Tag Archives: babies

Can you afford offspring?

Not tickets to see the band.  I mean the small, loud, often times stinky creatures that make life so fulfilling.  Mine, at any rate.

As I wish desperately that I had some vocation I could dedicate my life to, a nagging but tiny voice says, “Um, pardon me but don’t you love being a Mama?  Don’t you find joy in every aspect of traditional homemaking, from cooking to gardening to organizing?  Isn’t is possible that this is your calling?”

Then of course the rational voice, the part that relies solely on reason, intelligence, logic, the one that has gotten me out of all manner of fixes in the past, the one that usually takes over projects, after my muse has flitted off to something new and exciting, and ensures that they turn out well, this thinking part of my persona retorts with something like, “Hello, you can’t afford to stay home.  Duh.”  (Although it certainly says it more intelligently, throwing out a couple numbers and inserting “thusly” at the correct moment.  I am currently using my feeling self to translate.)

I really and truly do understand the intellectual argument, but every once in a while I just gotta ask, WHAT THE HELL?

How did we get to this point?  Can you imagine a society evolving to the point where the basis of civilization, i.e. continuing the species and cultivating the space wherein it is nurtured, is a hobby or luxury that must be earned by abandoning said space and species and joining an assembly line or squatting in an office cubicle?  

I would never say that everyone should be a parent or that every household needs a full time homemaker.  Some people are obviously so evolved that they can ignore our fundamental animal purpose and have moved on to more lofty purposes.  Acquisition of wealth and power, I guess.  Maybe writing the great American novel.  I honestly have nothing but respect for these decisions.  

But when they turn to me and say, “And you shouldn’t have children either unless you are willing to leave them in daycare or unless you are independently wealthy or unless your partner can land an amazingly well paying job.  Otherwise, you are a lazy loser trying to mooch off of me.”

Why should a poor person not be allowed to choose parenting as a vocation?  Am I the only one who finds this absurd?  

I think the question “Can you afford offspring?” implies that a person’s financial situation is completely a choice.  You COULD have enough money if you weren’t so lazy.  You could earn the right to have kids be your hobby if you worked hard enough.  As though no one ever got stuck, against their will, unable to find work, or unable to find work that pays a living wage.  As though poverty were always simply a bad lifestyle choice (which it certainly is, in some circumstances.  Sniffing glue and ending up living in a dumpster comes to mind).

And if poverty isn’t purely a choice, if there is any element of luck or destiny to it, then the question “Do you have enough money to be a parent?” and our attitude of moral incorrectness that is directed towards poor parents are just cruel.  We are saying that, for reasons beyond your control, you are living in poverty, and therefore you are not allowed to have descendants.  That the continuation of someone’s genetic code, the enjoyment of having rugrats and the pursuit of the support of children in one’s old age are activities that only the financially lucky deserve to engage in.

Does any of this make sense, or have I gone off the deep end?  Is my rational self forgetting to remind me of some key logical step that makes our current view of parenting completely reasonable?  


Filed under society, work

Living Light

My seven-month-old son crawls through the dining room, encounters a strip of sunlight playing through the trees onto the floor and tries to pick it up.

Suddenly light is alive again.

Every morning I do not register daylight, only that I have to arise, have to get started on a to-do list, and where in heaven’s name is the coffee?

But as his tiny fingers grasp in vain for the flashing yellow “object,” I remember. There is a flaming star that seems to revolve around our terrestrial universe. That is, until the scientific-minded amongst us correct our illusions and we realize that we are just a tiny speck being hurled in a mathematical path across what may be an infinity of other specks.

And for every question science answers, many others arise. Okay, so we have our trajectory plotted, thanks to a careful examination of the various sources and reflections of light coming towards us. But what the heck is light? Wave or particle? The mysteries appear to have no end.

It all begins with, why can’t we pick this thing up off the floor?

Sometimes it’s good to start over at the beginning. Babies are brilliant at inspiring such activity. Beginners mind, as Zen practitioners will inform us, is good for letting go of everything we think we know, of getting back to our senses, which are really the only tools we have to investigate with. These subjective windows called sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell, are the only method of acquiring “objective” data.

And a lot of the time it gets us where we want to be. However mysterious light is, we’ve figured out how to harness its power with photovoltaic cells. We’ve accepted its regular movement to the point that most of us no longer practice any rituals to ensure that the sun will return after night, after winter. Our scientific progress has innocuated us against any magical properties that might be present in the light.

We never think of how completely dependent we are on its steadfast output, our intimate gravitational bond, how everything we eat is ultimately founded upon photosynthesis. Every once in a while we see an amazing sunset that gives us pause, but even within that experience we are often mired in our baggage: previous sunsets, remembering a lost love, thinking of how much pollution contributes to the colors, melancholy at the closing of a day. How seldom do we just drink in the colors, allow the brightness to take over our eyes and our awareness.

How seldom do we reach for the light, like a baby, trying all over again to touch magic.

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Filed under science

Giving Birth

This blog is addressed to any parent who is interested in natural childbirth.From what surfing I’ve done, it seems a popular topic is blogging about pregnancy and writing up birth stories. This is great.

I do become concerned when I see a perpetuation of the normalization of traumatic birth. If all you knew of birth came from movies and tv, you would “know” that every woman screams in agony, curses horrible things at her partner, and is at the mercy of the medical staff. If you add to this the testimony of people who are voluntarily steeped in modern medicine exclusively, you will end up with the conviction that childbirth has to be the most painful thing ever, that epidurals are necessary, and that whatever can go wrong probably will.

I want to put my testimony out there as respresenting a large community of women who have given birth naturally and lived to tell about it joyfully. It can be done, and you do not have to be superhuman to do it. You can be a big wimp like me and it is still possible. Continue reading

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Filed under family