Last weekend Hope turned the magical age of 21. We were supposed to go to NYC to celebrate, but sadly, she got really sick, and we had to cancel. I hope we can go later this summer.
The good news: she didn’t have COVID.
The bad news: we don’t exactly know what she has. I suspect it was a case of the flu.
I can say that it was super gross. And when Hope gets sick, she really gets sick and she really gets dramatic.
I wish I could say that I turn into this mushy mom figure when she is sick, but I do not. Don’t get me wrong, I do what I can—try to get her to eat, to shower, to rest, manage symptoms, etc. But that sit at the bedside, Flo Nightingale stuff…no.
I’ll even admit that I struggle with leaning into the mushy mom troupe. I’m not that chick. I go into non-emotional mode because it’s a problem to be managed and/or fixed.
My ability to compartmentalize emotion is a handy skill in my line of work where a DEI professional being hyper emotional is just not going to work.
That skill for momming is problematic because Hope thinks I don’t care.
Additionally, Hope’s penchant for dramatizing her ailments has me usually thinking she’s crying wolf. There were times when we were regulars at the Patient First (after several expensive trips to the ER where NOTHING WAS WRONG! Some of Hope’s emotional challenges manifest psychosomatically, which really complicates things).
I absolutely do care, and I’ve improved in doing mushy stuff over the years. Sadly I think I’ve lost some of that ground though.
I think I’ve backslid recently because the last 2.5 years have been exhausting in dealing with some of Hope’s shenanigans. Without telling all of our business there was a whole host of bad 19-20-something decisions that resulted in some unfortunate entanglements, health issues, law enforcement engagement, and more.
It’s a wonder I have anyblack hair left on my head. I don’t have much, and I figure in the next year to 18 months I will be completely grey at this rate.
During the height of our COVID drama I had to put my emotions on the shelf to just get through it. I just put those mushy feelings away and went about navigating us out of the dark forest.
Now, I’m realizing some of those emotions are kind of stuck on the shelf.
My sisters and I left home at 18 and never returned to live at home—this being 20+ living at home is foreign to me. Sister K also has a 20-something living at home, and frankly, she’s as baffled as I am, just with a lot more emotion.
I find myself frustrated that Hope is chronologically 21 and emotionally 14, 15 at most. Bridging all that goes between those numbers is…a lot. It’s like she wants to go clubbing and she wants me to fix her baby food all at the same time. It’s dizzying, and I worry often that I just can’t do it. I do not have any effing idea how to parent through this. It’s like an uncontrollable roller coaster.
I know that I have unrealistic expectations; I’ve been spending the last few weeks of therapy really trying to get my brain on the same page as my parenting realities. When Hope actually was 14 and 15, I felt like I could really manage things better. At 21 she has access to sooooooo much more than I think she’s ready for, and the stakes seem so much higher and riskier. More than anything I want to protect her.
I also want to protect me.
I really feel somewhat powerless, and I don’t like the feeling. It’s not that I want to control her every move. On the contrary, I want her to be autonomous, to be free, but the trouble that she can get into feels so much more dangerous and life altering at this point. I hate rules, but I had to institute some this year because of poor decision making. Poor decisions at 14 and at 21…both are unpleasant, and both can have long consequences. But the reality is that I made it through the age 14, emotionally 7 period of poor decisions. Living through age 21, but emotionally 14 poor decisions feel a lot different.
To be truthful, Hope is a “good” kid, but she has triggers that just make her spiral and reliably do dumb shit.
And I’m older now. I don’t feel quite so resilient. I’m tired and a bit worn down. Worrying feels different. It’s exhausting.
My therapist gave me some homework and good friends have suggested I need some respite. Both are right. I’m working hard and will be trying to make some plans to get away.
I know Hope is also struggling and it is painful to know that I am not currently able to meet her where she is.
I’m trying, but it’s really hard. I am trying and I’ll keep trying tho.