Thursday, July 22

on parenting

Photography by Jessica Todd Harper

"It's a lovely magic trick of the memory, this gilding of hard times. Perhaps it's just the necessary alchemy we need to keep the species going. But for parents, this sleight of the mind and spell on the heart is the very definition of enchantment." --Jennifer Senior

Last week I became a little consumed with this article about parenting in NY Mag. (The title alone got me a bit riled up and depressed about the direction humanity is headed, in general.) Although it seemed a little late to make the point, the last page---and especially the last two paragraphs---opened a kind of beautiful discourse. Despite sleepless nights and nap-less days (and maybe because of them), I know just how it feels to become so "enchanted" with a little one, and I am proud to say that having a child has made me a less self-centric, less self-centered person.

Thank you, Oscar. You bring me intense gratification, nostalgia, delight and so much happiness.



liz stanley said...

it kind of bummed me out. but maybe because i didn't finish reading it (it was really long!)

ali said...

Liz, I had the same reaction. I don't know if it was the six pages of depressing material or the fact that I was reading it on a phone at 2 a.m., but I think the ending was nice, and I'm going to stick with what I got from it.

I'm not reading it again to find out if I'm right. :)

marta said...

oh ali, i love when you blog. even if posts are far and few between, they are still heartwarming to me. i've been thinking of you as i am reading one of your recommendations, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. wishing you and your two boys well.

100 Percent Cottam said...

i was super bugged by what i read, too. being a parent is one of the ONLY worthwhile things i've done with my life so far! ;) and totally worth the sacrifice for many reasons, especially for what it's help/is helping me become.

chelsea said...

Hi Ali,

Thanks for this post. Beautifully said. I read the article too and while I think it's great that parents these days can be truthful and open about how hard it can be to raise children, I found the general attitude of the piece pretty disturbing. It was a very dismal outlook.

I loved the last two paragraphs though (as you stated) and find this quote so beautiful!! I can see through your posts on your blog the last year or so (rare, but always lovely!) how much you adore being a mom and it's so refreshing.

One thing the article pointed out that I do agree with is that parents in Scandinavian countries tend to enjoy parenting more, be more patient and less stressed because they get tremendous support from the government (a year's maternity leave, $, etc) I found this to be SO true when I was in Sweden. I wish we supported families more in this country.

Sorry for the rant! I don't even have kids so probably don't know what I am talking about:)



Bridgett said...

I stopped reading this article at the end of the fourth page because it was depressing me too much, but after hearing that the ending was good I finished it the other day.

The article does a wonderful job of summarizing the perspective of the 'me/I' generation now that we've reached parenthood. This statement summed it up for me. This is another brutal reality about children: They expose the gulf between our fantasies about family and its spikier realities. They also mean parting with an old way of life, one with more freewheeling rhythms and richer opportunities for romance.

I liked when the article stated,
The answer...may hinge on how we define “good.” Or more to the point, “happy.”

Parenthood is difficult at times and certainly an adjustment, but it makes me sad to read that so many feel they aren't happy/fulfilled being a parent. Sometimes I feel like the society of America has lost the spirit of statisfaction in persistant hard work that once made this country great.
If our definition of 'happy' does not exist in the reality of being a parent then I think we should take a hard look at why we've created an unobtainable standard for ourselves at present and change it.

lane said...

Ali--you are such a cute mom. It brings me joy just to watch you enjoying Oscar.

Dansie Family said...

just what i needed at the end of bad parenting day. i'll admit, 4 kids is wearing on me and i am probably not my happiest right now, but i wouldn't change a thing. i just need to change my attitude sometimes, like today, and remember how awesome it is to be a mom to four awesome kids.

Amanda Conley said...

I read THE WHOLE thing. Whew! That feels like an accomplishment just to finish that article! ha!
It was extremely depressing to know how many people don't feel happier because of children, and also to have my own eyes opened to my own sometimes negative attitudes toward having to just be responsible. Oh, my goodness, I love my children so much. We can never find happiness if we're constantly seeking it. But if we're giving it out, it inadvertently finds us.

Persis Shah said...

i loved reading it...and that image is wonderful too!

just stumbled upon your blog and i have to say its LOVELY! do drop by mine too when you have some time. perhaps we can follow each other.=)

have a lovely day!


ali said...

And the discourse that opened here made me miss blogging.

Thank you everyone for your comments.

Alexa @ sohdalex said...

I am in love with the bathroom decor in this shot!

Liv said...

My baby is now going into her 3rd month, and until now I didn't know WHY ON EARTH I decided it was time for me and my husband to have a baby.

It is extremely hard, but now that she can smile and react to stimuli with happiness, I can see why it's worth it.