Organizing for Creativity

I’m a firm believer that physical stuff also occupies a place in my mind. Clutter and disorganization requires me to spend time and energy thinking about things that aren’t my priorities. I’m always interested in ways to make my life simpler, and that includes reducing the amount of stuff we have.

My wife wrote a wonderful article about the work we’ve been doing (by which I mean mostly her) to simplify our house and life. She says it well, so you should read it here.

On Father’s Day

So this Father’s Day, I realized I was a father.

This might not exactly seem like a real leap. After all, I’ve been parenting for 8 months. We knew our lives were going to change starting last year. Really, I’ve had a long time to get used to this.

And yet.

Parenthood, I feel like, is one of the few roles in life that can never be changed. Jobs and relationships can be ended. But once a parent, always a parent. And now I’m a parent. What does that mean to me? It means trying to raise a child into an independent adult. But more than that, it makes me responsible (with my wife) to do that for KRH. What’s best for him is now a permanent part of the calculus of my life.

Today, Kameron Hurley’s podcast reminded me of something. Having a child is inherently a hopeful act. In the same way that planting a garden looks forward to a better world, so too does having children.

The state of the world has always mattered to me, because I live there, and so do all the people I love and care about, and even those I don’t care about. But to have a child is to believe that the world is becoming a better place. It’s to believe that I can make the world a better place. I darn well better, because I’ve made the conscious choice to bring an entirely new person into it.

We live in threatening times. I think all times seem that way, when viewed from the inside, but at no point in my 33 years do things seem potentially bleaker than today. It is in many ways our darkest timeline. But we’ve decided to raise a child in it. I now have one more reason to fight for a better world.

I think you can make a pretty good moral argument that improving the lives of everyone is a pretty fine reason to try and do your part in making the world better, even in small ways. But I’m not responsible for anyone else in the world in the way I am for KRH. I’m no longer just fighting for my world. I’m fighting for his, too.

This is part of the Fatherhood I’ve realized. And I’m glad for it. I didn’t know this until now, but I’ve signed on for something much bigger than I first thought.

The first week

It turns out that entertaining a baby all day is hard!

I mean, I knew that. It’s not news. I did it when my wife was out of the house over the past eight months.  But this is the first time I’ve been the primary person. There is nobody to hand KRH to if I run out of ideas or he gets inconsolably fussy. And so far, that hasn’t happened a lot, but it has happened.

Here’s where I’m at. Because KRH still doesn’t reliably take milk from a bottle or cup, we wake him up at 6:45 before my wife goes to work, so he can nurse. Then she’s out of the door shortly after 7. That’s a very different schedule than KRH had before, where he would often sleep until 8 or 9 am. So he’s getting used to a very different schedule than before.

Now, KRH is a pretty okay napper, but sometimes he’ll sleep for 1.5 hours, and sometimes for more like 30 minutes. Unfortunately, with him getting up much earlier, his short naps won’t cut it. So one of my first jobs is getting him used to a new nap rhythm. We’re only a few days into this, so I can’t really say how we’re doing.

We have been keeping fairly busy. Monday, we ran errands and went to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. We didn’t really see any fun birds (only ducks) but it was a nice walk and picnic. Yesterday was rainy, so we mostly stayed inside and played, except for going to the gym, where KRH played with childcare. Today, we’re going to lunch with my Mom, and if it stops raining we’ll go on a walk, and maybe play with the cloth strips my wife made for him.

Whew. In some ways, its harder than I expected. In others, I’m finding it alright. I’m finding little bits of time here and there to myself, with which i’m not really writing yet, but I am doing some important writing-related work (queries) and listening to writing-related podcasts (currently Print Run and Get To Work Hurley).

I want to figure out the rhythm of the day (to both KRH and myself) before I start sitting down to write. I need to know how to snatch 10 minutes here or a paragraph there, without neglecting KRH in any way. That’s how I’m going to get things done over the next couple of months, and indeed over the next couple of years.

And on that note, I’d better get on with some other things before KRH wakes up from his latest nap. It’s only been a few days of this so I anticipate having more to talk about in the coming days and weeks. Until then!

The last week

Here it is. My last week at work before I go on parental leave.

This is an interesting period. On one hand, I’m hugely looking forward to spend time with KRH. It’s summer and he’s growing and maturing quickly. I’m going to take him to the zoo, to parks and festivals, and just generally spend lots of time with my cute baby doing fun things. I anticipate having to do a lot of learning, and I know it’s going to be harder than I think.

On the other hand, I’m also looking at the next fifteen weeks as a bit of an opportunity. In addition to spending time with KRH, I want to spent time working on me. I’ve been at my current job for over six years, and in the workforce for longer. This will, by far, be my longest break from the grind of the day job. It’s not going to be a vacation, but it is going to be a transition, and transitions to me are always opportunities for change. In a lot of ways, I hope this parental leave may be the transition I wanted KRH’s birth to be. Not so dramatic, of course (I really wanted his birth to be a transformation of my life and habits that, in retrospect, was entirely too ambitious). But I hope it will be an opportunity for reflection and some renewal. A leaving behind of some things and an adoption of some new things. A change to grow and evolve, as we all have to.

I’ll be embarking on all this slowly, because I’ve learned that trying to change everything at once for myself is a bad plan. And for the first little while, I’m just going to get used to the new circumstance. Spending time with KRH, after all, is the priority here. I’ve got some ideas about what I want to do differently and how to do them, but I have no idea how being the lead parent will be, so I’m going to have to adapt things to that reality.

So we’ll see how this goes.