Field of Science


Tomorrow I will see my children for the first time in six weeks. If you're a parent and haven't tried being away from them for that long, my recommendation is never to try it. Not that all parents hate it as much as I do, I know, but given that I feel like someone has cut off my left arm, I just can't tell anyone that it's all the good things one can imagine six weeks alone to be.

My kids are a lot of trouble. Two boys ages five and two, and they are every bit as active and exhausting as it sounds. But they are also my reason to live. Since they were born other important things in life went from top priorities to I hope to get those done when I retire. Or when my kids retire. Not that I plan to retire, but they might. I do go to work, but otherwise spend all my free time together with them. So six weeks suddenly alone is something to adjust to.

For me, one of the worst things things about being away from them is talking to them on the phone. Another bad thing is not talking to them on the phone. On more than one occasion they have been too busy playing or doing something else, and have only reluctantly agreed to talk. And I realize that they are fine without me. And that hurts. It's good for me because it's good for them that they can easily do without me, but it's bad for me for me. I want them to need me, but they don't need me, they need someone. In theory, it would be beneficial for me to have someone else spend all their time and energy on them, and spend my own time pursuing other goals. But then why is it that I feel this way? Are these emotions adaptive, or do they make no sense at all? Am I an example of an organism locked in an indefinite loop of love, neurons firing at will without sense? Admittedly I don't have access to the inner feelings of other fathers, but the ones I overhear here and there from time to time talking to their buddies about their offspring don't strike me as all that emotionally invested. Enough to be great fathers, but not this festering fondness.

In less than twelve hours my boys are back, and my daily life makes another revolution. Coming home to an empty apartment will be substituted with jumping, tickling, sword fighting, drawing, screaming, eating, bathing, laughing. Sleeping in my arms. I recommend.

Why are all the songs about love for a woman, and none of them about the love for children? Lennon is the only writer that comes to mind:

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