The Story of my Life

I can’t write about all the things I wish to write about, but it has been HELL at work.

It’s not the kids (it is never the kids).

You know the burdens if you have carried them. Weights of national, state, and school district policies that bear down on our daily instruction. Weights of internal decisions that are never made with the voice of a teacher who sits each day with those kids. Weights of parents who sometimes don’t have any idea what it’s like to gather, with full attention, the love of thirty-two strangers. Every. Day.

And here we are, Friday Night Lights, chasing our peaks.

The sun is setting later now, and our ski seasons are coming to an end. I can’t even write the sentence without crying.

Because skiing is a luxury afforded to rich white people, which we have been for exactly four years and nine months.

Because this is our last little weekend getaway for a long time.

Because whenever we open our home, it seems like the world closes its doors.

But check out this sauna:

It comes at the very affordable $94 rate for the singular queen-size bed and free breakfast, just 47 minutes from the closest free parking lot (shuttle to the slopes).

It comes quickly and too hot and it feels amazing on my too-cold skin. My skin that has shivered for a week with news I don’t want to carry.

It is the story of every American. That, even with two raises, even after a teachers’ strike, even after committing seventeen years to a profession, I cannot afford to pay for my house or my bills on a singular salary.

It is the story of my husband who can fix anything you ever asked for with his hands, from laying a hardwood floor to replacing a toilet to connecting fiber optic wires to fully cleaning the impossibly-dirty grout in my parents’ bathroom… But who did not earn a degree, only four years of service to this God Bless America Country that has done nothing other than save us from down payments on properties.

It is the story of health insurance that we will either no longer have or can no longer pay for because I make too much to qualify for Medicaid but shouldn’t I provide shelter for the four children living under my roof?

It is the story of my life.

And we have less than three months to figure out exactly how to win these mountains back.

 

 

 

What He Does

What he does if you need to know
(really? it’s been five years)
is wake up one morning girl
and two obstinately not-morning girls
arguing with them to
go to the bathroom, get dressed,
eat breakfast, brush teeth,
and get out the door
before most people have left for work.

Alone, because I have usually
left already to enjoy a bike ride to school
(something he allows me to do
every day if I want, without question)
and even if they don’t want to do
any of it, with his patient words,
his no-nonsense attitude,
he convinces them to obey.

What next? You’d be amazed.
Takes Mythili back and forth
to preschool, setting timers for
snack and show-and-tell reminders,
grocery shopping with Riona in tow,
plans a menu that is healthy
(and that they’ll all eat, and that
we can afford), cooks and does dishes,
sets out my morning coffee and oatmeal,
cleans the house top to bottom every Friday,
(have you ever seen Dad use a vacuum?)
budgets and pays all our bills,
takes the girls to the park,
the zoo, the museum,
sets up play dates
and manages homework.

All without one critical word,
with the sensitive nurturing
every child needs and deserves,
all so that our evenings are calm,
relaxed, child-filled (not errand-filled),
so that we have a home, not a house.

What does he do, you ask?
Have you not seen our spotless home,
tasted our delectable dinners,
thrived on his technological advice,
and witnessed firsthand those
small arms reaching out for Daddy?

Let me apologize.
Perhaps you have not been blinded by love,
or perhaps in your narrow world of
work, work, work,
you have forgotten (or never knew)
what a happy family,
a perfect husband,
looks like.