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Diana completes the thread: "Childcare is granular and usually repetitive. There is beauty, deep joy and success but only of the "you had to be there" variety. Taking excellent care of your children and taking mediocre care of your children are not apparent to an outside observer, and aren't even always apparent to your children. But, if I'm thinking about how I'm going to win an argument or how to parse some difficult idea that competitive striving feeling is very different from the patient, simple, grounded present and connected mindset where I get the most joy from my children. And, children have evolved in part for attentional capture- even babies will punish you (with fussing or crying) for lack of affectionate focus."

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Feb 16Liked by Alex Kaschuta

I care much less about theory and principles since having children.

The only things that grab at my attention now seem to be centered around organization, homesteading and God.

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Since I was pregnant with my first, I really feel as though my brain began to rewire. Not only did I find my former loves (history & philosophy) much more boring than I remembered, if I intuited the author or speaker was in any way intellectually masturbatory (many such cases), I became extremely angry. Like, stop wasting my time. Give me something that I can practically implement to improve my family’s life or jump off a cliff.

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Feb 16Liked by Alex Kaschuta

Absolutely! And isn’t it a relief? Don’t worry, your striving will return in time, although maybe not at the same rigor. Becoming a mother is transformative in a good way. We become less interested in our own egos as these delightful creatures are more important. I’m an empty nester and miss my kids so much! Can’t wait for grandkids.

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Feb 16Liked by Alex Kaschuta

I'm a dad of two kids under 5, and I'm in the "It's impossible to strive and to parent *at the same time*" camp. Striving requires ( an appropriate level of ) impatience to be effective, but impatient parenting is terribly counterproductive. It doesn't even usually get the kid to perform the immediate task you want them to do, let alone be a better person in the long run.

If you want to be a parent and a striver, you have to answer the questions of how and when to switch between patience and impatience.

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Feb 16Liked by Alex Kaschuta

Sometimes I work in Japan and I love to watch Japanese mothers with their children. With English parents there is often an element of 'Look at me being a parent!' You can here it in both the volume and in what is said. There's too much forced laughter, which always reminds me of the 'snowball fight' scene in Groundhog Day: there's something not right about it. Also annoying is dads who feel they have to talk like mums or act as though they were the same age as their children.

In Japan mother and child often talk very quietly to each other and not as a nurse talks to a mental patient but as sensible mother to child. Dad's do the same. Their interactions are for themselves and no one else. There's lots of eye contact with each one watching the other to see what the reaction will be. It isn't hard to recognise genuine intimacy and it's always lovely. Sorry, that might all have been a bit tangential to the topic.

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Just a few years shy of the transition into old old age, I'm raising my second family of three. As my blog evidences, I love as well to write. As my extensive book reviews (ask for them - Amazon just scrubbed all 550 for political reasons) reveal I love to read as well. But my kids are definitely my priority.

As an old-fashioned guy, I'm attempting to raise my daughters, 3 and 6, to be mothers and my son, 12, to be a breadwinner. Sure there are concessions. We do our best to get him to participate in housework. We recognize that the girls' best chance to meet a proper mate will be in the university, and they will need to work at some time. But our propaganda is all in the direction of grandchildren.

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Feb 17Liked by Alex Kaschuta

My son is now 18, and certainly when he was little, up til he was more independent, my world revolved around him. Lofty ideas and pondering 5he bigger things in life emerged once he was in middle school, but even then I was never one of those moms that completely immersed herself in the mother role. I also worked seasonal jobs part time and had a solo-preneur side hustle. My point is that your nature to pursue bigger concepts will likely return. Right now you're deep in the role of mothering two very young children, and that's normal. This season will pass, and cherish every season that cycles through. The big lofty ideas that tickle your intelligence will be here.

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Feb 17Liked by Alex Kaschuta

While obviously not true in every case, I think that generally women tend to be more focused on the micro, while men focus more on the macro… For example, in my experience, women are more into local politics, possibly because of its importance in school boards, etc., that very directly affect the children. On the other hand, most men I know tend to worry more about Geopolitics, if they care about politics at all.

Like all stereotypes, there are exceptions, but there is also a grain of truth underlying these generalizations.

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Feb 17Liked by Alex Kaschuta

It’s interesting to read these notes because I agree that my desire to signal is basically gone but my desire to follow and learn has increased dramatically. After all, being fully present for a kid usually involves physically being with them but they’ll generally entertain themselves and play with each other past a certain age. And there’s a lot of time to listen to podcasts or catch up on any number of things, as long as it’s bite sized and can be interrupted at any moment. I often say I’ve got infinite time in 30 second increments but literally no time for a half hour appointment.

So signaling and the ability to plan delivering work is out the window but the capacity for research is still mostly there, in my experience. I agree that one can fully dedicate themselves to full time parenting or work or do both poorly but we shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking we can be fully present while maintaining firm commitments to other endeavors.

But I’m a stay at home dad, not a stay at home mom. Maybe that’s the reason for the different perspective.

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Feb 17Liked by Alex Kaschuta

There is an old poem "On children" that compares parents to bows and children to arrows.

Until you become a parent, you are spiritually a child, going into the future like an arrow, changing the world. After the children, you are stable and only put everything you have into raising them.

Those two modes, being a parent focused on your children, and being a child focused on your own track, are completely different states, like kinetic and potential energy.

"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."

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Feb 16Liked by Alex Kaschuta

I don't have a family so I'll talk about you instead! I once heard you say that having a child (now children) turned you from an egomaniac - bit of an exaggeration - to someone much more interested in your child than in yourself, which of course is a wonderful thing. That is bound to make you far less interested in how people see you and that is also a great thing. After all, people go on retreats and meditate for years, just to try to achieve the self-forgetfulness you have got through motherhood. The negation of the self through parenting seems to me like the very definition of finally becoming a real adult.

I also heard you once say that all these weird fads (e.g. meditation) today are probably just poor substitutes for what people traditionally got from their daily lives. Couldn't agree more.

'I’d love for you to think I’m a great writer and can deliver unique insights'

I think you're more of a great speaker than a great writer. Some of my favourite writers are people I find it almost impossible to listen to (Richard Hanania, Bo Winegard, even my hero Ed West isn't a great speaker) but with you it's the other way around. I follow your speech and your asides in the same way I follow Theodore Dalrymple's writing; one thought flows very naturally and logically to the next. That apart, what I like is not necessarily unique insights - they're a bonus - but just a smart person who has the same instincts as me but seems to have got there always one step ahead of me.

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Feb 16Liked by Alex Kaschuta

I was wondering about this dynamic. It’s been clear to me that your focus has changed, that you’ve changed. Watching my wife with our children, particularly the little one, I know how vital it is for her to be in that mommy groove. She has no interest in formerly ‘important’ nonsense.

What do you think you’ll do?

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Feb 17Liked by Alex Kaschuta

Having four children completely changes your perspective on the world. This is something that those people deploring the lack of women in C-suite jobs will never understand. Everything is a sacrifice, and for me the priority to put my children at the centre, was worth not advancing to a position that I am capable of but don’t want the stress of or have the time for. P

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My family expanding cemented by worldview like nothing I've ever read or listened to. Partly from using up nearly all my free time for a year to help my wife, partly having something truly important to protect. It made my decisions and interests far narrower because I could suddenly tell who did and who didn't care for children, continuity, or their fellow citizens.

Family is indeed a passion dump, like you seem to be experiencing. Having all the peaks and valleys of emotion towards your family makes philosophy and politics a much drier and simple thing. It simply isn't as 'relevant' anymore.

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I am far into the age of grandparenthood now. But may I share this attempt (a song written over 40 years ago) to combine the wierd, wondrous world of one's toddler children with being creatively 'clever'...or at least trying to be! Here is a snippet of my song What's a Mystery?

Why do grannies dress in lace

Why must children go to bed

Am I in the human race

Is my mind in my head

What’s a mystery?

Must you still do as you are told

Even if you cry

Why is everybody getting mad

If you pray to Heaven

can you do just what you like

Does He love you even if you’re bad

What’s a mystery?

the rest: https://grahamcunningham.substack.com/p/whats-a-mystery

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Mar 4·edited Mar 4Liked by Alex Kaschuta

The signal sent by "I don't care about signalling any more" is that you are now guided by your own inner voice, not social conformity. Keep listening to your inner voice!

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Feb 17Liked by Alex Kaschuta

Not surprisingly, these latent sex differences/orientations tend to manifest most strongly in the case of married women with children.

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Feb 16Liked by Alex Kaschuta

I do not have kids yet, but I can see how if you are directly responsible for a child's (or really anyone else's) wellbeing your main brain loop will be focused on that rather than the large scale goings on that probably don't have too much direct impact on that.

I imagine that by the time I have kids I'll be more focused on local things that affect my family over the latest current thing in America.

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I have three children. I work outside the home part time as a nurse and midwive’s assistant and I write here on Substack. I consider all of my work on the care-taking spectrum and they are all tied to one another, especially considering my nursing job is with new mothers and babies. I mother at home, I mother at work, and when I write it is all undeniably tinged with the filter of motherhood.

Despite this, I feel what Fleischman is touching on here often, that psychological grinding. I do feel there is some innate mismatch between the more cerebral work of writing or any sort of expressive internet-ing and the more tangible physicality and emotionality of mothering and also of keeping a home.

For this reason, I often feel myself waffling between giving up on writing and keeping at it. I enjoy it immensely and I do think I hold some value in the opportunity to “intelligence-signal” but at the same time, I feel this compulsion as a distraction from my most important work at times. If I’m trying to conceptualize ideas and articulate them in writing while also trying to be present for my kids-I end up crabby and not doing a good job at either. Also, if I am very present and gentle and enthusiastic with my children-I have no capacity for any sort of conceptualization.

I suppose the answer is time management, which I hate to say as a chronic procrastinator and chaotic creative, but separating these parts of myself if for the better of everyone. Overall, I think growing my family has grown my understanding of society and culture and humanity, and I feel the need to share what I have come to know-but what I know most of all is that my family needs and deserves the best version of my attention more than anything, and it is my highest work.

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The original X/Twitter thread is here https://x.com/sentientist/status/1757977748423704600?s=20

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So…. Being the woman evolution selected you to be across a million years is different than what a few decades of feminism have taught? I’m shocked.

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