It’s been a strange month. One of my students asked me what my day was like and the length of my answer was surprisingly long. The tedium I feel apparently doesn’t fit reality. “I wake up when my son starts clawing my face, I make breakfast for my kids, I clean up, I give my son a nap, I clean up, I take my kids outside, I clean up, I make dinner, I clean up, all the while praying for night.” “What’s life like in your house?” he pursues, unsatisfied with this response. “It’s a freaking nightmare,” I say, but smiling and impassioned. “My kids are beating the shit out of each other: my daughter assaulted the boy with a plastic drum stick the other day for touching her unicorn book. They never stop eating (the boy eats literally four breakfasts, four! and then steals mine when I’m changing a diaper.), they break everything they look at, and the sound is like a punk rock concert. And they won’t stop writing on things… everything. They write on the walls, the windows, the tables, the chairs; they write in crayon, in marker, in pencil; the girl even took a partially melted wax candle and signed the flatscreen.” The student, a fifteen year old baseball prospect is silent on the other end of the zoom call, though I can see a faint smile on his face, as he seems to take a subtle pride in the mischievousness of his fellows in generation. There’s something laughing in me, too.
It’s always been impossible to balance family and profession. The days I commute(d…) I rarely saw my kids. When I devoted time to my kids, my business suffered; it’s time I could have been marketing or improving my product. Luckily my wife is a rockstar, so she shotguns the children. But now, this zero sum game occurs in close quarters with the gloves off. My baby son, who is made of tank parts, often bursts into the office when I’m on zoom meetings and starts eating paper from the recycle bin (why?). I’m pretty bad about going on my phone in front of the kids, but it’s never been worse: I have to check texts and email, as availability has never been at more of a premium. Now the kids (all three) have taken to the game of ‘steal dad’s phone’ when I take it out in their presence. The baby wants to eat it, the 4 year-old to ‘use’ it and the girl, to hide it. And there’s no mercy on any count.
The end of the day doubtlessly feels like a hangover. It’s hard to tell if the battle that day has been lost or won. They were some emotional blow ups (and some from the kids…), some fisticuff rumbles– some with scars, some quiet moment of love/joy, and some quiet stares out of rainy windows. I spent all day with my family…. As a result, it’s hard to feel regretful of that. And we have each other, and all have our health (knock on wood!!) while so many out there are suffering so badly (Though not traditionally religious, I pray for them). But something feels different, something feels lost, something strained and beaten. It’s hard for me to know what that might be in the brightening rain of this Monday morning apocalypse.