Skip to main content

On Parenthood

Erin recently sent me this amazing post On Parenthood. A snippet:

As an adult, you may think you've roughly mapped the continent of love and relationships. You've loved your parents, a few of your friends, eventually a significant other. You have some tentative cartography to work with from your explorations. You form ideas about what love is, its borders and boundaries. Then you have a child, look up to the sky, and suddenly understand that those bright dots in the sky are whole other galaxies. 
You can't possibly know the enormity of the feelings you will have for your children. It is absolutely fucking terrifying. 
When I am holding Henry and I tickle him, I can feel him laughing all the way to his toes. And I realize, my God, I had forgotten, I had completely forgotten how unbelievably, inexplicably wonderful it is that any of us exist at all. Here I am with this tiny, warm body so close to me, breathing so fast he can barely catch up, sharing his newfound joy of simply being alive with me. The sublime joy of this moment, and all the other milestones – the first smile, the first laugh, the first "dada" or "mama", the first kiss, the first time you hold hands. The highs are so incredibly high that you'll get vertigo and wonder if you can ever reach that feeling again. But you peak ever higher and higher, with dizzying regularity. Being a new parent is both terrifying and exhilarating, a constant rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows.
This is so well put that I have a lump in my throat and goosebumps on my arms.

On the flip side, I was recently describing parenthood to a childless friend. Before relaying what I said, I have to issue the disclaimer that it was at the end of a particularly rough day with Owen and Marcus. Here's how I explained it:
To imagine parenthood, imagine extreme happiness. But imagine that happiness coupled with the following. Imagine doing a task that you don't want to do, something like unloading the dishwasher or scrubbing a counter. Now imagine that you can't do this task because a little life form is demanding your attention, screaming about some inconsequential circumstance, or impatiently insisting on your help in finding an item that they, the little life form, misplaced despite your warnings about losing things. So there you are, not able to do a task that you don't want to do because...well, because you decided to do something as crazy as having a kid.
I love my kids dearly. Being a parent has transformed me into a better person, a better man. But it's important to keep in mind that my decision was not made based on logic or reason. It was a crazy decision. I gave up my life. The moment Owen was born, life was no longer about me and my hopes, dreams and concerns. There's no logic in that decision. There's just this thing called love, and I'm eternally grateful to know it.

So, yeah, parenting is a wonderful mishmash of contradictions that somehow sums to net happiness. As the author above notes at the beginning of their post, it's that 1% that makes all the difference:

Comments

Megan said…
Oh, how true. Rough behavior weekend followed by a wonderful trick-or-treat experience tipped the scales back to "joy". For today. Let's hope they stay there for tomorrow!

Popular posts from this blog

An annual note to all the (NSF) haters

It's that time of year again: students have recently been notified about whether they received the prestigious NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship. Known in the STEM community as "The NSF," the fellowship provides a student with three years of graduate school tuition and stipend, with the latter typically 5-10% above the standard institutional support for first- and second-year students. It's a sweet deal, and a real accellerant for young students to get their research career humming along smoothly because they don't need to restrict themselves to only advisors who have funding: the students fund themselves!
This is also the time of year that many a white dude executes what I call the "academic soccer flop." It looks kinda like this:


It typically sounds like this: "Congrats! Of course it's easier for you to win the NSF because you're, you know, the right demographic." Or worse: "She only won because she's Hispanic."…

Culture: Made Fresh Daily

There are two inspirations for this essay worth noting. The first is an impromptu talk I gave to the board of trustees at Thatcher School while I was visiting in October as an Anacapa Fellow. Spending time on this remarkable campus interacting with the students, faculty and staff helped solidify my notions about how culture can be intentionally created. The second source is Beam Times and Lifetimes by Sharon Tarweek, an in-depth exploration of the culture of particle physics told by an anthropologist embedded at SLAC for two decades. It's a fascinating look at the strange practices and norms that scientists take for granted.
One of the stories that scientists tell themselves, whether implicitly or explicitly, is that science exists outside of and independent of society. A corollary of this notion is that if a scientific subfield has a culture, e.g. the culture of astronomy vs. the culture of chemistry, that culture is essential rather than constructed. That is to say, scientific c…

The subtle yet real racism of the Supreme Court

Judge Roberts, a member of the highest court in the land, which is currently hearing the sad story of mediocre college aspirant Abigail Fischer, recently asked, "What unique ­perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class? I’m just wondering what the benefits of diversity are in that situation?" 
Did you catch the white supremacy in this question? If not, don't feel bad because it's subtly hidden beneath the cloaking field of colorblind racism. (As for Scalia's ign'nt-ass statements, I'm not even...)
Try rephrasing the question: "What unique perspective does a white student bring to a physics classroom?" The answer is, of course, absolutely nothing! Why? Because race isn't biological, and is therefore not deterministic of cognitive abilities. Did you perhaps forget that you knew that when considering Roberts' question? If so, again, it's understandable. Our society and culture condition all of us to forget basic facts …