In this post: reflections on the first 8 months with a kid, reflections on “is life Good or Bad???”
8 months with a kid
One friend told me “about 8 months is when we turned the corner and started enjoying having a kid.” As with so many parenting stories, I’ve found this true for me too. Some reasons:
- Watching him one night doesn’t mean I’m ruined the next day anymore. Most nights he sleeps from 8 until 4 or 5, I give him a bottle, I go back to sleep until 7 or 7:30 or sometimes even 8. I don’t feel awesome the next day, but it’s within the realm of “normal tired.”
- I can do a lot with him. Especially anything out of the house, he generally loves. As long as he’s not bored.
- I took him on his first bike ride yesterday!
- During the week, our nanny gets him, I go to work, I come back and have like 1.5-2 hrs with him before bed and that’s a decent amount of time with him.
- He’s very cute.
- Effexor 75mg seems to be working for me1.
Parenting is kinda about as fun as a decent hike now. Not a breathtaking Yosemite or something, but a kinda-difficult kinda-boring hike. Or playing Agricola. I’d generally rather be doing my own thing, but it’s tolerable, and there are moments of fun. (“ooh a cool bird”, “I managed to build the extra room in my house that I wanted”, etc.) It’s tiring, and I’m generally glad when we get a chance to stop.
(shit like this (“boring people find parenthood a chore and interesting people find parenthood a great adventure”) does live in my head. Response 1: guilty as charged. I’m boring, and prone to depression, and climbing my way out of it. Response 2: fuck off, different people are different and react to different things differently and that’s ok.)
But it’s worlds better than months 0-4! Holy cow. I don’t feel like an uncontrollable rage/hate/despair monster who’s forever cursed to be out of sync with this world anymore. We can laugh about it2 a bit, but it’s also kind of raw, especially to hear T talk about it.
37 years with a self
Ok, so in trying to make sense of this, my story so far is something like “I got hit by a tornado called Depression for a few months, now I’m climbing back out of it.” Depression turned me into a worse person. I was angry, hateful, frustrated, despairing. People liked me less, and I liked myself less. I hardly recognize myself then (this is still true). There wasn’t much good about it.
This story is difficult, because it recognizes that anyone can get hit with any kind of tornado anytime. Tomorrow you might get cancer. Or long covid, or hit by a car, or wrongfully convicted. You go from now, where your days are between -5 and +5, to -1000. (reminder that human experience is logarithmic.) You’d then spend at least a couple months or maybe the rest of your life trying to climb back out to the state that you’re in right now. And at the end, the reward for getting through all that is… nothing. A peer may just not have any of those hardships and be just generally doing better all-around.
How can we live in such a world? How can we be optimistic, positive, hopeful, interesting when some of us just get screwed? Unpreventably, unpredictably, through no fault of their own?
Here’s a couple thought fragments:
- some people do just fine pretending those -1000s don’t happen, because they don’t, to them! ok, this doesn’t seem like the healthiest way to deal with it
- we can’t avoid all -1000 experiences, but we can learn to capitalize on positive experiences. Maybe -1000 is bearable if regular day to day is between -5 and 500 instead of -5 to 5.
- or maybe not everyday, but some peaks. If you have a handful of experiences that convince you that life absolutely cannot be worth living, then get yourself some experiences that convince you that life absolutely must be worth living. (some ++++ experiences, maybe.3) Let the +s and -s fight it out.
- you do get something from -1000s: depth. I just thought again of Fiona Apple. I didn’t, until just now, know much about her life but I googled it and it seems rough. She said, of one particular trauma: “It doesn’t get into the writing. It’s a boring pain. It’s such a fuckin' old pain that, you know, there’s nothing poetic about it.” but I bet she couldn’t have made what she has without the depth of that pain4. (Not only that trauma, but OCD depression and anxiety.)
Not sure yet which of these I believe, but the baby’s waking up; time to go do some more hiking.
It does kinda make me tense. For a while it lowered my appetite, but that seems to be back. Some mild sexual side effects. I worry about long term effects of boosting my norepinephrine (as well as serotonin). But it’s better than Months 0-4. ↩︎
tweet by me: “Me to new parents: Congrats! Hey, I can listen if you have problems. I mean, the first few months I felt real bad. So feel free to vent. Yeah, I felt like absolute dog shit, worst time of my life, awful dark thoughts, psychopathic nightmare shit, wait where are you going” ↩︎
for the record, the official stance of this blog is “don’t do anything illegal.” ++++ experiences on drugs are purely hypothetical. Get some ++++ experiences meditating, maybe. ↩︎
… this train of thought goes to weird places. It’s a fine line between appreciating art that comes from pain, and celebrating pain. If life’s not beautiful without the pain, well then I’d rather never ever even see beauty again. But again, it’s unavoidable, so we make the most of it. Please don’t take this as celebration of anyone’s pain. ↩︎
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