• Dadwagon on Facebook
  • Dadwagon on Twitter
  • Dadwagon RSS feed

My Favorite Disaster

November 5th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  6 Comments

There’s an essay that Rebecca Solnit wrote some years back on fires and hurricanes and blizzards that I was thinking about this morning: “we all have our favorite disasters,” she wrote, and what she meant, I think, is that in times of great calamity and stress, people feel a unique kind of communal pleasure. There is a delicious sense of freedom found in the moments of upheaval because we can cast aside the quotidian duties the moment has made irrelevant.

I bring this up as it seems to fit with the way I’ve spent the past few days. As our regular readers will know, my girlfriend and I had a daughter on Wednesday, via c-section, and I’ve been spending most of my time at the hospital with Ellie, our newborn, and Tomoko, her lovely and brave and caring mother.

I haven’t kept up with events at work, or politics, or sports, or my book, or this blog. Not exactly a vacation, but I won’t deny the relief I feel at being able to lay down the burden of adulthood for a few days and just commune with the newest addition to my family.

Solnit, paraphrasing William James, also  called disasters the “moral equivalent” of carnival: “no one dies, but carnival begets the same sense of relief from the conventions and categories that bind us.” And yes, no one died in this birth, but when our doctor informed us that the umbilical cord had been wrapped three times around Ellie’s neck (perhaps the reason she was breech), I couldn’t help associate the three–birth, carnival, disaster.

A birth feels like a carnival. You experience a similar sensation of adrenaline-spiked joy at your child’s first sounds as you might experience in a crowd surging at a parade–a swell of joy and drive and irrational purpose that you feel is shared by those around you.

Solnit later compares disaster to revolution: “the outbreak of revolution or insurrection begets a similar moment when the very air you breathe seems to pour out of a luminous future, when the people all around you are brothers and sisters, when you feel an extraordinary strength.”

I thought of this too. A new child breaks your connection to the past. So many things must be reconfigured, new equations calculated, old relationships put to new purpose.

We’ve been in the same room since Wednesday, a dim, sweltering box jammed tight with Tomoko’s bed, a bassinet, and a chair for me. Nurses have come and gone bringing cheer and information and drugs for Tomoko. I’ve relearned how to swaddle an infant, re-remembered how to diaper one, and again tested the limits of my ability to go without sleep.

Tomorrow we go home. The bills beckon, as does the grocery shopping and the demands of my employer and publisher. I don’t mind or fear that return to my life. I just would like to capture what I’m feeling now, this quietly and small epoch of dislocation and privacy and narrowly focused concern.

Solnit renders it nicely, I think: “the revolutionary moment of utter openness to the future turns into one future or another. Things get better or they get worse, but you are no longer transfigured…life calls with its small, insistent whisper.”


Responses

  1. Matt says:

    November 5th, 2010at 12:24 pm(#)

    You goin’ all soft on us now?

  2. karen says:

    November 5th, 2010at 3:34 pm(#)

    Congratulations! Looking forward to reading the sleep-deprived posts of a new dad of multiple children. Congrats to your wife and son too … on the addition of a sister. Everyone should be lucky enough to have a sister … I have 3.

  3. dadwagon says:

    November 5th, 2010at 4:30 pm(#)

    Thanks, Karen. –theodore.

  4. Spencer says:

    November 5th, 2010at 4:55 pm(#)

    Congrats Theodore. My little guy is 365 days and 6 hours old, so this post brings up memories near the surface. I’ll reflect a little, then bake cakes and open the keg.

Trackbacks

    Will The Real Theodore Please Stand Up? | DADWAGON
  1. My Favorite Blizzard | DADWAGON

Leave a Response

tips/suggestions/grievances

Recent Comments

  • Dee: As one of the impressed moms there last night, and also because my kid ate 3 bowls of that bolognese, thanks for...
  • Drew Wallner via Facebook: I’m totally making this when we get back from holiday travel, I even just got a...
  • Matt: Whoops! Just put that back in. The recipe editor has been fired.
  • Ed Lilly: Looks great – thanks for posting! One question – you did not specify putting the meat back into...
  • Maks: I’m against baby yoga for sure, but want to say something regarding that author is a little wild about...

DadWagon Reads!

DadWagon

Do you show this to your kids?

AP Images

An unnamed gunman gestures after shooting the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. Turkish police shot and killed the gunman, Turkish station NTV reported. Russia's ambassador to Turkey has died after being shot in Ankara, according to Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman. #APPhoto by Burhan Ozbilici

Story developing: http://apne.ws/2hRY0rH

Dec 19th, 2016 7:32pm • No Comments

"They watch their mothers and fathers overdose and die on the bathroom floor. They live without electricity, food or heat when their parents can’t pay the bills. They stop going to school, and learn to steal and forage to meet their basic needs."

The Children of the Opioid Crisis

wsj.com

Left behind by addict parents, tens of thousands of youngsters flood the nation’s foster-care system; grandparents become moms and dads again

Dec 16th, 2016 2:11pm • No Comments

Don't forget the gift receipt(s)!

A Gift for Every Type of Dad (That You Can Buy on Amazon)

nymag.com

Including cricket-flour protein bars, ice-cold beer chillers, and an air fryer that uses hardly any oil.

Dec 9th, 2016 3:27pm • No Comments

As Ryu Spaeth pointed out, the only thing worse than "Papa" is the pronunciation "paPA." PERISH THE THOUGHT.

DadWagon

“I just think ‘dad’ and ‘mom’ are very Saved by the Bell-ish,” said Will Grose, 36, a Brooklyn father of three boys under the age of 5.

Nov 30th, 2016 5:20pm • 1 Comment