Thankful Eve

Although it was my semen, my responsibility, it was the wife who for the most part got us into this mess. She had to be the one to secure the exit route.

I am not allowed to say having a child was her idea in an effort to offload obligation or blame. That is not productive. This is a partnership. However, you could say she was Batman and recruited me as Robin. I will block and tackle, and we can divide and conquer at times, but ultimately this is her show. She needed to be the one to take out the Joker.

She did so, I hope, by getting what sounds like a great job as a virtual curriculum designer at an edtech that owns Montessori schools nationwide. The operative perk is 50 percent off childcare, which creates the fiscal logic needed for an unemployed father to ship the Joker to a Mandarin immersion program deep in the tract-housing wilderness of Orange County.

The Joker’s first day of school is tomorrow. I can’t wait. I feel like I’m being born again. I might put down a dozen Krispy Kremes courtesy of the Mission Viejo drive-thru during the 20-mile trip home in gluttonous celebration.

The Joker is going to cry all day, maybe the rest of the week. His mother might cry all car ride and sporadically through early afternoon. Both of his parents could end up shedding tears, except one set will be sourced from pure joy.

This is so uplifting. I am getting a nice chunk of my life back. I don’t need the whole thing; otherwise I never would have agreed to supply the semen.

I just need to recoup some of that staggering opportunity cost exacted by parenthood, enough to make me feel like at least a shell of who I once was. Being at home with an 8-month-old and staying there the whole time as the creature doubled in age was beautiful in fleeting moments — but sucked so hard overall.

This is going to sound like a dramatic reaction, but I mean it as an objective assessment: It’s been the worst life stage for me so far. Portly elementary school nerd and insecure teenage virgin have nothing on unemployed parent of toddler during pandemic.

My god this child is a battering ram against my mental wellness and serenity. Bro you’re so cute, but can you just exist for a continuous 60 seconds in a way that does not require my attention?

For anyone privileged enough to live in comfortable First World conditions, really the most precious resources are time and attention. Going from zero to one in the offspring department feels like a difference of infinity and makes you painfully aware how finite those resources are.

It wasn’t bad when I spent all day at the office and got to play Daddy Disneyland nights and weekends. This was a more humane cadence for child-rearing. Every random bit of anthropology I come across supports the adage of “It takes a village.” Children are supposed to be raised within a large support system, not by one or two adults who don’t even have renters insurance.

Now we get the help of a professional village for the first time, and I am so excited. Tomorrow will be a good day.


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