Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Mother's Serenity

I've been following a blog-friend as she gets closer and closer to her adoption with some nervous anticipation and a lot of hope. She's so close that she can taste it, and yet, the China adoption crapshoot is worse than ever this spring, with one- and two-day referral periods abounding. I hope she gets the good news in May.

But the reason I'm posting this is because of a post of hers where she describes a well-meaning friend remarked how she was getting that "serene maternal glow" and my first thought was of my lovely bride scrubbing a howling child's dirty hair amid a welter of muttered imprecations and flying Curious George bubble bath and wondering who in hell would ever think that motherhood - or fatherhood, parenting in general - was about "serenity"?Raising kids is a hell of a thing; like most life work involving other humans, it rises to the heights of delight and plunges to the depths of misery. It's like being Charge of Quarters 24/7 for the rest of your life; standing there with your hands in your pockets as the crowd beats cheeks, trying to figure out what the fuck the guys from CSC were doing out behind your conex with three tiki torches, a folding table, five gallons of purple paint and a chorizo.

It's funny, it's fun, it's frustrating as hell, it's enlightening, it's full of love and punctuated by the most infuriating moments.

What's it's NOT is serene.

If you see a serene parent, believe me, it's like watching a duck swimming; all sleek and waterproof on top and underneath the little duck feet are spinning like mad hamsters in a motorized hamster wheel.So let me give you instead my own take on parenting, freely adapted from Fr. Niebuhr's prayer:

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and a pair of quick feet, cat-like reflexes and the grip of a howler monkey to apprehend my offspring before they can take the things in the second category and move them into the first."


sheerahkahn said...


Oh so true.

The only parent I ever saw "serene" was on morphine after a back surgery, and he was seriously whacked out.

Aviator47 said...


Our experience was that 90% of the population has no idea of how to "relate" to adopting parents, and thus have a tendency to make well intentioned, but often strange remarks.

Friends of ours, with two sons, after a trip to Ethiopia, decided they wished to adopt an Ethiopian baby. Upon learning of their forthcoming return to Ethiopia to pick up the baby, coworker of hers said, "How wonderful. I didn't know you couldn't have any more children." Our friend said she responded, "Oh, but we can. The difficulty was that we just can't seem to make Ethiopian ones, just little blonde haired white ones."

During our fist interview with the adoption agency nearly 40 years ago, the case worker said, "We make no inquiries about your physical ability to reproduce. Our task is to determine if you should have a baby, and if a baby should have you as parents. If the answer to both is "Yes", then we will say, "You can have a baby".

I kind of liked that.


chris said...

i echo the "oh so true"-
i might look sleek and duck like sometimes to some, but man are my feet going!

cracked up at your take on the serenity prayer.

FDChief said...

Sheerah: morphine? Morphine would be juuuust fine sometimes...

Al: Adoption is a weird subject for some people. I've had people actually ask me how many kids I have when I'm carrying Little Miss in my arms and the Peep is gambolling alongside us. I tell them "two" and they say something like "But how many are YOURS?"...


And we were fortunate that infertility wasn't involved in our case - many of the other APs we met in our trip WERE there because of infertility issues, and their road was longer and harder because of that.

Chris: I hear what you're saying, and yet your two little ones are total sweeties - so you must be doing something right, neh?