I've been a full-time single dad for the last 12 days, and it's cutting into my ability to just about anything else.
This is not an appeal for sympathy, rather it's an explanation of why I'm not putting together a more thorough or well-researched post this week. I resolved back in November that I would post something every Sunday night in the coming year, managed to do it through the month of December, and really enjoyed it in the process.
But Gita left for Nepal on Xmas day to see family and friends and take care of some family business. She planned for a three-week stay, as that's more or less the minimum reasonable stay given the cost of the ticket and the 36 hours of combined flight and layover time it takes to get there. Not to mention the jet lag.
When she was going through chemo and radiation the thought of going back to Nepal again sustained her through some of the difficult weeks, so I couldn't hold taking the trip against her. But I wasn't looking forward to being alone with the kids for three weeks. What would I do?
As it turns out, we have had a lot of fun. I've also found out that moms probably do have the better end of the deal, in that spending more time with your kids makes them less clingy, more fun to play with, and more open in conversation. I've had a chance to hold and nurture my son through a serious sick spell (projectile vomiting and nosebleeds!) and play house and endless games of Candyland with my daughter. As well as help them rearrange the Xmas lights, helping them put them up under the dining room table, as they have declared that now to be the 'kids house'.
I feel like more of a true dad now, after surviving, and even enjoying the extra time with my children. I've tried to arrange an 'adventure' each day, taking a trip to a museum, or going skating, or visiting a relative's house. And that's fun, but the most enjoyable times have been spent at home, letting them direct the play, and joining in where I could. I didn't expect that.
Of course, it's also completely exhausting. That's the other side of the mom coin. It's wonderful and completely energy-sucking. I fell asleep on the kids' bed a couple of times while putting them to sleep, waking up an hour or two later, confused about where I was and how I got there.
So that's where my focus has been.
It has made me reflect on the place of family and caring for dependents in the Long Emergency/Descent/Ascent or whatever you care to label it. As John Michael Greer pointed out last week, we are in the descent already, that is, we are experiencing a slow-motion ongoing apocalypse of sorts if we care to be honest with ourselves about it.
Lots of doomer publications focus on (to the point of fetishizing about them) the role of bunkers, dry food stocks, guns and geographical escapes as the means of escaping the perceived events of the near future.
But, with young children, my outlook is very different.
Granted, I don't buy the fast descent scenarios that some are putting out there. I think the decline of the American empire is something that I will deal with for the rest of my life, as will my kids. This is not something to be ridden out in a bunker in Idaho eating MREs. At least not as far as I'm concerned.
I prefer to trust that there will be some sort of civilization for my kids to grow up in. I would like them to be in a school with other kids, so long as that is possible and safe. I want them to learn about gardening and build useful skills to deal with whatever future they'll be inhabiting. Perhaps the cornucopians are right, and there will be a future of even greater energy and optimism, and with plenteous office jobs that require little to no effort. But I'm not banking on it. Neither am I banking on Mad Max.
There's a lot of room between those two visions of the future, and very few people addressing them, save for some of the folks who's blogs I've linked to on the right side of the page.
That's something I'll try to touch on more in the future, as I don't have the energy left tonight.
I do wonder how much of the bunkers/guns/MRE mentality is driven not so much by the desire to ride out a difficult situation as by the desire to have ones mettle tested by extreme circumstances. I also wonder how much of it involves having license to live out some John Waynesque shoot-em-all fantasies. In other words, in all but the most dire, fast-collapse scenario, are the preparations really useful? Or is it more about the desire to live out a video game?
And when raising two young children, and surrounded by people with young children, I have to wonder how far into barbarism most regular people will really allow themselves to descend into. Difficult times can drive people to do things they otherwise might not, but there is still a lot of good here. I see it in my neighborhood, my city, my state. My country is so large that it's hard to see any consistent qualities throughout, but I think there's still a lot of good there as well.
That's no excuse for not being prepared. I am preparing for a more difficult future, without trying to draw attention to myself (other than yakking about it on this blog of course). That means being resourceful in a lot of ways- being able to grow and store food, and having a secure home. But no bunker. I prefer to know my neighbors.
More on that another day. Thanks to those who have commented on the last couple of posts by the way. I do appreciate it. I'll try to address something more substantial next week, but still have 10 days of single dad life ahead of me. I'll see what I can manage.