Monday, 13 May 2013

Sometimes, the light at the end of the tunnel...

....is actually an oncoming train. And that's what returning home has felt like. We are back, and I'm extremely thankful for that. But re-entry has been brutal, mostly because we seem to have flown home on the Virus Plane. Three of us ended up sick - not just slightly sick but the kind of sick where I was too unwell to watch television. Too unwell to watch television, people, and yet the (also sick) children still needed looking after and on Wednesday I had to go back to work. I would happily have leapt off the top of a tall building during our first few days back.  It's just as well we live in a small town and there really aren't any.

Sidebar: while I think of it, I'm going to tell you my one secret of travel. I don't have any others - despite having been to quite a lot of places, I'm a pretty terrible traveller, and now that we have kids I'm even worse. I always pack too much, I'm terrible at going with the flow, and being out of my usual routine tends to make me very cranky. But this one thing I do know - if you have to go on a long flight (anything more than 12 hours) before you get on the plane, head to the duty free, find the Guerlain testers and cover your face with  this stuff: 


Guerlain's Issima Midnight Secret. I don't know what is in this stuff, but it is magic. It's supposed to make you look like you've had a full night's sleep, and it actually works. (I don't own any (the price, ouch) but if I was going back to those first days of new-baby-sleep-deprivation, I think I would consider shelling out for it because, like I said, magic). It is certainly the only way to get off a flight looking better than you did when you get on. Your hair will still be a mess, you will stink like a skunk, your clothes will still be covered in whatever your seat-mate spilled on you, but your face will be radiant. 

To prove my point: the day after we got home, my ears and throat were unbearably swollen and sore and my whole body felt like it was being attacked by a cattle prod. I was sick and miserable, but unable to get any sympathy from the friend I was talking to. I feel really rotten! I kept on saying. You don't look rotten! sez she. You look great! I can't believe you've just got off a plane; you look so... fresh! And that's when I realised just how good this stuff really is. That freshness isn't really me! I wailed. It's that dang Midnight Secret! but she wouldn't believe me. I guess it serves me right for using so much out of those tester pots without any intention of ever actually buying it. Sigh. /End sidebar.

Anyway. We are here now. The sickness is mostly gone. It's good to be getting back to real life. All the things I was looking forward to doing when we got back (you know, in APRIL) can finally begin. Top of my list - finding a really really good home made barbecue sauce recipe. Is there anything more delicious than barbecue sauce?  No, and I want to be able to make my own. I tried Jamie Oliver's recipe but he was trying to be clever and it was waaaaay too full of orange rind. Why, Jamie, why? I used it to make slow cooker bourbon baked beans but the citrus overdose just made the whole thing taste like Christmas. Not recommended. Once I crack this, I'm going to start with the dry rubs and learn to make proper ribs. On a related note: I have decided that I need to stop trying to get away with skinny jeans.

One more thing. I have lost count of the number of people who have told me how lucky we were that Jay didn't get appendicitis while we were on the plane. I am, of course, extremely glad that this didn't happen. It would have been awful. But lucky? I just can't help thinking that it would have been luckier not to get appendicitis at all. 

After his operation, Jay was unexpectedly kept in hospital for four days so that they could pump him full of high-dose antibiotics. The kids didn't cope very well (that's a euphemism, people, make of it what you will), and I found the whole situation really hard (so is that). One day, I went up to visit him and we went down to the hospital cafe together. I was so tired that I fell asleep sitting on a hard plastic chair, my head on the cafeteria table. Apparently I stayed out cold for 45 minutes while Jay read Australian Handyman magazine. I didn't feel lucky then. I didn't feel lucky when I had to miss some really crucial stuff at work because of our delay. I didn't feel lucky when we ended up on the plane o' death because of our changed plans.

I don't mean to sound churlish. I don't mean my whole life is a vale of tears (far from it). But it's a funny thing, this word, lucky. I think I'm hypersensitive to it because I really don't like it being used when people talk about adoption. To mean, the word lucky implies that you ended up with something better than you could reasonably have expected.  Winning the lottery, say. Becoming America's Next Top Model. Only bothering to study one topic for an exam and having that be the only one that comes up.

So I think that deciding that someone is lucky only works if you have decided what their reasonable expectations should have been.

This is why it bugs me when people say that my kids are lucky to be adopted. I feel like the background is that they should have expected to have no parents at all, and now they are lucky to have me. Whereas - why should they have expected to have no parents? My children didn't come from the cabbage patch; they had other parents before they had us and they lost those parents and that sucks. A few times I have said to people that if their child was to lose them, and then be moved to a new country, they might not feel particularly lucky about it. From a few people this gets that's not the same! (whereas actually, it is) but other times I think it has helped make some sense of why the 'lucky' comment can be the wrong thing to say, no matter how well meant. Or maybe it didn't make any sense at all, and they just wanted me to stop criticising their attempts to be nice to me.


I had a conversation online with a few friends recently about this after one had dozens of people tell her your little girl is so lucky! when they got a referral.  She feels like I do about the lucky thing, but I was interested to see that a few other mothers weren't bothered by it at all. One (who always challenges me to think differently) said 'I tell people that their bio kids will be lucky to have them; why shouldn't people say the same about our adopted kids?' She's probably right. I like her attitude. And yet.

I think that I'm getting a little better about giving people the benefit of the doubt on stuff like this, but I can't help myself, I still don't like people saying my kids are lucky. (Lucky to have a cat, yes, lucky I don't make them bathe every day, yes, lucky to have a twin, yes, lucky to be adopted, no).  Would it be different if people were specific that they meant lucky to be adopted into THIS family? I don't know.

What's your take on the lucky thing?

41 comments:

  1. This doesn't answer your question, but I'm uncomfortable when people tell me that my (biological) child is lucky to have me. I dislike the implicit comparison to some other, presumably less appropriate (less married, less educated, less affluent) parent.

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    1. yes! that! And I think that feels even more acute when our kids' other parents aren't hypothetical.

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  2. I used to think your kids were lucky - this post changed my mind.

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    1. don't get me started on YOUR kids, K. I NEVER thought they were lucky :) ( <------ emoticon so that people know we are joking).

      (I hope). (<------- more jokes).

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    2. Ha! This thread sort of, kind of, for sure cracks me up. It does. It really, really does.

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    3. THis is cracking me up too! HOL

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  3. People say this about Baby Spouse too. To be honest, there are many things about his birth mother that mean that we cannot help but be better for him (and that statement also doesn't mean there wouldn't have been ways in which she was better for him), but he was pretty unlucky to be in that situation as a baby, to have the things happen to him that she caused, and similarly for there to be no hope she could get her act together sufficiently to look after him, and therefore to lose her.

    But we do know enough about her situation to know for sure she wasn't able to look after him or his siblings, and she wasn't able to change herself enough to be able to do that, even though there were people trying to help her do that. We'll have to tell him that when he's older, but it must be hard (different hard, not harder or easier) if like you, you don't know enough to be able to tell them why their birth parents couldn't look after them.

    We too tell people that we are the lucky ones to have him - and not just because he is an easy baby, and a delight to be around.

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    1. I think that those of us who have experienced how long and hard the wait is for a child, it's so obvious to us that WE are the ones who lucked out! Especially those of us who thought we might never have a child - and then to be blessed with so much joy. We are the lucky ones, indeed.

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  4. I have not had a sec to read the other comments but you KNOW this word bugs me as I have written whole posts on it myself. I used to hate the word 'blessed' because it got used so much in context of having bio children and I got so sick of feeling UNblessed (cursed) that I suggested "lucky" as the replacement word. As in, we're so lucky to have our children because I felt decidedly unlucky to be infertile. But then we went through adoption, and I got SO MANY comments about how lucky my children were that I started spewing back all the stuff about their loss. But many people looked at me with bewildered expressions and said things like "but I meant you two seem like cool parents, so any child would be lucky to have you" and then I'd feel sort of bad (only sort of though). So I do not like the word lucky in the context of adoption.

    And now I must look up that face cream!

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    1. Seriously, that face cream is AMAZING. I have no idea what it would be like as any kind of a regular cream - it feels like your skin has somehow been put on turbo boost, and that can't be sustainable, surely? But try it - after a late night / flight, if possible - I guarantee you'll be amazed. I was put onto it by a friend who promised big things (and I was SCEPTICAL) but boy howdy she was right.

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  5. The lucky thing. I can't even. I have tried so hard to explain to people that nothing is lucky about my kids' situations, but they don't want to listen. They want us to be some sort of amazing, unselfish people that only took pity on these poor little children. This is why I have resolved to keep my house in a state of near-squalor and begin photographing it, so people can drop the lucky talk and instead start wondering if the filth is bad enough to call a hotline of some sort.

    Now on to the barbeque sauce! As a Kansas City girl, I have opinions about barbeque sauce. Deeply held beliefs, if you will. I prefer a molasses based sauce to vinegar based (though molasses based will have some vinegar in it), and I want it low brow. Jamie Oliver is definitely the wrong guy for the job. Here's a Kansas City style sauce that looks about right to me: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/kansas-city-style-bbq-sauce-recipe/index.html

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    1. I so totally need a translator for your comments about the sauce. I instinctively know that I'm going to favour low-brow but what does that MEAN? Lots of sugar? Because I support that. And what is hte difference between a molasses base and a vinegar base? If vinegar was the only liquid, wouldn't it be too thin? And I've heard about KC style sauces, but I don't know what that means, either! I can see I still have a lot to learn about all of this.

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    2. In the U.S., there are different regions with different BBQ styles. Some (like the Carolinas, I believe) use mustard as a base. Others (like Georgia) use catsup as a base (though, according to my father who lived there for a year, they basically just use catsup and there's not much BBQ to it.

      In Kansas City, they use awesomeness as a base (no biases here at all).

      Now, other regions will claim that their BBQ is the best and if you want an amazing cut of meat that has a perfectly seasoned dry rub on it, you talk to the Texans. However, if you want sauce, you talk to people from KC. It's a city that barely cares about the meat - I can't tell you how many times I've had meat from a BBQ joint that is sub par, but, it doesn't matter, because it's all about the sauce. Once you get that sauce on there, the meat is magically transformed into something delicious.

      Of course, I can't offer you any recipes because I just rely on my favorite BBQ joints to sell me some of their sauce - but, if you want sweet and delicious, you can't go wrong with a good KC-style sauce.

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    3. I tried to reply here from an iPad about a dozen times, but it didn't work, so I gave up and forgot about it until I got a craving for barbeque and remembered. So hopefully this will still be helpful? Maybe?

      There are different kinds of barbeque from different regions, and within Kansas City, there are even different kinds. I think the main difference when it comes to sauce boils down to whether a person likes it a bit sweet or not sweet at all. I'm a fan of sweet, as I think it pairs nicely with the tangy, spicy flavor that is a must in any good sauce. A vinegar-based sauce is not at all sweet and usually a bit thinner, whereas a molasses-based sauce is thicker and (in my opinion, which is clearly the only one that matters, right?) much tastier. When I say "low brow," what I mean is simply that the sauce isn't too fussy. None of this Jamie Oliver citrus nonsense - orange rind has no place in BBQ! Barbeque is not a fusion food! A good sauce will have a nice balance of flavors without having to go out of its way to get them. Every ingredient in the sauce should be familiar to you.

      I prefer smoked meats if I'm doing barbeque, but not everyone can have a smoker at home. Do you know if you have a product called Liquid Smoke in the UK? A dash of that into your sauce will give the smoky flavor without the actual smoke. If you can't get it, I'd be happy to bring you some. We intend to be in London in the fall. Perhaps a bottle of my favorite sauce can make its way into my suitcase as well.

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  6. Ok. I don't really have an answer for the lucky part. However BBQ sauce:
    .5 cup ketchup
    .25 cup mustard
    1 Tbls minced garlic
    .25 cup brown sugar
    1 tsp salt
    2 tsp pepper
    3 dashes of wostershire (sp?)
    .25 cup apple cider vinegar
    Cayenne to taste

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    1. This is a good idea. When someone says my kid is lucky, I think I will start listing items from my favorite recipes. ;)

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    2. See, I'm so ignorant that I don't even know what to do once I've assembled those ingredients! Do I cook them? Or just mix them? It looks like a pretty delicious combination, whatever needs to be done to it!

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  7. Yes--I LOATHE the word 'lucky.' Did you know that there's a magazine called 'Lucky'? (Or there used to be.) And it's all about !!!!STUFF YOU CAN BUY!!!!! 'Oh, I'm so LUCKY to live in the first world and have disposable income, I'm just LUCKY like that, let's go shopping.' You can't be lucky unless someone else is unlucky. It's like...an acceptance of the injustice: 'phew, glad THAT'S not me, I'M the lucky one.'

    Also, while I'm here, I cannot thank you enough for your honesty and awesomeness.

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    1. Oh, I've heard of that magazine but I didn't know that's what it was! My favourite magazine name (for sheer honesty) is the 'lifestyle' magazine that comes with the weekend edition of the Financial Times over here. It's called 'How To Spend It'. Nice, eh?

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  8. I've started preempting the lucky comments. When I get the initial question from random curious person about whether my son is adopted, I tell them yes, I'm so lucky I got to adopt him, he is a joy, and I'm so lucky I got to travel to Ethiopia, it's a beautiful, wonderful place, the food is incredible and the scenery is stunning. See, I also preempt their comments about Ethiopia. And then I smile and walk briskly away. Because sometimes you can just tell that if you give random stranger half a chance to open that mouth, something appalling is going to come out of it.

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    1. I'm picturing this, and it's cracking me up.

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  9. This is interesting that you brought this up because a small mom's group (with all adopted kids from ET) that I belong to just discussed Marcus Samuelsson's email that went out from ONE.org last week. I pasted it below so you can read it and how he uses lucky in it. Our group all agreed he needs a new copy writer STAT! But I will say that generally when someone tells me my son is lucky I don't associate it with the bad crap that happened to him causing him to end up with us because quite simply it was all far from lucky, it sucked royally. I have always viewed "lucky" as starting when there just weren't any other options and someone or something was looking out for him so he had an option. I don't associate myself with any of that "luck" because no one owns that or makes it happen. Otherwise it wouldn't be luck at all.

    I was born in Ethiopia. But at the age of two, my mother died of tuberculosis.
    >>
    >> That's when I was blessed with my first lucky break: I was adopted, brought to Sweden and my grandmother Helga taught me how to cook my first dishes - meatballs, ginger snaps, and apple jam.
    >>
    >> I'm an accomplished chef today because of a series of wonderful accidents. I know not all kids are so lucky, but I really believe that every child deserves to grow up with healthy, nutritious food - no matter where they're born or what turns life throws at them.
    >>
    >> Let's make sure good nutrition isn't just about being lucky. When world leaders meet in just a few short weeks, let's make sure they don't just talk about nutrition and food, but they act. Add your name today: http://act.one.org/go/1243?t=2&akid=3925.3484612.jk5PjE

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    1. Is it wrong that I read his paragraph and just started laughing? Because if any adoptive PARENT said 'my child's mother died, and that's when they were blessed with their first lucky break!' we would be hunted down with pitchforks and torches. And yet I totally get what he means. Hmmmmmm.

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  10. I think that lucky thing is all about the definition you're using... like Samuelsson above. When people tell me my girls are "lucky" they usually seem to mean they're fortunate to have landed us as parents (vs. another set of adopted parents, which is a complement, though at times I'm not so sure this is true), and that they're fortunate to have not spent their entire lives in an orphanage (which they are), and that they're fortunate they didn't die in their tough circumstances, etc, (which is also true). But the term lucky still rubs me the wrong way. I suppose because I've never been sure what it really does mean... except that some peopler really do seem to win a lot of things or stumble upon favorable opportunities more frequently, etc.

    As for barbecue sauce, sorry... got nothing for you.

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    1. Yep. It's odd - I know what people mean, but maybe it's the fact that we are ALL lucky we didn't spend our lives in an orphanage / die young, but nobody feels the need to say it to you or me.

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  11. Oh man. I've run into this more in the past two weeks than the 7 months we've been home with our kiddo. He recently got a hearing aid (and chose neon yellow), so that plus his missing hand is just fodder for random strangers to tell me how lucky he is. It's really irritating but I always just respond with something along the lines of "we're he lucky ones" which is usually met with "you know what I mean!". Actually, I don't know what is meant and a gentle correction is also a major hint, right? But alas, the comments continue. Sheesh.

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    1. oooh, even more complicated with a limb difference I guess. Because I suppose that would make more people say things... but it's not strictly 'lucky' to be missing a hand in the first place, is it? IS IT???

      (by the way I love that he chose a neon yellow hearing aid!)

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  12. I think it's *comparatively* lucky, as in, compared to how awful (how much MORE awful) things *could* have been. Thrown from a plane, but landing pretty well, if that makes sense.

    And I'm sorry, darling, but I think ANYONE who knows you and is loved by you is lucky. Because their lives are better than they would have been without you. And I should know.

    Also - whyever would you need to make BBQ sauce when you have people who adore you that LIVE IN TEXAS and will send you barbeque sauce until you're drowning in it????

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    1. And you know I feel the same about you :)

      But Aim, I would hvae thought that you texans would all have been making your own bbq sauce from the time you were knee-high? Am I wrong about this? Because I WAS hoping that you would have some kind of fabulous recipe for me.

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    2. The not-eating-meat thing greatly reduces one's need for barbeque sauce. (Hell, I was surprised they let me STAY in Texas.) I'll ask around. I *could* send you a great recipe for cobbler, maybe that would make it up to you?

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  13. I'm wearing Lucky jeans today. Yes. Yes I am.

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  14. I've never liked the word lucky. never.

    Now that you mention it, I do think my kids are lucky to have me though :) That's just my vanity speaking. LOL

    Sorry you've had a sucky month................. getting sick in another country is no joke. Hats off to all of you for coping with the hospital visit and surviving. I loved the visual of you sleeping and J reading the handyman mag - too funny!

    XXX
    missed you

    PS have you tried pinterest? ;)

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    1. Oh, I didn't even THINK of pinterest for this! I wish you hadn't told me... I'll be there all day if I start!

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  15. So after I had Bicicleta Girl here with me for less than a few months, I went to visit a friend of mine who lives in a doorman building on the upper east side. When I walked in with BG in a stroller, the doorman looked at her, looked at me, looked at her again and then said (I swear this is what he said) "Oh wow, she hit the jackpot."

    Unfortunately, I was new to the whole "she's adopted so I can say anything to you that I want to-- no matter how inappropriate" attitude that people seem to have. In fact it was probably the first time someone said that to me. I believe the quip I came back with was "I hope she feels that way when she's a teenager." Pretty lame I know.

    I like Barb aloot's response. I may have to start using that one.

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    1. Oh boy. The jackpot? Seriously? Especially from someone who doesn't actually KNOW you, that is just incredibly horrifying.

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  16. I think most planes are planes'o'death, honestly. Lucky is a strange word. People are usually just being polite, or they feel they must say something. Sometimes I get into a real conversation with someone about it, but not very often. Yesterday I explained to our local toy store owner that maybe instead of the word 'adoption' he could think of it from the beginning, as 'relinquishment.' And he did get it, but then again, I knew he would. You can't know who will get it and who won't sometimes. And it is tough to be the constant educator about adoption and try to figure out semantics. See? I'm exhausted already.

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    1. I think that just THINKING the word 'semantics' is enough to exhaust anyone.

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  17. I think the problem stems from "lucky" being utilized in multiple ways in English so that it leaves people unclear on what exactly the speaker's intentions are.

    "You sure were lucky to win the lottery" = Wow! A one in a ten zillion chance and it was you!

    "So lucky we got a warning instead of a ticket." = We were speeding and deserved it but the cop was in a good mood so we didn't get what we deserved. Woohoo!

    "I bet you feel lucky that you got appendicitis on the ground instead of in the air!" = Dude, that could have been so much worse. I'm so glad that if it had to happen it happened this way.

    "Your kids are lucky to have you." = You are a good mom/dad.

    "He's lucky to be alive." = Aren't we all?

    In some uses the person didn't deserve the good fortune that they got. In some uses there was no good fortune but the person is relieved something worse didn't happen. In some, nothing more than a compliment is intended.

    It's probably more clear if they just say what they are actually thinking, but, we like being lazy and "lucky" is a good shorthand for "Whatever I'm thinking right now contains more good than bad."

    Another thing to keep in mind is that people are a lot less obsessed with the details of our lives than we are. This means that when they say "Your kids are lucky to have you" they are probably thinking of one narrow slice of life (e.g. "Today, in this moment, with them screaming, and you having the patience of a saint, your kids are lucky to have you because if they were my kids I would have run out screaming by now.") whereas you are likely to think of the entire scope of their existence (e.g. "Lucky? To have lost not one but both parents, then their country and to not even have been adopted by some rich superstars like Brad and Angelina? How are they lucky").

    Linguistic ambiguity - causing wars since the dawn of man!

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Over to you!