m tired of a bunch of stuff, even though many things are going well.

I’m just tired of having expectations that are just not going to be met.

I never knew my skin was so thin. Maybe this process just strips so much from you; maybe you need that thick skin coming in just so you have a little reserve when it’s all sloughed off as you progress through the process. I don’t know. I do know that in terms of resiliency, I could use a lot more bounce to the ounce. #rogertroutmanfan

So there’s my current two nickels of thoughts on parental resiliency. Lower expectations to reduce heart and head pain risk. That’s my goal for the next month or so as we move toward finalization.

So, fellow bloggers, readers, parents, how do you keep it together? How do you recharge, how do you make it work?

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