It’s our spring break, and Marta and Nico went to Chicago a little earlier than me because I have to finish a paper. But if truth be told, I was also really looking forward to a couple days alone. I love my family, don’t get me wrong, but man is it nice to spend some time without ANYBODY around.
I was just looking through my pictures and found this one, which I think perfectly captures the lovely chaos of our daily lives:
By contrast, I woke up this morning after a full night of sleep and have been very slowly making my way through my coffee while writing in my journal and listening to the Buena Vista Social Club. The only “person” I’ve talked to is Finn. Soon I’ll go for a run with him, then back here to read and write. The sun is beginning to rise and our house is clean–because yesterday, after dropping Marta and Nico off at the airport, I actually had time to clean up. I feel good.
This is not to say that I would trade it all in if I could. I mean, there is a part of me that would trade it in, because this state–living alone, interacting with my fellow members of the human race less frequently–is more in keeping with my natural introvert disposition, I think. There are some parents who thrive in parenthood. They seem like benign gods in their chaotic universes. I am not one of those.
But after dropping my wife and toddler off at the airport yesterday and feeling an unexpected sadness while watching them disappear into the security line without me, I realized something. And that’s this: being a parent might not suit me the way it does others, but it has made me a better person, I think. I don’t want to say that in a sanctimonious way because I don’t think childbearing is at all necessary for human empathy or a well-lived life. But I’m naturally kind of selfish and also, I think, not all that grounded of a person. Having Nico and, as a result, embarking on this chaotic existence we call family has expanded the way I am as a person.
Overall I think I’m less happy than I used to be (and I’m not alone: there are studies that prove that parents are less happy than their non-parent counterparts) but I also feel bigger, sturdier, healthier. Probably because raising a toddler is a bit like running a marathon: you’re always being pushed to your limits. And then what is the finish line? For me it’s when she finally starts to sleep through the night. But that’s another subject for another day.
OK. I’m off for that run.