On parenting and programming

On parenting and programming

The release of DoneDone 2 was the culmination of over a year’s worth of changes, improvements, and re-writes to the old system. At the same time, there were a lot of personal changes going on behind-the-scenes, away from the product.

By the start of 2018, Mike and I had moved away from where we had spent the previous decade–as partners at We Are Mammoth, to focus solely on DoneDone. Last June, I became a dad—for the second time.

In about eight months, I had gone from working with a company of a dozen managing two products to a solo developer on one product–but now with a newborn at home.

As most parents of two or more will attest, having two young kids (my oldest will be 3 next month) is drastically different than having one. It doesn’t take double the energy. At times, it feels more like quadruple the energy. But, in a surprising way, this has had a positive impact on my work.

I’ve written code for two decades now and I cannot remember a time where I’ve loved the work as much as I do now. Where I feel fresh and eager to write code every day–even when most days come after a night of staggered (or no) sleep.

I think it’s because there’s something incredibly comforting to the parenting brain to sit in front of a screen and have hours to focus on one fixed problem at a time. With parenting, you’re in a constant state of movement—from one task to the next, without a true forecast of what’s to come in the hours ahead. It’s like a schedule chock full of 15 minute meetings that can be canceled or created at a moment’s notice.

While programming problems can be really, really…really difficult, there’s a sense of control that I absolutely crave now when I’m working solely on DoneDone. Oh, and it’s quiet. Kids teach you that silence is an actual sound—and it’s a very pleasant one.

At the same time, after a long day’s work (well, usually until about 3pm when the lack of sleep starts catching up), I’m excited to be the dad again. It’s like my brain tires of all that deep thought and craves those buzzing, hectic tasks again.

I would love the luxury of choosing to get my eight-plus hours of uninterrupted rest a night–but that won’t be a reality for a good while longer. In the meantime, at least I’ve lucked out in my career and life choices. The two things that keep me active these days are so wildly different that, in a strange way, they help me crave both jobs.

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