Friday, August 14, 2009

Real revisited.

I've had something stuck in my craw for the last few days, and it's making me crazy. I need to write about it. Why does the world CARE so much about who the biological father of Michael Jackson's kids are? Why does it matter?

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will remember that I had a similar rant last year. (October last year, entitled Real) I am an adopted child and an adoptive parent, and the business of who the "real" parents are makes me homicidal. I've dealt with it all my life and dread it when it's my daughter's turn for ignorant comments about "real" parents. What does genetics have to do with parenting? So maybe I don't look like my parents-although people who don't know I'm adopted find a resemblance-and people are amazed at the resemblance between my adopted daughter and I. But what astounds me is that people feel the need to tell me that she looks like me. I don't give a tinker's damn if my kid looks like me or not. I care that she is a part of my life, because for a very long time I didn't think it would be possible for me to be a parent. Any adoptive parent will tell you the same thing. We don't care what our kids look like. We care only that we get to look at our kids, and marvel that they are, in fact, OUR kids.

My daughter can break my heart in a million pieces with a sleepy "I love you, mommy." My daughter can break my heart in a million pieces by refusing to sit beside me on the school bus for a field trip. My daughter can swell my heart a million times its size with a neat craft, a well-executed star fish float or riding her "big girl" bike. My daughter can bring tears to my eyes by graduating from pre-school, by going off to summer camp without me there for a couple of hours, and in a few weeks, by starting school. If that isn't the response of a "real" mom, I don't know is.

Was Michael Jackson a good parent? Don't know. I wonder about the "hanging the baby over the railing" incident, but he certainly did a good job of protecting them from the media circus that surrounded his every move. I was sort of caught off guard by the third child-Blanket-I'd forgotten or never heard of his arrival. And for what it's worth, "Blanket" sounds like a nickname that any parent any where sticks their kid with as a sign of affection when they're little. My daughter has several of those "cringe inducing when they're teenagers" nicknames. It certainly sounded like a name given in love by a parent.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what I think. His daughter, Paris, certainly thought he was a good dad, and if the grief on the faces of the other kids is any indicator, so did her brothers.

Genetics contributes certain character traits. It does NOT, however, make a parent. You are a parent when you sit up half the night with a sick kid. You are a parent when you cry at the first day of school, the first step, the first heart break and the first grandchild. You are a parent when you play the heavy and restrict candy after the first cavity, cancel a promised field trip because of misbehaviour, and sit up half the night waiting for them to come home. And you are a parent if you give your kid a nickname like Blanket.

So let me be clear. A real parent may or may not share DNA. A real parent may have grown the baby in the heart rather than the tummy. And a real parent loves their child with the fiercest, most over powering love possible. Michael Jackson was a real parent. He may have been a flawed one, but he was a loving parent nonetheless. We all make mistakes. Most of us don't do it surrounded by paparazzi. It doesn't matter whose DNA those Jackson kids have. They just lost their dad, and they need to be left alone now.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful sentiment and brilliantly written for the world to see. I love your writing and, even though I don't comment, I do read your rants and ravings and musings.

Although my experience is slightly different - my two kids are my biological babies - my current husband has considered them his own since day one. That is the sign of TRUE parent, if you ask me.

Biology isn't the only requirement to be a good parent. In fact, I believe, that often parents and children have better relationships when biology isn't a factor. Hmmm...something to think about.

Keep on writing and inspiring us out here in the blogosphere. Thanks for posting these beautiful thoughts.

Divawrites said...

Thank you for your kind words. This topic has always been a touchy one for me.

When my father died, someone that I worked with, who was in their mid-20s and certainly should have known better, asked me why I was so upset because "it was not like it was my real father." This about a man who would wait up for his 20-something daughter when I was home for the weekend...ARGH. At least I'll know how to help my daughter deal with the silly comments.

Atlantic Writer said...

Hear, hear! Family is not just an accident of birth, it's those who stick around to love and nuture us.