Generally speaking, I like dogs. But I don't like my neighbors' dogs. In fact, sometimes I wish I had a BB gun in order to gently convey to these dogs my feelings about their feelings about my being in my yard. After all, I can't go in my own yard without them hollering at me: Hey! Hey! Hey! Or when I walk in the morning, before most people are awake, the dogs are hollering at me: Hey! Hey! Hey! Whatchadoin'! Hey!
- Hey! yourself, you dirty curs!
I shake my fists.
There are days, when educating my children at home (without a teaching certificate) is rough. It is always an exercise in interruption, patience, and trust. And when I think my child has reached a milestone, the next day she has forgotten it all. It makes me want to rip out my hair in great handfuls, to bang my head against the table. Are they really learning? Does any of it make a difference? I know the answers, of course. But not convincingly. The nice thing about moments of self-doubt is that it allows me to examine what I am doing in order to do the best I possibly can, it allows me to practice letting go of this myth of perfection.
Of course, being a stay-at-home dad is itself an interesting proposition. It's lonely and humbling. But there are brilliant moments, like getting Jack Henry out of the crib and seeing the toothy grin on his face, his joy at seeing my face. Like hearing them laugh. Like listening to their dreams rattled off in half-words and lisps and with stark, real joy. It strikes me sometimes that I am glimpsing the face of God in their unsullied joy and love; and that I am allowed to live.
People tend to vocalize their admiration for what I do, but I think it amounts to nothing more than, "You poor, poor man." And while I love being at home full-time, it is an endless source of struggle for every atom of me. It is learning to live with doubt and failure. It is learning to be small. I always hated that Scripture "Live a quiet life." It whispers against my fantasies, my selfishness, my Mittyishness. And now I've come to realize that it is my salvation: littleness, quietness.
You either die for love, or you just die. It's really quite that simple.