Nothing like having a kid to turn you into either a communist or a capitalist.
The long radio silence has been due to the intensity of parenting an infant. Sure, it’d be intense under any circumstances, but I can’t help but believe that the difficulty attending to the 24/7 needs of a baby are compounded by the dissolution of both the extended family and community of days past. Indeed, I’m beginning to believe that the fact that human females pretty much require assistance in giving birth might be a way for nature to enforce a bit of community on our species. Human beings do better in groups.
The isolation of the modern experience – even in a community-friendly district like Park Slope Brooklyn – attests to either the success or the failure of the market. Instead of grandparents and neighbors, we have professional nurses and lactation consultants, fulfilling these basic needs for breastfeeding and bathing instructions.
As a person with a career, having a child puts me in the position of feeling as though I need to choose between earning a whole lot more money – to pay for extra help, a bigger apartment, room for a nanny – or a whole lot less money in order to do these things myself. Either that, or leave my wife Barbara at home alone for ten years, where she can go crazy the way most women of our parents’ generation did.
Yes, there are support groups, doulas, and many other compensatory measures emerging. We will certainly get through this, and as our baby learns to sleep the night we may even get some rest, ourselves. But the creation of markets for basic child-rearing support is no substitute for the fabric of community that could serve this purpose.
Meanwhile, the community I am a part of at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program is gearing up for another semester. If your’e interested in the courses I’m teaching, you can find them here: