Jan Wilberg

Jan Wilberg
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
April 18
I write about being a mother and grandmother, adoption and kids, getting older and the wonderment that brings. My husband says I'm 'sardonic' but then looked up the word and said 'not so much'. I leave it there.


DECEMBER 30, 2013 10:49AM

New Year's Fowl

Everyone's writing about their New Year's resolutions so I think I should join in. My resolution is to continue what has been a pretty successful two-week effort to control my own moods.

I am a sitting duck for episodes of depression and anxiety, times that I describe as 'sinking like a… Read full post »

DECEMBER 15, 2013 12:16AM

Do You See What I See?

It's radical. Unorthodox. And probably really ill-advised for a blogger, since bloggers live to tell the long tales of angst and irony. But if early indications are accurate and if I can trust my instincts, I think I might actually be happy.

Even more dizzying is the sense that I might… Read full post »

DECEMBER 10, 2013 9:44PM

The Man with the Sign

He was standing at the base of the downtown exit ramp from the east-west freeway. The light was red so I had to stop and for a while only a part of his jacket was visible, the car's windshield frame obscuring all but the back of his jacket and a sliver… Read full post »

DECEMBER 8, 2013 11:36PM

No Surrender

I think I passed over to the other side.

It happened tonight with my 12 college students. "You'll have to speak louder. Remember I can't hear." So the young woman in the corner spoke so I could hear her but I know she was probably shouting. "Yes, yes! I said. "Great… Read full post »

DECEMBER 2, 2013 3:38PM

How's It Going Over There in Dreamland?

Is it even possible to count the number of times I've read a newspaper story describing how mom's boyfriend beat the crap out of her child? No. It is not. Here's today's bad fairy tale.

Each case is unique but here are the common elements from my point of view. Mom… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 17, 2013 4:51PM

Why Am I Not Surprised?

Am I the only one who is not surprised by the shooting of Renisha McBride? An African American woman knocks on the door of a white man living in Dearborn Heights, he assumes the worst and shoots her. Oh my word, all of us nice folk in our rockers opine. How… Read full post »

It's National Adoption Month. Sometimes I wonder why everybody doesn't adopt children. Other times, I wonder why anyone would. I'm not ambivalent, just multi-faceted.

In honor of National Adoption Month, I decided to make a list of the top ten things to think about before you adopt a child. These wil… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 11, 2013 12:36PM

My Uncle's Letters

There were dozens of them, letters from my uncle to his mother written while he served in the Army in World War II. The handwriting was careful and perfect, the lines even and straight on unlined paper, penmanship so perfect it could instruct third graders across the country. He had learned… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 25, 2013 1:52PM

Tears for the Past

There is a passage in the memoir, Twelve Years A Slave, published in 1853, in which Solomon Northup, then known as the slave Platt, is handed a whip by his master and ordered to flog his friend Patsey, who is tied, naked and spread-eagle on the ground. And Northup, quickly considering… Read full post »

OCTOBER 10, 2013 4:02PM

T-Man and Me at the Nail Salon

The young woman at the nail salon looked like a pregnant Olive Oyl, as thin as sticks with a close to full term baby belly. Olive wore a surgical mask which seemed to me to be overdressing for the task at hand. What was it she could catch from my feet… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 29, 2013 7:26PM


Without thinking even 60 seconds, I hit the Buy Now button and sent my 89-year old father his first computer, a brilliant blue IMac. The same day I wrote him a letter, gave him my email address, and told him to email me when he got the IMac.

Then I waited,… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 16, 2013 11:50PM

The Poison of the 'Still Face'

What is the big deal about the still face? Simple. It makes people crazy.

Anyone who adopts internationally is warned about the effects of the lack of human interaction on children raised in institutions. Oh, children are fed and clothed but they aren't talked to, played with, and responded to.… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 14, 2013 7:06PM

You Need to See a Shrink

 lake drive

 Every time I drive this patch of road, which is almost everyday, I remember being told right at this exact spot, "You need to see a shrink."

I was the passenger in the car. The driver was my friend who was also my boss who used to be a priest… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 13, 2013 5:48PM

No Friends Allowed

"We don't want them to have friends. We don't want them getting attached to the other girls or to staff members."

This baffled me. How do you keep girls from making friends? And why wouldn't you want them to get attached to staff? Wouldn't that be a good thing? But it… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 10, 2013 10:13PM

Giving Adopted Kids Back: A Repost

 Mom and daughter

 "We heard you were going to send her back." The school social worker looked at me over her glasses, raising an eyebrow in disapproval. Where had she heard that? Those words had never been spoken, at least not by me. Was she clairvoyant?

Yes, I'd had the thought but… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 9, 2013 2:47PM

The Aftermarket for Adopted Children

Who would do this? Who would drive their legally adopted 16-year old daughter from their home in Wisconsin to a trailer park in Illinois and leave her there with complete strangers? Who would leave her there and give power of attorney, essentially guardianship, to those strangers? All of this on… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 8, 2013 8:56PM

The Melancholy of Sunday Night

It starts around 5:00. Before that, the day has hope. At 5:00, hope evaporates into little clouds of resignation that then gather and form a storm cloud of dread. It's as if someone has given me a pill timed to dampen my mood and behavior late afternoon every Sunday.

This has… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 2, 2013 7:52PM

When Your Father Dies

 Dad and me

 When your father dies, you will be at a loss for words.

If it's a surprise, you will burst into tears. You will cover your face with your hands and cry like you were six-years old, like the time you got lost on the way home from school and all… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 1, 2013 10:20PM

A White Duck on a Red Leash

I may not have anything else to say except that I saw this today: a white duck waddling on the breakwater in Milwaukee with a little red collar and a red leash held by a mid-thirties-looking woman who was strolling with her husband and three children. The breakwater, which might be… Read full post »

AUGUST 30, 2013 6:57PM


There she was, plain as day. I found my cousin, Peggy, on Facebook. No picture but the stats worked. Same home town, graduated a year ahead of me, living now in Flint, a fact I'd known from an internet search I'd done years ago.

I really wanted to find her.… Read full post »

AUGUST 29, 2013 7:32PM

The Feminist Struggle of Dogs

 Minnie and Bow Wow

 Dogs have a power hierarchy that has been working for them since the Stone Age. So why do I keep thinking I can establish an egalitarian dog society in my house, in which the two dogs would function as equals and partners and they would be privileged to food and… Read full post »

AUGUST 28, 2013 12:22PM

Ten Years from Now

Ten years from now, homeless shelters will be packed with veterans of the War in Syria. The veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, having died by suicide or by addiction, or simply moved on and out after years of unsuccessful interventions and help that wasn't accepted, will pass the baton to a… Read full post »

AUGUST 26, 2013 8:23PM

Don't Make Me Leave Hastings

 Window Frame

Just an hour ago, the sun was shining on my back while I painted the window frames. In the distance I could see the fog coming our way off Lake Superior and wished I'd started painting earlier. Now we're enveloped and I hope it doesn't rain. I love painting our… Read full post »

Adopting children from a foreign country is so glamorous, so heroic, attention-getting, show-stopping. If you adopt a child from another country, your friends will admire you and strangers will call you a saint. You, on the other hand, know the truth. You're going to another country to adopt a child… Read full post »

Knowing I will be completely and totally alone in this point of view, I advance it anyway. Whether the person who was just sentenced for leaking government secrets is called Chelsea or Bradley Manning is irrelevant to me. What is relevant is the whole, misbegotten, counterproductive notion of lo… Read full post »