Friday, July 26, 2013


All three kids are actually in this photo, along with my last stepmother.  Josh is in the foreground ~ canoe trip in the backcountry of Algonquin (Ontario).  (I had told my dad after a couple of trips that we needed to schedule in days off for relaxation!)
Getting closer to that birthday . . .

Like all families, we had our difficulties.  During my forties, as my kids moved through elementary and middle school and into high school, there were some bumps in the road.  OK, more like craters and mountains.  We had some triumphs with our careers and our children's lives ~ Josh was able to live in France for a year, for instance ~ and we also experienced some real disasters.

I have no idea why some kids glide into adulthood and others careen forward and backward and sideways.  No idea at all.  I do know that the latter path is  hard on parents and siblings.

A friend of mine spoke to me in desperation one day.  One of her children was in serious trouble; a colleague's son had just been admitted to an Ivy League University.  Another colleague, congratulating the other mother, had exclaimed, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree!"

"What kind of tree does that make me?" my friend queried sadly.

"A gorgeous one,"  I said.  "There is no telling or predicting this s--t."

Here's what I finally concluded.  Some parents are luckier than others.

So profound.

Some parents get to engage in what on the surface seems to be a nonstop sequence of applause for prizes captured, championships won, scholarships granted.  (Even for those parents, the surface is often merely just that ~ a glimmering sheen concealing family traumas and dramas.)  Others are dealt the early morning calls from the police station, the unexpected pregnancies, the new jangle of acronymns ~  AA, NA, etc. ~ the afternoons in trauma centers or the mornings in chemo rooms, the string of failing grades, the endless sequence of 504 meetings.

We got a hefty dose of both sorts of categories.

Eventually I came to believe that sometimes we are offered opportunities to learn more ways of loving deeply than are usually available. 

I think my song for those years might be Hotel California ~ "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."


  1. I agree that we can no more take credit for all the great things our kids do, than we should be blamed for all the negative things that happen. Most of us try our hardest to give our kids the best possible start in life. After that, luck - good and bad, seems to have an even bigger impact than we could ever have foreseen.
    I'll never understand why.

  2. You provided a perfect answer to your friend whose child was in serious trouble. We just don't know all the reasons behind the behaviour of other people - not even our own children. We do our best but there are no guarantees in life.

    1. No, not even the people we thought we knew best.

  3. Robin, I've loved this series, and I especially love this installment. I've seen stable, loving people raise kids who made rough decisions, and I've seen phenomenal decisions come from the children of a whole other kind of parent. I'm always grateful when people are open about kids not just being a reflection of their parents.

    1. Perhaps not news you want right now!

    2. I dunno-- given where I've come from, I suspect it'll always feel like good news. As a parent-to-be, I feel a lot of freedom in trying to remember that I'm not in control of everything.

  4. I agree with you all...yup, parenting is a bit of a crap shoot, and sometimes you get aces, and sometimes you lose it all. It's still worth it.

    I am loving this short story of your life, Robin.

    1. Yes, it is still worth it but, wow, the cost can be astronomical.