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The Work of Parenting
sword
tiger_spot
I have been thinking for a while now that I ought to sit down and write a big long thinky post about the work of parenting and society's views on it. I have thoughts, you see. They're not very coherent thoughts, but sitting down and writing them out and then rearranging them and trying to build some sort of sensible connective tissue seems like it might plausibly reveal a thesis, or at least a point.

I haven't had time for that, as I have been doing the work of parenting.

I am becoming less certain that putting all the bits together would, in fact, result in a sort of holographic overarching point springing into existence; perhaps it would remain a pile of slightly banal disconnected observations. At best I think there's some insight into my own personal psychology, which is interesting to me, and probably to you, but less compelling as a reason to make time to sit down and think hard about the topic.

But here is the least banal of the observations:

I like to feel productive. I'm pretty good at interpreting that more widely than "making money": I feel reasonably productive on days when I do housework, or run errands, or spend time maintaining social relationships. But I noticed, a while back, that I did not feel productive on days when the baby's needs prevented me from doing any of those things. If I spent all day sitting under a sleeping baby who didn't want to be put down, or reading books to the baby, or going to the park so she could run around, or playing with toys with her, or tossing her in the air, or supervising her interactions with the chickens, I didn't feel like I'd been productive.

That's odd, I thought. I did not quit my job to do housework. I quit my job to spend time with the baby. Why does a day spent entirely on the baby not feel productive? It's supporting her physical and emotional growth, allowing her to explore new environments, objects, and interactions, providing a good secure base of attachment -- this is what I'm supposed to be doing! Why don't I feel like I've been productive?

And then I realized: Because I've been having fun.

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Oh, oh, oh.

Oh, brains.

(But I'm so glad you are.)

I have some very deep programming about work and worth and wealth and meaning. I don't even know where it came from, but it does strange, strange things in underlayers of my thought processes.

Which is to say: Oh, brains.

These are good thinky thoughts. As someone who just finished her last full-time day of work in preparation for mommyhood, with a plan of being a stay-at-home-mom and doing all those sorts of things and aiming to a fantastic job of them, this perspective is very much appreciated.

I have not had a single emotional reaction to any part of motherhood that is what I would have expected. It's been a very strange trip.

So good luck and I hope you enjoy the heck out of it. But if for whatever reason the plan is not the thing, that is okay too. There are a lot of different ways of being in the world.

And if you want to hang out and talk about babies and parenting and stuff, I like doing that! I don't know many people with younger babies yet. It will be novel. :)

Huh. No insights on the parenting thing as I have neither experience or inclination, but on the productive vs fun axis... I definitely find crafting feels both productive AND fun. Literally I produced a thing, and it's a thing I find useful (even if its use is just "be decorative"), so, productive!

Yeah, crafting is nice that way.

aHA. Oh, brains.

And it's so awesome that she's fun.

I over ride that impulse by thinking, "I would have to pay someone else to be here and they wouldn't be having fun. It's ok for me to be here having fun instead." :)

Excellent post, with a lovely, resonating "punchline".

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