Sunday, December 20, 2009

Single Subject Simpleton

Aaron Triaster has a delightful article on being a stay at home father. I could see my ever so misunderstood self portrayed perfectly here :

The common misconception of childless, alcohol-imbibing party guests and cyber-ether baby-haters alike is that parents blabber constantly out of some arrogance or indulgent desire to show off their great kids and their perfect parenthood. Nothing could be further from the truth. We parents have so little now; the children have taken so much. We just have nothing left to say. We sometimes hear ourselves and know how we must sound to others, and we feel great shame. Our children have broken us and turned us into single-subject simpletons. They've accomplished this feat in what is supposed to be the prime of our intellectual life.

J is the center of my universe and I have a hard time recalling who I was before I became her mother, what I did to occupy my time and what my most pressing concerns were. How one little person can displace my entire life before they arrived, is a puzzle I have yet to solve. Indeed the coming of J into my life has turned me into a "single-subject simpleton" as Traister puts it. It takes concerted effort to keep a social conversation J-free so to speak. Each time I am able to pull it off, it seems like an achievement.

Sustaining a social conversation with folks who don't yet have kids is pretty daunting - it becomes very important they we share atleast a few other common interests. A child however, is a great leveler - I can have a conversation with just about any parent and it does not matter that we have absolutely nothing except parenthood in common.

Needless to say this can be the undoing of a new relationship. The question is to be or not to be my post-J self (which is apparently the only self I have any awareness or recollection of) so I am upfront about who I really am. Like the author, I am acutely conscious of the fact that child-free adults are underwhelmed by us parents who constant blather about kids and would want to avoid us like they would a soiled diaper.

3 comments:

LIFE_REFACTORED said...

This is a beauty of a post. Who were we and who exactly are we now? It is a wonder of nature as to how, in an instant, our life changes from that carefree , spontaneous individual to that of an ever thinking ahead of our child's life, over protective(till they grow up at least), give up on everything else person whom the child will soon learn to take for granted. Not necessarily a bad thing, but maybe that's how ma nature meant it to be?
At times, when our child is sleeping, we discover that we have time at our disposal and suddenly we are 'idle' and really do not know what to do. Do we pickup a book and look for that flare for reading that I used to have? Do i pickup my now long dry brush and dust up that canvas? Do I even want to get back into that mould that I once so feverishly occupied.

Anonymous said...

I'm childfree but many of my friends have kids.

Sorry to vent here, but what annoys me is not the constant talk of their children, but the sudden pretences of morality that some of them adopt.

For example, one of my friends keeps telling me that motherhood has made her more patient and selfless...in reality, she has very little empathy for anyone who isn't her own child.

Another example--a friend brought her own baby to work the other day. I didn't ask to hold the baby, and she exclaimed, "Don't you want to hold him? Don't you have a heart!"
This was coming from someone who'd never held a baby, let alone spoken to a child, in her life!

-SG

Heartcrossings said...

Anon - I hear you :) Children can be a lot of wonderful things to their parents but they usually don't make more moral or ethical than they used to be before the child came along.I have seen parents who act like their kids were a fancy accessory not a lot different from their expensive home or luxury car - at that point it becomes awfully difficult for any other person to tolerate their ceaseless prattle about their children.