My social life isn't what it used to be. The high point of today was a 4-year-old's birthday party that included an art project, balloon tossing, a game of hot-potato, one tough fucking pinata, pizza, and chocolate cupcakes with green frosting. Needless to say, it was a pretty good party. I've learned to stay amused under even the most challenging circumstances.
After kids, one's life enters the hyper-distracted zone, and your social circle narrows to those who share your fate. Adult conversation mostly occurs in the context of Children's Museum and Zoo dates. Pieces of meaningful ideas get wedged in between demands for cheese, potty breaks, and juice.
Today, amid the lumbering blue balloons and the loud little people who love them, three of us considered our world of diminished expectations and no time.
There was the woman who was staying home, trying to care for a family on an academic husband's income. There was me, house poor and spending as much as my mortgage again on daycare so that my wife and I could earn more than we ever thought we would and still have no money at all. And then, there was my other friend, back in school pursuing a second career, heroically trying to study while raising four kids.
If there's anyone out there having an easy time raising their family, they don't run in my circles.
We quickly agreed that the baby-boomers seemed to be doing just fine, and had pretty much ruined it for everyone. My more conspiratorially-minded friend said that leisure among the working class was at an all-time high during the civil rights movement, and the "powers that be" decided to ratchet things up on us all so that no one would have any time to organize.
I like this theory. I picture a bunch of fat bald guys sitting around an enormous mahogany table, drinking port and waving their cigars around for emphasis, opposing subsidized daycare, livable wages, job security, and anything else that would make life more reasonable for working people. And then I realize there's just enough truth in this to piss me off.