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I don’t care that I’ve never seen Paris
July 23, 2010 1:57 AM   Subscribe

For Jessica

The article referred to is this one.
posted by Luddite (58 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
there wasn't much more inside, was there?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:09 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Luddite, can you give us a bit more back story?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:16 AM on July 23, 2010


Ubu -- To be fair, the original link certainly wasn't lacking for content. What an utterly heartbreaking story.
posted by spiderskull at 2:18 AM on July 23, 2010


Oh god.

Mrs. Betachat is 17 weeks pregnant and my hands are trembling at a third of the way through this. This woman's story is literally my worst nightmare.
posted by felix betachat at 2:20 AM on July 23, 2010


From the comments: "I’ll be thinking about this intensely beautiful essay for a long time. And also this: here is the goddamned sky scattered all over the carpet again."

I was only a step-dad (though a damn good one) but even with the kids 5 and 10 years old when I started and able to describe where it hurts you worry. Always. I'm not with their mom anymore but I still keep contact with the girl - well, young woman now.

FTA: "Yes. Heroic action? You are totally down with that."

And you are. Totally. You are prepared to fight any monster and confront your own too. But you find yourself insisting that they eat the Mac & Cheese because that's dinner and thinking fuck you you ingrates or it's broccoli with onions tomorrow night, eat it and like it. Parenting is odd. You rise and sink to the occasion.

It's my sole regret, not having kids.


One way or the other Mrs. and Mr. betachat you'll be fine. I promise.
posted by vapidave at 3:16 AM on July 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


I once had a nightmare along those lines. I woke around the "I don’t want to lose you, baby girl, I don’t want to lose you I don’t want to lose you lose you lose you" time.
With five kids, one can't but help at times to think of how one would cope with a critical health event.
Reading that bought back the vacuous feeling in the pit of my stomach I felt after waking from that nightmare.
Touch wood, I've been lucky enough to parent for 71 kid years and not have to deal with worse than a broken tooth.
posted by Duke999R at 4:25 AM on July 23, 2010


I don't care that I've never seen Paris either.

Parenting is damned hard. Single parenting is even harder.

Thanx, Luddite. I needed that tonight.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:26 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I remember, it was about a month after I had recovered from malaria and I was regaling the sordid saga of how I had almost died to a friend, except I didn't remember any of the middle part because I was in a coma. And my dad, he heard the kind of twisted pride I had telling the story, and it upset him, and so he told me the middle part. How my mom had been keeping ice packs on my brain that was cooking itself in fever, long after the doctors had told her there was no point. How she offered her blood when my body couldn't produce enough of its own, then offered her kidney when the doctors said mine would probably fail. I don't remember her holding my hand during any of the screaming or seizures or the twisted, pained expression on my face that she had to watch.

I fear the karmic revenge the universe has in store for me for putting her through all that. Reading articles like this, I just don't know how parents do it. Where do you find the strength?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:28 AM on July 23, 2010 [44 favorites]


I could not finish this essay. Got less than a quarter of the way in when I started to feel like I was going to have a panic attack, and just closed the browser tab. That would never have happened before I became a dad.

Felix betachat, it's *every* parent's worst nightmare.

After my son was hospitalized for the first time last September (with an acute asthma attack -- not life threatening) a friend remarked to me that becoming a parent is like taking a piece of your heart and placing it outside your body, where it runs around vulnerable and unprotected. You do the best you can, but it's impossible to protect them from everything. But when you become a parent your overriding mission in life becomes one of protecting and caring for your child(ren) while allowing them the space, time and experiences they need to grow up, too. It's rewarding and wonderful, amazing and terrifying, exhausting and frustrating, stressful and infuriating... a very emotional and arduous process.

Felix, my wife's pregnancy was filled with complications. It's awful, because as with an illness, you lose most of your direct control of the situation. So you have to rely on experts to tell you what's happening, and what you need to do. I hated it... and have since learned that feeling doesn't go away when you're a parent.

If you need an ear, feel free to memail me. But hang in there. If it's reassuring at all, a lot of folks here no doubt know what you're going through and can sympathize.
posted by zarq at 5:21 AM on July 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


I was in tears before I had even read a third way down. Could. Not. Finish. There should be a NSFP (not safe for parents) tag.
posted by dabitch at 5:36 AM on July 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


In addition to agreeing with the above sentiments, I'd like to say it's a damn fine piece of writing.
posted by angrycat at 5:37 AM on July 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


The fantasy ends.

You get a hint of it when, shortly after the emergency c-section, the doctors are working hard on your brand new daughter. They're speaking in short, curt professional tones and working hard just to get her to breathe. You get a hint of it when they take her away to monitor her under the food warmers while they stitch up your wife.

The fantasy ends.

The entire staff that was in the surgery comes into the room with you and your wife and one person, the attending physician, says, "we think your daughter has Down syndrome."

The fantasy is over.

While you have a few heartbeats of disbelief, the keening starts. The deep, deep keening pain that drives you to weep comes in full force. The pain that you would hope your mother would take away rushes over you in waves that you hardly notice them saying, "and she had some seizures - we think she had a stroke."

The fantasy is a spark on the horizon in your rear view mirror.

And you man up and decide that the attending physician - the one with the guts to break the news - she's going to be your daughter's pediatrician and your wife's family practitioner, the one who offered in the 9th month to be her pediatrician, the one who looks as scared as you - she can go take a hike. And they're transferring your daughter to a hospital that actually has a NICU - not without her mom. "She'll be staying here", you're told. "No, she's going with."

And then you call your closest friend to drive you there because you're too dead tired and too wired to drive safely and you know it.

So yeah, I've been there too.
posted by plinth at 5:38 AM on July 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


People. Finish the damn essay. It ends on a good note. Stopping half way is probably worse.
posted by chunking express at 5:46 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


And yeah, that's some amazing writing. Jesus.
posted by chunking express at 5:46 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


What a moving essay. Although I am an atheist, it made me send thanks out into the universe that my daughter is healthy and happy.

It affected me on another level as well. I take care of kids like Jessica every day at work. The parents always try to put on a brave face, especially before the kids are taken off to the OR. After that the tears sometimes come. Although not all parents of children with chronic medical problems are as engaged and literate as Ms. Lawler, her essay reminds me that it is a privilege to care for these children, something that can be easy to forget when that emergency shunt revision comes in late in the day when everyone is looking forward to going home to their own families. Thanks for posting this.
posted by TedW at 5:50 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


thanks for this. my kids are driving me nuts but I'm going to go hug them all right now.
posted by phogirl at 6:04 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Heart rending read, I vividly remember my daughter having a Kidney operation before she was 6 months old. The hours she was in the operating theatre were the worst hours of my life, a feeling of helplessness I hope I never have to go through again.

"slaying ten men and Satan, because you’re capable of that. Yes. Heroic action? You are totally down with that" - yeah I would have done that
posted by lloyder at 6:06 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes -- a terrific piece of writing. I hope that she and Jessica are doing well.
posted by blucevalo at 6:22 AM on July 23, 2010


Very good essay, and writing. There are lots of bad and unhappy parents out there, but she doesn't seem to be one of them.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:22 AM on July 23, 2010


Thanks for posting, sincerely! - but had to skip reading the post on the strength of the comments.
posted by nj_subgenius at 6:25 AM on July 23, 2010


Some observations:

I've been noticing more often recently the comfort that certain individuals and groups have with creating their own dictionaries, and it has become increasingly annoying. Radical feminists have their own definition of rape, trans-people have their own definition of words like male and female, and this woman has her own definition of happiness... and how utterly convenient it is that her own definition seems to place her among the "happier" people on this planet.

This woman's account reminds me of a reply I posted to a thread three years ago, with an explanation that applies here as well: her mindset and opinions have been molded by circumstances to facilitate her survival therein. And like any other experiential phenomenon, it resists criticism or interpretation, hence her development of her own, personal version of happiness. If the scientists and academics don't understand, it's because they haven't walked in her shoes, and if they had walked in her shoes and still didn't understand, it's because they didn't walk hard enough.

It reminds me of religion in general, and the brand of Evangelical Christianity that I grew up with in particular.

On a more positive note, I have seldom read a better-written second-person account. Given the extent to which I've attempted to avoid repetition in my own writing, I was surprised to see it purposefully employed to reinforce dominant concepts and thoughts in her mindset, such as "Satan and ten men" and "took out the left side of her brain and threw it away."
posted by The Confessor at 6:35 AM on July 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


Thanks for the post. Remarkable story. Really moving. MP
posted by MarshallPoe at 6:47 AM on July 23, 2010


Wow. She just described my life over the past 3 years. My son has a whole different set of issues, but I'm right there with her. When she describes how "mothers all around you are blathering their worry that their babies aren’t talking by twelve months, and you don’t even know what universe they live in", that's ME. As the parent of a special needs kid, I do feel like I live on a different planet. What a great piece of writing. I wish she was my neighbor. I could really use a friend like her.
posted by Kangaroo at 6:58 AM on July 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


This was a beautiful story, but I very much wish she hadn't used the second person, a pet peeve of mine (with the exception of Lorrie Moore stories--where she's a master of using it as a fictional device).

I find the 2nd person a noxious device in the kind of non-fiction you see in places like Esquire, GQ, etc. (you're the quarterback! you're the soldier about to lose half his company!), but I especially dislike the use of it in autobiographical work. I understand it's a distancing device--YOU feel this, YOU do this--but at the end of the day I want to say, no, I don't--YOU do. Own it. Tell your own story and trust me to empathize anyway.
posted by availablelight at 7:10 AM on July 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Thank you for this.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:19 AM on July 23, 2010


I am breathless at the power of this piece, and also at Confessor's ability to utterly miss the point.

Thanks for posting this, Luddite. I'm a parent and I read it all the way through, and I'm glad I did. I've never seen anyone put the blazing determination and courage that parenthood can bring out in you down on paper so well.
posted by emjaybee at 7:41 AM on July 23, 2010


The Confessor: And like any other experiential phenomenon, it resists criticism or interpretation, hence her development of her own, personal version of happiness.

The thing about that study that made me, and a lot of other parents I know, sort of simultaneously agree with it, dismiss it as obvious, and also dismiss it as wrong and irrelevant, is just that -- that human happiness is an experiential phenomenon that resists criticism and interpretation. The conclusion that non-parents are happier is obvious, in the sense that their lives are (generally) easier, more self-fulfilling, and less fraught with difficulties and problems that are beyond your control.

But the conclusion that non-parents are happier is also wrong, in that "happiness" is not (I think) adequately captured by the metrics listed above. Happiness also lives in the satisfaction of struggle, even struggles you ultimately screw up or lose. Happiness lives in the feeling of terrible risk you experience whenever you watch your five year old bike away from you down a hill, and in the joy of watching her come to a stop safely, pull off her helmet, and run to the swingset. Or happiness lives in the emergency room, when the cast is on and she demands a different kind of ice cream, if that's how it ends up going.

Happiness is complicated, and of necessity statistical studies have to choose a few simple parameters to measure. So, it's obvious that non-parents are happier for the researchers "own, personal definition of happiness," but it's also completely unimportant that that is so.
posted by rusty at 8:06 AM on July 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


I'm not a parent and quite likely will never be one but I found this article so emotionally strong that I can't even comment on it. I still miss my parents.

Regarding "repetition in writing" - something I can comment on much better - it's something you should never do accidentally. My first realization that repetition can add to the emotional punch was when I read the first chapter of "The Right Stuff" where he spends quite a bit of time describing "burnt beyond recognition" and then a series of anecdotes... A, B, C, and then he was burned beyond recognition; X, Y, and then he was burned beyond recognition; etc. It packs a serious punch.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:22 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think Confessor missed the point, just choose a sub-topic to discuss.

The NYMag article this is based on is such a frankenstein mash of "studies" never mentioned by name, data never explained and results generalized with things like "less happy". The fault here isn't with the "academics" it's with the goddamn terrible science reporting that our country has come to accept. We're not challenging the presumptions of the journalist writers, as we should be, we're doubting the science, and I think that's misplaced. The NYMag author's own interpretation and crafted narrative becomes accepted as fact, something that gets mentioned to Jessica's mother as a fact.

A way to reframe this debate would be to ask the question, "is someone like Jessica's mother more at risk for depression?" The answer is an unequivocal yes. This is something useful. Maybe her GP could screen her for symptoms of depression, maybe her friends could know what to look for etc. Debating about "happy", as we've let the NYMag frame the conversation, is useless. We're buying into the trope of "out of touch academics" and "hey this person is telling you about YOUR life, get angry now". Science isn't about that. Science-flavored reporting for headlines and controversy is. We don't have to do this folks.

(Though, if nothing else I suppose it led to a nice piece of writing.)

A mefi-favorite The Last Psychiatrist discusses the NYMag article.
posted by fontophilic at 8:45 AM on July 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Happiness is a subjective state. We can only ever measure external indicators of it, but science can never capture the feeling of happiness. The gulf between people is wide enough that we're divorced not only from other people's feelings (we can only feel our own feelings, or at most, when we empathize, feel ourselves feeling approximately the same as other people), but also from alternative versions of ourselves. We can't feel what it would be like to be us, only with certain changes, be they minor (say, one more kiss or one less stubbed toe) or major (no kids). Parents can never know what their life would feel like without children. Memory is so fickle that we've often forgotten how we felt in this universe only a few months or years ago, never mind theoretical universes in which we have (or haven't) the kids we haven't (or have) in reality. We may remember the labels we attach to experiences, such as "this is a good memory" or "this was painful", but the vicarious experience fades quickly, and even with traumatic experiences, if they stay with us, what we are experiencing when we relive the trauma is simply a simulacrum, a recollection that is probably not exactly what we experienced when we experienced it.

All of which makes it really hard for people, whether parents or non-parents, to say anything with certainty (or even a good probability) about whether they are happier with kids than they were, or whether they would be happier with (or without) kids. All we can ever do is find external measures that seem to correlate with happiness, and then map them on a group-level.

What the parents that disagree with these studies seem to say is basically, "being a parent is so meaningful that it's worth it." Which is great, and their choice to make, but doesn't really say anything about how much time they spend feeling content or joyful or euphoric or any of the other mental states that we lump together under the "happiness" umbrella. (Sidenote: I wonder if different cultures put slightly different things under their "happiness" concept, so that they have different names and mental categories for some of the things we would simply call happiness, and/or put some mental states we would call happiness into the analogous mental box.) And of course, some parents will actually be happier than most non-parents, because statistics doesn't determine that on an individual level.

Not to distract from some parents' personal stories, but I don't really agree that happiness studies -- which is to say studies of some subset of external symptoms of the mental states we call happiness -- are wrong or irrelevant, or should be discontinued. Such studies are (or have the potential to be) useful. They tell us things that can help make people's lives better. But by all means, feel free to enjoy parenthood. I'm sure it's great for you, and none of us are qualified to tell you how you felt before or how you would feel if you weren't a parent.
posted by simen at 8:48 AM on July 23, 2010


and this woman has her own definition of happiness... and how utterly convenient it is that her own definition seems to place her among the "happier" people on this planet.

Way off. This woman's point was that "being happy" is utterly beside the point of being a parent.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:51 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


To imagine that one can objectively quantify happiness is the height of positivistic idiocy.

Most happiness studies rely on self-reporting. If someone thinks they're happy, then they're happy. Doesn't matter if you think they aren't, you are irrelevant.

Great piece, thanks for posting it.
posted by knapah at 9:05 AM on July 23, 2010


Or happiness lives in the emergency room, when the cast is on and she demands a different kind of ice cream, if that's how it ends up going.

One of my favorite moments in Dan Simmons' Hyperion book series is of a father relating an incident from when his daughter was about 8 years old. He's at work when a call comes in that she's fallen out of a tree and has been taken to the hospital. He races there in a panic, rushes into her room and finds her sitting on the bed with a cast on her arm, grinning wildly. "Dad! Dad! You should have seen me! I almost made it to the top!"

Kids have a different perspective than adults of the things that affect them. And I agree with rusty and others here that happiness is impossible to quantify. I worry all the damned time about money, my wife, my kids well-being and all sorts of other things. I don't sleep through the night much anymore. I'm constantly tired. But overall, I'm much happier than I was without the munchkins. What matters to me has changed. I think that's part of what being a parent is about.
posted by zarq at 9:22 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


and this woman has her own definition of happiness...

I can't understand how anyone could have anything but their own definition of happiness. Isn't that what happiness is? If I fulfill your goals, that won't necessarily be fulfilling to me, right?
posted by mdn at 9:35 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd like to read it, but it set off my avast malware detector so it nixed the window. I will have to look for a cache of it later...
posted by marble at 9:59 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


You have never done anything for thirteen years before.

This is where I lost it.

I'm at work. I hope nobody comes in for at least the next 20 minutes.
posted by bilabial at 10:05 AM on July 23, 2010


Dr. Von Haller to David Staunton: "I do not promise happiness, and I don't know what it is. You New World people are, what is the word, hipped on the idea of happiness, as if it were a constant and measurable thing, and settled and excused everything. If it is anything at all it is a by-product of other conditions of life, and some people whose lives do not appear to be at all enviable, or indeed admirable, are happy. Forget about happiness."

--Robertson Davies, The Manticore
posted by jokeefe at 10:11 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


this woman has her own definition of happiness

The word happiness has always had several definitions.

If you're just using the word to describe an emotion, like anger or fear, then it has a pretty clear and common meaning. You can sorta measure that sort of happiness.

But, going at least as far back as Plato and Aristotle, "happy" has also been used to mean something like, "Living a life a life that is worth living. Fulfillment." And arguing over what constitutes that sort of happiness is at the root of most philosophical and religious debates.

There could be a drug that would keep you in a perpetual state of happiness in the first sense. But few people would consider such a drugged person happy in the second sense.

Most parents will agree that children don't necessarily make you happy in the first sense. A lot of parents consider children to be a central part of their happiness in the second sense.
posted by straight at 10:21 AM on July 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


Haven't even finished and I can 't stop crying. Damnit.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 10:29 AM on July 23, 2010


I've certainly experienced lower lows since I became a parent than ever before. Screaming at a four month old baby to shut the fuck up and go back to sleep? That's pretty low. (Context: I was recovering from norovirus, my husband was currently in the middle of it, I'd been nursing for 18 straight hours since my milk came back, and I was weak and tired and all done and nobody could help.) The lows I've had since my daughter came into my life have been measurably some of the worst I've ever seen.

But the highs? The highs are immeasurable. The highs approach the vertical asymptote. The degree of amazing joy I feel raising this amazing human being is, literally, unquantifiable; my joy receptors white out and I just have to squeeze my eyes shut and ride the wave of bliss. It's a level of happiness that can make you willing to believe in God. And that happens most every day, at some point or another.

So, yeah, I'm probably measurably unhappier. But I am immeasurably happier. And whether that's some delusion of hormones or pheromones or social conditioning or whatnot, that's the world I live in.
posted by KathrynT at 10:30 AM on July 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Delving deeper into language: so much language is based upon perception, and perceptions that are based upon personal experiences. Numbers are fairly reliable things, and most objects can fit into their boxes pretty neatly, allowing for solid scientific review. But discussing emotions and thresholds? That gets mucky quickly, as one person's "f**k my life" is another person's amusing high school memory. Even the same event can result in two drastically different feelings for different people, depending on their involvement (case in point: Civil_Disobedient's nearly fatal malaria infection).

On the FPP links, a single parent dealing with a young daughter who has had a string of tragic medical conditions to deal with for the whole of her life would probably take joy in having a child with a complete brain, even if the little bugger is a right jerk. But if you only have a little demon as a point of reference for what "bad" and "misery" is, then happy is much farther away than a small comment or another day without seizures. And if there was some magic wand that could make Jessica whole and healthy, perhaps her mother might find herself annoyed at the small things again in 10 or 20 years time.

The dictionaries are not new, nor are the definitions. The problem is studies of emotions, or the attempt to pin down universal parameters on moving targets, even within the lifespan (and sometimes a given day) of a single person.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:33 AM on July 23, 2010


And between this post and the other side's post on the story behind the photo of David Kirby with his family, I am hesitant to read MetaFilter if I don't have at least 15 minutes to re-compose myself.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:37 AM on July 23, 2010


Oldie, but goodie:

Reporter: "Are you happy, General de Gaulle?"

de Gaulle: "What do you take me for, an idiot?"
posted by MarshallPoe at 11:17 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obligatory, but good-ish.

Reporter: "What do you hope for, Mrs de Gaulle?"

Mme dG: " 'A penis"
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:26 AM on July 23, 2010


AVAST didn't like the first link in the FPP. Bad Iframe, I believe.

Object: http://jenniferlawler.com/wordpress/?p=747|>{gzip}
Infection: HTML:Iframe-inf
posted by Xoebe at 11:51 AM on July 23, 2010


Text-only google cache version: http://bit.ly/bhTRdw
posted by rusty at 12:28 PM on July 23, 2010




Rusty: human happiness is an experiential phenomenon that resists criticism and interpretation...But the conclusion that non-parents are happier is also wrong, in that "happiness" is not (I think) adequately captured by the metrics listed above.

I am not a parent, and agree 100% with what Rusty has to say. My life is certainly easier than the life of my friends who are parents, but I don't think it is necessarily happier. I don't know the joy of bringing a new life into the world, nor do I know what it is like to raise a child and help them develop into adulthood. There are universes of happiness that I will never experience.

At the same time, I will never know what it is like to get up at 2:45 in the morning to change a diaper. I will never know what it's like to try to keep my cool with a screaming 2 year-old when I'm sick to death and surviving on three hours' sleep. And I certainly won't ever know, as zarq so eloquently put it, what it's like to take a piece of my heart, out it outside my body, and let it run around in the world, completely unprotected.

So really, parents and non-parents do live in different universes, and those universes have different parameters. For someone in one universe to look at someone in the other universe and say, "Look at that person. They are so much happier than I am," is meaningless, as it compares two things that cannot be compared.
posted by oozy rat in a sanitary zoo at 12:41 PM on July 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


beautiful, thanks

i accidentally read the second link first
posted by lulz at 12:53 PM on July 23, 2010


There seems to be a bit of nasty java inserted at the bottom of the page. It's loading a 2x4 pix iframe and trying to load some bit of java from a remote site. Be aware.
posted by TomMelee at 1:20 PM on July 23, 2010


Very interesting, re "happiness" and kids, from the second link:

But when studies take into consideration how rewarding parenting is, the outcomes tend to be different. Last year, Mathew P. White and Paul Dolan, professors at the University of Plymouth and Imperial College, London, respectively, designed a study that tried to untangle these two different ideas. They asked participants to rate their daily activities both in terms of pleasure and in terms of reward, then plotted the results on a four-quadrant graph. What emerged was a much more commonsense map of our feelings. In the quadrant of things people found both pleasurable and rewarding, people chose volunteering first, prayer second, and time with children third (though time with children barely made it into the “pleasurable” category). Work was the most rewarding not-so-pleasurable activity. Everyone thought commuting was both unrewarding and unfun. And watching television was considered one of the most pleasurable unrewarding activities, as was eating, though the least rewarding of all was plain old “relaxing.” (Which probably says something about the abiding power of the Protestant work ethic.)

posted by bearwife at 2:01 PM on July 23, 2010


Somewhat related. I went looking to see if it was the same little girl.
posted by lekvar at 2:03 PM on July 23, 2010


Another element that I've found as the parent of twins who were in the NICU for "only" 3 months is appreciation. I know, based on my observations, that while I had a worse time than moms with normal pregnancies, I sure as hell didn't get the worst the universe has to offer. So I look at my kids and know full well that a little ADHD and it's-not-really-cerebral-palsy and precocious puberty is small potatoes. I can appreciate how easy a time I have.
posted by ES Mom at 8:04 PM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is this entry (and the rest of the blog) missing for anyone else?

[Thanks for the Google cache link, rusty.]
posted by deborah at 11:49 PM on July 23, 2010


Yeah, it seems the entry is gone. Not even the /wordpress page appears. Her main page is still up though.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:17 AM on July 24, 2010


Reading articles like this, I just don't know how parents do it. Where do you find the strength?

It's honestly not that hard. Well, yeah, it's hard, but there's no choice. When your kid needs help, you will do anything to help her. There's not a whole lot of choice involved. You just do it.

There is one secret thing you never tell her. You never tell her how afraid you are that this is the last time. The last birthday. The last kiss good night. The last time you will ever sing the Mockingbird Song to her, the way you have done every night for thirteen years.

That's the part that broke me too. :(

I read most the New York article a few weeks ago while waiting for my wife at a salon. It was loaded with questionable assumptions and preconceptions, but I think there is an issue there. A lot of people and relationships are adversely affected by having children, and to be honest, lots of children are treated badly by their parents.

And having (young) children will certainly reduce your amount of "happiness" time, i.e. doing that thing or things you love to do.

However (I think the article mentions this), there is a level of "transcendence" associated with having children that I think is actual. There's also a (rather selfish but there you go) notion of immortality involved in passing your genes (and personality traits and hopefully a few bits of wisdom) along the years after you die.

It is at this point, only two paragraphs in, that it should have occurred to the writer that the reason "parents are unhappy" may not have anything to do with the kids.

I'm not a fan of The Last Psychiatrist (from the analysis provided and a few other pieces I read while at the site), but I think she or he nails it there.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:33 AM on July 26, 2010


A follow-up post here.
posted by Catseye at 1:05 AM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the follow-up, Catseye.
posted by stoneweaver at 7:29 AM on August 16, 2010


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