Saturday, June 17, 2006

Father's Day Notes, 2006

1. To whomever taught my eldest child to say "no way, josé": I loathe you.

2. My sitemeter numbers have been way down for several weeks. I think this is largely becaus I haven't had a chance to blog as much or comment as much on other people's sites. I've been away from the internets more, because I have largely switched roles with Molly: I've been doing her share of the childcare, and she's been spending as much time working as I used to. The net result: I'm completely exhausted most of the time. And I've barely had a chance to get any work done. Basically, I've been doing my peak oil seminar, and that's it. I would now like to publically express my gratitude for all the childcare Molly has done up to now. I've been on her schedule for only a few weeks, and it is killing me. The fact is, she is a fucking rock. Hopefully by the end of the summer I will be at her level of endurance.

3. There is a lot of chatter right now about Linda Hirshman's claim that women who drop out of the workforce are betraying feminism. On one level, she's probably right. If you drop out of the workforce, you harm yourself by making yourself economically dependent, and to the extent that this serves as an example for others, you hurt others. Hirshman is also right to say that a fulfilling life in the public sphere is a big part of human flourishing. (I don't know if she puts it this way. I'm actually entirely dependent on second hand information, and have no intention of acquiring first hand information right now.)

But there is a really important flipside to Hirshman's arguments that isn't being discussed in the few parts of the interweb that I have had a chance to read recently. If you don't raise children, you are also missing out on an important part of the human experience--shit, you are missing out on an important part of the mammalian experience. Hirshman is within her rights to criticize other people's lifestyle choices, but the lifestyle critique cuts both ways. If you want to make robust claims about the good life--and I do--then in the end, you hare going to have to admit that having children is a part of that.

The difference between the decision to have children and the decision to drop out of the workforce, of course, is that having children is an incredibly selfish thing to do. (Of course, neither of these are always or even usually decisions, but we'll leave that aside.) When Molly and I had children, we enriched our own lives in unimaginable ways: but we also became a big huge resource drain on the planet. If you never have children, you can drive as many Hummers as you want and you will never take as much from the commonweal as we have. So there is an asymmetry between the decision to drop out of the workforce and the decision to have children. If a woman drops out of the workforce, she hurts herself and by example other women. If you choose not to have children at all, you hurt yourself, but you probably benefit others.

4. I'm blogging drunk right now. I hope my family lets me sleep in tomorrow.

5. I've been thinking recently, again, about the choice molly and I made to follow a very labor intensive style of parenting called Attachment Parenting (AP). The parents who are reading this are probably sick of hearing about AP, and the nonparents have probably never heard of it at all. Lets leave it at this: AP is touchy feely and labor intensive. (Actually, most touchy feely hippy programs wind up being labor intensive: organic agriculture, for instance.)

Why are we doing this? I’ve decided to give up on rational justification. I don’t know the research on outcomes, and I’m not going to investigate. Molly read all the books, so I will have to leave the rational part to her. I am doing this because I have made an instinctive decision to trust nurturing instincts. I’m going on instinct both at the first order and the meta level.

And so to bed.

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