Tag Archives: Transitions

Days to Go!

We are 3 days out from hitting the road to go to move Hope into her dorm. Here’s what’s been going down.

My house is a mess.

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Ok, it’s really just the dining room back wall where we have piled everything for her dorm room up. I know that this is temporary and that we’ll be loading up the car in a few short days. But there are honestly boxes from Amazon that I haven’t even opened yet because I just couldn’t deal with all of the stuff. Things are packed a lot more compactly than when I was going to college, but still it’s a lot of stuff.

I’m looking forward to an empty nest purge after Hope is gone to school to continue to just get rid of some things. I’m feeling overwhelmed by all of the “stuff” in my home. It’s got to go.

Anxiety has settled in.
Hope and I have been having some great conversations about how she feels about going to college. She’s excited, but she’s got all the nerves of any other first-time college freshman. We talk a lot about specific areas she needs to work on in terms of personal development and strategies to help her. A couple of weeks ago, she kept telling me that her alarm on her phone was clearly not working on waking her up. She insisted that it wasn’t going off. After a couple of days, I sat down with her, elbow to elbow and studied the phone alarms with her.

No, nothing was wrong with the alarm. It worked fine. She was sleeping through it. I suggested that she choose an alarm sound akin to an airhorn. We also had a nice chat about accepting responsibility for the alarm and problem solving.

We’ve had lengthy discussions about medication management and how important it is to take her meds at the same time daily.

And she is…making lists and constantly harassing me about them. It’s funny, when I asked her to make lists, she didn’t. Now that she has lists, she sends them to me; she reads them to me. She reminds me about her lists. I’m good, I don’t need a list at this point. I need to make one more purchase for her dorm and I’m done. Today she asked me if she could put her clothes in the car. We don’t leave for 4 more days.

No Hope, you won’t be putting the clothes in the Nissan today.

I am proud of Hope, though. She is talking about her feelings. She’s articulating her needs. She’s trying to get herself together. I try to compliment her on these things every day because I know this she’s stressed, but she’s actually shouldering it quite well.

I’m prepping the nest.
I am trying to get myself ready for the feels I felt last year when Hope went off to boarding school. I remember feeling just exhausted for the couple of weeks after Hope moved into her dorm. I remember having to get used to the silence in the house, and all the things being exactly where I left them! I remember being able to eat cake for breakfast if I wanted. I mean, I know I can do it now with Hope being so much older, but I don’t I remember slipping into some freedom.

I met someone and dated him throughout this last year. It ended recently, so I’m out looking again.

If you are in a reasonably healthy relationship, make that ish work. These streets are rough. It’s just like the wild, wild west. It’s worst than dating in high school. Maddening. I could go on, but ugh.

I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to update Hope’s room. I’m not taking it over or making an office or anything. I’m looking to paint, purge and make the room look a bit more mature for when Hope comes home in the future. It *might* be time to take down the Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber posters. (Can’t say I’m not THRILLED about this!) Hope picked out a really lux paint color (like an eggplant), so hopefully I’ll be able to get the room updated over the next year. I’m hoping to take this time to also update the rest of the house. I feel like there are just piles of stuff here and there, not everything has a place, the new living room TV needs to be hung on the wall, there’s just lots of purging that needs to happen (If anyone has used one of those handyman apps, let me know about your experiences!). I just feel like I need to make some changes to mark this new chapter in my life.

I’m thinking about the long game.
This weekend Hope and I will also try to schedule which weekends this semester she might want to come home. I travel a lot in the fall so we need to figure out the schedule so I can reserve some train tickets. I’ve also put in my calendar things like, reminding Hope in October to start looking for/thinking about a seasonal job during the holiday break. Before you know it, we’ll be talking about spring break—we usually take an international trip then, and then Summer 2020.

One of the things about this chapter is realizing that at any point, Hope could totally launch. It could be slow, it could be fast, it could happen years from now. I’m just really conscious of the fact that the time we’ve had this summer could possibly be the last bit of time like this. She could be studying abroad next year. She could stay an do summer school. She could do all kinds of things. I suspect that she might be home, but just that possibility that things could change is front of mind for me. A year ago I did not believe we would be spending a weekend in August 2019 prepping for her to go away to college. Things can change so quickly.

It’s exciting to think about the possibilities.

All of that excitement is tempered by Hope’s history. I know her challenges and potential limitations. I’m committed to supporting her through it all. I’m hoping that these things don’t limit her long term, but I know that she’s still finding her way in navigating this life and that’s going to really take some time.

In any case, I am hyper aware of the fact that my kiddo *could* totally launch sooner than what I thought and that is just a marvel. I’m excited for her.

So today, 3 days out, I’m hosting a family lunch at one of her favorite Korean buffets to fete her as she steps into this next chapter. It’s a big deal. Grandpa is going to the Korean buffet—this dude does not do many foods outside of BBQ, crab cakes, burgers and chicken. Hope is so tickled that he’s stepping out of his comfort zone to come be with her.

This is a really, really special time around these parts.

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Letting Go, Trusting the Process

I’m experiencing all kinds of cognitive dissonance over here. So, this is the summer of life skills, right?

Right. I’m all in on making sure I foster competent independence in Hope.

And then, I’m constantly wondering if she ready. I’m constantly doubting whether she’s as competent as I hope she is. I’m overwhelmed when she is unable to do something; I try not to say it out loud, but it just lingers.

And then sometimes I just think, what the WTEntireF?

Last year, when Hope interviewed for a spot at her boarding school’s summer program, I remember sitting watching the interview and how my girl was charming, smart, poised, and confident. Even if I know she doesn’t usually feel like any of those (#depression), she rose to the occasion and really hit it out of the park.

I’ve found that sometimes Hope really can perform like a 17 year old who is college bound and ready for the world.

And then, there are times like when I was away on the business trip recently and Hope texted me that the remote control to the main TV stopped working.

I sent her this.

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She actually texted me back to ask what should she do?

Really?

I am nearly 2,000 miles away. I dunno, maybe watch TV in your room with your TV?

She texted me about the remote control, y’all.

And you know what, 2 weeks before that, she texted me, from her phone, a Google-able question.

My response.

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These are the moments, ironically usually by text, that keep me up at night. She’s not going to be interviewing every day….no, no, she’s going to be watching TV while asking me questions she can ask her phone. It’s the daily tasks, the ordinary stuff, yeah, that, that’s the stuff she can’t do.

Or won’t do.

I found Hope a volunteer opportunity that would allow her to work every day, though I’m voluntelling her that she needs to put in about 20 hours a week.

Me in the AM: Hope, call the store to set up your schedule.

Me in the PM: So, what’s your schedule?

Hope: Oh, right. Yeah, I looked on the website.

Me: Huh? I told you to call.

Hope: Yeah, but I looked at the site.

#IDONTGETITATALL

Are we even involved in the same conversation? I’m not even sure anymore.

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We went around like this for 2 days, until I announced that tomorrow I would just have to physically sit next to her to bear witness to her calling to set up her schedule. #unbelievable

Contrast this with her performance during her college orientation this weekend. *That* version of Hope was anxious, but made conversation, asked questions, and charmed a few other parents along the way.

I know that a lot of this is normal, but it is dizzying.

I am reminded that Hope is a bit behind the curve. She’s still immature; her emotional age still lags behind her peers. She’s catching up; I can really see the gap closing, so deep down, I know that she will be ok, but that gap tho…

I think about the emotional age gap and the depression and the anxiety, and the trauma and the and the and the, and sometimes I feel like we’ll never catch up. And then I spend time wondering what “never catching up looks like?” I wonder what it will look like for me. I wonder what it will look like for Hope.

This transition is certainly less scary than when Hope and I transitioned to be a family. The stakes are really so much lower, but I’m still feeling like…is she ready? Do I believe she’s ready? Does my angst mean I’m possibly not ready?

I dunno…I also feel like Hope’s ability to survive or thrive in college this fall is a reflection on me and my parenting. Did I do everything I could to help to Hope? Did I provide her enough safety? Did I support her enough emotionally? Did I invest enough in her education? Did I try enough different kinds of therapy? Was I the best mom I could be to her and for her?

I feel like I’m about to be graded, and I never worry about grades, so why am I freaking out about whether Hope is going to get to college and text me that she has a hole in her sock, wanting to know what to do?

As I spiral this post out of control topically, I’m realizing that I’m wondering if I’ll be judged on what is probably dumb ish that all kids do because ours is an adoptive family?

I mean, in adoption, you get the halo because you “saved” a child (I hate this) or the horns because you “saved” a kid but didn’t “really” save them because they are still a dysfunctional hellion.

It’s absurd.

And I thought I’d stopped caring a long time ago about being judged for my parenting activities and choices.

Looks like I care after all.

I also know that when Hope needs to be great, she’s more than steps into that. All the other times she is what’s probably a normal slug of a kid.

I know I did my best for Hope. There’s always room for improvement, but I would like to think I’ve done a good job mothering Hope these last few years.

I also know that I am spending a fair amount of time every day thinking about how it will all feel if Hope doesn’t have the best experience there.

So, while I continue to press on with Hope’s life skills curriculum this summer, I’m going to try to trust this process and where it will take things with Hope. She’s going to be ok. She’s going to learn how to do the things she needs to do.

She will be fine, and so will I.


Working on Me

I’ve been thinking a lot about what my and Hope’s next transition will look like. I’ve had a taste of what it will be like when Hope leaves for college this fall. She will be farther away with a lot more freedom. I’m sure I will fret a little, but I’m excited for her.

As for me, I’m starting to ponder what’s next for me. I’ll never be finished parenting; I already tele-parent, so this parenting thing will of course continue. But I’m struggling with the big “next.” Looking into the next few years there’s a bit of a void.

These days I work, I come home. I take Yappy for long walks. I spend a little time with someone I met last summer. If you follow me on FB, you know I’m working on my first knitting project. I do some writing, try to get some exercise. Sadly, I don’t go out much anymore. When Hope came along my loving, long term relationship with happy hour ended. It’s so rare that I ring someone up to say, hey, let’s grab a drink and be social. And given the rigors of single parenting, most folks stopped asking me to meet up years ago.

I’m thinking about starting language classes; something I haven’t done in nearly 10 years. I’m back to doing yoga almost daily as well; that feels really good.

But I’m spending a lot of time alone. Probably too much time alone, actually definitely too much time alone. I still don’t spend as much time with my old friends as I used to or as I’d like. I go to bed early, quality sleep has become really important to me. I even bought myself a couple of really, really nice new sheet sets for my birthday a few months ago. Yeah, super exciting, I know (that was supposed to be in sarcasm font, but frfr, I love those damn sheets!).

I’m tired, and I know depression looms around the edges and well, I’m feeling a bit frayed, and a little…stuck.

My heart has grown more than I ever thought possible parenting Hope. I have learned more about life…hell about everything. I am a radically different person than I was 5 years ago. I know that even if I hadn’t embarked on this journey that I would have changed; but I never anticipated being who I am now. I am still trying to figure her out, trying to figure out what she wants.

I knew pre-ABM me really well. I’d worked hard to become her, to slay my dragons and to post up as I slid into what is probably the second half of my life. I liked her. I’m proud of her.

Now…I like me and I’m proud of me, but I’m still figuring the new me out.

I spend a lot of time thinking about my own little and large traumas over the many years. Motherhood has taught me where my tender spots are, that some of those dragons I thought I slayed were really just hibernating in a dark cave somewhere. Things that I thought I’d worked through and resolved over the years have bubbled to the surface during the last 5 years. I spend so much time dealing with current “stuff” in therapy that I haven’t begun to rehash the stuff that I feel like I rehashed years ago. So some of this chapter feels like a backslide rather than steps forward.

I bristle sometimes when folks say, “resolve all your stuff before you become a parent” or “before you adopt.” Yeah, I thought I did, but parenting—any kind of parenting—has a way of rustling up a lot of stuff that you thought you’d resolved.

I’ve still got mommy issues. I’ve still got self-esteem issues. I’m still demanding and self-criticizing. I’ve still got relationship issues. I still struggle with food and disordered eating. I still get lonely. I still wonder should I have done this and did I mess up Hope’s life more than if I hadn’t done this. I replay so many early era pre-ABM movies in my head that I could keep a movie studio in business for years.

And so, with Hope preparing for a kind of launch this fall, I’m seriously thinking about me, what’s next, what makes me happy, and how do I fight my own dragons that this mom experience has awakened.

It’s hard to force myself to think of all of this even though it occupies a huge space my heart and mind. I have some work to do. The depression tells me to think about it tomorrow. The anxiety frets because I didn’t think about it a couple of years ago. It’s just icky.

Me and Hope are going to be alright, though. We made it through high school and 5 years of family. We will muddle and stumble through the next chapter. I know I’ve got some work to do on the current iteration of ABM. She needs help, some care and feeding, some self-love and some compassion. She needs that and more. So, yeah, I’m going to get to work on that.


Looking Forward, Looking Back

Last week Hope and I celebrated her placement with me one year ago.  I read other blogs in which I was cautioned to not expect her to want to celebrate what was a rough transition for us.  I started to let it ride, but then thought better of it.  I mentioned it.  She smiled.  Hope was surprised a year had passed already.

So, we did dinner at the fancy burger place nearby and settled in watching tv.  Nice low key and easy.  Maybe we’ll do something special to observe our finalization date, maybe, maybe not.

Adoption is tough.  Adoption of older kids who have lived a lifetime before meeting you is rough, tough and awesome.  It’s all awesome, really, somewhere in there, but make no mistake, it’s rough and it’s tough too.

Since the new year, I’ve been working on getting some of my parenting swagger back.  I’ve learned a lot this last year, but I have so much more to learn.  Parenting Hope is…sigh…well, I suppose it depends on the day.

We have come so far, but the tentacles of that previous life are always threatening to pull her back in and drag me with it.

I see the impact of neglect in how she engages me sometimes.  I see her easing in to this life with me evidenced by her low desire to care for herself in some ways; she wants me to take care of her, almost baby-like at times.  I see her joy in having a mom to talk girly stuff with.  I see the social struggles that come with a lower emotional age and her Saraha-like thirst for attention, accepting negative attention in lieu of positive reinforcement of more mature behaviors. I listen to her abuse disclosures, stuff that never made it into the files or were so epically understated that they could be characterized as nearly lies. I see developmental delays revealing themselves as her hard shell softens, and I try to figure out how to balance them with my own academic expectations. I work with her through lingering legal issues from her life before me; decisions that make me question all kinds of things I’ve said believed about the criminal justice system for all of my adult life.  I sometimes feel the effects of all the trauma just rolling off of her likes waves in an ocean.

Yeah, my therapist says it’s secondary trauma.  Nice…not really.  It sucks.

Sometimes all of the messy is so clear and evident; other times I’m just hanging on for dear life moving from one crisis to another.

I don’t cry so much now, but I do cry.  I fell out of praying for a few weeks not long ago; I just was tired, I was (am) still pissed about how my church treated us..  Didn’t really lose my way, but just really couldn’t say anything to the Holy Homeboy without being furious that the space I felt safe in was no longer safe.

As we mark a year together, it’s a strange time, trying to figure out what the future looks like.  Older child adoption is special; there’s something really, really different about showing up with a teenager who is taller than you when just last week you didn’t have one.  To some degree we are open about our story; sometimes less so.  Hope and I appreciate the ability and choice to just blend in and be mistaken for biological family.  We like to give each other knowing looks when it happens.

We’re considered a success story.  I’m not sure I know what that means or how I feel about it.  We constantly get requests to use our image on adoption awareness and promotional items.  On the one hand, it’s flattering, on the other hand, it makes me wonder if we will be able to maintain our ability to hide in plain sight.  We’re comfortable with disclosure now, but what about 6 months or more from now?

Aside from that, I don’t feel like a poster family.  We have struggled this year.  We’re still standing and we love one another, but success?  I guess.  We finalized…so there’s that.  We haven’t killed each other…so there’s that.  My vocal cords from the epic NY’s day meltdown seem to not have sustained permanent damage…so there’s that.

The parenting counselor from my agency told me recently that now that we’ve been together a year, ish is about to get really, real.  Dear Holy Homeboy help me.

I worry about my own attachment with my daughter.  I wonder (full of guilt just thinking it) if I made the right choices.  I ponder what my life would be like, now, 2 years in to this adoption journey if I had made different choices.  I wonder what new trauma will surface next week, and whether my mouth guard will survive the pressure when I am grinding my teeth trying to maintain my composure.

It’s crazy that it’s been a year already. I look forward to many more years, but that anticipation is mixed with some fear and anxiety probably from both of us.  This ain’t easy, but she is worth it.  We’re worth it.


Why this Life is Awesome

I have several dear friends from high school with whom I’ve remained close over the years.  This year, many of us turned 40.  It’s one of those birthdays that seem to be a fork in the road where you either run to it or go kicking and screaming—Ok, the kicking and screaming might be a bit dramatic, but let’s just say that some folks are not excited about turning 40.

I could not wait to be 40.  I couldn’t wait.  I’ve been ready to be 40 for a couple of years. Why was I a 40 runner?  I enjoyed my 20s immensely.  There was a season in my life when I was footloose and fancy free; I went out and partied a lot.  I enjoyed the joys of tequila a lot.  I had a collection of little black dresses.  I met cute guys and danced until 4am on a Wednesday and was still in the office working before 9am!  Then life got really, really real in the 30s.  My ability to refresh and reboot between 4am and 9am started to wane.  I learned how great red wine and good quality food could be.  I transitioned to wanting to find a nice lounge on a Friday night rather than wanting to hit the club.  I morphed into a fun loving homebody; I’d done my partying.  Friends started getting cancer or having heart attacks; some died.  I struggled with my own serious health issues throughout the decade.  My parents started to show some age, and I began to worry about the need to help them make plans, especially when I had to start attending funerals and sending condolence cards to friends who lost their parents.  A couple of epic failed relationships crystalized some long term thoughts about relationships.

It was sometime in my 30s when I realized that I was really good and grown and dealing with life’s rigors.  The 40 plus crew also deal with life’s rigors but there seemed to be a bit more emotional freedom and less caring about what folks thought about how you chose to live your life.  I still cared way too much about what other people thought about my decisions for much of my 30s.   The day after I turned 40 it was like a switch flipped and I really didn’t care as much and sometimes I don’t care at all.

Something about that emotional freedom I started seeing just before 40 keyed me in on the time when I knew this would be the time to move into adoption and parenting.  This month, I’ve noted that the pre-40/pre-Hope chapter is really coming to a close and again, I feel like I’m running to the new chapter.  Sure, I’ve chuckled and raised a glass to the last unfettered happy hour, the last trip to my hometown without Hope, the last weekend of staying out to go to the movies or dinner or “the club” without the need for a babysitter.  For many of my friends they experienced the first wave of this parenting transition of the ‘lasts’ years ago while I was still running around like a wild horse from Chincoteague Island.  Several friends have celebrated these lasts with me with both joyous smiles and sometimes sad eyes because my “single girl, sex in the city,” ala Carrie Bradshaw, days are closing out.

Gawd, I haven’t been Carrie Bradshaw-like for about 7 or 8 years, though I like buying shoes.  And even Carrie started liking being home as the show dragged on.  Life’s adventure profile changed, just like mine is changing.  It isn’t sad.  It’s an evolution and while the transition can be…rough…it is transformative.  I have no regrets about my previous chapters; they were great, but <shrug> they are what they are now, great and sometimes not so great memories.

A friend and I went to what we thought was a hookah lounge after dinner and cupcakes last night and found that it was really a 20 something club.  This friend is becoming famous for dragging me into situations where I end up pondering my previous life chapters in cheeky ways.  Last night, a 24 year old cutie bought us a round of shots and asked me if I was scared of the shot.  Bless your heart (as we say in the South), no child, I’m not scared of this shot and took it down way easier than he took his down.  Knowing I could be his MTV Teen Mom made me giggle not because a young dude was chatting us up, but because the whole scene for me was so utterly ridiculous.  Young women teetering on heels trying to look a blend of young, but older and sophisticated, and apparently dancing just means grinding—there was a Miley Cyrus-VMA look-a-like out there twerking for her life with anyone she could back that thing up to on the dance floor.  I had on an Old Navy sweatshirt with some sequins, a pair of jeans and some shoes similar to clogs.   I watched the scene, remembered the days when I rolled out of the house in a tiny dress with spindly heels and no coat in 30 degree weather.  It was awesome at the time, but now I just want a vodka tonic and a couch.  And when the 20 somethings made it rain in the club with paper napkins, I puffed away on my blackberry hookah, laughed and thought I wouldn’t do my 20s or 30s again for anything, even knowing what I know now.   I also looked at my watch and grimaced; it was going on midnight, and I am not into the whole “turn up” phenomenon.  I was ready to turn in.

So, like I was eager to turn 40, I am eager to welcome Hope into my life.  Oh it’s going to be drama at a whole new level, but it’s ok.  This has been an amazing life and I have no doubt that the Hope chapters will be rich and colorful and that 20 years from now, I’ll look around and ponder my 40s and chuckle when a then 40 year old man sends me a glass of Cabernet because he likes my silver fox hair.  This has been one of the most challenging years of my life but also hands down the best year.  I’m so blessed to step into this next chapter; I don’t need to look back; I don’t care what people think.  This life is awesome; it’s not what I would’ve planned, but God’s plan for me has worked how pretty well.  I guess he’s good like that.  Ha!

Life can be only what you make it
When you’re feelin’ down
You should never fake it
Say what’s on your mind
And you’ll find in time
That all the negative energy
It would all cease

And you’ll be at peace with yourself
You won’t really need no one else
Except for the man up above
Because he’ll give you love
(My life, my life, my life, my life)
If you looked into my life

Take your time
Baby don’t you rush a thing
Don’t you know, I know
We all are struggling
I know it is hard but we will get by
And if you don’t believe in me
Just believe in He

‘Cause he’ll give you peace of mind, yes he will
And you’ll see the sunshine for real, yes you would
And you’ll get to free your mind
And things will turn out fine
Oh, I know that things will turn out fine
Yes they would, yes they would
(My life, my life, my life, my life in the sunshine)

                                    My Life by Mary J. Blige


Room Decorating In Effect!

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Oh yeah, y’all don’t want none of this room!  I put together Hope’s desk and matching chair today.  I love it! 🙂  I’m hoping to score some cool shelves to put up around the desk to augment workspace. I was so excited to include the little Oxacan dog I bought Hope last month in San Antonio during a business trip. 🙂  I also picked up a laptop prop that matched the room color.

Now to order those decals and the TV wall mount.  It’s coming along!


Controlled Cry Breaks

While reveling in the knowledge that Hope is coming to visit in a month, Grammy triggered a meltdown. This sandwich generation stuff is some mess; I’ll tell you that.

I sent off a happy email to my immediate family about Hope being in town for Thanksgiving.  I knew Grammy would hit the roof since she’s traveling to see my younger sister, Sister M, for the holiday.  She called and wailed about how she was going to miss it, and she wanted to come on this day and that day and she could stay three days and do stuff and on and on and blah and blah and blah!

Whoooooooaaaaa!  Stop Grammy.  Slow your roll.

All I could think of was No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  Did I say no?  Did you hear me say no?  No, you can’t stay 3 days, and heck no you can’t stay here.

No.

And then the tears started on both sides.  I was so overwhelmed.  She was firing off questions that I either didn’t have an answer for or didn’t want to answer, and she just was out of control.  And my inability and unwillingness to answer some questions somehow got twisted around to make me feel like an inadequate mom.

Then she announced that I had two people to consider: the tween and the senior.

I grew a small backbone and replied, no I only have to look out for the tween; she is the highest priority.  Grammy, you are not the priority.  You are not a priority right now.  I love you but you are not the priority.  You are grown and can take care of yourself.

Sobbing.  Gnashing of teeth.

Grammy is so excited, so excited.  I’m so excited that she’s excited.  But I need a chill pill.  In the middle of the busy workday I was clearing my schedule for a two week vacation that will be great, but will not be restful, fielding text messages about a bridesmaid’s dress that I didn’t know about but that I need to go order in two weeks, feeling like crap because this week is turning out to be not dissertation productive, having a consulting opportunity fall in my lap that I know I can’t take because I’m stretched too thin as it is, scheduling painting quotes, and responding to sweet emails from friends and family who want to know what to get Hope as welcome gift… Grammy’s hissy fit about not being welcome to visit Hope in the first 24 hours of her arrival was too damn much for me to deal with.

And the answer was still no.

Holy hell.

The security shields went up, and I got snappy.  Then I felt guilty.  Then I apologized, because well, Grammy is my mom.  I adore my mom; I can’t disrespect my mom.  I want her to be excited, but I need someone to actually care about me at this very moment.

I am falling apart.   This week I feel like I’m barely functioning.  My emotions can run the gamut in the span of about 15 minutes.  I’m exhausted.  I’m getting over a sinus infection.  I feel like I can’t seem to do anything right and in the midst of all the joy, all the happiness, all the hulabaloo, only a handful of people are asking me how I’m doing, I mean, really doing and managing and coping.  The truth is that this week is not so great. People care and want to be so helpful, but I’m feeling like very few folks are looking past all the excitement and seeing me in what is really feeling like an incredibly fragile state.

Much like Hope, the emotion that I feel at the center of all of this is anger.  I’m angry about melting down.  I’m angry about not being productive.  I’m angry that this sinus infection is still bugging me.  I’m angry that I keep forgetting to schedule my mammogram.  I’m angry that The Furry One still needs a bath and I can’t manage to muster the energy to do it.  I’m angry that as a fixer I can’t fix one damn thing that’s going on right now.  I’m angry that Hope’s angry (that’s a doozy right there).  I’m angry that work is so demanding at the moment.  I’m angry that my dissertation director hasn’t emailed me back about the 10 pages I sent him nearly 3 weeks ago.  I’m angry that one of my dissertation subjects now thinks we’re buddies and keeps calling me on my cell phone.  I’m angry that the paint quotes are all pushing $600 for one measly room.  I’m angry that the stress has triggered a physical pain response that exhausts me more than all the other crap in this stupid paragraph.

I feel like the most productive thing I’ve managed to do this week is cry for about 2-3 minutes of every hour that I’m awake. Yeah, I’ve got the controlled cry (feel it, cry it out, wipe tears, get back to the grind) down to a science. I have no idea why I even bother with makeup in the morning.  I do at least wear waterproof mascara.

It is one of the happiest times of my life, and I am literally furious 98% of the time.   Oh there’s a bunch of other emotions in there too, but if I had to characterize the emotions by color, I’m seeing shades of red most of the time.  It almost feels primal.

After the second Grammy/ABM meltdown of the day, I told my mom, I don’t need Grammy right now.  I need my mommy.  I need a hug.  A there, there it’s going to be ok.  I need a chicken casserole, and a pedicure.  I need a day without questions that ultimately make me feel like an invisible, but somehow still schnitty, new parent. I need a day to watch Netflix and drink cocoa in my PJs.  I need some nurturing.  I need someone to plan things for me for the next couple of weeks so I can collect myself.  I need someone to ask me how I’m doing and really, really mean it and not judge me when I say I’m really, really not doing ok.

Maybe she heard me.  Probably not.  My attitude and outlook is not the best this week.

Sigh.

Time for a controlled cry break, a shower and some coffee.  Time to get this hump day going.


Perfectly Imperfect

“You know, I’m not a perfect kid.”

 “That’s cool, because I’m not a perfect adult.  Perfection is overrated anyway.”

 ~~Excerpt from the first call between AdoptiveBlackMom & Hope

So, today is the new Best. Day. Ever.

I am basking in the afterglow of my first call with Hope.  We talked for almost an hour.  Saying it was awesome makes me feel like I need to step my vocabulary game up because it is surely an understatement.  It was even beyond epic.

At times while she was talking, I had to wipe silent tears away because living in this precious unbelievable moment was so wonderfully overwhelming.  I was so glad to hear her go on about her book collection at length because I needed the few moments to gather myself.

It was truly a Jerry McGuire moment.  She had me at hello.

I am beyond privileged.  It is both eerily heartbreaking and heartwarming for a child to tell you on her own that she is happy that you are interested in her and that she might finally get a forever home.  Heartbreaking that any child would find herself in such a reality.  Heartwarming because she doesn’t get that I’m so much more than interested; I’m committed.  I’m so there.

We made plans tonight.  I’ve got late nights ahead of me between writing this dissertation and keeping up with our newly formed ABM/Hope book club.  We’ll be reading Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke when I go to visit in two weeks.  She recommended that I read the first two books in the trilogy first…hustle on that!  The books have been ordered (thank you Amazon Prime).

We will have Wii bowling and tennis tourneys in order to defend our respective pro-level statuses.  Oh yeah—we are competitive.

I will have to take swimming lessons in order to motivate Hope to finish her swimming class test, which she hasn’t been able to pass.  Looks like I’m going to have to pass one too.  Have I mentioned that I’m not a fan of the pool?  I’m fantastic lounging poolside with an umbrella drink but in the pool?  Not so much.

She shared that kids had teased her because of her dark skin and said she looked like a boy.  I affirmed the beauty of her skin and her loveliness.  I think I heard her smile.

Our talk was easy.  I am so hers.

Before we hung up I said, “So you remember all that stuff about us not being perfect?  Maybe that is a great set up for a good life together.”

She excitedly replied, “Yeah, I think so too!  So we’ll talk this weekend right?”

Oh yeah, I’m already counting the hours!


Adapting to Change

The last few days have been a bit of a whirlwind.  After being told to “take your time” putting together my photo book, I get a message at the end of last week asking it where it was and that my phone calls with Hope won’t start until after she has the book.   I ask many questions each week about the sequence of events, expectations, deliverables, etc.  No one pointed this out and I dropped everything and got the book done and ordered.  I hope it will be delivered later today, and I can make arrangements to have it sent out tomorrow so we can keep things moving.

I’ve also been anxious about scheduling visitation with Hope.  I’m desperate to see her and talk to her and spend time with her.  I gave some dates in the second half of October since I’m traveling for work soon and those dates had been locked in for a while.  Ha?! I get a late night email asking if I can come in about 15 days.  Yep, in about 2 weeks!

I got this email right before bed and had a complete and utter meltdown all night long.  I finally had to get up and take something for my anxiety around 1am.  It barely dulled the edge but it least it allowed me to go to sleep.

I’m dropping everything to go see Hope.  It’s what I want to do.  What I’m supposed to do.  What I’m entitled to do.  She is the most important thing in my life. I can’t wait to see my girl!

My late night anxiety stems from a couple of things:

First, there’s the awful realization that I really have been too entangled with my job; I’ve allowed it to define too much of me.  I naturally have a ‘fixer’ personality.  I like problems; I fix problems.  Work has a lot of problems and my job allows me to do a lot of research-based problem solving.  I love my job.  I am very accomplished in my work and within my sector, I am nationally recognized for my work.  I like that.   Admittedly, I like that lot.  What I do for a living has had a huge role in shaping my identity for the last decade.

I knew that my new identity as a mom would change some of that.  I’ll still do the things I do, but my focus and passions are split now.  My job doesn’t have full ownership of my identity.  Having to rearrange my schedule is technically easy; I didn’t anticipate having some kind of emotional response to it other than, “Dueces, folks—Mommyhood beckons!!”  This is the first time literally and symbolically that I see this identity crossroads I often hear about.  Yikes.  Achieving balance—a real tangible, livable version of it, not the stuff of magazines—is going to make me stretch again.  I anticipated the stretch, but I didn’t anticipate feeling it so strongly so quickly.

Second, I have probably fretted for more than an hour last night about how my boss will react to the news.  I finally announced the adoption to my staff yesterday.  I work in a small office,e and it was a hard secret to keep for so long.  Everyone was incredibly supportive, including my boss.  But that was before I planned to cancel a trip that we just confirmed I was making less than 24 hours ago.

My boss is incredibly supportive of my work and was very supportive of this new development in my life.  But here I am wondering what will be his real reaction to my canceling a trip because of Hope? All the questions about work, motherhood and having “it all” that I’ve managed to side step for 20 years all pervaded my thoughts in the middle of the night—which is an awful time for me to try to mull things over.   I am tired!

Finally, there’s the heavy anxiety associated with finally meeting my daughter in the flesh.  Now that dates have been proposed, it feels even more real than it did the day before.  Our mediated communications are very positive, and I’m finally chatting with her foster mom about day to day things.  What will our week in September really be like?  I know what it will be like:  It will likely mimic Chris Rock’s skit about dating someone’s representative.   We will both be on our best behavior, navigating one another’s newness, trying to build something.  It’s awesome and overwhelming too.  I can’t wait.  But it’s also contrived and hard to pull back layers of anything in a week.  But I can’t wait to make the trip and see my girl.

It’s probably all normal, but I don’t see much about these huge emotional lifts in the books, and with me deep in my dissertation research and writing, I haven’t much time to read too many other blogs these days.  But, I’ll adapt.  Plenty of women make it work.  I’ll figure it out.  In a few weeks to months, I’ll reflect on last night and kick around my mind around why I fretted so much about setting the visitation schedule and then being so anxious about it.

For now, I need to go put on a pot of coffee.


Foot in Mouth Syndrome

Hope was excited to get my letter and apparently liked my picture.  Things were going just fine until she got to a line in my letter in which I expressed excitement about tucking my kid in at night.

Whoops!  I stumbled on my first tween-angst-filled rock on the path.  Sigh.

Now I know that tweens are probably more like, “Get off me, get off me, get off me!” at bedtime rather than, “Hey will you read me a story?”  What I meant to convey was that I enjoy the ritual of just saying good night to family members at the end of the day.  When I’m visiting my parents I make a point of kissing them good night before we all retire for the evening.  It’s not all smoochy, smoochy, tuck you in kinda stuff, but it’s just a family acknowledgement of affection.  But with Hope it was clear that my excitement of kissing my 12 year old kid was not cool.  I sent the wrong message.

Well, in tween fashion, Hope let us all know that she wasn’t down with the “tucking in” stuff in a literal way.  She wondered if I really wanted a younger daughter instead of her.  Good grief, <crack> minor heartbreak, followed by lots of reassuring that no, I want Hope, in all her tween-esque, “please don’t reject me” glory.  I’m reading the update also in my own “please don’t reject me” glory.

We’ll have to create our family rituals. It’s all good.  It did feel like I made my first big stumble though.  I don’t want to upset Hope, and I certainly don’t want to scare her.  I have a feeling that my new adoptive mom angst combined with her tween, adoptive kid angst is going to lead to a few episodes of Foot in Mouth Syndrome (FMS) for us both.  It is ok, it’s natural, right? It doesn’t feel all that great for this natural overachiever, but it’s ok.  I can take it.

The good news is that it isn’t all stumbling over rocks, she does like me.

Hope likes me.

Apparently she talks about me all the time (see we have something in common—I talk about Hope obsessively).  She wasn’t as anxious this week, and she’s eager to learn more about me, about my life and potentially, our life.

Two steps forward, one stumble, but no ground loss…I think, we’ll see.

And so, now we’re back to just waiting until the next update.  Waiting blows.


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