To All Tired New Parents

“For every tired, overworked, bitter parent who tells you how much you won’t get done when you have kids, there’s a parent like John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, who talks about cradling his son in one arm, and picking out melodies on the piano with the other. Or George Saunders, who stole time from his office job for seven years to write the stories that would become CivilWarLand In Bad Decline. Or any number of moms and dads who make it work and make the work. They are out there. Find them. Hang out with them. Ask them how they do it. Let them be your role models.”

On writing post-fatherhood, by Austin Kleon

(via Chris Glass)

6 Comments leave a comment below

  1. Kleon doesn’t trust his readers to leave comments, so I’ll leave one here. As a Tired New Parent, I read his article with all the attention and mindfulness that I could muster as I’m slumped over at desk, falling asleep in my coffee. Newborn + toddler = an exhaustion that I could never imagine.

    Kleon should have left room for parents that aren’t trying to be the next internet superstar, but are just trying to keep it all together. He uses the tweets of some nameless, broken Troll as a way to be deaf to and dismissive of the experience of raising kids. He pays lip-services to the experience with a 7 word CYA “…it’s been way harder than I expected” I’m not a fucking failure because I’m exhausted all the time and can’t find the energy to paint after working a whole day, then coming home to do dishes, make dinner, bathe my kids, put one to sleep, cradle the other, do dishes, make lunches, do more dishes, go to bed only to get up every three hours to feed & change the newborn. In a few hours, I get the pleasure to drag my ass back to my desk to do it all over again.

    This empty, rah rah empowering bullshit that feeds the internet is so detached from reality that it creates a world that says you’re nothing unless you’re working towards your next TED talk. And I reject that insanity. Mr. Kleon would have a lot more cred (as a creative motivational speaker!) if he demonstrated some connection to reality instead of insulting the people in his audience that are trying really fucking hard.

  2. Thank you Mike L. I feel the same. It is lovely that some are able to appear to have it all together. I tend to question it. Ultimately, it’s unhealthy to compare. Maybe John Darnielle’s baby doesn’t have acid reflux like mine did. Maybe he has a superhero spouse that carries more of the load than he realizes. Maybe he doesn’t need a full 8 hrs of sleep. Maybe he’s medicated. I like to imagine all these things are true. and I don’t think that makes me bitter. It makes me honest. real. Parenthood (of small children especially) is something to be survived at times. It is an adventure to be proud that you had the strength to endure. It is a testament to the love you have for your child. Please don’t minimize it.

  3. I liked it.

    I didn’t read this as trivializing the difficulty of parenthood. I thought it was more that while things slow down, priorities change, and parenthood turns your world upside down, it’s not a death sentence to adult aspirations. It’s HARD. It’s occasionally paralyzing and often terrifying. But what I read is that it’s not The End of Your Non-Child-Related Dreams as so many like to knowingly say to new or expecting parents.

  4. It is okay for this quote not to be for you. I am an exhausted father with a full time job and dreams. I am inspired by this quote. It is for me.

  5. My initial reaction–as the mother of a child who went seven months before successfully receiving a diagnosis that allowed him to stop crying 15 hours a day and start sleeping more than three hours at a stretch or more than eight hours in any twenty four, and who still struggles with developmental issues including new ones that come to light now and again; but who appears outwardly and to most people like a very “normal” child–was that this is another of this simplistic and heartless statements made by and for people who live lives privileged by economic, social, and medical good fortune. I will allow, however, that perhaps it is intended as encouragement for even those like myself who are not so fortunate and was merely stated in a way open to misinterpretation. It is difficult for those of us who are overtired, saddened by the daily suffering of our beloved child and for whom the light at the end of the tunnel seems to record as often as it seems to approach, to read such statements without internalizing its reproachful language of “bitterness” and unproductive failure.

  6. Please read “recede” for “record” above.