Loving your partner? College. |


Hello parents, Mother's Day is in the mirror. Father's Day is next month. (Even later in other countries!) Weirdly, there's no such thing as Partner's Day. I suppose Valentine's Day is a pretty decent stand-in, and of course there are wedding anniversaries, but neither of them seem to capture the occasion I'm looking for, which is a moment to focus a moment on your other half not just as a parent, but as a co-conspirator. Not all families have two partners at the helm, but for the ones that do, research seems to suggest that taking a beat to polish up their partnership is not a bad idea. I've been thinking about this a lot more recently, because of that book I have coming out next week, Marriageology. People ask what drew me to that subject and the only answer I keep coming up with is that long-term committed partnership, or marriage, is harder than it looks and more worthwhile than it looks. So if I bore you a bit over the next few weeks with talk of monogamy and its attendant thrills, bear with me. Single parents deserve all the support in the world, but that doesn't mean it's bad for our families to focus in on marriage every now and then. P.S. If you like this newsletter, please pass it on to a friend. And if you got it from a friend, sign up here for email delivery each Friday. You know, more or less.

"Loving your kids is like going to school–you don’t really have a choice. Loving your spouse is like going to college–it’s up to you to show up and participate." This is from an essay in this week's magazine about why, if you have a partner in the home, it's really good for your kids if you really knuckle down and study your spouse, rather than just regard them as optional homework. TIME

This year, my children were better to me on Mother's Day than I was to my mother. To be fair, they had a day longer, since Australia is 16 hours ahead. I only remembered it was Mother's Day when I got their texts, which was too late for me to call my own dear matriarch. A sweet young whippersnapper in my office wrote this week about how having his grandmother learn to text has been a gift for both of them. Here's a suggestion: have your kids teach your parents to use a messaging app they can share, that you have nothing do with; its only for them.   TIME

"There are few human events as longstanding or consequential,' as conceiving and bearing another human being,  "yet widespread language we use to describe this phenomenon — in all its glory and anxiety, all its pain and productivity — is underwhelming. And mothers-to-be deserve better." Can we find better euphemisms for pregnancy? TIME

One of the side benefits of Mother's Day is that you discover a lot of beautiful writing about mothering. Can't resist sharing a few. Here's a mom whose own mom died before her daughter was born.  "The first time I cry while holding my daughter, she is three weeks old. I’ve just been told that my great aunt Ruthy—whose love and affection so closely mirror my mother’s, and who has become a second mother to me in her absence—is in the hospital. She is 98, yet I know it will always be too soon to lose her, that it will feel like losing my mother all over again. Tears drip onto my daughter’s dark hair, and I feel guilty for introducing her to my grief. But she doesn’t fuss or cry. Instead she fixes her piercing navy blue eyes on me and, for the first time, reaches out and grabs my hand. I hold her gaze, transfixed. Did my mother feel this way when I looked at her, when I held her hand? Even in my worst moments as a teenager, even in her worst moments of illness, did my mere existence ease her sorrow? I’ve always known that daughters seek the comfort of their mothers; it’s what I’ve been missing for years. But as my baby girl’s fingers clutch my hand, I realize that mothers draw strength from their daughters, too." TIME

"After two years of interviewing black mothers, I understand that simultaneously demanding that our children be allowed to be children and carefully introducing them to the realities of black life in this country are just part of the work. Dancing, laughing and finding pleasure in the small things may be of value to most families, but for black families, engaging in joyful practices is necessary to our survival, to our ability to fully claim our humanity." A mother describes how she navigates her need for safety and caution with her daughter with the child's need for freedom and boundary-pushing. TIME

If you get a chance to take your older kids to see the new documentary, The Biggest Little Farm, you should take it. It's no Avengers: Endgame, but it tells the story of a family that decides to try to restore the soil of a barren part of California using animals, plants and nature, rather than chemicals. And it's got gorgeous photography. I was thinking about this when I read this story about a new ban on pesticides, because of their potential danger to kids.   TIME

PFFT: Parenting from Famous Types

Lionel Ritchie, musician and parent of three,

"I'm a tough dad, but what I realize is that you have to approach it with a bit of a sense of humor...With my kids I know their job is to completely scare me to death. They're doing a great job by the way. "

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