Recently the community manager at ChicagoNow offered an opportunity to be paired with another blogger to write an interview style post. I thought that sounded interesting and was paired with blogger Angela, author of “My Spirited Girl.” In researching Angela’s blog prior to my interview with her, I believed that although we were both moms, we possibly had little else in common. By the time I sat down to write this, however, I realized that she and I—not to mention millions of moms everywhere—aren’t all that different after all.
Angela and her husband are parents to two girls. They adopted their older daughter, HJ, from Korea when she was 15 months old. As they began the process of adopting a second child a couple years later, Angela found out she was pregnant, giving HJ a younger sister. HJ just completed kindergarten, while her sister Lila is approaching 3 years old.
When Angela and her husband brought HJ home from the Korean orphanage started by Angela’s own grandfather, they knew she had some developmental delays, which wasn’t necessarily unexpected given the circumstances of her life before joining them. Within months, HJ began early intervention as she wasn’t walking and was experiencing speech delays. But Angela and her husband noticed other indicators of potential issues, as well, prompting them to ultimately seek help from an attachment therapist and other healthcare professionals who they felt were best suited to help their daughter. Perhaps most frustratingly, years later HJ still does not have a formal diagnosis for her challenges. While she does not exhibit classic symptoms of autism, she clearly struggles with anxiety.
Angela started blogging as a way to connect with other adoptive parents, other parents of children with special needs, and as a way to express herself since she is a writer “by trade,” having a master’s degree in creative writing and now working as a freelance editor. The name of her blog was inspired by a book that helped her and one that I have also consulted over my years of parenting, “Raising Your Spirited Child,” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. Angela’s mastery of writing in addition to her calm thoughtful demeanor shines through in her posts, and I was touched by the supportive comments on some of her blogs, particularly one she wrote about struggling with the decision to have HJ repeat kindergarten. The importance of her Korean heritage, her family and the impact that the adoption process had on herself as well as HJ have also found voices within various posts.
Two things struck me more than anything when talking with Angela: how much effort she has clearly put into helping HJ as well as trying to find that sweet spot (or balance) in various aspects of her life. In the end, these things aren’t all that different than what I have experienced as a mom, although I’m much further along in the process as three of my four my kids will be in college next year. We are constantly evaluating and analyzing and making adjustments to ensure we are optimizing our children’s chances for happiness and success.
My chat with Angela made me contemplate where I am as a mom right now and the themes that repeat themselves over the years and from one family to another. While Angela has been working hard to find the right school or classroom setting for her daughter next year, I have poured an enormous amount of effort into ensuring my son if off to the right college next year. Angela struggles to keep from letting parenting take over too big a chunk of her life, much as I have sought to find non-parenting outlets for myself. The importance of family and what Angela’s parents can teach her kids is clear in many of her posts, just as I have been known to “gently urge” a reluctant teenager to attend a family function a time or two to keep just a modicum of external awareness present. In the end, I felt that Angela and I actually had a great deal in common after all.
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