Monday, 25 October 2010

A Virus, A Win and Several Fails

The babies and I have been playing pass the parcel with a whole range of viruses for about 8 weeks, now. It's been pretty unpleasant. Last week was my turn again. I got this virus (and yes, I totally lucked out and got the ulcers and the tonsil blisters) which means that I spent most of the week popping codeine and covering my tongue in what is basically krazy glue, while ranting at my immune system for not rejecting what is supposed to be a childhood illness.

Thank you, virus, for ruining my week. The virus is why it has taken me so long to count up the entries (and the happiness tips), go to, press a button and come up with the winner for the happiness giveaway. But now I've done it and can tell you that it's Imgnyc, aka Leigh! Email me your address, Leigh, and your book will swiftly make its way to you on the wings of the morning. And the rest of you all win too, because you all get to read this luminously beautiful post that she wrote a few weeks ago. I've been wanting to link to this for ages, but never quite had the right context. Well, now I do, because she won my giveaway. Huzzah!

Okay. So. Another thing I'm going to blame the virus for: I've come to think that I possibly should have dialled down the pain meds before pressing 'publish' on my last post. I've always felt pretty strongly about that issue, and I've been meaning (for more than a year) to write something about it. I was hoping that it might be helpful for people who haven't yet adopted to have a point of view to consider when thinking about how to deal with the issue when it comes up. What I really, really did NOT want to do was pass judgement on anybody who has made a different decision from the one that we made.

Another thing I really, really didn't want to do was to lay guilt on anybody. I really hadn't considered that I might hurt people who have talked (to parents, friend, whoever) and now wish that they hadn't. I'm really sorry for this - it wasn't my intention.

A few people asked for advice about what to do in this sort of situation. All I can think of is this: we all mess up. Parents mess up. Adoptive parents probably mess up more than average, not because we are worse people but because there is more stuff to mess up. I don't know what your personal messing-up areas are, but I know that I fail daily. I have ordinary motherfails: I lose my temper. I can be lazy. And while I may not face privacyfails yet, I have what might be pretty serious adoptomotherfails too, things I feel too raw or embarrassed to write about here. And I could try justifying them, but that's not the point - the point is that I have failed, and continue to fail. These things may be things that my children grow up to grieve far more than they would have if I had nailed their birth history to our front door. And it may be that there will still other things that I never considered that do it instead. What can I do about this? I can't turn the clock back.

I read a parenting blog ages ago (I can't remember which one, or I'd link) that was talking about goals for raising children. The author was writing from a Christian perspective, and she said: our aim as parents isn't to stop our children from sinning, but to teach them how to deal with their sin. (And a pretty basic definition of sin is failure to do what we should do, be what we should be). And as I've been thinking about my own failures this week, and pondering questions about privacyfails, I've been thinking a lot about this. We're never going to raise perfect children, and that's probably just as well because we are never going to be perfect parents, either. I'm not going to do a perfect job of being my children's mother. Not in the everyday ordinariness of parenting, and not the specific adoption parenting bits either. Please believe that I know I do not have all the answers. Far from it.

This is complicated, because while parenting failures are not unimportant, they are inevitable, and it's in facing our own human imperfections that we can help our kids to face theirs. A way I can really help my children deal with their own imperfection is to let them see me deal with mine. Firstly (and I'm going to keep this as brief as possible) I need to admit them - often out loud, to the person we've wronged. I think this applies both to small things like being unreasonably cranky (I'm embarrassed by how often I need to apologise about this to my children) or large things like talking out of turn. Secondly, our apologies mean nothing if we don't strive to correct ourselves. I'm working on getting less cranky. If you've been more talkative than you should have, you can not do that anymore. Thirdly, we can seek to set right any wrongs we have done. A few people asked about what to do when words have already been spoken that they now wish unspoken. All I can suggest is to speak to the people you've talked to, explain why you wish you hadn't and ask them to keep quiet about what they know. As several people have pointed out (on this blog and others) people do generally mean well. Trade on that. Fourthly, if you're a Christian, parenting drives you again and again and again to remember what it means to be forgiven because boy oh boy do I need forgiveness day by day for all the ways that I fail.

Adoptomotherfails. Crankyfails. Privacyfails. We need to face them, because they are a daily reality. Turns out this parenting lark is a whole new journey of humility. I was reading The Gospel Centred Family yesterday and there was a prayer in there that sums up exactly how I feel about parenting:

"Dear God, please have mercy on my children, because with a parent like me, they are sure going to need it".

All I can say is: Amen.


  1. Leigh, you lucky little stinker! It really is a nice little book, I must say.

    Claudia, you always do hit it just right. I love the prayer, very nice.

    The other day I burned the crap out of my hand. Had I not been burned badly before I would not have known the first aid to give (immediate and long rinse with cold water followed by the application of silvadene, FYI), I would have ended up at the hospital. I knew I had a long night ahead of me in pain as that's how burns go and I started to cry as I sat holding my hand. Manny saw me crying and it threw him off kilter for an entire day. I realized that I have been hiding my tears from him for a long time because he seems easily upset by them. But the other night I realized that is not being real, to hide my tears from him. As much as a good apology is important, so is being yourself in front of your kids. Thanks for your always thought-provoking words.

    I was so excited to find out the winner!

  2. Oh my. I have never won anything so this is pretty exciting, thanks Claudia!

    And thanks too for the words about those of us who have already spilled the beans and were feeling guilty about it. My adoption of Sonia was completed when I was back in the dark ages of learning. I totally and completely confess to knowing nothing. In fact, I think I need to explain all this in a post because your post made me think alot about why we did what we did with her information at the time.


    That's for a possible post.

    I will e-mail you my info. That way you will always know where to find me. And btw, after that, I expect yearly Holiday cards. tee hee.

  3. While you are feeling guilty here are two more things for your list...
    1)that you didn't "randomly" choose me
    2)that you didn't warn me about the name of the virus before I clicked on the link. First I was immediately appalled by the name because YUCK. Then I started to find the name funny. Then I was appalled by my juvenile sense of humor.
    Yes, your post was strong. Strong because your provided very thought provoking reasons for keeping things private. You did not tell us that we were wrong if we didn't do it your way

  4. Ah, you all make me laugh so hard. Yep, leigh, we'll be putting the babies in tiger suits for holiday cards every year from now on, JUST FOR YOU. You got it.

    Kerry, you are right about the name of the virus. You ARE juvenile, but it IS disgusting!! I should have warned you and protected your delicate sensibilities :)

    On a less ha-ha note, Christine, you are so right about being real about ALL of life with our kids. They learn so much by modelling - they will learn about failure from us, but also how we deal with pain, disappointment, tears... all the hard stuff, whatever it is. And maybe even more terrifying is that they will also learn from us about how to deal with success. Eeeek. Scary thought. (Also - hope you're feeling better. Ouch).

  5. I don't think you have anything to apologize for on that last post. I loved it and am grateful that you wrote it. We thought we were making the right decision by sharing their information, but then once it was out there it honestly didn't feel right and I was looking for some advice on this. What I was missing was the privacy vs. secrecy bit, and your perspective nailed it home for me. Incidentally, my mother, who does know the whole story, was at the pool with me and the "AAAAAIDS" lady, and I could tell that if I hadn't been there she would have sat down with a glass of Chardonnay and discussed the details at length. She would have meant well, she just doesn't get it, and how can I blame her? I am only starting to "get" some things myself in spite of two years of research and my own personal history! Anyway, your points are dead on and your post probably helped more people than it hurt.

    As for this post, another great one. The most important thing is to strive to be better, be honest with our children, and help them learn how to handle life's imperfections, including our own! Cranky or not, I do think you must be a wonderful mother.

    I hope you are all feeling better!

  6. ^ yup. what Heidi said!

    Thank you for you post...seriously, thank you.


  7. BTW, can I link to your privacy post? Because it really was a good one.

  8. Just so you know, I really appreciated your privacy post. Obviously, it came on the day we got our referral and reaffiremd some things so that I was able to completely say "none of your business" (in a nicer way) to some of the nosy questions we were inevitably asked. I might link to it in the next week or so, if that's okay... just to hopefully ward off some of those questions in the future.

  9. That privacy post was a keeper, as previously said by yours truly. Had you not have voiced your thoughts, I would have been disappointed (although perhaps I wouldn't have known about that disappointment? Hmmm. Too much to think about).


    Keep on keepin' on, Claudia girl... we're all learning!

  10. I love that privacy post. And I would have linked to it if I had read it before I did my Sunday Linkage last week. It's a keeper.

  11. I found your post really valuable because my sister is hoping to adopt from Ethiopia, and to be honest I could see myself merrily telling everyone I know all the baby's private details. I don't know if I would have thought about it in such a way. I will now, so thank you.
    Also the name of your virus made me laugh out loud. How immature am I?

  12. So many good points here, Miss Claudia. I think your ending prayer really sums it all up. Nobody is perfect and we continue to do our best to do the right thing and fix it when we decide it really wasn't.

  13. I have had coxsackie A before and it SUCKS! I had it when I ran my half marathon. One thing to know- if you do even amounts of liquid benadryl and maalox, it helps with the pain significantly!! You swish it around your mouth and then either spit it out, or swallow and let the benadryl help you nap:)


Over to you!