Monday, September 21, 2009

do i have an ethic left?

When I was pregnant with Martin, I heard all the classic lines. "You're life will never be the same." "Watch out, parenting is hard work." "Get ready to lose a year of sleep." Then I had Martin and life was really great. I didn't get much work done. And I did lose some sleep. But the positives significantly outweighed the negatives. I wondered why, when people told me it would be so hard, that they forgot to mention that it would also be so much fun.

But maybe they were referring to now, the time I have an autistic 5-year-old and a teething 16-month-old. This is hard, particularly in the evenings. My spouse and I mentally prepare ourselves for a patience-draining period between 5m and 8pm every night. The time usually includes only one of the two children actually eating any of the home-cooked meal one of us has prepared. It also involves at least one of them losing it for a seemingly insignificant reason, perhaps a limit on raisin intake or a misplaced deck of president flashcards. It also involves Martin acting like teethbrushing is a violation of the Geneva Convention and Sasha screaming out to the four corners of the earth that her awful, awful parents have dared to put her to bed at 8 o'clock. I'll just admit it: for the past several weeks, if not months, I have rarely enjoyed my children in the evenings. I'm considering various vices to get through the evening hours. I've never liked Scotch. I've never even tried marijuana. But this seems like a situation where both might be in order.

My husband and I took a vacation earlier this summer. To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we spent 13 days in Croatia and Bosnia. It was our first substantial break from childcare since Martin was born. It was wonderful. But now that I've had a taste of a break, I seem less and less able to live without one. Vacation made me a wimpier parent. It made me want more vacation. (Note to Calvin or Weber: your Protestant ethic has been vindicated, at least in my life.)

But maybe these feelings about evening after evening with cranky kids in contrast to lovely memories of the Adriatic Sea relate to what I was writing about yesterday? Rather than feel bad about wanting to up our liquor intake or dreaming of far-off locales, what we need are more hands on deck. More hands to help with the challenges of parenting any kids, but especially special needs kids. But how to find those extra hands? That's the problem.


  1. I seriously almost didn't read the picture because you put *his* picture up. Having serious Calvin issues. :) Why not the Adriatic. I am still reading. Sans Autism, 3 and 1 were simply hideous at least for us two greenhorns without a gaggle of siblings. I did see a couple of Mennonite churches in your area with job openings. . .

  2. Thank you, thank you for posting this. It makes me feel so much better about the times I don't enjoy my little "blessing." I think it's definitely related to what you put up yesterday (lack of hands), but also the idea that children must constantly be entertained/educated. I feel guilty at times for letting/making Cady play on her own or for not having planned activities for the days I'm with her. I feel exhausted even when I'm not tired and I only have one child. Talk about wimpy. Wimpy=me :-)

  3. (Upon your recommendation) I read the New Yorker piece and what struck me the most was the idea that "most jobs are made for people who aren't taking care of children." This seems to be true in academia where the publish or perish model still sets the pace for success in the academic world. There seems to be a basic problem with institutions that seem to function only when professors are working a full day at work and then more hours in the evening and perhaps pop into the office on the weekend. I've always felt that we are doing our students a disservice when we model such a poor work/life balance and when 'enlightened' academicians continue to perpetuate it. It seems that we put ridiculous expectations on ourselves about what we can accomplish professionally and personally.

  4. I so wish I could be there to help out now and then! :(