To those I often see in the Bay Area around this time of year, I’ll be missing Maker Faire this time around. I’ll be staying home with my little dude, who cannot fend for himself and must have everything done for him.
I grew up in a family business. I was raised behind the counter of a store; I was stocking shelves by the time I could stand; I was making change by the time I could count.
Most of my childhood, I was surrounded by adults doing work. I think it taught me a lot.
I bristle somewhat when I hear people say “don’t define yourself by your work,” because I like my work, and I think I occasionally do good work, work that feels like an authentic expression of something I care about. And I do not feel entitled to any sort of success without doing work, so I feel like work must be worth something.
Work must be important, otherwise I would just do no work and wait to be successful, and that math doesn’t compute, to me, based on my mindset or my lived experience.
So when my own son was on his way, I pictured myself perkily doing my regular work with him hanging off the front of me in one of those little carriers, cheerily observing and absorbing everything in order to become a creative person of his own one day.
It has not gone quite that way. It may still, but not yet.
He’s here, now, and I don’t know whether he’ll be a creative person, or an entrepreneur, or not; he’s got plenty of time to figure out what those words even mean, much less what to do with his life.
The first thing people ask when they see him is “Are you sleeping at all?” Like it’s a big in-joke that babies will wake you up in the night. Yes, thank you, I’m sleeping. (In little two-hour bites, but yes.)
Our boy is six weeks old — or just one week and change if you correct for his premature arrival — and as of yet he’s basically a houseplant. He stays where you put him, wiggling around like he’s imitating a skydiver. He doesn’t yet understand “objects” or “interaction” or “operating his limbs purposefully” or “responding to anything”. He lives in a world all his own, population one.
We’re also packing up our life to move to a new house, quite unexpectedly as it turns out…and we’ve got a sick kitty who requires a lot of attention…and projects and tasks are stacking up at work. I’ve been trying to wrap up a bunch of complicated projects that I started months ago KNOWING academically that they were going to be impossible to maintain once the baby arrived, but not quite anticipating just how fast the days would slip by, just how hard it would be to accomplish basic tasks in this state of mind.
This will be old news to many (you parents out there) and of little interest to others, I imagine. Remarking on the capital-C Change that the arrival of a child brings to one’s life is so mundane an observation as to be a dull cliché.
I think because of that, I figured it would be different for us, somehow. We would be smarter; we would figure it out.
And we have, so far — but we have withstood it, not bested it, which I understand one never quite does.
I’m grateful that I have the flexibility to stay home with my wife and the kitty and the baby, for a little while at least, and I will beg your forgiveness for the occasional lapse here on the site. This is my conduit to you, and I want to keep it alive, so I will try my best.
I want to make more fun things for you to take home, but I don’t want to shill products more than I provide new comics. People email me every day offering to cram my site full of terrible ads, and I turn all of them down, or ignore them entirely, because that feels gross to me, and disrespectful to you.
I will get back to work soon enough, I hope, with the baby hanging off of me or not. I will imagine myself teaching him all sorts of important things about Business and The World and Adultness, when in reality he will probably be teaching me things. Already, at his knee I have learned much about the subject of Wiggles, and we are working now on a new effort called Groans-And-Moans.
He is issuing creative product of his own, daily, but so far it kind of stinks, and I throw it away in a special can.
I need to become okay with not doing as much work, at least for a bit. But this is also my job, and I have to do some work, or else I don’t have a job.
The solution, of course, is obvious, as my own parents knew: child labor. Work hard, little one, and learn fast. Someday, this will all be yours.