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OK, so since I last posted anything substantive:
I got engaged, leased my house, got rid of most of my stuff, and moved in with K and kids. Put my all and everything into building a new family. Meanwhile, Elsa was having a very rough couple of months, and we started trying medication, OT, and counseling for her and for me. It got better, but not dramatically.
It was hard.
And, it turns out, it was even harder to blend families. It was hard to watch Elsa being held to unreasonable standards. It was hard to watch the other kids get treated differently. It was hard to watch her compete for K’s attention and affection, which was increasingly withheld. And it was hard to fight with K, more and more often, about Elsa and whether I was too easy on her, and whether Elsa’s presence in the house was damaging to K’s kids. It was more than hard trying to be the buffer between Elsa and K – my stomach in knots every time Elsa was too loud or not immediately compliant.
Then, it was hard to hear out loud what had become clear: that K didn’t want to blend families because of Elsa, and was not willing to go to counseling and/or work on that. Elsa started to ask me what was wrong with her, and acting out more and more.
(For the record, I do not believe that Elsa was more than part of the reason for our cohabitation failure – she was the most easily identifiable problem, but there were plenty of other underlying issues. When the presence of 4-year-old who is loving and kind but disabled but trying hard as hard as she can to be good is *intolerable*, and a 40-something-year-old doesn’t want to work on that in order to preserve the relationship between the parents, there is something deeper wrong, yes?)
It was crushing, but in a way it was grace, because there was no waffling room left at this point.
So Elsa and I moved out. We’re in a too-expensive furnished month-to-month rental down the street. Can’t move back to my house yet – it is leased out until midsummer. Don’t have much furniture anyway.
It’s convenient – the au pair is still driving Elsa to/from school, and watching her in the afternoon. And K is trying really hard to be supportive and kind and still in a relationship. And I want to be in the relationship.
But, I am adrift. I am relieved, I am angry, I am sad, I am hopeful.
My village has rallied in a phenomenal way. My sister takes Elsa two nights a week (yes!). My friends check on me, take me to lunch, come visit and make this rental feel more real. They promise me I won’t end up alone.
I am cherishing time with Elsa and (a tiny bit of) time to myself. Elsa is flourishing with more of my attention and time, less competition from other kids, a calmer environment. She is off all meds (that is another post altogether). Her teachers and OT all say she is doing really really well lately.
I still love K.
K wants more of my time and attention than I feel able to give now. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, is back to being wonderful with Elsa when they are around each other. Which Elsa eats up and it makes me happy to see her finally get the emotional food from K she was starving for when we lived together. But makes me deeply sad because it’s only available now that we live apart. Makes me ache for the beginning of the relationship – when it was so much easier.
For now, I am waiting out this place that feels a bit like purgatory.
thanks to you all for the response. i had written and deleted the previous post many times, for fear of… i’m not sure what. fear of being judged. fear that people wouldn’t believe me. fear that no one would respond at all.
but you guys did, and i feel much, much less alone.
some good news i should report is that the latest Rx we’re trying – a sustained-delivery system (in the form a patch) – seems to be working really well, without big swings. hard to say for sure (we’re just on day 3) but it looks promising.
also, Elsa had her first swimming lesson yesterday. i was afraid it was going to be awful – high potential for a very public meltdown of epic proportions. but it went, well… swimmingly.
finally, the rather epic bad news: today is the first day of what will be five weeks without childcare. the au pair quit (citing Elsa as the reason, which made me want to punch her) and the new one won’t arrive until September 10.
pray for us.
You probably wouldn’t think, given the recent tone of this here blog, that I had a vacation looming.
When I’m stressed out, I tend to get into a myopic mode where I can only see the present moment. And thus, this week, while feeling like I was not keeping my head above water, I haven’t even had the capacity to look to next week.
Here’s what’s happening next Monday: I am going on a little trip to a warm place. For vacation. Which is good news – well, mostly.
I’m “mostly” on vacation, but not completely, because this deal I’m working on still needs to move forward and I’ll need to do some shepherding and directing while I’m away. I have one conference call scheduled for Tuesday, and will probably have one or two later in the week. That’s still a hell of a lot better than coming into work. But still annoying. Comes with the territory though – no one is really OK with their lawyer being totally out of touch for more than a day or two, unfortunately.
And it’s “mostly” good news, but not completely, because I’m not going with Elsa. I planned this trip ages ago, before the trip to Sweden was on the radar. I would normally never leave Elsa again so soon. In fact, I normally don’t leave her without spending about 6 months home between trips. But this trip is bought and paid for and I’m going. It’s 4 nights – not a terribly long time – but still, it’s too soon after I was away. So, many mixed feelings about that.
But. The thing is, I really need the break. And since it’s during the school week, Elsa will be in her regular routine the whole time and it won’t be so disruptive that I’m gone (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself). I’m a much better mom when I’m not an exhausted frazzled beeyotch. Right? Right.
So, I’m close to being able to focus on vacation.
I’m close to being OK with leaving Elsa again.
And, now that it’s four o’clock on Friday afternoon, I’m close to shutting down the machine that has been my work life lately – or at least turning the heat down to a low simmer.
I’m even close to thinking about books to read while I’m lazing by the pool in the shade and ordering drinks from cute poolboys.
[p.s. for a variety of reasons - all boring - I'm not mentioning my vacation on facebook - would appreciate it if you wouldn't either, if you are connected to me there.]
This morning after practice, the coach of the “A” team pulled me aside, thanked me for trying out, and – quite bluntly (but not too rudely) – told me I was not ready to be rowing with the As.
I knew this. And as yesterday’s festival of whining indicated, I was planning on stepping away or somehow negotiating a lesser commitment even if I made it.
So why the hell am I so fucking sad and disappointed and even annoyed that I didn’t make it?
Man, I don’t like to fail. And, by “don’t like”, of course I mean “hate with the white-hot heat of a thousand suns”.
[this post is a big ol' bitchfest. you've been warned. ]
As y’all can probably tell by the dearth of blog posts lately, I am stretched.
Work is crazy busy, and although the trip to Sweden was good, it was hard and there is a mountain of work that goes with it. There was work to prepare for it, nonstop work during it, and then a ton of work that resulted from it. And then there is all the stuff the piled up during the week I was gone.
At the same time, Elsa is a lot of work right now. She is a joy, of course – but she is also a very demanding 2-year-old who is not getting enough time with her mama lately. And that comes out mostly in bad behavior and tantrums and testing testing testing. It’s exhausting, for both of us. We have too little time together and the little time we do have is not so fun.
I’ve also been lately trying to ratchet things up a bit in my athletic endeavors. I row for a masters team that has several levels – I’m on the “B” team. And over the course of the last few months, I’ve been trying out for the “A” team. This has been kicking my ass, because it’s stressful but also (and mostly) because it requires a level of training that I just don’t have time to do. I’m just not at the level of fitness and strength that I need to be at in order to qualify as a member. (The coach gave me a shot because I’m tall.)
I’m up too early every day for either work or practice and the minute I put Elsa down at night I’m grabbing my laptop and working until I drop. Except for one book I read on the plane to Sweden, I have not read anything in months. I have not watched TV. I have not daydreamed or slept in.
I’m sleep-deprived, short-tempered, afflicted with random anxiety attacks, kind of bitchy, and certainly not being the kind of parent I want to be. I am barely seeing my friends and many people I care about are no doubt wondering if I’ve dropped off the face of the earth.
I feel both lonely and sick of people.
I feel like have no time to… well just have no time, full stop.
So I need to stop something. I can’t stop parenting Elsa – in fact that is the one area I need to crank up a bit. I can’t stop my job – it pays the bills. And also I mostly like it. I can’t stop being in relationship with friends and my family – and again, I feel like I would like to do a better job in this area.
This leaves rowing, which I love.
And I mean I truly love it.
Tomorrow is the last day (I believe) of my tryout period for the “A” team. It includes a erg test (a hideous physical test which is quite painful), which I am dreading, but which I will complete because it’s the right thing to do. And after that I’m supposed to find out if I made the team or not… pretty sure I didn’t (and I’m not being falsely modest here – I’m honestly a long shot), but even if I did, I’m going to have to decline and find a way to row just occasionally, without the competitive pressure. Which kind of breaks my heart… I love rowing with the “A” team because they are so good, and strong, and also really great people. And I’m terrified I will get out of shape and fat (again) if I don’t have the discipline of rowing.
But I’m about to break.
I had a too-rare social lunch today with two dear friends and I almost burst into tears I was so grateful. It took everything I had to get up from the table and head back to work – I felt like I was letting go of a lifeline.
And that’s not good.
The thing I really liked – no, loved - about being in Sweden was really the absence of a thing. That is, the absence of being stared at.
It’s hard to explain what it’s like to be a six foot, 1.5-inch blonde woman. I’m not complaining – happy to be what I am – but it comes with some challenges. One of the hardest thing for me to get over is that I will always draw attention, simply because I stand out. People look at me, then look again. They check out my feet to see if I have some kind of monster heels on. And they ask me – probably every other day – how tall I am. These, by the way, are not people I know. These are total strangers who are compelled to talk to me. I have no idea why. And as a pretty shy and private person, it can make me squidgy.
(Interestingly, I have not had to adjust to the weird public attention that being a white mom with a black baby brings – many of my fellow adoptive parents are having to experience the spotlight effect for the first time and find it really disconcerting. I was already used to having too much public attention.)
Pretty much every time I stand in a line there is a good chance that someone is going to ask me how tall I am. I think people don’t mean it to be intrusive or rude – I can tell that by the way they ask. It’s just the cumulative effect of being asked So. Many. Times. is rough. It makes me feel self-conscious. It’s exhausting, and there are times when I’m not up for the peptalk I need to give myself so that I don’t want to lock myself in my house (“I’m fine. They aren’t laughing at me. They don’t think I’m a freak. They don’t mean to be rude. They mean it as a compliment!)
Some days I have a bad hair day, or a fat day, or I am cranky or distracted or whatever – and I just want to run into the store and get the damn milk or get my coffee at Starbucks. Those days I just want people to mind their own business. I want to go about my business and not be forced to interact because my very physical presence strikes someone as curious. Heck, those days, I don’t even want positive attention – I just want to be unremarkable.
Anyway, in Stockholm, nobody looked at me twice. I even rocked my heels (which make me about 6’4 or 6’5) and walked all over town and… nothin‘. No second glances, no double-takes, no weird looks. I was just another woman walking by.
And THAT was like an amazing vacation. It was delightful. Made me want to move there.
As much as people want to be celebrities, I know I never would. It is a wonderful thing to be able to just about your business and – if you are not in the mood – be completely ignored!
Folks who are of a different race than their children have some interesting parenting issues. And adoptive parents who have kids of different race have additional things to consider.
Dr. John Raible recently put a post on his blog called A Crash Course in Transracial Adoptive Parenting. He knows of what he speaks – and this post is essentially a primer for people like me. It’s a comprehensive syllabus, really – including a reading list and assignments – and (IMHO) includes stuff that every parent of a transracially adopted child should know. I know I’m looking to get educated, and this is a great opportunity.
In response, a group of adoptive parents then started a new blog where they could – together – work their way through the Crash Course, and have a place to discuss it – the blog is called Transracial Adoptive Parenting.
If you have any interest in this topic, check out the Crash Course, and if you want to join the discussion, please sign up over at TAP! The more people participating, the better, as far as I’m concerned. I’m going to be a pretty low-level participant – don’t have much capacity to do a lot of the reading right away – but I’ll be following along.
… just feeling stretched by lots of work and other crap, and totally unmotivated, for some reason, to take pictures or blog or be on facebook or whatever.
Apparently I’m in a bit of a retreat mode.
But, I’m an INTJ, with extra-strong Introvert tendencies, so maybe retreat is necessary every once in a while?
I very much appreciated the comments on yesterday’s post.
To be fair, in some parts of my personal life I am quite brave, actually (thanks, Brown Blanche, for pointing that out). And I am happy for that. I am proud of risks I have taken – though some have cost me and I’m still smarting from one in particular… but let us not dwell on that.
International adoption is not for the faint (feint?) of heart. It is daunting, for sure. But it never once scared me and I had no point of hesitation once I decided to do it.
Yet in other areas I feel wimpy. Less so than I used to be, but still – hesitant, thinking of the worst-case scenario, shutting down possibilities because they might go wrong, or they might go right but in a way that would scare me.
I think it doesn’t show, this side of me, because I can often (not always) find the gumption to take an action anyway – and that’s the part people see.
I just wish it wasn’t so damned hard to wind myself up to get out and do things, meet people, say yes to someone who asks me out. It’s freaking exhausting sometimes – the mental machinations and self-pep-talking that I go through.
I would like it to be something that comes naturally. But, it does not.