We five Caprons, do not, thank God, live in 1930’s Germany, or, thank God, Rwanda in the nineties, or, thank God, Syria in 2013. We do, however, seem to have a lot more discomfort than most of our direct peers. Our direct peers, of course, are highly educated, highly privileged, gorgeous, fit, middle-aged white folks. They, like we were just a few years ago, are pursuing their careers, raising their children, sure working to varying degrees to keep finances afloat, to keep marriages afloat, but generally, life here in Marin is pretty fine. Our problems are first-world problems, to be sure.
We five Caprons live in the perfect storm that is Hurricane Mihiretu (and yes, I include him in the number being oppressed by his behavior, much of which he can’t control). We are awakened at odd hours by screaming and tantrums, we are in constant terrorist negotiations, we’re giving everything we have to this needy boy and it’s still not enough. No it’s not Hitler’s Germany but it’s tough.
I’ve been feeling guilty lately about how all this domestic conflict is affecting the girls. They didn’t ask for another sibling, they certainly didn’t ask to be tortured by said sibling. But I heard something recently that gave me a bit of perspective. It was NPR, part of the white noise of my day, I have no idea of the context but here’s the essence: Just because it’s not making you happy doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
I think we privileged white people get really caught up in our own happiness. If we’re not happy, we’re failing. I’ve been feeling like quite the failure lately. But this mothering I’m doing, this non-stop chore of loving a boy that often does everything he can to repel that love, it is worth doing. And, for all my faults, I am a good mother. I have that to give to the world.
A friend read a recent post and shared her experience of growing up with an adopted Columbian brother – a boy who came to her family at six with plenty of history. She said that, yes, being his sister has had its challenges, but that the experience has taught her so many things, deepened her in a way that she might not have been otherwise. She’s a doctor now and she said that her brother taught her compassion, which is essential in her work, essential to her life.
Perhaps my girls are learning lessons they wouldn’t have learned had we not brought Mihiretu into our lives. We are giving them depth if nothing else. They know what hardship is – theoretically from Mihiretu’s story before he came to us and realistically from living with him. They know, first-hand, what malnutrition is, what global inequity is, that really hard things can happen, even to kids.
So maybe we five Caprons are a bit miserable at the moment. Maybe we’ll continue to be for years. But maybe that’s not the worst thing that could happen to a person.