Content note: this piece talks about two parent families because that’s what I’m in.
Everyone knows that having a kid recenters your reality. Not everyone knows the process perfectly matches the history of astronomy. Because biology’s a bit of a distraction from understanding of the universe. Even though it’s also the only method (and point) of doing so.
Most people pupate Ptolemaically. Which sounds like a sophisticated insult because that’s exactly what it is. Ptolemy placed the Earth at the center of the existence. All the other worlds, stars, even the Sun orbit around us as pretty little decorations, a cosmic mobile entertaining our immature understanding. And when their actual behaviour didn’t match our self-important picture we invented endlessly complicated internal motions, declaring that they were all ever more eccentric, ever more ridiculous, just so that we didn’t have to admit we were wrong.
As people our immature understanding is exactly the same. We’re the only fixed point in existence and everything else is arranged around our path. Some people never progress past this. The Ptolemaic truant skips the step of learning that other people also exist with their own inner worlds. The worst examples accrete enough material wealth to become black holes, trapping everyone else in their endless consumption, the devastating simple-mindedness of bozos like Bezos and Musk moving so far past Ptolemy that they genuinely think they’re the center of existence instead of our planet, and that they’ll be able to keep going in space even when even the Earth is extinct.
Meeting the right person advances you past Ptolemaic to Copernican. You realize you’re not the core of existence because you’ve found a font of warmth. The glories of fusion give rise to so much more life and energy than your own little rock of existence ever thought possible. Now their Sun is the center of your existence. Just as Copernicus calculated. And thanks to a very special relativity they see you as the same. So instead of orbiting each other you’re both orbiting a shared barycenter, a beautiful point of imagination, a thing with no independent existence which enjoys shared warmth between you.
Babies elevate this from solar to galactic, upgrading you from Copernican to the Galactic Co-ordinate System. It doesn’t change your Solar System. You and your Sun are still there and still warm, but suddenly you see so much more than ever before.
Because the Galactic Co-ordinate System doesn’t shift the center to the center of the galaxy. The center of the GCS is still your Sun, and that’s still vital for every life involved. Likewise you can’t suddenly shift the center of your existence to the new baby because that would mean neglecting your lover, your entire relationship until now. Even astrophysics understands this, and stars are stupidly simple compared to children. Every day, every night, your world still turns around that special someone.
Instead the GCS adds a new direction to your life, adding a principal axis pointing from your precious Sun towards the center of our galaxy. So this shift in perspective doesn’t lose sight of the light of your life. Instead you realising that you’ve both been swept into the orbit of something far vaster.
Realigning reality along this axis opens your eyes to an existence so much greater than the two of you. There are innumerable new things to deal with, not a little list of tasks but a total change in perspective. All of it arranged around an ultimate center, an absolute reference point, an idea which had seemed unimaginable when you were younger, or impossibly distant when a little less younger, but is now unquestionably the core of everything. In astronomy our galaxy turns around Sagittarius A* (“A-star”). In parenting the cosmic core is your cuddly baby. Both beauties beyond anything Ptolemy could picture, or Copernicus could calculate, but they’re real and open our eyes to the universe!
Sagittarius A* is a black hole. Which is where unhelpful writers would make gags about darkness and destruction, an endless appetite consuming everything in its path. Because they’re wrong as well as miserable. Black holes are the brightest things in their galaxies! The material fed into galactic black holes is compressed and heated to output incomparable brilliance. They’re often brighter than the rest of their galaxy put together. They’re the brightest things in the existence, points of light shining in an otherwise infinite emptiness, because that’s what children are in this universe. We all consume material to shine. Babies just do it brightest.