Tag Archives: Single Adoptive Mom

Being an Oasis

I am still struggling with appropriate way of dealing with Hope’s various attitudes. Seriously, it is so dang hard to reconcile the way I was brought up with the way I’m raising Hope. I mean, I am still trying to inculcate the values and life lessons and such, but dealing with her attitudes and smart mouth remain a challenge for me.

My parents simply didn’t tolerate any of this and I didn’t expect to either. I kept my attitudes to myself, and my smart mouth was silenced until I was in my room with the door closed mouthing what I *wished* I could have said to my parents in the heat of the moment. #wishfactor

While Hope and I aren’t doing too many coordinated Year of the Try activities right now, I am plugging away at trying to parent Hope better. There is so much room to improve, so I continue to research and figure out what I can actually do consistently that will help us become closer, help her feel confident and help reduce the caustic emotions in our home.

So, here it is, here’s my latest attempt at improved parenting…Ready?

Silence.

Yeah, shutting my pie hole and ignoring the countless numerous things that annoy me. I am limiting my nagging to the barest of essentials that will keep us bug and rodent free. I am desperately ignoring outbursts that aren’t specifically directed at me or about me.  Those more personally targeted outbursts are met with an absurdly polite, quietly spoken “Please adjust your tone. I am not yelling, nor have I yelled at you. Please do not raise your voice to me. Speak to me with respect and I will do the same.”

It’s become a mantra, so to speak.

If I were to boil down this approach I would describe it largely as pretending I don’t see the crazy and if I do, I speak with my quiet “You must be crazy” voice.

Whenever I do this, Hope looks at me like I am speaking a foreign language. Seriously, her confused face is awesomely hilarious, but I don’t laugh. She has typically tightened things right up or just pulled back.

All of this has allowed me to place greater focus on speaking to her about positive things. She needs a lot of positive reinforcement; I mean about EVERYTHING. School, hair, eyeliner, toenails, boy stalking…She just needs lots of positive language.

Hope always demurs when I say nice things about her to her; she is a devotee of deflection. I know it’s because she doesn’t yet believe the nice things I say about her, so I have to say even more.

Shutting up about so much of the stuff that pisses me off has created some head space for me to focus on building her up.  And that’s a really good thing.

Oh, don’t be fooled, I am still in a state where I just stay secretly annoyed. Seriously, kids do some dumb ish and frankly, I am still a person who is easily vexed. I know it was pass though because I gotta focus on the bigger picture and that is building my kid up and showering her with positive reinforcement. I’m realizing that she’s just starving for it; she’s so thirsty that it’s killing her. When I put it like that, it’s easy for me to try to be a better oasis. She needs an oasis more than she needs anything else in the world.


Big Emotions

Sigh.

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.


One Week of School Down

In the grand scheme of things we managed the first week of school pretty well. Hope decided I didn’t need to walk her to the bus stop anymore, freeing me up to enjoy my coffee alone in the mornings for 10-15 minutes. She started practicing her saxophone again and after the first hour it started to sound kind of like music again. I managed to keep one of the new hermit crabs alive—having trouble keeping things humid enough. We did have a bit of a run in at least once a day. I’ve had good engagement with some key teachers.

Yeah, by most standards, it was successful week. But I still feel like crap physically and emotionally. I’ve been suffering from ragweed allergies and asthma and it’s made me a bit of a grouch.

Today we’re in the braiding salon getting her hair done for picture day. So with hours of waiting, I have time to reflect more deeply on the week and all that’s happened.

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Boundary issues have resurfaced. I had nanny night a few nights ago; it was a nice night out and as usual I came home in a good mood. As I opened the door Hope and the nanny were playing with “Piggy,” The Furry One’s favorite toy and now my most treasured artifact from his years with me.

I sleep with Piggy and she has not left my room since the dog’s death. Now here was Hope and the nanny playing with her, which meant 1) Hope had been in my room (forbidden without permission) and 2) she was playing with something so important to me that I immediately had to hold back tears.

brokengate

I’m not sure what upset me more, her going into my room or the tossing around of a sacred item. I later realized that The Furry One’s ashes had also been disturbed on the shelf.

I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me.

emotional-breakdown

I asked the nanny to give me a minute while I asked Hope about all of this privately. She felt justified since she had already broken the room rule by going to get some of my nail polish. She thought the nanny should see the dog toy. The nanny has been with us all summer; she’s seen Piggy before.

We had a brief, calm chat about respecting my room, my things and The Furry One, even in death. As usual she was so resistant that I had to explain that I felt like she might feel if I took out and played with her most sacred item that she has from her father. I respect that item and its location in her room greatly. I’ve never even touched it except for when I unpacked it with her things when she was placed with me.

Afterwards I had to check the nanny who allowed all kinds of rule breaking. No bueno for either of them.

Apologies accepted. Hope actually apologized to me one morning this week. We’d had a bit of a tangle the night before that resulted in me nearly not twisting her hair for the night. I nearly threw in the towel, I was so furious. The next morning we did our morning routine in silence. I thought to myself, this will blow over by dinner time after work and school. As she was about to leave for school, she turned and looked at me and said, “I’m sorry for raising my voice last night.”

Wow. Ok, I can work with this.

I hugged her, told her I accepted her apology and to have a good day at school.

The ability to apologize is not something she had before. I imagine it might be rare to see it even moving forward for a while, but wow is it a lovely development.

Messiness is next to “getting on my nerves-ness.” Hope’s room is an utter disaster. Now I understand that some of that is common for this age, but I guess I’m a bigger clean freak than I appear to be. At some point I just feel like I can’t live like that. Yesterday she decided she was going to do a puzzle on her floor, she didn’t finish so now there are pieces everywhere. Pieces are sticking to your feet as you walk by. Shoes, dirty clothes…just mess. She has not done her chores since midweek. This is the second week in which Friday/Saturday chores haven’t been completed. I end up doing these chores late at night because they just have to be done.

I know that there must be some reason for her lazy messiness, but other than just lazy, teen messiness I haven’t figured it out yet. But a day or two more that room in its present and ever declining state, and it might make me gag as I walk by. Ick.

I really am prioritizing my health. A lot has happened this summer, and I am genuinely concerned about my own emotional health. I’m just cranky all the time and it’s getting old. My emotional eating has gotten really out of hand and the scale….oh the scale. I usually do a fall wardrobe refresher, but I would need to go up a size (in addition to financing the upgrades) and I utterly refuse to go up a size. It’s offensive. I’ve got my annual physical coming up, and I’m convinced that when I go for my bloodwork this week that a sugary, fatty red substance will seep from my veins. A week later, I’m anticipating a lecture that I really am not trying to hear.

Lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala!

I can’t hear you, Dr. Chuck…I can’t hear you.

Lalalalalalalalalala!

Yes, I know I’ve gained weight. Yes, I know my cholesterol is higher. Yes, I know my A1-C levels are probably up too. Yes, I know I’m not getting enough sleep or exercise. Yes, I know my blood pressure is up—I know this one is coming.

And your point is?

nene

Boy bye!

So, anyhoo, I’m really going to set some achievable goals and get my fanny to work.

And I’m going to do it for me. Hope will be the secondary beneficiary to my working on getting my health together.

Next week scares me. I’ve been wrestling with a lot of trust issues with Hope lately. I swear every time I turn around we are having to have a conversation about deceitfulness or boundary breaking or some other hot-arse mess thing she’s done. The trip thing is that she honestly believes that she will get away with this foolishness. Either she believes it or she’s a fantastic actor in the art of appearing shocked that she got caught.

Now this bucket of behavior is probably tied to some need to test me to see if I’m really checking up or if I’m going to overreact or just normal 13 year old foolishness or some nasty combo of all of it. I don’t know; I’m starting to find that I don’t care what’s causing it. I’d just like a few weeks of sanity in the house. I’m hoping that the routine of school helps us get back to a sane existence. A girl can hope.

Next week scares me though because it will be the first full week of school; the burdens of homework will hit. The saxophone practices will need to start in earnest. The need to be productive will increase. I hope that Hope will thrive, but I don’t know that she will. I know she can, but I just don’t know that she will. She’s been on a tech blackout as of late because of some dumb ish she’s done. That will end later this week. She will get some things back but not everything. She will also have access to a new chromebook for her homework. I have blocked access to so many things and the rule will be that she has to use it in a common area, like right up under my left butt cheek (not that my cheeks are necessarily”common areas”).

Given her recent track record, I don’t know that she can handle access to anything, but I guess I’ll see what lessons she’s learned and give her a bit of rope.

It’s sad that I don’t trust her. I also realize that my recently diminished trust has contributed to my grumpiness. It’s disappointment feeding the grumpy; I know that. I hope that she will make some different choices in the next week.

————————————

So that’s it. I’m hopeful about the week, even if I’m nervous, even if I’m still bearing scars from last week. I know she’s doing ok; she’s clothed, fed, rested and loved. She now can apologize; that’s a big deal. I’ll cling to that for now.


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