Like most people who did not answer a particular calling from an early age, you placed work beside yourself; any occupation would fill up your day but not your heart. I liked that about you.
…the orgy of eternal adolescence characteristic of the childless in the middle age.
Rather, it [the list of downsides of parenthood] might have looked something like this:
2. Less time for the two of us. (try no time for just the two of us.)
3. Other people. (PTA meetings. Ballet teachers. The kid’s insufferable friends and their insufferable parents.)
4. Turning into a cow. (I was slight, and preferred to stay that way. (…) I am vain, or once was, and one of my vanities was to feign that I was not.)
5. Unnatural altruism: being forced to make decisions in accordance with what was best for someone else. (I’m a pig.)
6. Curtailment of my travelling. (Note curtailment. Not conclusion.)
7. Dementing boredom. (I found small children brutally dull. I did, even at the outset, admit this to myself.)
8. Worthless social life. (I had never had any decent conversation with a friend’s five-year-old in the room.)
9. Social demotion. (I was respected entrepreneur. Once I had a toddler in tow, every man I knew – every woman, too, which is depressing – would take me less seriously.)
10. Paying the piper. (Parenthood repays a debt. But who wants to pay a debt she can escape? Apparently, the childless get away with something sneaky. Besides, what good is repaying a debt to the wrong party? Only the most warped mother could feel rewarded for her trouble by the fact that at last her daughter’s life is hideous, too.)
I wasn’t brave, but I was stubborn and prideful. Sheer obstinacy is far more durable than courage, though it’s not as pretty.
To me he was never ‘the baby’. He was a singular, unusually cunning individual who had arrived to stay with us and just happened to be very small.
But indifference would ultimately commend itself as a devastating weapon.
This notion that you are your own work of art is an American one, as you would hasten to point out. Now my perspective is European: I am a bundle of other people’s histories, a creature of circumstance.