Over the centuries, the work you have done, the changing seasons, the position of the sun have noticed the passage of time. Clocks and watches followed, and time became standardized. We started counting. Since then, time has often been considered a currency: it is ours, we can spend, waste or invest. We can keep it to ourselves or give it as a gift-it can be taken from us.
But since our second child arrived, this analogy has misled me more and more. Although I can often choose how to spend my time—concentrate at a given moment, where to go or with whom—at least often, I have no say at all. That’s because there are two unpredictable factors-children-got into my life, and their innocence determines how I spend my time. Their desire, pace, and need for repetition largely determine the way we work in the family era and how I feel about it.
In her book Value children, American economist Nancy Folbre (Nancy Folbre) proposed that we conceive the relationship between parents and children, not based on the “investment” of parents to their offspring, but the “promise” made to parents. I read books in the university library on a Friday afternoon; my partner’s home with the children so that I can stay until the break.
Although such a concept seems obvious to me, it sounds refreshing at the same time. I think this is because the work of economists, sociologists and evolutionary biologists often shocks me. What I mean is that the work of these people analyzes the relationship between parental time investment and “children’s performance”, as if they were talking about the production process, or their family seemed to be a factory. It was time to go in, and IQ and other test scores went out. Or who describes the time you spend on your parents as “opportunity cost”. After all, you can do other things during that time: for example, make money.
Given the perspectives of parents and children, Folbre’s advice is not only refreshing; it is almost radical. She wrote that even in the absence of an expected “return on investment”, the promise is still binding. In addition, compared to investing, promises bring ethical obligations-if the “results” are disappointing, you can’t just assume the obligations.
At the moment when time is no longer “mine” (it no longer feels like personal property or money), it has this promised nature to me at least. When I perceive time in this way, I no longer need distress or possessiveness, and no longer need to feel that I am about to fail.
Instead, we are defined in a way of binding, entanglement and interdependence.
At such a moment, I think that our relationship is based on the promises I made, and even before they have established a relationship with us, they did not fully understand what it means. This is our time.