The Burden of Existence

My husband wrote this observation in 1997, more than ten years before we had the babies. It provides a thoughtful perspective and broader implications to my daily seemingly-miniscule struggles with them, a main point of contention being that I cannot understand why anyone would want to spend so much of their time in distress, particularly over whether or not they can have ice cream for breakfast.

“A baby’s crying jag and how permanent it begins to seem, as if it will never stop – and as if it should never stop, as if it were the most natural response to being in life: not silence but rebellious yet hopeless crying. An interruption feels tenuous: the baby will soon begin crying again. For it will take him years to get used to the discomforts, the tedium of being alive. The mother is helplessness to find a single source of distress: all she can do is find a temporarily effective distraction. Her genius, which is also society’s, lies in finding such distractions – not cures but distractions, an illusion of all-rightness.”

He sent this to me laughingly at how spot-on a childless man could be. His outsider status at the time, combined with his absolute intelligence and ability to think through any scenario regardless of experience succeeding in hitting upon a point I – being drowned in this – would never have thought of.

Existence is hard.

So many times, I’m at a loss, as my children seem to be actively looking for the next thing to cry over. Why would such happy babies want to be sad all of the time? Perhaps it is deeper than them, perhaps it is deeper than all of us.


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About parentwin

Parent of twins, blogger, writer and journalist. I write things. Sometimes people even read them.
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