Dying Brain Cells
While surfing around this morning I found the blog of a former fellow-student at journalism courses in summer '02. A year and a half ago I at least thought I could hold my own in intellectual debate with him, and now he writes about profound philosophical issues while I write about thank-you notes.
I had heard motherhood killed brain cells--I didn't realize it started so soon. You lose your body, you lose your mind, you lose your ability to make plans more than five minutes out. I used to think it odd that such a serious undertaking as bringing another human being into the world was not predicated by a solemn and unpleasant activity that would prove one's commitment to the task. On second thought, if it was, I'm not sure the world population would ever have reached the replacement rate.
Enough depressing thoughts. The problem is not a loss of brainpower, but a necessary diffusion of it. If I cannot be the student of philosophy I was two years ago, it is because I must also keep a house operating, cook healthy food for three very hungry people, run an office, train for a major athletic event, prepare to introduce a new person to the world, and still have the energy to make it all look like fun. It is more important, after all, to live great ideas than just to think them.
Time for another Chesterton quote:
"If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colourless and of small import to the soul, then, as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labours and holidays; to be Whitley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness."
There, I feel better now. Back to the dishes.