In the past few weeks I've heard three quotes that have resonated with me. The first one came from Michelle Obama, when she was talking about being a mother. "I'm only as happy as my saddest child." It's a line I've heard before, but it really hit home when I read it because I've been trying not to let myself feel as much despair as I usually do when my daughter's life isn't going according to my plan. That's something I've learned in 12 Step meetings, to let go, to know that we all have our own journeys. As much as I wish my daughter was away at college and happy and not living at home (and doing what I believe she should be doing), it is what it is, for now. I think that somewhere between "I'm only as happy as my saddest child" and "Live and let live" is where I find myself. And it's not a particularly comfortable place to be.
And then, strangely, I heard a line on a television show that also resonated with me. I was watching "Brothers and Sisters" - not a very good show, but a good cast. Rob Lowe and Calista Flockhart are trying to adopt a baby and they met with a potential birth mother. Calista felt that the birth mother hadn't really dealt with the idea of giving up her baby. Having experienced many failed attempts at pregnancy herself, Calista was afraid of having her heart broken again if this woman changed her mind. Rob Lowe said something like, "If you can't handle having your heart broken, you're not ready to be a parent." I never read that line in "What to Expect When You're Expecting."
And then a few days ago, in the New York Times, there was an article by Jane Brody entitled, "When Families Take Care of Their Own." Rosalynn Carter, the former first lady, was quoted.
"There are only four kinds of people in the world - those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers."
I'm sorry that these are not more uplifting quotes like "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." I guess I could leave you with the serenity prayer, which is one of my favorites:
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."
And one more. Psalm 4 from A Book of Psalms, translated and adapted from Hebrew, by Stephen Mitchell.
Even in the midst of great pain, Lord,
I praise you for that which is.
I will not refuse this grief
or close myself to this anguish.
Let shallow men pray for ease:
"Comfort us; shield us from sorrow."
I pray for whatever you send me,
and I ask to receive it as your gift.
You have put a joy in my heart
greater than all the world's riches.
I lie down trusting the darkness,
for I know that even now you are here.