I’m sitting here taking stickers off of my wife’s old notebook computer, which will go up on eBay shortly, after a quick cleaning and a reinstall of windows.
And as silly as this sounds, it’s making my heart ache.
This is the sort of sentimentality that I used to make fun of my mother for when I was younger, but now here I am, thinking about how this has always been “mommy’s computer,” the one that we bought either any of the kids were born.
It has seen countless Skype conversations between our children and extended family members on both sides. It has shown them not just their relatives, but also videos, instructional materials, games—you name it.
Each of the stickers that I’m peeling off is a moment in time, a tiny moment of agency and personhood, in which a little human being acted in the world and left a mark.
Now I am erasing those marks. God help me.
— § —
Similarly, I look back at this blog reaching all the way into the 1990s, and I realize just how much parenthood has changed me, just how much parenthood changes a person, “grows them up,” turns them into something other than the presently culturally popular understanding of a “person.”
All of those feminist diatribes on maintaining personhood (and the similar things, though there are many fewer of them, for men) now seen so strange and misimagined. Kids are a part of your personhood. They are the most significant component of it. I can’t imagine things being any other way.
What do I care about as a person? Why, my children, of course. Everything else is secondary.
— § —
And all that righteous political anger that I used to feel about the abused, ignored, and dispossessed of the world?
I don’t feel anger any longer. What I feel is pain. Suffering. Empathy. Because now the bad things aren’t things that happen to other people on behalf of whom I have an opinion; they are things that could happen to my children, and that is intolerable.
It’s not anger any longer; it’s a deep, shattering shortness of breath and desperation that starts somewhere deep in your guts and spreads to every extremity.
Anger at the insanity of the world? How about sheer panic and fear?
Injustice is now a completely different thing. It’s personal. I’m not a crusader; I’m a victim-in-waiting.
— § —
They say that parenthood changes you, but that’s an inadequate statement. It’s better to say that after parenthood, you won’t recognize and will think far, far less of the person that you were before parenthood.
It doesn’t change you; it makes you, finally, after long years of infancy and infantilism.