Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Holidays can be a little bit tricky in a Full Spectrum household. Take Easter, please. The morning egg hunt presents huge problems when one child goes Machiavellian (strategy, speed, ruthlessness; goal: vanquishing cousins, sibling…result: victory) and one goes aspergian (general neural overload - candy, neural/visual/auditory overload – frolicking cousins, warp-speed sibling; goal: vague…result: paralysis, tears). (Please see self-explanatory Figures 1 and 2.) Ditto, Birthdays: think piñatas, favors &c.  We have adapted by focusing on the pre-filled Easter basket, the set number of packets – one for each child – in the piñata, and so forth.

                      Figure 1                                                                                            Figure 2

St. Patrick’s Day, too, has its potential pitfalls. Over oatmeal breakfast on that fateful day, I was sharing an uplifting story of how the children’s Scots great-grandfather would wear a button on his bum that read, “Kiss me, I’m Irish,” much to their Irish great-grandmother’s chagrin, when Z asked me, “Mama, am I Irish?”

[Censored!] I was completely tongue-tied. There was a long and (to me) somewhat uncomfortable silence. I’d’ve preferred to have been thinking about many other questions right then, including my ongoing internal debate over which is better as the face ages: the jowl-less wrinkles of your skinnier folk or the wrinkle-free jowls of the pleasantly plump?

Ahem. Since Z was adopted from China, I have a ready-made response for one of the hardest questions: “Why didn’t my birth mother keep me?” China’s one-child policy –for all its questionable aspects – offers the option of a simple answer to this complicated question: “Your birth Mama gave you up because she had to, since in China most couples are allowed only one child.”

But what about this question? Is Z Irish or not? Clearly she is not genetically Irish. But her maternal great-grandmother was fresh off the boat from Ireland. Pardner, G and I are all genetically part-Irish. As I sat there, mouth agape, Pardner (Thank you universe for Pardner! Thank you! Thank you!) came to the rescue, assuring her in a strong brogue that, “Everyone’s Irish on St. Paddy’s Day!”

“Good,” she said, “because the leprechauns are going to come to our school this weekend and turn everybody’s chairs over.”


Walking into school several weeks after St. Patrick’s Day, Z asked me, “Mama, if we can have ancestors…can we also have ‘anbrothers?’” After I stopped laughing and, frankly, bragging to everyone I ran into over the next few hours about how funny Z is, it hit me that she is still thinking about ancestry a great deal.

Maybe all those Easter eggs – and all those other material, tangible, often-edible (and sometimes eaten even when not-edible) things -- feel vitally important to a little girl who’s not quite sure what’s inside herself.

Next year I am just going to say, “Yes. Yes, you are Irish baby. Because you are mine.”

Love and leprechauns,
Full Spectrum Mama


  1. Spot on, girlfriend! What beautiful, inspiring empathy for your little girl's heart.

    This is a tough one. I hope to say, "You can be whatever you want to be. Your identity is yours to choose. While people may make assumptions about you based on your outside, only you can know how you feel inside. And your feelings might change over time, depending on how you grow. And sometimes you might not even know what's inside. But the bottom line is that you are the decider, not anyone else."

    "In our family, we represent a lot of cultures and traditions. We all share them with each other. Daddy's mother was raised Jewish, so we celebrate Hanukkah. I was raised Hindu, so we sing Hare Krishna. You were born in Texas, so we eat tacos. While we don't share the same biology, we share our cultures through the love that makes our family."

    1. Beautiful. I was bawling too much to respond when I first read your comment - and then some stuff happened that made it a real comfort!!!! Thank you dear - for the support AND the wise words you dreamt up to share with your child.

  2. LOVE this post, especially St. patty's day.


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