Unconventional Grief Under the Tree?

Some of us will spend the holiday season–and the New Year–with someone we once knew but has, for a myriad of reasons, changed. And we feel a real loss, not unlike the actual loss of a life. That person is gone. The following link is to a blog from The American Academy of Bereavement. I include it here in hopes that those who are struggling can find some perspective and a sense of community in moving forward, into the face of a new kind of grief this season.




Mom-Bragging: A New Look at an Ancient Sport

Thanks to Laura L. Wolf for the following blog.

And here’s to those of us who can relate, those of us with young adult kids traveling winding paths toward adulthood. When the mom-bragging starts we just get quiet because there’s just too much to say–too much to try to explain. But it’s okay. Absolutely and radically okay.


About That Mom Who’s Not Bragging About Her Kid

There were a few regularly-used Yiddish words in my house when I was growing up. Like the word “kvetch” to refer to my great-aunt, later dubbed “Aunt Kvetchie,” who was a known complainer.

Or “you are such a klutz” – as in uncoordinated. I heard this one often. An accurate description of my always bumping into things, not the least bit athletic self. And “what a schmuck he is” – my dad describing someone who was a real jerk.

One Yiddish word I didn’t learn until I became a Mom is “kvelling” – when a person is bursting with pride and pleasure. As in – “His mother was kvelling over his early admission to Harvard.” Kvelling is done by all mothers, Jewish or not, when discussing their children.

In my lawyering years, I ate lunch several days a week around a conference room table with younger female colleagues. There was a lot of kvelling among us. My friend, Lisa, would tell us about her daughter’s star soccer skills. And Michelle would let us know that her son got an A on a tough social studies test. Denise was naturally thrilled when her daughter was elected class president in 6th grade. I shared my kids’ accomplishments as well. And when your kids are young, you have lots of achievements to kvell about. It isn’t boasting or bragging; you are just proud of your child. And okay, I’ll admit, maybe a little back-patting.

When Lisa, Michelle and Denise’s kids were in elementary school, mine were of high school and college age. Kvelling gets a bit trickier as your kids get older. Especially if your kid happens not to be on the direct path from high school to early admission into Harvard, then on to elite grad school or Wall Street or a fancy internship.

What happens to kvelling if your kid is on his or her own very different path?

By the time one of my kids was in high school, we were on a first-name basis with mental health struggles. In college, the same mental health challenges grew worse. An elite grad school, Wall Street or a fancy internship did not seem likely. (Although hope does spring eternal.)
Continue reading “Mom-Bragging: A New Look at an Ancient Sport”

Thank You, Harry

On Wednesday, May 25, at the Library of Congress, thousands will give tribute to the life and triumphs of Harry Wu, a Chinese political prisoner turned human rights activist.

No one could have foreseen how Wu’s courageous trip back to China in 1991 with Ed Bradley (Sixty Minutes) would have resulted in Wu’s Laogai Research Foundation (Washington, D.C.), which continued to expose atrocities against the people of China by their own government.

As an adoptive mother of a Chinese child, Wu inspired me too. When I wrote a novel, The Blu Phenomenon, illustrating how Chinese children welcomed into US homes were a latent power for change in China, Wu agreed and wrote a book endorsement. Wu’s work will continue, though perhaps in new ways, by new hands, maybe even those China abandoned.



When Children Carry Your Name But Not Your Stamp




Years ago when I told my brother that my husband and I were planning to adopt a child, his response was something to the effect, “I get it. That’s creative.”

Creative was not a word I would have put on a process that involved nine months of paperwork. But, in the end, I believe he was correct in his succinct assessment of both the process and of me, as a “creative” kind of gal.

It’s my perspective that parenting, in general, is—or should be—a creative process. It’s something you pour yourself into—that’s the part where you play taxi driver and write checks for piano lessons. Then there’s what I call “putting your stamp” on it—that’s the part where you share parts of yourself that you hope will remain with them: a deep sense of belonging, a love for beauty, faith. The thing is, in parenting—particularly in adoptive parenting—one never really knows if the piano lessons will “take” or if the child-turned-adult will bear your stamp.

That’s where “radical acceptance” enters in. I wish my brother—or anyone—would have introduced me to that phrase before my son arrived from overseas. I poured every ounce of my creative energy into his personhood only to learn later that it was quite likely that I would see little or no part of me in the man he became.

It’s a funny thing about being a creative type: you do what you do because you have to. I had two children and my fondest memories with both are those in which I freely gave them something of myself—a part of the stamp—that they could keep or discard.

But I gave. And giving is radical. And letting go of the desire to live on somehow through our children is a matter of radical acceptance.


photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/47823583@N03/8700814222″>ORIGINAL Rubber Stamp</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;