Another year in the books, and somehow they each seem to be crazier than the last. 2018 was really separated by the end of July into two pretty distinct years. Taya and I have both gone mostly silent on the internet for the past year, but even more so during the last 5 months. This has been a conscious decsion to be present during the wild ride that begun with our daughter being born.
The first half of 2018 was spent getting ready for the baby to arrive, taking classes, acquiring things, reading books. But also having long conversations about pregnancy, patriarchy, and soceity. Some of those ended up getting recorded as we toyed with the idea of making a podcast about our experience. Pregnancy and society's view of it is pretty wild. I think we might actually try to make this podcast thing happen so all the good stuff will be there. I learned a lot about being marginalized, something I don't have any real personal experience with.
The second half of 2018 has been keeping our daughter alive, happy, and thriving. Parts of the process are very hard. The difficulty can be made better or worse depending on your support system. If you have 24 hour nanny help then some things are easier. If you have parents or family who lives close by and chips in, then again some things are certainly easier. At the same time, some things are made harder by those support systems. You have to manage the help some times which can be rough when it is supposed to be help. We did not have any round the clock nanny help. We did have Taya's mother in town at various times each of which has been a tremendous help. The other difficulty, usually for men, is getting time off of work. Most places have at least some maternity leave, although even that could be better and is still terrible at some work places. I was fortunate to work at a company which has the best paternity policy that I or anyone around us has heard of. I was able to get 12 weeks of paid leave, which we decided to do as 8 weeks of paid leave followed by a 4 day work week for a few months. The time spent fully engaged in the parenting process, learning from our daughter, bonding, already has more than paid dividends and will continue to be vitally important as she grows up.
Most men are not able to spend that much time and I will be the first to admit before I did it I had no idea what I was supposed to get out of it or what use I would be during all that time. I am not the one feeding the baby, she mostly just eats and sleeps, so what is the point of being around the house all that time? That atitude made sense before I went through it, and let me tell you that is the wrong way to look at it. To be fair, my atitude towards things changed beforehand during parenting classes, talking to Taya, and thinking about things myself. But actually getting to spend the time really solidified my belief that a large majority of dysfunctional family dynamics can be traced to a lack of fully supported time to spend becomming a family. The first four weeks are a war zone and you are not really above water long enough to contemplate what is going on. During week five, there is an existential crisis because it just keeps going on, this difficult thing isn't over and in some ways it never will be. But by the end of eight weeks, with an open dialogue with your partner and full engagement in the project, you come out the other side with a deep sense of connection and understanding. It does not mean you have to think everything is perfect or that you don't still have some existential questions, but it takes a solid 6 to 8 weeks to really adapt to the change. And the child has to adapt to you as well. The nuance associated with understanding another person who cannot talk to you takes quite a bit of time. Some times you get it right, some times your partner gets it right, some times we both get it wrong.
There is a lot to be said on this topic and I could keep writing or talking about it for quite some time. But overall this year had a lot of growth. There are some things I wanted to do which I didn't and others which I didn't think would happen which did. Such is life.
I am still mostly posting here just for the books I read so I have yet another year of reading data. I tried to read more this year as I noticed I had fallen off the past couple years after hitting my goal in 2015. See all the data here. I read 32 books, which is my second best year out of the past 4. The biggest accomplishment this year was to read at least one book each month, rather than a lot some months and none in others. I had yet to achieve that in previous years, but finally I managed to get at least one in each month. Surprisingly I read 17 fiction and 15 non-fiction which is the first time that my fiction to non-fiction was not around 3:1. I didn't intentionally read more non-fiction, but I guess that is just what came up on my list. Another year of mostly good books, I am pretty good at screening books for whether I will like it or not. This is the biggest thing that helps me to read more as I want to finish books I enjoy more. Bad books are just killer for momentum. My favorite books this year were: Rise and Kill First, The Shock Doctrine, The Dispossessed, NOS4A2, and Horns. Looking back there were a lot of books I really enjoyed this year so that list is far from complete, but they stuck out more as I was thinking back. I'm hoping to beat this year's total, but I am going to try to expand my horizons a little bit so we shall see. I would be excited to read less if it meant higher quality, but there is nothing wrong with high quality and high quantity.