Baby blues

I’ve been a parent for a long time, but the arrival of the new baby has alienated me from my friends. Especially (but not exclusively) the childless ones¹.

Others have said it — I’ve said it myself, here — but being a parent in this culture is an isolating experience. I exchange messages with a few friends who also have small children now and then. We’re all going through similar things, but it doesn’t feel like we’re in it together. That’s because we’re not, really — these folks live hundreds, often thousands of miles away from us. We can’t watch each other’s kids, have big potluck dinners, or relax together at sunset while the kids chase fireflies. That’s because we all moved to wherever we could get jobs, and now we’re spread out all over.

If you’re a working class American, with privilege and luck, you might be able to buy into a comfortable standard of living (certainly if we’re talking in material terms, relative to folks in impoverished countries), but it does come at a cost. Of course there’s student loan debt, which is rightfully getting more attention. But what gets less attention is this assumption that you’ll be willing to move wherever you can find work.

What really stings about this whole deal is that I actually like living different places! My ideal life would probably be more nomadic than my current one — and I certainly have no interest in living in the place where I grew up. But if you look through time and across cultures, actual nomadic people moved around communally, and not in these atomized, well-named “nuclear” family units.

This is part of why I spend so much time daydreaming about what life would be like if I wasn’t selling labor under capitalism. My spouse and I are both moderately “successful” and it still fuckin sucks.

[1] I am 1000% supportive of anybody who — whether by deliberate choice or other circumstances — does not have a kid. This isn’t one of those “oh, parenthood is so special and unique and magical” spiels. In a healthy culture, there wouldn’t even be such a gulf between folks with and without kids. But we don’t have a healthy culture, so here we are.