Tag Archives: Teen parenting

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.


My Triggers

This morning, Hope and I snapped.

LGFacts

Ok, that’s not true. I snapped.

The morning routine is driving me up the wall. Hope is always running late. She’s rarely ready on time. She misses the bus often. I pack breakfast to- go in order to make sure that she has a solid breakfast. She’s always frazzled before she gets out of the door.

This means that I’m quietly frazzled before she gets out of the door.

It also means that we have zero meaningful conversation in the mornings. Usually I see her for about 90 seconds while she’s shoving her lunch bag in her backpack, grabbing breakfast and a filled water bottle that I’ve prepped. I screech to remind her to take her meds because despite them being *right there* in front of her she manages not to see them. *RIGHT THERE*

My mornings don’t start off being so frazzled. I rise around 5am to exercise and walk Yappy. This morning we walked for 2 miles. I feed him and start prepping breakfasts, coffee, making lunches. I shower and dress, do hair and make-up and resume my work in the kitchen. My own anxiety doesn’t kick in until about 7am, when I start mentally wondering if Hope will make the bus or not for another day.

Over the course of 30 minutes I get more anxious and probably a bit irritable.

By the time Hope comes out, I’m in my own quiet, anxiety spiral.

And today it came out, but what I really wanted to say was left unsaid as we exchanged barbs that continued via text message after she left for the bus.

This morning routine is not what I want. It’s not what it used to be, which is what I grew up with and what I had tenderly fostered for the last couple of years with Hope.

I grew up having breakfast with my family. We watched the news together. We prayed together. We talked about our agendas for the day and what time we would be home. We talked about our after school activities and about upcoming games. We also gossiped about my classmates.

We spent time together.

Since I forced Hope to use her alarm clock and get herself together in the morning, she doesn’t sit down for breakfast with me.

I want her to sit down for breakfast with me. I actually kinda need it. But it’s still new to her, and it’s not something motivating enough for her to hustle to make time for in the busy morning routine.

For the last couple of months, my subconscious has read that as, “She does not find you important enough to spend 10 minutes having breakfast with you.”

That gets extrapolated to: “She does not appreciate how hard you work to make it all happen everyday.”

That gets blown up to: “She is selfish and lazy.”

That goes next level with: “She clearly doesn’t love me, and we might have attachment issues.”

Which climaxes with: “Fine!!!! I don’t like you either! You spoiled, ingrate!!”

LGAngry

And the anti-climax? “Why doesn’t she love me and want to have breakfast with me?”

Meanwhile Hope is like, “I can sleep until 6:30am and be ready 60-65% of the time, and I have a back up bus pass to catch the public bus. I’m good.”

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I now see that. I see the difference in our thinking. I now see that not having breakfast and having those moments to check in with Hope is a trigger for me. It’s not a trigger for her because she gets to prove that she is independent—something I’ve been encouraging for a long time.

Could it actually be that I miss her in the morning? Sigh.

I’m not sure why it’s hard for me to say, “Hey, having breakfast together is important to me. I want to have this time to check in with you in the morning. I’m feeling a little attention starved without a few quality minutes in the morning. I’m willing to limit my expectations to 2-3 days a week. Do you think you could do that for me?” But I know that I haven’t been able to do that. That is a new stretch goal.

Asking someone who seems to have little capacity for themselves to expend some capacity for you is hard. It’s so hard. But I know if I’m not honest with her then I’ll keep feeling this resentment that isn’t fair to my daughter or to me.

I have my own triggers, and those triggers have to do with wanting to spend time with my daughter.  Who knew, especially since she can be a special pill at the moment?

I just want us to have smooth, anxiety free mornings having breakfast with my daughter. Is that so hard to ask for?

Kind of.


Three Years Ago

Three years ago today, Hope arrived at DCA with her social worker. She was originally scheduled to arrive the day before, but the weather on the east coast was so bad that her flight was canceled.

I remember heading to the airport that cold January night and waiting for her to emerge from security.

I was alone.

I was alone because I worried that a big group of folks would be overwhelming to a child who, for the previous few weeks, had resisted moving. Hope was afraid. She’s already experienced so much change in her life. She wanted to have some normalcy where she was for just a few more months.

Alas, all the adults thought that it was time to make the move. And so, she did.

I arrived at the airport early, snarfed down a couple of doughnuts from Dunkin’ Donuts while I waited for Hope to arrive and deplane.

This would be her second trip to see me and her final destination this go ‘round.

I remember she emerged from security looking tired, a bit overwhelmed and a bit afraid.

I hugged her. I was so happy she was here.

She hugged me back, but I don’t know if the hug really made her feel better.

We got her luggage, and dropped her social worker off at the hotel.

And then it was just the two of us.

It has been that way ever since.

In some ways, it seems like a lifetime ago, and others, it seems like just yesterday.

Hope has grown into an amazing young woman. She is creative, feisty, and musical. She is loving and kind. She is polite.

We have built an amazing life together.

We are growing and stretching. Sometimes it’s painful, and sometimes, it’s just the best thing ever.

I love Hope so very much.

This family is everything. It’s beyond whatever I could’ve imagined.

I’ve learned so much about myself during this time. I would not have ever anticipated what this life as a mom to Hope would have been like. It’s beyond my comprehension.

It hasn’t been easy. In fact, often, it has been devastatingly difficult at times.

It’s been difficult for both of us.

Transitioning to motherhood was swift. Understanding the true impacts of trauma and how to parent through it is a work in progress. Checking my anger is a learned process; I’m improving.

Ugh, and the weight gain. I’ve put on about 20lbs of teen adoption weight.

I’m older and wiser though.

Hope struggled with the transition to permanence. She got there with time. We still struggle with horrible memories and persistent grief. As she approaches normalcy we see latent issues emerge, and we tackle them.

She’s a little older and possibly a little wiser too.

We continue to observe these moments in our history; we may stop one day. I don’t know. But we still do count these milestones. We think about how far we have come. We think about how bonded we are now; we think about our futures.

We have a little something sweet.

And then we get on with the life we’ve created together.

I love Hope, and Hope loves me.


Time Ins

Thanks to good friend Mimi, I recently started really trying to practice time ins as a consequence for Hope’s behavior. With my recent travels and surgery, I noticed that Hope was really struggling with being separated from me. Her struggles were manifesting in crazy behavior that drove me nuts when I was home and/or lucid enough to pay attention.

Interestingly, I had missed a lot of the signs that she craved more attention. Aside from doing stupid things that garnered negative attention, she was also doing things like dragging all of her homework into the living room, spreading it all out of all over the place and just sitting with me, working on the homework. She didn’t want help, she seemed to just want to be in the same room with me.  Occasionally she’d asked me to look over an essay. Sometimes she would jokingly suggest that we watch a movie or a favorite show on Netflix. Other times she seemed to simply pick a fight just to engage me. Unfortunately,  I’ve been so overwhelmed that I just missed the point. I missed the fact that my daughter missed me, even when I was still in the house.

I was talking about this with Mimi not long ago, and she said “Hey have you thought about time ins?”

No I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about time ins.  Things have been so off the rails for the last couple of months, and all I’ve been able to manage is managing us and in an almost case-like way. Parenting hasn’t been fun; it hasn’t been fun for months. I imagine that being a kid hasn’t been fun for Hope for months either.  So I decided to give this time in thing a whirl.

We have a squabble,”Come sit next to me.”

She do something worthy of punishment: “Come let’s sit and watch a show.”

Freak out over homework?  “Hey look naked and afraid is on TV!”

Random spastic Behavior? “You know yeah Yappy loves to ride on your back; let me take video of him riding your back!”

Come here you know you want a hug; stop fighting it!

It is nice to hear my sweet Hope giggle again.  It’s nice to see her smile.  It’s nice to build a small bridge back to trust and safety.

I gotta say though it’s hard as a single parent to have so little time for solitude. When I get home from work sometimes I just want to sit and enjoy the quiet for 20 minutes or so.

That seems to be against Hope and Yappy’s religion. They don’t seem to believe in my need to take that time. This makes practicing time ins on a nearly daily basis a bit exhausting because I get very little time to just breathe.

The flip side, though, is that I see a positive change in my daughter, one that she needs probably more than my need for brief moments of solitude.  And there’s something to be said for a teenager who actually wants to hang out with her mother. As annoying as it is sometimes, I’m choosing to look at that as a positive thing because it is. It speaks to our growth and evolving attachment. That really is the best outcome: that’s what we’re striving for, to be a connected family– one that loves and trusts and one that is safe.

So time ins are where it’s at for now at Casa d’ABM.

So, anyone else using this discipline method effectively?  Is it working for you? Any suggestions? Help! 🙂


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.


Messy Life

I’ve been trying to get back into writing now for more than a week. I haven’t struggled to write like this in a while. It certainly isn’t because I haven’t had things to write about; I guess I have just been so blue and overwhelmed that I could only manage to start and stop and start over again. I’m also in the midst of a huge writing period at work and that’s exhausting me in ways I knew it would but still find surprising. I’ve been dog paddling the last week or two. It didn’t feel like I was making progress; in fact it felt like Hope and I were sinking a bit. My “lesson” posts really do help me to gain some perspective at times; so I know it’s important for me to do them.

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Raising a teenager is messy. I often get a sympathetic pat on the back when folks hear that I adopted a tween, now teenager. I usually just smile and nod. It’s weeks like this when I get a clue about the downright foolishness that folks mean. Teenagers do dumb ish. It really is astounding. They do dumb crap even when they know you’re looking, watching and monitoring. I remember some of the dumb crap I did back in the day, but fortunately my adolescent years were rather low tech, so there was really but so much I could get into. Today, these kids just don’t even realize that all this technology leaves breadcrumbs right to their foolishness.

Your parent-snoop game must be strong. Yeah, I low jack errrthang. And even the things that I haven’t figured out how to low jack, Hope thinks I have and usually that’s enough of a deterrent. And then I just go back and just peruse and read every keystroke or finger swipe. I’m sure there will come a time when I really do have to give Hope some privacy, but she keeps demonstrating that she can’t handle privacy, so she has little. Teenagers do dumb ish. Sigh.

Grief is also messy. I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. I received The Furry One’s ashes this weekend, and I sobbed. I still sleep with one of his toys (it’s been laundered). And TV shows with puppies make me cry.

But my crankiness is subsiding. I finally broke down and stopped hiding a box of cereal that I didn’t want to share, just bought some more cereal and decided to be grateful Hope wants to eat crunchy raisin bran rather than Lucky Charms. Yes, I’m still being a bit petty. I can’t help it. #dontjudgme

There is a lot of anger in grief. I get why kids of trauma rage so much. I never noticed how much anger resided in grief. I just never realized it until this last week.

I realize it now.

You’re apt to say things you don’t mean. You’re less likely to be gracious. You actually don’t want to be gracious at all. You just feel like you can’t find your way out of the dark maze.

It’s messy. But I’m starting to push through to the light again. Realizing I hadn’t had respite in a while and getting a couple of free evenings has helped immensely.

Nearly 8 months in and the transition is still hard. Hope still hates new experiences; they scare her. She would never say that; she can be prideful. Not as many things are new, but lots of things still are. We haven’t been together a full year. We went to a new place for a fancy brunch today; she shut down. Our brunch companion remarked, “I see dollar signs just flying away” because the brunch was pretty expensive. Yeah, well, given that we didn’t use the Six Flag tickets from last week, and I shelled out a few hundred for hypnotherapy this week, this pricey brunch was just a drop for what was a financial hemorrhage of a week. It was a new experience and she was overwhelmed. The fact that she accidentally revealed some dumb ish she did during the week didn’t help matters.

Trust is so hard to build and so easy to lose. This isn’t new, but we’re dealing with hard trust issues around these parts these days. I don’t trust her right now, and she doesn’t trust me. We were doing so well and we will recover, but right now, neither of us seems to be budging an inch. It’s interesting; the trust breeches on her part are typical dumb, teen stuff; the trust breeches on my part are that I don’t give her a pass because, well, she thinks she deserves one. #girlbye We’ve got some backtracking to do around here. Loving her through things helps; when I withdraw she sinks; but this teen thing is a beast yo. There’s lots of reprogramming, trust building, attachment building…it’s just a lot going on.

It’s getting harder to quantify what issues are just teen stuff and what issues are adoption/trauma stuff. This makes life interesting, but I’m glad we’re in this space. I can’t always tell the difference which means we’ve hit a better blend ratio. I used to be able to say things like 60/40 trauma stuff. Now I’m not as sure. That’s kinda cool.

Single parenting is hard. I thought things would be a bit different with the availability of different kinds of support. Those support structures aren’t there so I’m having to artificially create them. It’s tough, but I’m managing. It is hard to not have a partner who can tag me out so I can just take some time. It’s hard. I’m doing it, but it’s hard. I’m grateful for other kinds of resources that I’m learning to use and learning to leverage.

Hypnotism can work. We’ve had one visit so far to tackle the bug phobia. OMG—saw bugs and she didn’t windmill and freak out. We have another visit for fine tuning in a few weeks. The relief already experienced is earth shattering. Yay!

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That’s it. This is the last week before school and I’m counting down the days until we can get back to a routine. I’ve got a ton of work to do, but will be taking a few days off to celebrate the end of summer this week. Hopefully fun times ahead.


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