Does this make you uncomfortable? Does it make you sick? Yeah, me too. But this is it, people. This is what it is. Most of us start out good and decent and wanting a real life with kids and a house and job, and we start out fooling around and maybe we’re a little overzealous but by the time we’re really, really in trouble, we’re dying, and we’re powerless, and the chances for recovery are really, really freaking slim. Most of us rot in the streets and die in beds in the houses of strangers. We die in bathrooms with needles in our arms, while the world looks on and says “Why didn’t you just choose not to do it, you trash?”
I’m always late because I’m a procrastinator and I procrastinate because I’m overwhelmed and I’m overwhelmed because I’m a perfectionist and I’m a perfectionist because I need affirmation and I need affirmation because I feel unworthy and I feel unworthy because somewhere, sometime, something in me cracked and the idea that I am lovable leaked out… I broke. And I’m still broken… And Jesus finds me like that, leaky and late, and He scoops up the pieces and makes me new. I’ll probably break again tomorrow, or in like five minutes, but He’ll keep scooping, again and again, until the day I finally get it, until the day I learn that I was created to be loved. And that day, that glorious day, the angels will sing in Heaven and, by God, I. will. be. on. time.
I have written before about how important inclusive, appropriate language is when discussing adoption, in order to acknowledge the roles that different parents can play in one child’s life. And, yes, of course Dylan was his adopted daughter; it is not inaccurate to say so. But this diction is not being deployed as a way of examining the dynamics around adoption, or as a way of acknowledging the place of Dylan’s birth parents. It seems that the only reason to include this qualifier then is to stress the lack of genetic relationship between Allen and Dylan. Why? Does the removal of the incest taboo somehow make the alleged sexual abuse of a child less horrific, or more acceptable of a topic for public debate? If Dylan were perceived as Allen’s biological daughter, would his defenders squeamishly keep their silence? If the headlines blared instead, “Woody Allen’s daughter accuses him of sexual assault,” would we feel differently about the case? The fact that Dylan is adopted should have no bearing on our understanding of the case or our judgment of her story. It should be entirely irrelevant. Yet, its consistent inclusion insists that we must examine it.
Our research shows that thousands of American men—all of whom are pitifully frail and impotent—are leaving the workforce to debase themselves by preparing lunches and tending to their children, ultimately rejecting their role as the family breadwinner in favor of what is effectively gender reassignment,” said head researcher Paul Lopez, noting that the growing ranks of meek, delicate little husbands and fathers often spent their entire days embarrassing themselves and their sex by cleaning, shopping for groceries, and in some extreme cases, folding laundry.
My blood pressure dropped and my eyes opened as wide as they physically could on her date and place of birth: South Korea. I turned to my friend on the bus and excitedly shouted, “She is born 11/19/1987!!!!” “So what?” he casually asked. “I am born 11/19/1987!!!!”
Without being uber dramatic and self-congratulatory, we do want to acknowledge that had Stephanie not been in our program and had she chosen to deliver at home, two and possibly three people wouldn’t have lived. The first baby was not an uncomplicated delivery, the second was the opposite of uncomplicated and many measures were taken to stop bleeding. Giving birth at home without help is risky business in Haiti. Most women do it because they don’t have access to better options.
Senior draws on the psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s distinction between the “experiencing self” that exists in the present moment and the “remembering self” that constructs a life’s narrative. “Our experiencing selves tell researchers that we prefer doing the dishes — or napping, or shopping, or answering emails — to spending time with our kids… . But our remembering selves tell researchers that no one — and nothing — provides us with so much joy as our children. It may not be the happiness we live day to day, but it’s the happiness we think about, the happiness we summon and remember, the stuff that makes up our life-tales.” She talks about parents’ pride in their children, not only in their accomplishments but even in their basic development as human beings, their growth into kindness and generosity. “Kids may complicate our lives,” she writes. “But they also make them simpler. Children’s needs are so overwhelming, and their dependence on us so absolute, that it’s impossible to misread our moral obligation to them… . We bind ourselves to those who need us most, and through caring for them, grow to love them, grow to delight in them, grow to marvel at who they are.”
I am just as fallible as the next person, and I do not have all the answers. But as a professional who interacts with these children and their caregivers on a daily basis I strive to find a balance between acknowledging and addressing the ill-effects of early trauma and promoting a more helpful perception of these children. I strive to present opportunities to these children for them to experience themselves as good, lovable and capable; to experience me and other adults in their lives as interested in them, as caring towards them and as delighting in their company; as well as experiences that the world is a safe place where their needs are satisfied. I strive to enhance their experience of living and relating, rather than dwelling on repairing the damage that was done to them. Most of all, I see precious little humans whose potential is still yet to be discovered.
I got it. My wife, however, did not. She did not get, for example, that child birthing classes at 4:00 PM on a Thursday were simply not gonna happen for me. Newborn care classes? Baby CPR? Prenatal yoga? “Yeah, kind of a pain in the ass, babe. I’m super slammed at work. Do I really need to be there for all that stuff?” She didn’t get my point. Not one bit.