Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Random Assortment

~ Obama on Eliot.

~ Excellent collection of Philly public clocks (via Francisco).

~ What would Tocqueville say??!

But in northern Maine, as operating costs have increased, the economy has stagnated and the population has aged and dwindled, a handful of struggling towns have pursued the unusual process of eliminating local government entirely.

~ Airing Merton's Laundry.

~ "Most obnoxious article I've ever read" may be an exaggeration, but let me just say, this is not everyone's experience.

1. Sleep better? What a joke. The last 16 months I've woken up two-three times every night. I never ever woke up at night before.

2. I don't even have time or energy for even short workouts. In fact, I've been hoping for some time to get started with a new exercise regime since Thanksgiving.

3. Cutting the fat means cutting the fun (or a lot of the stuff that you do for yourself). I love having a beer with my colleagues after work and that's hard to do anymore.

4. I go on far fewer quality dates than I used to. Poor Francisco and I sometimes only have energy to fall onto the couch in the evening.

Not to be Debby Downer, but those comments from expectant mothers who are excited about the new productivity that motherhood will lead to are just sad. Someone should tell them that this is only one woman's experience and it almost certainly isn't about the first year of motherhood, when spending all of your time putting a baby to sleep and then waking him up to eat leaves little time or energy for anything else. (It's also particularly punishing if you're someone who delights in getting things done and checking things off lists; at least for me, the first year was a practice in just being in the moment.)

That's not to say that there isn't anything true in what she writes--I've had to get more stuff done in less time and so have become more effective with time management. It's just to say that, for me, this whole experience of time management hasn't been as thrillingly exciting and fruitful as it has for her. (Although I love my son and wouldn't trade him for anything. But that doesn't mean that motherhood is one giant celebration of happiness.)

~ I want to be friends with Alan Jacobs (seriously: if you're reading this, and ever visit Philly, please let me know):

What Payne says is that it is good when a person gives “care and comfort” to someone he or she loves in that person’s time of suffering. Good for the person giving the care, and good for the person receiving it. And having cared for my wife through a long and difficult (though not mortal, thanks be to God!) illness, I can testify — and she can testify — that this is true, as long as the care is both given and received graciously.
This post struck me because in the last week or so of my grandfather's life, when he was almost entirely out of it with medications and the dying process, I wondered what's so wrong with assisted suicide. But Jacobs (and the man he's referring to) capture something here: the importance of care, both the giving and receiving of care. In fact, at the funeral, my grandmother expressed her gratefulness for the last month of my grandfather's life, when, she said, she was able to read to him and sit by him and hold his hand.


Miss Self-Important said...

I guess the few things I have time to do are done more efficiently (or just faster) now that there is a baby, but I'm certainly not getting more things done. And neither is the author. I think the subtext of this list is, "I no longer have any fun. But I tell myself that fun was a waste of time anyway."

Emily Hale said...

I would just really like to tell her that she's not getting more things done, because her having the idea that she is really bothers me, too:)

I mean, I guess if one was the laziest person that ever lived pre-child-bearing and then suddenly became a very motivated person, this might work. But otherwise...

Miss Self-Important said...

Well, I guess in her defense, yes, it is foolish to claim or believe that you are doing more non-baby things once you have a baby, even if you are doing more things overall once you include baby work. The real question is whether the sacrifice of non-baby doings is worth the pleasures of the baby. I suspect most of the people commenting on her article or reading Verily Magazine already assume the answer is yes and are just responding to anything that seems like a confirmation of their assumption. I doubt anyone who didn't want a baby is going to read this and have one for the purpose of increasing their productivity. Website blockers are a much better investment for that purpose.

Miss Self-Important said...

Also, I do think that having children has the potential to help some people straighten out their lives and get their priorities straight, so there are cases where "cutting the fat" really does mean cutting out destructive or just bad conduct and influences. But no longer seeing most of your friends and coworkers is probably not a case like that.

Miss Self-Important said...

And yes, for the laziest person in the world, babies could also be a boon. Or a disaster! :)

Ok, now I'm done.

Emily Hale said...

Ha. Yeah, I don't think that the sacrifice of non-baby doings is necessarily worth the pleasures of the baby. But I did't really have a baby for my benefit, and especially not for my short-term benefit. Nor did I/we cost-benefit analysis the baby.

Emily Hale said...

(All that to say, I just don't by the "worth it" question. (Which people have indeed already asked me:)

Hannah said...

Huh. That motherhood article is interesting. Good for her! That's not how I feel either. I DO agree that motherhood has changed me. It is constantly changing me into a better person (some days much, much better than others...), but I am definitely NOT more productive. I have learned to be more efficient with my time, yes, but that is because I grit my teeth and half-ass things (which bothers me to no end...but, sacrifice, right?). I am also a "cross things off the list" kind of person and when days come along that the only things on my list are "feed children, change diapers, play with children, repeat" I find myself feeling like my day has been kinda 'wasted' (which is very much not true, but the feeling persists).

I flat out don't understand that sleep thing. We have (thank the LORD) good sleepers, but that still means we wake up at odd times for odd things....all the time.

Dates? Well, Jayber is extra good about planning date nights when we are around grandparents (we have yet to find a babysitter), but girl nights? Ha! I just went on a get-away weekend with a girlfriend and it was the first time in...well, the first time since becoming a mom 2.5 years ago.

I recently read Chiara Corbella Petrillo's story (amazing, by the way) and one part talks about the 'lie of the alternative' which really struck me. The lie is that children keep us from doing 'something else'. It was in the context of being pro-life, but I think it's interesting as a mother too. I often get upset because my kids are keeping me from doing (fill in the blank), but that is just the 'lie of the alternative'. Yes, my children are making me a better person, but they are doing it by forcing me to learn patience, to sacrifice, to let go of the things I want...all uncomfortable and often times painful things.

And I'm done rambling. :-)

Emily Hale said...

Awesome--glad you shared:) good points about becoming a better person though that is hard as heck. And the lie of the alternative. That makes a lot of sense.

Although there are also constant work, life balance decisions, so in some sense, these questions aren't settled for once and for all. But I guess you should be settled and committed to the decisions you make.

Myrrh said...

At the risk of sounding much less forgiving than your other commenters, I will say: yes, that is definitely the most obnoxious article you've ever read.

And your last link reminded me of this post from a while back - did you see it?

Emily Hale said...

Well you would know!! I defer to your experience:)

Thanks for sharing--I hadn't seen it. Yes--this also raises the problem of one person thinking that they know what the other person wants. There's a study in which able-bodied people say they would rather die than have a disability, but the people with disabilities report levels of happiness equivalent to able-bodied people. You can't just try to eliminate disability because you don't want a disability...

Frankincense said...

I thought I'd commented yesterday but I guess I got distracted by my productivity-enhancing children. I was going to say it wasn't the most obnoxious article, but only bc I recently read a few articles about children behaving in Mass.

Emily Hale said...


Children behaving in mass! Craziness. I started to panic that Baby Leopard would never ever sit still for one minute (lots and lots of time in the back) and then something magic happened and he has been spending some time in the pew (with loads of books and puffs...).