(This is the way the week ends) Not with a bong but a diaper

And so the three-week full-time Babarama childcare spree draws to a close. Next week resumes a somewhat more balanced mix of Mama and Baba childcare, and with it, a more balanced mix of words with images at this here blogular pit stop.

Did I love being with these two people all day long, five-plus days a week? Youbetcha! They are simply delightful human beings; that’s “the net,” as Auntie Rachel would say. But was it possible for Baba to keep her feathers from getting ruffled the whole time? Er. Next question, please. Was it possible to get much of anything else done besides caring for them and occasionally — and I mean, occasionally — clearing a path through the day’s detritus, so’s we could move about the place and find things? Not really; not so much. But I learned a lot.

My beloved and I (like everyone, or at least everyone in egalitarian relationships) are ever and always searching for balance: between work & play; public engagement & private replenishment; kid- or elder-care & self-care; the one of us having the time for artistic and professional self-realization & the other of us having the same (all the while continuing to afford to live in my homeland, which, over the course of my lifetime, has become about the most expensive place to live on the continent).

Will we find that balance? Some days we think yes; some days we think no. Will we stop trying? ‘Course not. I once heard Joan Baez field a question which she must have been asked at every speaking engagement: “Why pursue a course of non-violent civil disobedience when violence seems to have won out so often in the history of the world?” She gave a three-part answer, which went something like: “First, that’s not so; massive and lasting social change has been accomplished using non-violence. Look at India; look at the American South; look at what’s happening right now in South Africa. Second: the violent aspect of human nature may be more expedient and easy to appeal to, but the loving aspect runs far, far deeper, and the change made using that is lasting and real. But finally: that’s the only life I want to lead. Whether or not nonviolence makes the change I’d like to see in my lifetime, I want a lifetime working for justice that way.”

She may have phrased it differently, but when I heard her say this in the Spring of 1985, after her return from a tour of Central and South America, it stuck, especially that last part. That was my first, deep, “it’s the journey as much as the destination” kind of life lesson. Powerful testimony to the worth of paying attention to the means as much as the ends. Buddhists refer to this as intention, and value it a great deal.

Whether or not my beloved and I expect to find a durable balance between all these things which matter to us (a lot easier to accomplish, you might think, than World Peace), we will continue to try. And appreciate the quiet moments between the pendulum swings.

[*”This is the way the world ends/This is the way the world ends/This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper,” said Mr. T.S. Eliot, and I suppose we’ll all have to wait to find out whether or not he’ll have been right.]

5 thoughts on “(This is the way the week ends) Not with a bong but a diaper”

  1. Thank you, annz. In all truthfulness it’s a well-intentioned Joan Baez paraphrase. But her talk at the Berkeley campus following that tour (documented in the 1982 PBS film There But for Fortune) was hugely influential upon my sense of life mission. I hope all other youngster college-age folks have access to similarly inspirational folks at just the right moment.

    And thank you for appreciating the pun. For reasons I can’t explain, these lines from “Hollow Men” just keep coming back to me at the close of just about everything. Maybe one day it’ll be a bang and then I’ll be cured. But this riff on them takes the prize as the most mystifying and obscure post title, and you don’t even want to know how many sentences were dreamt up and then scrapped in an attempt to lend it even a modicum of relevance (I have to search back many decades to even locate a bong anecdote, despite the accute humor value of the object). Obviously I gave up and just left it there, testiment to the Dada-ist state that three weeks of over-full time kid care can do to even the best-intentioned.

  2. L,D!, I don’t know how you do it. Really. After just three solo weeks I don’t know how you, or every other full-time primary caregiver parent does it. And stay sane. (To which I might imagine you saying, “Who said anybody was sane?” To which I don’t think I’d have a response.)

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.