I talked to Wyatt’s dad! The cool one! Turns out, he actually is really nice, which at first was kind of disappointing, since I really wanted him to be too cool to be nice and have all my stereotypes reinforced. But, he was very funny and nice, and we had a good conversation. I even made a joke about Wyatt finding his dad’s stash that I think was appreciated. Our conversation was going great, until another mom came up with Darwin, and told me that he had snuck out of the school grounds when another family opened the gate, and was halfway down Western Avenue. I haven’t talked to Wyatt’s Dad (whose name I still don’t know) again. Sigh.
I’m too old for this, Part 2: Preschool November 17, 2011
Parenthood makes me realize how old I am, for lots of reasons. Plane rides are one thing, from the sheer physical and emotional exhaustion they elicit. The other thing that has made me feel much too old to be a parent is preschool. Unlike plane rides, preschool doesn’t make me feel too old because I feel like I had a fight with a boxing kangaroo and lost, but because it makes me feel like “Aren’t I supposed to be over this by now?” Because somehow, Darwin going to preschool makes me feel like I’m back in high school, or worse yet, middle school. I thought I was done with that, trying to fit in, hoping that the cool kids (er, parents) like me. But I’m not. I still find myself trying to insert myself into the “cool” group of parents, trying to look like I’m completely comfortable standing off to the side by myself like I’m at the Homecoming dance or something, of after I get home going over the things I’ve said and berating myself for inane conversations. How can I start a conversation with Wyatt’s dad, with his Asics shoes and his meticulously unshaven face, and his knit cap and his wife with the hipster glasses. He talks a lot with Anderson’s mom, and — not that she’s not super duper nice and all — but she’s not hipster at all. I wrack my brain trying to figure out how I can prove that I am worthy of their attentions, that I can talk about interesting things, use phrases like “Right on” and that I am desperately worried about music copyright for indie bands, or that I’m attending an all Steampunk new years eve and I knit my own punk kitten hats, or something. Combing my hair before I leave the house may be a step in the right direction, but that seems like a lot of effort. You can imagine how mortified I was when Darwin started a fight with Wyatt (right in front of his dad!) over a mistaken jacket. Wyatt’s dad has never looked at me the same since. I had been consoling/congratulating myself with the fact that I was making good progress on befriending one of the only two Black families in preschool, Christian’s dad. I am so diverse and liberal! The envy of the other parents! Until yesterday, when I was chasing after Elijah and I saw that damn Wyatt’s dad talking to Christian’s dad. Dammit! He already has Anderson’s mom. Can’t he just leave me Christian’s dad? And why won’t he talk to me, anyway? It must be that fight Darwin got in with Wyatt. Can’t possibly be ME, right?
It’s amazing how quickly all these feelings come back, even after I thought I had conquered them many many years ago. I guess it’s just a microcosm of what we do every day, whether it be at work, at a party, on the bus, or wherever. It’s just in those situations, we usually come into them with a proscribed “script” in some ways, dictated by your job, or whose party it is, or where you’re going on the bus. It’s rare, in this stage in my life, to be literally hanging out on the playground again. And all my insecurities come flooding back. I mean, I’m a grown up. I have friends – great friends. I don’t actually know if I want any more — but I want them to want ME. I really had thought I was over this, and was so glad, because who likes trying to be liked? And I was congratulating myself on getting over my insecurities so that I can give Darwin and Elijah all sorts of good advice on popularity (like the ubiquitous “It doesn’t matter.” My foot it doesn’t). Being on Facebook makes it seem like everyone was all hunky-dory together in high school — the super popular people are friending the outcasts left and right, as if they really were friends once upon a time. But in reality, the caste system that’s been in place from time immemorial was in place at our high school, too, and even though Missy Brewster might be friending me, it doesn’t mean she gave me a second look in math class. It also makes it easier to pretend that those days never happened, and that we’ve always been one big high school family, and it’s tempting to fall into that trap when I think about the advice I’ll give my boys. I realize that yes, I am more confident and more sure of who I am than I was in high school. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t care if people like me or not. Which, really, maybe means I’ll be able to talk to Darwin and Elijah about these things in a better way than I would if I were just one of those people who really didn’t care (who are always the people who are popular, in this ironic universe).
But for now, I think my best bet is Audrey’s parents. They’re Cardinals fans, but they seem like easy, comfortable (popular!) people, and who all-importantly have talked to me before. I’m totally in!
Frankly, I’m too old for most of parenting. For horsey rides, chasing after tricycles, getting up and down off the floor. But 2 things lately have really made me feel like I’m just too old for all this: plane rides and preschool.
As for plane rides, we recently (and by “we”, I mean the 2 boys and I) flew to my parents’, taking 2 planes with a connection in Charlotte. Traveling with 2 active boys would wear out Bruce Jenner at his peak (before the whole Kardashian thing). Given, it could have been a whole lot worse — I had gotten some ingenious invention called a “Trunki” from the fabulous Melissa & Doug, which went a long way towards containment in the airports. It’s a child’s suitcase that you can pull, ride on, or push. Darwin loved it, and it made him feel like he was independent, but he was still attached. Of course, he pretended it was a train. But good heavens. Two boys, two carryon bags, one kid suitcase to pull, and one giant rolling suitcase to check. Plus trying to eat a meal somewhere on our layover, get diapers changed, and keep track of these two kids. To make matters worse, the airline had put us on different reservations, so Darwin was sitting in completely seats that Elijah and I were. I called before we left, and the reservation agent told me he could only help me with out last flight, Charlotte-Chicago. His “help” ended up putting us in adjacent seats, but on COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FLIGHTS. Not as helpful as one would hope. So, just when we thought we were out of the woods, about to board our last flight to get home, we were told we would have to talk to a different gate agent and try to find a vacant seat on an “completely full” flight. Luckily, airlines lie like a rug, and “completely full” means “except for the seats we’re saving for our airline employee friends.” So, we got on the flight, and the lovely woman who was supposed to be in seat 25F, next to the window, switched to 13B, in the middle squeezed between who knows who. I bought her a drink. On our fight out of Chicago, the gentleman beside us threw up in his airsick bag as soon as we started to taxi. Ah, I remember those days of flying with a hangover. Thinking that was the worst that flying could ever be. Ha ha. As I told him, he got lucky because, as a mother of 2, I’m not phased by pretty much any manner of bodily excretions.
Then, when we arrived in Chicago (again, silly me, thinking we were out of the woods — home at last!), I let my guard down. Immediately, Darwin sensed my weakness, and that plus hours of being cooped up on a plane came to a head, and he was off like a shot. Running through the airport, adults turning their heads, craning necks to see where the irresponsible parent was who was letting her kid run rampant through the hallways. He made random turns, ran into people, almost got run over by baggage cart. I’m sure calls to child and family services were made — if not when they saw him running unattended, then when they saw me struggling behind him, pushing a stroller, lugging two bags, pulling a blueberry plastic suitcase with green horns and saying (not so much under my breath) “fucking kids. Goddamnit. Fucking kids” over and over. When he was finally rounded up, we had to get to where Joe had parked the car, which involved getting to baggage claim and adding the giant rolling suitcase to our load, then finding “elevator center number 1.” Sounded promising, elevator center 1. Better than elevator center 473 or something. But of course, it was not. We exited the airport at elevator center 4. Elevator center 1 was at the other end of the building, and around a corner. So on we lugged. We almost made it by all the moving walkways (which we couldn’t ride because a) we had a stroller which isn’t allowed, and b) I don’t know that we’d fit, frankly). But the last one was just too tempting. Darwin darted away, and hopped on (of course going in the opposite direction), and luckily did what we all want to do every time we see one of those things — ran along it in the wrong direction and jumped off. It’s hard to be mad when he’s doing something that we all wish we could do. But it’s also hard to NOT be mad when you’ve been traveling for 11 hours and you are so. Close. To. Home. At least it was better than in Charlotte, where he got on the walkway going in the opposite direction, and a total stranger saw it and had to lift him up over the handrail and deposit him with me. We finally found the car, not without a fairly psychotic phone call to Joe (you should see the visual voicemail transcript) and frightening a few passers by. But we made it.
Lest you think that Darwin was the only troublemaker, Elijah had his fair share, too, but he’s just not big enough yet to really make trouble, and I can overpower him more easily. He’s also easier to distract with bright lights, as well as sleepier. So he did sleep a fair amount of the time on each plane ride (until on one flight, Darwin had to use the bathroom, and there is just no way I can help Darwin take off his pants, hold a sleeping baby, and not get pee everywhere in a little airline bathroom. Sigh), and he stayed strapped into his stroller in the airports taking everything in. Some squirming, some crying, but not as much as I had feared. The main issues with him were when containment was unavailable, like when we had to leave the stroller at gate check and when we picked it up. Then, unfolding the stroller, keeping track of Darwin, making sure the diaper bag didn’t spill out all over the tarmac, and not dropping on Elijah on his head were all challenges.
Darwin keeps asking when we’re going to fly on another plane. I tell him when he invents a time machine and we can do it when I’m 25 years old again. I’m just too old for this!
I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do. September 12, 2011
Wow. Has it really been since April? It’s been so long because, to be honest, I’m kind of miserable. It’s hard to find things to write about when all you want to do is find things to whine about. So, in the interest of being a healthy adult with the powers of introspection, I will try to outline what makes me want to poke my eyes out about being a stay at home mom (SAHM, for the acronymically-inclined). Now, don’t get me wrong, I know it could be worse. I’m not saying that I’ve got a job more horrible than a Chilean miner or migrant worker. As these comedy sketches show, a lot of times, when SAHMs complain, it just sounds kind of whiny and self-pitying. And it is. I know, you sit and watch Desperate Housewives and wonder what they’ve got to complain about, why they’re so very desperate, and why they need to hook up with the pool boy. I know that it’s a luxury to have a choice whether I work or not, and I know that in the grand scheme of the world, my life is amazingly easy.
That will not, however, keep me from complaining. To wit, here is what I do not like:
1. It’s like being at my job 24/7. I know, many of you work long hours. You work weekends. Maybe you’re a firefighter and work for 3 days straight. But at some point, you leave. You go home. Or somewhere. Yes, you may go home to a crabby wife and two kids with dirty diapers and a house that could give you a flesh-eating bacteria, but it’s a different place, with different responsibilities. I often think to myself, at 3am on a Sunday, or 2pm on a Tuesday, or 7pm on a Saturday “This is exactly the same thing I will be doing and thinking about tomorrow. And the day after that.” I get all Macbeth about it. And the despondency sets in. Because it’s not just that I’m at said job 24/7, it’s that the job is kind of sucky, frankly. Enter next point:
2. My bosses are batshit crazy. Honestly, if you had bosses like this, you would walk out. Bosses who demand something from you, with tears and yelling, and then when you produce it, throw it across the room. Bosses who ignore your every request, even when you are standing right in front of them asking then, cajoling them, bargaining with them. Bosses who wake you up at night for no apparent reason at all, but will only let you sleep for 45 minute intervals, and then are really pissy the next day because they’re tired. Bosses who crap their pants. Bosses who actively fight against you, not in a stealthy, frenemy sort of workplace way — at least those people give you a fake smile and bring cupcakes on your birthday or something (and then say “I know you probably are trying to lose weight [significant look at your hips] but I just couldn’t resist.”). No, this is a very literal fighting, over everything, from a polite request to put on shoes, to a not-so-polite request to stop screaming in the bread aisle. It gets very tiring to hear “NO! I! DON’T! WANT! TO!” when all you’ve asked is “Would you like milk with your cereal?” Bosses with no ability to see 15 minutes into the future and realize that if you keep playing trains now, then there will be no dinner when they are so hungry that they could gnaw the radiator cover in half (oh, and did I mention being hungry makes the bosses grumpy?). And it’s not just the bosses, it’s the nature of the job:
3. There are no big thoughts and no accomplishment. This, I think, is the most wearing on me. I never think along the arc of a project anymore. I never think of the societal impact of a particular action or program. I never use the word “epistemology.” OK, maybe I don’t miss the last one so much. But never thinking beyond “what time did I put the laundry in, and should I put it in the dryer before I start chopping onions for dinner, or after?” gets really trying after a while. Especially when I was so very very happy in my ivory tower of academia, thinking about the proto-feminist applications of Foucauldian theory on 15th century literature. Wait, what’s that smell? Um, reality check, aisle 7, with diapers. And, coupled with this is the fact that nothing is ever accomplished. I could work my tail off cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, washing dishes, etc — but I just have to turn around and do exactly the same things again tomorrow. I think this is why crafting and scrapbooking are so popular among SAHMs. You work on something, and it’s FINISHED. Done! You can display it! Tell people YOU did it! And did I mention that it is now DONE? I realize, in an intellectual way, that I’m actually thinking thoughts so big that they just don’t even seem like thoughts — things like how to teach another human being to have empathy, or how to explain death. And I’m on a project that is actually so long and large in scope that it doesn’t seem like a project — I’m trying to create functional members of society over the next 15 years or so. But even though I know those things in my head, when I have just finished washing the dishes for the 3rd time that day, and somehow there is another pile waiting on the counter, that intellectual knowledge doesn’t go too far. And it doesn’t help that:
4. There is no evaluation system or vocabulary for talking about the responsibilities and accomplishments of a SAHM. If I had a “regular” job, I could talk to people about my performance review, or my raise, or how the CEO mentioned me in a staff meeting. I could tell you how many hours I’m working on my latest project, and how important it is to the organization, or how annoying it is that no one follows my project plan that I painstakingly worked on. I’d have goals, plans for reaching those goals, benchmarks along the way. But as it stands now, I have no idea if I’m doing the right things or not, if I’m helping my kids become better people or just adding to their future therapy bill. I have no way of talking with people about my day to day life in a way that can convey the stress of it. Honestly, even I, a SAHM myself, don’t have a lot of respect for the skills of SAHMs. Exactly because no one really knows if you’re doing a good job or not. I could be on par with Britney Spears, or those crazy Duggar people — or I could be some supermom, raising the first sibling Nobel Peace Prize winners. But you’d never know, and neither would I, frankly. There’s no way to measure how I’m doing, until that 15-year project has come to fruition. Every once in a while, Darwin remembers to say thank you, or gives a hug to Elijah. But more often than not, he’s yelling at me, or knocking Elijah over to steal a toy. Who knows how things are going? I sure don’t, and can’t really worry about it, because there’s another load of laundry to do.
Add into all this the smaller things like not actually talking to an adult for days at a time, or not being able to pop out to lunch or meet for drinks after work, or just stop listening to see if that’s a baby crying, or stop thinking in the background about what time Darwin tried to potty last. The not getting any time to myself the entire day, not even in the bathroom, until 9pm, when I’m too beat to enjoy it, or even just the never doing anything on my own schedule, or because I want to. I know that sounds incredibly petulant, but I am an only child. And, as Darwin screamed at me today in the gym locker room when I wouldn’t buy him a Power Bar, “I want to get what I want!” They’re smaller things, but they contribute to my housewife-y desperation.
The kicker is that all the things you think are great about being a SAHM mom really are great, and would make it really hard to give up now that I’m used to them. There’s a wonderful flexibility, and the ability to say “Today is beautiful — let’s go to the Botanic Gardens.” The ability to visit my parents for a week at a time and not have to take vacation days or worry I’m being replaced while I’m gone. Seeing Elijah’s first steps. Hearing Darwin sing a song about the right way to hold a crayon that he learned in preschool. Snuggling up and reading books on the couch together. Taking the boys to the park and seeing Darwin push Elijah on the swings and watching them both giggle hysterically. I am almost certain that I will look back in 12-15 years or so and (hopefully) say “Wow — what great people my children have grown into. I’m so glad I was there to see them all along the way and watch them become who they are.” I’ll be incredibly thankful that I was there to see them growing and becoming, and know that I had a lot to do with the people that they are. But it’s hard to see that day in the midst of the piles of laundry, dishes, leftovers and parenting books.
But, for whatever reason — getting all this off my chest, simply taking the time to ignore my children and write this, or the glass of wine I drank while typing — I feel much better now. Thank you for listening.
Developmental Double Whammy April 23, 2011
We are squarely in the middle of two developmental milestones, one for each boy. We should be elated, right? Our children are learning, growing, exploring, etc. Oh, but if only they would do it somewhere else.
Darwin is firmly in the “why” phase of childhood. I know this is an important phase. I know I should nurture curiosity. But good Lord! It requires a PhD in physics, or theology, or philosophy to keep up with this kid! Every answer leads to another why, and if you say you don’t know, he won’t buy it. An “I don’t know” leads to “Well, maybe ’cause what?”, so you have to start hypothesizing about why the earth is tilted, or why a cat is called a cat. I have become part philosopher (“Why are they people and they’re cats, Mommy?”), part astronomer (“Why is the moon a circle, Mommy?”), part zoologist (“Why does a cat have eyes, Mommy?”) and part everything else under the sun. My personal favorite so far is “Why is there a hole in my bottom, Mommy?” If only I weren’t breastfeeding, and could take some really good drugs — I think I’d answer Darwin’s questions much better, and both our minds would be blown. I have discovered that you can sometimes just confuse him with big words, which is nice: “Well, when the earth reaches its solstice — which comes from the Latin for sticking sun — then there’s an equal amount of direct sunlight on the northern and southern hemispheres, which should not be confused with aphelion, of course.” That usually gives him something to chew on for a while (although usually I have no idea what I’m talking about). Or, I can also sometimes get away with something very simple and definitive: “Well, because of the water cycle.” And then I run.
Louis CK is my new favorite comedian, and he has a great bit about this. Now, you may not be as angry a parent as Louis CK and I are, so perhaps this won’t strike you as funny as it struck me, but I swear I laughed until I almost cried and peed my pants at the same time. It is, as are all Louis CK bits, NSFW, but it’s awesome.
The “why” part is at the end, but getting there is half the fun.
And then there’s Elijah. He is squarely in the phase where he tests gravity at ever chance. Mostly these chances come during mealtimes. Spoon. Drop. Crying. Retrieve spoon. Drop. Crying. Meanwhile, I’m trying to get 4 ounces of pureed sweet potatoes in his mouth. Someday, that spoon may just fall up, and then wouldn’t we all be surprised. Apparently, for both of them, I need a blackboard pre-scribbled with physics equations and a laser pointer. If only Shel Silverstein and Richard Feynman could get together. “The Missing Six Easy Pieces,” or something.
Kind of awesome February 24, 2011
Just a few minutes ago, we were eating lunch. Elijah was looking over at Darwin (who was eating broccoli! Broccoli! And having seconds!) and giggling, and Darwin was playing peekaboo with him. It was pretty great. Just so you don’t think I totally hate this mom thing. Sometimes it’s really awesome.
The crap they don’t tell you February 14, 2011
Caveat — this post is all about the crappy things about parenting. But, please don’t think that I think it’s all crappy, or that these things outweigh the good stuff. I don’t regret having children — most of the time. But, there seems to be an overabundance of places where you can hear all the touchy-feely good things about parenting, but precious few places to hear the nitty gritty bad stuff, which is just as much of parenting as the sappy stuff. I know so many people having babies for the first time, and I’m torn between laying all the crappy stuff out for them, so they know what’s coming, and just smiling and nodding, as other parents did with me when I was pregnant. One friend who just had a baby told me that when she was upset or having problems with motherhood, I was the only one who told her that yeah, it sucks sometimes, and that’s OK. It was a relief for her. I can relate, because recently I read this article on happiness studies done around parenthood, and it shows that parenting does not make you happier on a day to day basis. On a long-term existential type level, people with kids are happier. But day in and day out, they’re not. I was so glad to read that article, because I felt like it meant I wasn’t a terrible mother, or a freak of nature with no maternal instincts, or someone who doesn’t deserve to have children. Lots of people feel the way I do — tired, grumpy, and anti-social.
So this is a post that lays out the crappy stuff. There are plenty of places to go to find the happy stuff. Your local Hallmark card store, Christmas specials, placenta-eating seminars, whatever. And those happy things exist. But so do these. At least for me.
1. Parenting sucks sometimes. And sometimes, it sucks a lot.
I guess it’s probably self-evident that parenting is about delayed gratification. But I didn’t realize how much. Yes, there are adorable baby smiles, and baby yawns, and baby giggles, and your child will often say cute/funny/endearing things. However, it’s very difficult to remember those times when you’re up at 3:30am for the 3rd time that night, and you know you’ll be up at 5 and at 7, and then start the day and do it all over again. You put in so much work up front — nighttime feedings, soothing colicky and sick babies, not yelling when your 3-year-old asks the same damn question for the 4th time in a row. But you don’t see the payoff on those things for years. YEARS! You have to just trust that the suckiness is someday going to create a person that you’d like to hang out on the couch and drink a beer with. But you have no idea if that’s the case. And you don’t often get a sweet baby smile just after you’ve gotten up in the middle of the night, so you just have to trust that tomorrow you’ll get one, and you’ll feel a little less cranky about it all. Which brings me to….
2. Yes, you will be sleepy. No, you don’t understand how sleepy.
I know. Everyone says you’ll be sleepy. That seems to be as far as parents will go in complaining to someone about to be a parent: “Sleep now. Trust me.” As if you could stockpile or something. But they say it because it’s true. And I know — I know that you’ve pulled all nighters all week during finals. I know that you have been up until 5am every night on your vacation in Cancun. I know that your dog was sick once, and puked every 45 minutes all night and you stayed up with him. Still. This is different. All those things were finite. You could say to yourself “If I can just make it through finals, I can sleep all day next Saturday,” or some such. Not so as a parent. There is a certain Macbethian “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” about it all. You know that someday, some glorious day, your baby will sleep “through the night.” (note — “through the night” is defined as 5 hours at a time). You have no idea when that is. And, even when they do, it’s not like they’re 2-year-olds lazing around, sleeping until noon and watching Lifetime on the weekends. They’re still up at whatever time (too early, whatever it is), no matter what time you’ve gone to bed. And you can kiss lazy recharge weekends goodbye. For me, that’s the worst of it. Not just the lack of sleep, but the lack of time to recharge and regroup and spend some time alone. There’s no time to just sit and relax and do whatever I want and know that I can finish it. Want to read the paper leisurely? Lock yourself in a closet that your child doesn’t know about.
3. You will never feel sure about anything you do again.
I understand that this could totally just be me. I’m sure there are parents out there who are certain that they’re doing the right things, and that they are the most qualified people to be doing it. Me, not so much. I remember once when Darwin was younger, he had a doctor’s appointment just at nap time. So, I put him down for a nap a little early, and he actually went to sleep. I had this feeling of “Hey, I did the right thing, and I know I did!” and until that moment, I hadn’t realized that I had not felt that feeling for about two years. This was just over putting a child down to nap early. There’s so much information out there, which is a double-edged sword. It’s helpful to have so many resources. But, at the same time it’s a cacophony of advice that all contradicts each other: You should all sleep in a family bed or you don’t love your child. You should never allow your child in your bed or he’ll grow up with weird sex issues. You should let them cry it out. Never let them cry it out because it scars them. Who knows what the right thing is? You just have to pick what works for you on any given day and run with it. And the next day, you may very well have to make those choices again. And second-guess them again.
4. Parenting will find every fissure in your relationship and widen it.
Do you feel underappreciated? Do you think it’s ridiculous that your spouse wears a turtleneck to bed when you are sweating under all the blankets? Do you secretly feel like you’re the one doing most of the work around here? Those things and more will all get worse. This was the biggest one for me that I couldn’t believe no one talked about. Again, maybe it’s just me. Joe and I definitely have always had a more independent relationship that other people, maybe. When we’d spend new year’s eve at different parties, people would ask us if everything was OK. Um, yeah — it’s actually so OK that we can spend new year’s eve apart. But, with a child, there is a level of partnership that I think we just weren’t prepared for. Now, the fact that Joe gets cold when I’m sweating doesn’t just mean that he wears a sweater and I roll my eyes. Now it means we duke it out over whether the baby should have a fleece sleeper and a sleep sack or wear a tank top to bed. Now, when I want to go out for the evening, I hve to coordinate with Joe and make sure things have been equitable and that there’s baby food around and pumped breastmilk and that Joe didn’t already have plans to go out. We actually have to know what the other person is doing. Ahead of time. And it is SO easy to keep score with a baby: “You went out last Saturday, and that one Thursday after work last month when that guy was leaving, and I’ve only been out with my friends that time when we were meeting about the park beautification project so that one doesn’t even count even though we drank wine.” Or “You got to sleep in until 9 this morning, when I got up at 6, so that means I get a 3 hour nap this afternoon.” Or any number of other things — how many diapers one has changed, or how many dinners one has cooked, or how many bedtimes one has put one’s child to bed. Parenting brought up issues I had with my relationship that I didn’t even know I had. And then they get magnified, because you’re so sleepy and cranky. Then, when you do get some time to hang out with your spouse, you don’t have the energy to have those deep conversations you used to have. You sit in front of the TV and hope that you remember to ask about whether the electrician can come by on Thursday. If you are having issues, you (ok, I) don’t want to take up the precious 30 minutes we have for actually spending time together to complain that I’m unhappy about something. And then it just snowballs. Honestly, if it weren’t for Joe, I’m not sure how things would have worked out. Joe, for whatever his faults may be, never keeps score. If you need a nap, you take one. He never says “But I did the dishes last night,” or “But you had all day to vacuum.” Joe has always been the healthier of the two of us about relationships, and always hears me out, no matter what complaint I have (like when I woke him up at 3am on a Wednesday to tell him that I was still really mad we lived at his parents’ house so long without doing any renovations. We’d been home over a year by this time.). He always listens, acknowledges, and tries to make it right. And then makes me laugh. Even more than ever before, laughing is what gets us through. It reminds us that we have little inside jokes, or even that we’re there to support each other. And I really hope that Darwin and Elijah grow up thinking that it’s normal to have a house where people laugh a lot. Even when they’re grumpy.
There’s a book coming out soon that I’m really excited to read — sounds like kind of a Freakonomics for parenting, and it’s called “Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think.” It’s written by an economist, and the premise is that parents spend far too much time worrying, and far too little time having fun and enjoying their children, and the worrying doesn’t do you any good, based on the data he’s found. And somehow, the argument is made that having more children is better for the world and better for you. I’m interested to see what he’s basing that on. I hope that those sorts of ideas pick up momentum, things like Free Range Kids and other parents who advocate for worrying less and enjoying more. Maybe that will help all this sucking. And really, it’s a luxury to sit around and think about how it sucks — in the past, I think, you went into parenthood thinking it would be a long haul, but it’s what you did, or you needed farmhands, or successors to the throne, or whatever. But now, we have children and we expect them from day one to make us more fulfilled, happier people than we were in just the hours before they were born. I had a very fulfilling life before having children. I volunteered, I worked, I read, I had friends. Now all those things are curtailed, and I somehow look to my children to fill that entire void. I’m not sure that’s a realistic expectation. But they are pretty cute. Especially now, when they’re sleeping.