Before having baby Hunter, I would subconsciously score each experience on a graduated scale from 0 to 100. A dinner out would get maximum points for great conversation, food and ambiance. A walk through a park would get bonus points for having roses in bloom and the sun streaming through poofy white clouds.
But now, I score my life on a binary scale : 0 or 1. Did I go to dinner or the park, or not?
The other day, I was two hours late to dinner with some friends, as my 8 month old baby wasn’t settling easily down to bed. The food was good but not mind blowing, and some people couldn’t make it. But instead I just thought : I made it out to dinner! Check! 1 point!
For someone who cared a great deal about the difference between an A and an A minus as a student, it feels counter-intuitive that this ‘pass/fail’ system would be so rewarding, and so liberating.
But it is.
And it takes so much of the pressure off of being a new parent.
Take ‘baby cinema’ as an example. On a Monday at 11 am, parents and their babies go to a theatre to watch a movie. Pre-baby Hunter, I might score the experience as less than half as good as seeing a movie without the baby. After all, I missed the beginning waiting for the baby to wake from his nap, the key moment while I was in the bathroom changing his nappy, half the dialogue thanks to the other 30 babies crying and half the plot due to my own sleep deprivation.
But under binary thinking, I thought : who hooo! I made it to a movie!
Binary thinking is essentially a shortcut for optimism: seeing the glass as half full, rounding up. And it’s made me appreciate much more of the past 8 months of maternity leave.
I admit, it’s a strange time to become a “binaryist”. The internet has made micro-optimization ever easier, whether it’s planning your route, finding a phone plan, or meeting new people. My generation, and especially the ones after mine, will come to expect everything to be optimal, always.
So perhaps then it’s the right time. As despite the advances in technology and civilization, not everything is always as good as you might have hoped. Binaryism gives us an easy way to handle times when it isn’t. And to enjoy each experience for what it is : itself.