[ b r o k e n c o o k i e . c o m ]

home . briefing . index . notes

Big Salmon

Monterey, Calif.
June 14, 2002

< < previous | next > >

Curious, to find ourselves aligned in a sort of conspiracy to raise two people -- something Jen and I didn't quite get that we'd wind up doing when we started writing notes to each other back in Campus Events all those years ago. With only on-the-job training, we find ourselves working a 24-hour scheme to monitor the moods and learnings of two other people who rely on us for food and guidance. Is Em sad today, or just tired? How can Ellie be so lovable one moment and a minor sociopath the next? Is so-and-so a good enough friend that we should overlook the fighting they do? Is it better to arrange separate playdates? And so on.

It's difficult to understand, until you're in it, how completely overwelming parenting is, how much brainspace it occupies. It changes us completely -- breaks us down through exhaustion in the first few years, then slowly rebuilds a different person, someone who isn't nearly so cute or confident as they once were. But someone who's pretty useful, and who knows a million little things that will never be worth telling.

One evening, a few years ago, some friends came to stay overnight with their first daughter, who was about 10 months old at the time. After an evening of feeding and bathing three toddlers, the four parents collapsed onto furniture, watching them -- suddenly no longer interested in partying as we had when we had hung out a few years earlier.

"It's okay," I told them. "This is what parents do. Now we can go back to work on Monday, and when people ask what we did over the weekend, we can tell them we got together with old friends. And none of us have to admit that we really did nothing at all, but collapse and fall asleep before 11."