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."