August 2nd, 2013


The Work of Parenting

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.