This week, Claude Kno­bler— the author of More Love, Less Pan­ic: 7 Lessons I Learned About Life, Love, and Par­ent­ing After We Adopt­ed Our Son from Ethiopia blogs for The Post­script on his moth­er’s reac­tion to his par­ent­ing memoir. 

The Post­script series is a spe­cial peek behind the scenes” of a book. It’s a juicy lit­tle extra some­thing to add to a book clubs dis­cus­sion and a read­er’s under­stand­ing of how the book came togeth­er. 

It was the first time I can ever recall my moth­er act­ing like a U.S. sen­a­tor. 

The advance copy of my book, More Love, Less Pan­ic about all that I learned about par­ent­ing after my wife, two kids and I adopt­ed a five year old boy from Ethiopia, was final­ly ready. Know­ing I was in New York vis­it­ing my par­ents, my edi­tor had my copy sent to their apartment. 

Where my moth­er was lying in wait. 

Think about how you browse through a book when you first see it. You might start at the first page. Or you might glance at the table of con­tents. Some peo­ple prob­a­bly flip to the mid­dle to see how they like the writing. 

And then there are politi­cians. And mothers. 

Book­store employ­ees in Wash­ing­ton DC have long been used to see­ing sen­a­tors march straight to a new book and go direct­ly to the index page. Then, with­out hes­i­ta­tion, they scan to see how many times their own name appears. After that, they go to those pages, make sure that they approve of what has been writ­ten about them­selves, close the book and wan­der hap­pi­ly (or not so hap­pi­ly) away. 

It’s not real­ly how I thought my moth­er would approach my book. 

But, when I came into her apart­ment, there she was, read­ing the last chap­ter, and only the last chap­ter of my book. The one, as it hap­pens, that was about her. The chap­ter is titled, Grand­par­ent Your Kids.” One of the many remark­able expe­ri­ences I had after we adopt­ed was see­ing the instant con­nec­tion between my new son and my parents. 

Per­haps that con­nec­tion shouldn’t have sur­prised me. My moth­er had been placed into a Catholic orphan­age by my grand­par­ents in Bel­gium dur­ing WWII. Because of their sac­ri­fice, she sur­vived the war, they did not. Even­tu­al­ly she was adopt­ed and brought to America. 

That she and my son Nati would con­nect makes per­fect sense, but how to explain the fact that Nati and my father also quick­ly became the best of friends? In the book, I write about how I learned that lov­ing with­out demand­ing that your child change into some­one they’re not — the sort of love that grand­par­ents often excel at — is the kind of love I hope to show my own chil­dren. (And I also write about how even before he learned Eng­lish, my moth­er was telling Nati that one day he would grow up and mar­ry a nice Jew­ish girl. Some things nev­er change!).

The chap­ter is, I think, very com­pli­men­ta­ry about my par­ents, but my mom wasn’t going to take my word for it, and so, she made sure to read that chap­ter, before ever look­ing at any­thing else in the book. Only when she was sure she’d been treat­ed fair­ly, did she move on, back to the front of the book. 

And so, much to my own sur­prise, I find myself think­ing of this topic….where did my par­ents go right? Grow­ing up I had a great many com­plaints, and to be fair, I par­ent very dif­fer­ent­ly from how I was raised but…..seeing my par­ents now, see­ing how they lis­ten to any­thing my kids tell them, see­ing the joy in their faces when they get to share a meal with any of their grand­chil­dren, leaves me won­der­ing how can I grand­par­ent my own chil­dren. Yes, I have respon­si­bil­i­ties as a father that my par­ents no longer have to wor­ry about (they eat a lot of cake at my mother’s house. A lot.) but they also have a joy in being grand­par­ents that I sim­ply am unwill­ing to post­pone feeling. 

Of course, I didn’t quite get a 100% approval. Recent­ly my sis­ter told me that my moth­er had com­plained that there were moments in the book where I’d made her look a bit too much like, well, a Jew­ish moth­er. Everyone’s a crit­ic. Or a senator.ᐧ