Monday, August 23, 2010

Why I ____

I remember an article and conversations some time ago asking the question which is harder: Marriage or Motherhood? Replacing 'Motherhood' with 'Parenting', I think both of us have the conclusion that given how easy Marriage has been, we are going to come on the 'Parenting is harder' side of the argument. Even though we are not among those people who knew each other for many years, joining lives was not a big adjustment, partly because our lives were (and are) in the midst of ongoing changes so it was more of merging of two moving highways then big changes. And we both have well exercised sharp elbows. At least neither of us ever picked up the habit of hiding sharp elbows until the worst possible time. (or hiding them at all)

People who rhapsodize over marriage or parenting have tended to make both sound very unattractive. Both criticize those who have not yet joined them as selfish (I sometimes wonder if my friends who criticize their unmarried peers as selfish but do not have kids hear the criticism that those who are married without kids are being selfish.) Both describe the life post-marriage/parenthood as a dying of self and life and the parts of life that are interesting. And the wonderful alternative presented is often something unappetizing. A life without flavor. We've been glad that this has not come to pass in marriage, but parenting looks a little more problematic. To use vocabulary one mother used, working with the things that come in marriage involved skills and attitudes that were already part of our operating systems. We're not sure that Parenting is. One person who was ready to provide wisdom asked us the question "Are you ready? Most people are not sure they know how to raise a child before their first" Our answer was "Of course not! We're pretty sure that after our first child we still won't know how to raise a child."

The other problematic side is the reality that some aspects of our lives will fall away or change markedly. We are fortunate that we have many examples of people who did not disappear off the face of the earth when they had children, and so we think there is hope.

But, as I tell my graduate students and the post-docs I work with, the reason I write such detailed messages is because I have no memory. And while I still have a nice record of photographs, I do not live life through a viewfinder (and I never will). So to remember, I have to write it down. And so I won't loose it, I am putting my faith in Google (and maybe a printout) as a place of record. So begins a series of notes on the various aspects of my life now. And in a few years, I may look back on it fondly (or not) as we bring a child into this world and all that is before us.
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