Tag Archives: Single Adoptive Parents

Look at Me!!!

So this weekend I decided that I was finally going to break my promise to myself to never ever visit another plantation in this lifetime.

I grew up in central Virginia, and while growing up I visited numerous plantations. They creep me out. I swear I feel the ancestors, hear their cries and feel their anger about folks traipsing around still profiting off of their backs. I don’t care that some of these places now have some memorial placed to the enslaved or whatever—a profit is often still made. I just want them all to go away, but since they won’t I choose not to visit anymore.

Then Hope came along, and I remembered how much I learned from actually visiting historic places. I started feeling like maybe I should break this promise just once so she had the historic (and awful) experience and so I could teach her about these places and the irony that they are preserved and revered so. I’ve struggled with this for more than three years.

So, this past weekend I resolved to rip the band-aid off and take her to visit Mt. Vernon. It’s not far and well, there’s the whole first president, founding father narrative. So, we were getting ready to head out when my dad called and asked if he could come visit from a few hours away.

I took that as a sign that the Holy Homeboy was not ready for me to go back to a plantation.

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Anyhoo, my dad comes to spend the afternoon with us, and Hope…well, she acted like an attention-starved little kid.

Dad and I are having our routine “cell phone with unlimited data plan” conversation.

“Mom, mom, mom!!”

“Yes Hope.”

“I’ve saved a lot of money from my allowance. I think we should put it in the bank.”

“That’s a good idea, Hope. We can talk about that tomorrow.” She hands me a wad of money.

WTH?

Dad and I are talking politics.

“Mom, mom, mom!!”

“Please say excuse me because we are taking, but yes Hope.”

“I don’t think I want to go to that Korean immersion camp.”

“Um, OK.” I attempt to draw her into our conversation about politics since we talk about that kind of stuff often, but no dice.

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Dad asks her about her activities and she does the mime thing.

This back and forth goes on for hours. My dad was patient while I was visibly patient but ready to wring Hope’s neck on the inside. I took a break and had them chatting while I fixed a light dinner for us all. I thought about why it all was going down like this.

I don’t get to see my parents as much as I used to, and they are getting older so having them drive up for a day is a rare thing. I don’t know how many times this will happen in my lifetime or his. This visit was especially precious, and I’m a daddy’s girl.

Hope is so jealous of anyone who takes my attention away from her. Although my dad was eager to spend time with her, and she genuinely is fond of him, it was like she was threatened because he showed me attention. She’s like this with almost anyone who comes across our threshold to visit us. If the scope of the visit is not entirely devoted to her then she is hell on wheels. She’s full of non-sequiturs, rude interruptions, and just level 10 annoyances. It’s exhausting, and I often wonder if she behaves this way with her peers. Like if she manages to develop a friendship, is anyone else who comes around a threat that triggers this antisocial behavior?

I did my best to be patient with her, gently correcting and redirecting her, but I was frustrated. I was trying to enjoy my dad’s visit, trying to portray solid parenting in front of my dad, not get rattled by this wacky behavior, get dinner on the table and search for some kind of understanding that would trigger some empathy for my daughter.

The long and short of is that Hope and I still have a long way to go on this journey. I hope one day she feels safe enough with me to not have to compete for my attention. It’s a reminder for me that she still feels like I might abandon her, even in the smallest way. It’s painful to think about that, and it’s tough to find away to address it without meeting full on resistance and denial.

I got so much more than I wanted this weekend, having time with my dad, but I was also reminded that my daughter is still a fragile little girl screaming “Look at me, mommy! Look at me!”

I see you, Hope.


Here We Go

Sigh.

Sometimes I really don’t know how to respond to Hope’s “stuff.” I often wish I could just ignore it all, but I can’t.

Hope slipped into a funk earlier this week, probably because of school because school is *always* funk triggering. I seemed to pull her out of it one night when I forced her to sit with me and just talk. What I thought would be a painful 10 minutes turned into 90 minutes of good conversation and quality time.

This morning’s routine was smooth, but I could tell just by the way she put her key in the door that we were going to struggle this evening.

“Here we go,” I mumbled to myself.

And go we did.

Complaints about me at the hair salon.

Complaints about her stylist.

Complaints about the hairdryer.

Complaints about the hairstyle.

Heavy sighing about getting something to eat which was always the plan.

Mumble-whisper about the restaurant selection.

Momentary feigned contentment about the selected restaurant.

Cold shoulder over dinner.

Doesn’t eat dinner…at all. It just sits there.

I’m thinking, “ I could have just taken us home, but I’m trying to be a mom of my word. #fail”

Mumble-whisper about something in her random pseudo-language.

“Here we go. Here we are.”

Somedays I just want to grab my keys and run to the car and just keep driving. I know I’ll come back, but oy, she had best be in a better mood when I return.

This trauma-teen thing feels just impossible. And I’m annoyed by the way we present to others. It’s not so much that I care what people think; but it would be so nice to just be…inconspicuous, to blend in, to be everybody-normal and not just our version of normal.

I was incredibly naïve; I thought that being a same race adoptive family would allow us to blend in. It does in many ways; but when we have “here we go’ moments in public we become conspicuous. People notice. They don’t understand, and we stand out in ways that I just don’t want us to. It’s not even like these episodes can be passed off as just surly teen moments; no, it’s pretty obvious that they are different. They are special because Hope is special; because we are special.

Here we go…again.

These moments happen far less frequently than they used to and for that I’m grateful. We’ve worked hard to get better at this family and trauma thing, and so the stretches between the episodes are longer now. And while that’s great, the stretches sometimes give me a false sense of normalcy. It feels like we fell off the wagon when they happen now. We’ve fallen backward into the muck of trauma, and it takes a little bit to get that muck off me. She moves on more quickly, but I still struggle. I don’t anticipate these moments the same way I used to. My guard is down, and in some ways, I am more vulnerable to their emergence. After we recover from each episode I hope desperately that it is the last time.

It hasn’t been the last time yet.

I know one day that it will be.

Until then..here we go…again.


Case Managing as Parenting

I could really use a personal assistant. Of course at this point I couldn’t afford one, but that’s beside the point, really.

I could use a family case manager, scheduler, minder person, robot, something.

So, I’m at a professional meeting, but I’m in the back of a room, tethered to cords in a power plug.  I am paying attention at about a level of 37.4568%.

Work email responses are taking up about 15% of my attention.

Do you want to know where the rest of my attention for the last two hours has been spent?

Case managing me and Hope.

Let’s see, where did my adventures start?

Grade check in since several assignments were turned in. I needed to see if any had been graded and grades posted.

I responded to an email string about scheduling a meeting with the guidance counselor and the teacher for next week.

I updated the family calendar.

I checked the grades and progress in lower priority classes. Hmmm, assignments are missing.

Several emails to various teachers about missing assignments, class behavior, levels of engagement, what is salvageable.

Confirming medical appointments.

Emailing the family therapist about current concerns in advance of next appointment.

Responding to teacher emails, some good news, some bad news.

Making another medical appointment.

Updated my work “paid time off” account because clearly I’m going to be missing some time in the next few weeks.

Logging on to Blackboard to see what assignments are coming up.

Logging back on to the family calendar to put upcoming assignments on Hope’s part of the calendar.

Looking up how to control the family Chromebook remotely, so I can better supervise Hope’s online activity.

Looking up whether I want to waste money on getting a FitBark for Yappy, because #stressshopping and of course my dog needs an activity tracker…#nohedoesnt.

Confirming another medical appointment.

Researching silent migraines and teenagers.

A google scholar search on teenage neuroscience, because #nerd and #journalarticlesrelaxme

Check to see if Hope has updated her Amazon wishlist.

Contemplate whether I might be able to swing a holiday getaway.

Email Elihu to remind him to check the family calendar and update holiday availability.

Try to schedule time to baby shower gift shop for an event this weekend.

Email the tutor an updated schedule and confirm our assessment meeting for later this week.

Pay the nanny.

Check on Yappy through the wifi camera.

Send text to the housekeeper apologizing that the house is likely a hot mess more than usual.

Grab another grande iced coffee.

Some aspect of this happens nearly every day.

I know I’m not the only one. Managing a family is hard work. It’s consuming; it’s exhausting.

Managing a family with a member who has some unique concerns and/or special needs just sucks up time like a vacuum cleaner.

I could easily spend one full business day a week managing me and Hope. This is actually a light week because we only have one two or three appointments. Some weeks we have more like 4 or 5 appointments, not including regular tutor times, standing band practices, home games, other band performances or standing therapy appointments.

There is rarely a week that goes by that I don’t take a few hours off. I’m fortunate to have a super supportive office and I usually just make up the time somewhere else.

But there’s never a break. Even to take a break; it’s got to be scheduled. A lot of appointments have to be rescheduled or stack scheduled.

It helps that the tutor is in walking distance to the school, and the psychiatrist is next door to the tutor. The therapist is in the same building as the orthodontist. My therapist is near my office. The primary care doc is less than 3 miles from the dentist and therapist office. These are all great providers, but I’m not going to lie they were selected based on location, taking our insurance and specialization was frankly last on the list. It’s about managing and I can’t do that if I provider is outside of the 6 mile radius that I have created for us.

All support systems must be accessible if I were running a 10K. I don’t run, but that’s beside the point. If I might start running again, I should be able to hit every office during my run.

I gotta admit, that I was so naïve when I started this journey. I didn’t imagine that I would be a case manager as much as a parent. I see why some folks believe that kids should be in a two parent household—I don’t think it’s essential, obviously—but dang if I need a body double to help out.

The demands are unreal.

Are there services for this besides typical concierge/personal assistant services? I swear this is a money-making market opportunity for some enterprising person.

I need a family case manager.

 

 


Boxes on Shelves

I listen to an absurd number of podcasts. Today on the way home from Hope’s orthodontia appointment, I cued up a recent episode of Modern Love. The episode featured essays read by recent Emmy winners. The first essay was written by a birth mother and her experiences with an open adoption. It’s a beautiful story that is full of love, heartbreaking and shows that these relationships can be beautiful but complicated.

At one point in the story, she says it is like being invited to dinner but not knowing where to sit. I totally get that. Even with the privilege that comes with being the legal parent, it’s awkward as hell.

Sometimes, depending on the content of a podcast, I might switch it up. Hope gets regular doses of politics, essays, crime stories, diversity and inclusion content…yeah, she is subjected to a lot, and at some point I’ll write my own essay about why this has been an academically good thing for her.

Today, I inhaled deeply as I realized what essay was about to be played. I’d heard the essay when it first aired, but Hope had not heard it. I thought about changing to another podcast, but stopped myself.  I know she listens when she’s in the car; it’s one of our most sacred spaces. I guessed that she might not want to talk about the essay later, but I was curious what she might say when she heard it read.

So, I just let it play.

I periodically glanced to see if Hope had any reactions; she really didn’t. But know she was listening, and I know that at some point we’ll probably talk about it.

Then I got lost in my own thoughts, thinking about how our own family has expanded in the nearly three years we’ve been together.

We observed the birthday of one of her first parents earlier this week. It was healthy, but emotional observation complete with a birthday cake.

I wondered what it must’ve felt like to be separated from Hope.

I wondered about how difficult it was to know that legally they would be separated forever—legally, not necessarily physically.

I wonder what Hope’s extended family thinks of how our relationship is going? Do they believe that Hope isn’t very chatty or that I am preventing her from calling them? I’m not, but do they recognize how complicated this relationship is for her? Do I realize how complicated this relationship is for them?

Do they also feel the push/pull that both Hope and I feel? The desire to build this healthy relationship and to try to quickly foster something, some kind of connection with the need to feel and be emotionally safe?

I wonder what will the future look like? I have information that some days burns a hole in my lock box because I want to chase Hope’s mom. I wonder what things will be like when we all do meet one day, since I believe that we will.

As the story concluded I gathered my thoughts and put them back in that emotional box that I keep on the shelf and put them away.

I looked over at Hope, still no expression, no words, no facial movements, no nothing.

But I know her; I know under her stoicism that a lot runs through her mind.

As that segment of the show came to a close and another reading began, I saw her reactions. She giggled and asked questions.

Like me, she had put those emotions away for another day.

Figuring out how to *do* this adoption, family, open thing is complicated, but something we’ll continue to try to figure out together.


Recent Reflections

The last week or so I realized that things had changed around Casa d’ABM. Things were…routine. Things were relatively smooth.

Hope and I have always been a loving family, even if it didn’t always seem very loving as we grappled with our challenges.

It’s been hard for both of us.

But I realized that something was really, really different and that upon reflecting, things had been different for like a good month.

I realized that our day to day life was very much what I envisioned when I started this journey.  I have this family that I adored. There was a healthy balance between goofing off and discipline.

Hope’s ability to demonstrate responsibility and initiative in some areas not only existed by really had dramatically improved.

She was affectionate.

We worked together.

We actually got back into the habit of eating together (Thank you Instant Pot).

We felt more attached.

Things just feel different; it’s difficult to explain.

But gosh, it’s so beautiful.

At a recent medical appointment, the doctor said to Hope, “You look…happy.”

She squinted and said, “Yeah, I guess so.”

She’d never said that before. Even if it’s temporary or fleeting…gosh that was a precious moment.

We are happy, and right now, right this moment, I’m living my dream.


On the Humble

Sometimes, it hurts to think about how my learning curve impacted Hope.  I mean, I think we’re doing great now that I finally got a clue and because I’m constantly working to learn how to parent her and meet her needs. I’m proud of my growth, but yeah, I get sad and a wee bit embarrassed to admit what a bit of a parenting shrew I was in the early days.

I also recognize that I may be hard on myself, and I have had folks tell me to go easy on myself. I guess because I know that a lot of people were hard on Hope and didn’t go easy on her that I won’t allow myself that grace in her name.

In either case, that learning curve remains steep.

We are sliding into our match anniversary soon; three years ago, some crazy professional people thought I would be a good match for Hope. Their decision changed our lives.  I remember so many people asking me if I was ready to parent a tween who had been in foster care for years.

Um, nope, but hey, I’m going to do it. We’ll get through it.

And we have, but not without so many struggles.

The transition was a dramatic struggle. At one point I thought that this would never work; she was having such a hard time.

Convincing her to buy into my idea of family life after having been in foster care was a struggle.

Food choices were a struggle.

School is a struggle.

Social interactions, yep, you guessed it, a struggle.

Therapies, medical care, medication compliance, all a struggle.

Understanding the full grasp of diagnoses and whether the labels help or hurt have been a struggle.

It hard. It’s all hard. And me and Hope, despite our narrative and this blog, we aren’t special. We’re just everyday folks trying to live from one moment to the next. I reject all the halos and angel wings folks try to foist on me; we’re just a family trying to make it.

One late night recently, I was catching up on reading some posts in an adoption support group. I was reading about a struggle a new parent was experiencing that Hope had endured and that, frankly we still kick around a bit: chores.

I reflected a lot as I was trying to type out my answer on my phone.

My biggest struggle in being Hope’s adoptive mom is checking my entire ego at the door. Admittedly I have a huge personality, I give off big energy, I like having a big voice and probably at some point in my life even demonstrated a few bully tendencies. Setting down my ego and keeping it in check is one of my life struggles as a mom.

Chores are a big flash point in my need to ego check.  Like many foster kids, Hope moved from place to place in trash bags. Valuing and caring for material things was a rare practice because things routinely disappear, are lost, stolen or otherwise just or go missing . The chaos in her room tends to reflect her emotional state. She loathes doing chores (who am I kidding, so do I). She wants to earn money, but she is so used to not having things over her short lifetime that she isn’t strongly motivated to do chores for money. Her ADHD typically means that unless the task is directly related to something she wants to do, is time bound, and personally beneficial, it really doesn’t ring her motivation bell.

It took me a year to realize that me telling Hope to clean her room actually jived with her desire to have a clean room but operationally she would try to clean every drawer, refold all the clothes and dig under the bed and the cleaning exercise would turn into a 10 hour, yell, cry-laden experience that made us both miserable. When my light bulb went on, I realized that I would have to be responsible for deep cleans and that Hope needed a short list that represented a tidy room daily.

My point really is that everything I thought I would do parenting Hope was, frankly, off course. My therapist sat me down one day and said:

“Do you want to be right? Do you want to give an ish about what other people thought about me and my parenting? Or do I want Hope to thrive? If it’s the last option, you’re going to have to put that ego of yours and those preconceived notions of yours in a box and put them on an emotional shelf in the back of the closet because they have no place here.”

Well, damn.

Part of checking my ego is about redefining success. I’m forced to constantly adjust myself and family assessment. I was away for nearly a week for work recently. What did success look like when I arrived home:

  • Hope took her meds every day.
  • Yappy didn’t poop in the house due to anxiety.
  • Some of the healthy food I left behind was consumed.
  • Chores while I’m gone? What are those?
  • Yappy got a bath while I was gone, not because I told Hope to bathe him but because she said he needed one (10 extra points for Hope).
  • I know that she bought school clothes that met my criteria for just one step outside of her jeans and tee comfort zone (30 extra points for Hope).
  • Her room was nearly spotless when I got home from my trip.

I treated her like she won the super bowl for Casa d’ABM because she showed initiative AND followed directions remotely.

The rest of the house was a mess. There were dishes in the sink that might have been there long enough to wave at me.

I made a short list of things for her to do the following day that began to get us re-regulated.

I used to be furious to have to do that. I used to get mad at the nanny for not taking care of more stuff around here. But then I realized that my absence was stressful; that the nanny’s job was to keep Hope and Yappy alive and entertained and that my job was to play my position—to love the kiddos, not judge them as they survived the stress of my absence and to get us back on our regulated journey.

The irony is that in fact, it was all about me. They missed me, and I missed them (note Yappy gets all zonky too, so yeah, it’s them). But my job is to help alleviate the stress and fear that I’m not coming back; in those moments, it’s not about me at all. It’s all about them.

Parenting is humbling, it really is. The decisions are tough, the expenses are crazy, the scheduling is consuming. It really is like just thinking of yourself as a cup and pouring it all out for the benefit of your kid. It is pretty selfless and pretty exhausting.

But ahhh, those moments when Hope tells me some parent-approved version of her secrets, smiles when we are in the kitchen together or just texts me that she loves me, those moments are everything. They are the greatest reward for learning to practice humility.

 


Clouds of Sadness

The range of emotions felt at Casa d’ABM is pretty wide. I’ve always been pretty high strung, and I’ve written about my own struggle with depression in this space before. Living with a teenager is pretty tumultuous. The hormones…O.M.G. It’s amazing, really. I am convinced that I didn’t display the full range of crazy that I was feeling during my adolescence—not that I didn’t have the emotional swings, but that I didn’t act out.

Lots of people think my parents were strict; to some degree they were, but really they set high expectations and I had absurdly high expectations for myself. With the bar so high I was mindfully cautious about acting out.

I was a bit jealous of kids who didn’t seem to approach adolescence the same way. I wished I’d sneaked out more; went to more movies I wasn’t supposed to see. I did a fair amount of boozing my senior year, but still there was a hard limit on what I would do. Not a bad thing, but a self-control thing that gave me hang ups later in life.

So, now, years later, having a teenaged daughter who is a trauma survivor, is impulsive, at times angry, and seeming always sad…well it makes for an emotional roller coaster for all of us.

Except for Yappy—world’s happiest dog.

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So I guess that should say both of us.

This is an especially hard time of the year for Hope. Lots were crammed into the summer months of her young life. This year the memories seem to be crushing. We get treatment, therapy, but sometimes the sadness moves in faster than a weather cold front.

And if you know anything about weather, cold fronts, hitting warm air means storms. Sometimes really, really, crazy storms.

That happens here. The storms are a bit quieter now than when we first became a family, but they are no less disruptive or worrisome.

I try to remind myself that the frequent presence of emotional storm, complete with downpours, represent that this is a safe place. Hope is able to express her full range of emotions in our home. This is a safe place to work through it all; she can emote here.

But here’s the thing, secondary trauma and compassion fatigue are real. It’s not just about loving Hope; it’s about demonstrating empathy (constantly); managing our life as a therapeutic case; navigating big and little decisions that may have triggering effects; always being anxious waiting for the other shoe to drop after stumbling over a trigger.

It is exhausting for both of us. Hope can sleep for hours and hours sometimes. I know that part of it is that her young body is run down and exhausted from fighting her own fight/flight response to life. I know the other part is just coping with the overwhelming sadness that she lives with.

On the weekends I am eager to resume my old life of running errands, hitting the gym, spending the afternoons and evenings doing something fun. I end up running the errands that I have to in order to keep the house running; taking Yappy to the dog park and waiting to see if I can help Hope get herself together. By evenings, I’m emotionally done and I don’t even feel like I’ve done anything.

We might’ve tried a new restaurant or rented but didn’t watch the Redbox movie I picked up in hopes of having some fun family time.

The reality is that a happy house is a rare scene around these parts. It’s about trying to survive and fighting to push the clouds of sadness away.

I hear that the hormonal part will settle down in another year or two; I hope so. Self-care helps with my ability to cope, but living with this level of stress is tough. It is exhausting. It is depressing.

So we both end up sharing her trauma. It ends up being cloudy and sad for both of us. I look forward to a day when it won’t be so overwhelming for Hope, that the depression she feels won’t consume her life, when so many things won’t be triggering.  When that happens for Hope, it know it will happen for me too.


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.


The Throes of Frustration

So, moving heaven and earth to help your kid is hard work. This weekend I took to my couch like I haven’t done in nearly a decade. It was delicious.

Sunday evening rolled around, and the weekly drama of getting back on schedule begins to unfold. I do laundry and wash hair and cook, all the while Hope begins to get spastic about homework she neglected all weekend…sometimes homework that was due last week sometime.

And my internal kettle begins to simmer.

By Monday morning, she has a rotten attitude because as usual she didn’t finish much homework because she was “tired,” and my endless nagging about being on time and moving through the morning routine begins. By the time she saunters into the kitchen for breakfast, I’m nearly undone and throwing my lunch in my briefcase and ready to give Yappy his calming drops.

Then we go through the morning ritual of playing chicken with catching the bus.

Have I mentioned yet that my internal kettle is thisclose to whistling? #imalittleteapot

Now, intellectually I really am learning how the ADHD brain works, but from a practical perspective, dammit, why the hell won’t she just do what the eff I tell her to do when the eff I tell her to do it???

Seriously, we would all be in such a much better place if She. Just. Did. What. I. Told. Her.

OMG.

I fantasize about one day not having to nag her because she will be able to do things in a timely matter, thoroughly.

I also won’t lie, I also fantasize about popping her one good time in that smart mouth. #dontjudgeme

Each week there is a snarky “What” or eye roll or bold face untruth that forces me to use herculean strength keeping my hand at my side. Oh, I do buy into the whole don’t use corporal punishment, but the truth is, that my sisters and I turned out great with it. Now, we probably could write some righteous country songs about skinny belts just getting out of the shower, but the point is that we would ne’er have dreamed of talking to my parents like any of this. I know that this isn’t the best way to parent Hope; I know that, but #realtalk my palm is a little itchy.

The waves of frustration with Hope overwhelm me sometimes. The times when we have just nice tranquility are so amazing…and so rare.

It’s hard to tell how much of this is just routine teenager stuff (in part because I was *not* allowed to do some of the things I feel like she gets away with), how much of it is trauma related, how much of it is ADHD related and how much of it is just a reaction to my own parenting.

I just don’t know, and it probably doesn’t matter.

I think what is really the hardest part is knowing that I’m doing everything, everything I can. I’m constantly researching “solutions.” I’m constantly kicking over rocks and finding nuggets of information that help me get to a new level of understanding or to gain a new tool to help us. In the end, I have a lot of information and a lot of tools and in my own way I’m throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks and nothing does.

I hope that years from now something I’ve done will make a difference in Hope’s life, but right now, it’s not even guilt or failure that I feel; it’s just utter, unrelenting frustration. The frustration that hardly anything ever seems to go right is just hard to sit with for so long with no end in sight. I’m frustrated that I can’t fix this right now.

But raising a kid is a long haul kinda situation, so immediate feedback in the form of her behavior, her desire to achieve, her desire to be whole and more…well all of that is always elusive. I’m realizing that ultimately it’s this kind of feedback that is all that matters to me. It is a nod that things are going well. A tell that Hope has bought into my vision and value for her. It’s the recognition that she wants something for herself besides a bag of Taki’s.

There is guilt though. I’m aware enough to know that it’s still much too soon to expect this of her. She’s lived a harder life in her few years than I have in my 43. And we’ve only had a little over two years to course correct. It’s not fair to expect her to be *there* yet.

So, in the end; I am always feeling…off. I am working so hard and the one person who I want to chase the gold ring, still could not care less, not even a little. I’m still not sure after two years what to do with these feelings. It is hard to balance them. It’s hard to push them behind all the feelings I’m supposed to be feeling about how awesome motherhood is supposed to be.

Well, Hope actually caught the bus this morning. I suppose that’s one less thing for me to be frustrated by or about today. But it’s only 8am; I’m sure the day won’t disappoint.


Wiring My Jaw Shut

So as I wrestle with my emotions in trying to motivate Hope as well as provide her the support she needs to be successful, Absurdly Hot Therapist recently told me to really work on practicing “non-judgmental parenting.”

Point-And-Laugh-Reaction-Gif

So after I finished laughing and thinking about how hot he is in his shawl collared therapist sweaters and cute colorful socks, I was like “Dude….”

Aw-Hell-Naw-Kanye-West-Gif

Oh, don’t miss understand, I get it: Safe environment for Hope, protect Hope’s ego, support Hope, let her know I have reasonable expectations, but am totally cool with her working up to them…Yada, yada, yada.

Ohhh.Emmmm.Geeee.

Listen, I feel like I have the most amazing family in the universe. I also feel like despite our best efforts we can be a judgy bunch.

Like, PhD in judgy sometimes.

And oh, despite my best, dedicated, work hard efforts, I am soooooo a judging everything.

Startrek

Oh yeah, it’s a problem, I know.

So, I’ve been working on it. My version of working on it looks like this:

“Don’t say anything because you might lose it.”

“Keep your pie hole shut.”

“Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up.”

“Do NOT respond to that smart a$$ text message.”

“Whooooosaaaaaaa.”

“Nope, not falling for it, not gonna do it.”

*Heaving breathing*

“Get yourself a martini, like right now before you rip her head off.”

#realtalk

This, this is my internal monologue.

We were in to see our primary care physician for double appointments today; I was shocked that my blood pressure was normal. I swore it would be through the roof. I would’ve bet the farm on it.

Seriously, I’d like to just get my mouth wired shut for the next year or two, then I wouldn’t have to worry about my mouth popping off when Hope said/did something unbelievable.

I’m honestly not sure how people survive this. I feel like all this new fan-dangled parenting might just kill me. My parents see me interact with Hope and this, this is the face they give me.

simon-cowell-face-o

It’s all with so much love.


200_s

“You gonna just let that slide? You aren’t going to check her?”

You see, I try not to judge Hope and I feel even more judged.

Ain’t that some ish?

Now, I am not justifying my continued judgment of my daughter, but seriously, this feels like a no win situation for me, no way out. It is crushing my spirit right now.

Oh and my tongue has a bunch of chew marks on it from me biting it so hard.

I am staying the course though. I am working on letting Hope just fall into the natural consequences of doing or not doing whatever it is she’s supposed to do. She fed me a bunch of BS today about why she can’t/won’t do something to bring a grade up from a 28 to a 60.

I’ve bent over backwards like a yogi.

Her teacher has bent over backwards on a mat beside me.

back-bend-services

I finally just told the teacher to let that grade ride; seriously, why are we killing ourselves? We care about her, but we understand and know how to work these algebra problems. She’s the one who has an opportunity to raise her grade.

The choice, ultimately, just has to be hers.

Le Sigh.

I wish that letting it ride really gave me peace. It doesn’t. I am still scared for her, but I’m going to take a big step back and try to just breathe, let her breathe and let the chips fall.

I still might need to get my jaw wired shut, though. I’m wayyyyyy too hot tempered to keep repeating all the mantras.


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