I have a family

What that actually means for me


I have a family, so eh…

I state this, but in almost the same manner as someone sending radio signals to distant stars hoping for a response from another life form. Especially during the holidays when people across the globe are embracing their loved ones and basking in the community of their siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. Most people conjure up warm, blanketing feelings of embrace and security. I suppose they are not wrong to do so, but at the same time I fail to convey the message with this simple phrase. 

Some days, I want to take photos of my household. I want people to understand the extent of work that goes into ‘I have a family’. Those mornings where I can’t even make coffee because the kitchen sink is full of dishes. So is every square inch of the counter. The range not only adorned with grungy pots and pans, some full of solidified grease or leftover boiling liquid, but often heavily coated in sauce or oil from last night’s dinner. That’s only the beginning. There’s the dishwasher that needs to be emptied loaded or started, the dinner table to clear and wipe down, plants to water and shuffle around to share the precious little sunlight, laundry to pick up and wash, floors to sweep and mop, porcelain to scrub, drains to unclog, trim to re-adhere after the kids pick and peel it off the wall, disgusting smells emanating from sources that require even more cleaning to discover, bodily fluids to clean up after…

It’s not like there’s a magical dirt fairy that flies in, swishes a little wand and poof! all our soiled undies and burger grease is gone. That’s my time. Three hours every morning of my time. It’s like a fucking part time job just keeping up with the basics, all for a hug and kiss. 

Then there’s the more extensive things. Grocery shopping, deep cleaning things like heaters, fixing the espresso machine when the frothing nozzle clogs, fixing the kids toys when they break them, fixing the truck when it goes down. Providing solutions to the more challenging aspects of life is always appreciated, yet it’s still not like I’m getting a paycheck for it. 

I have a family to take care of. As much as I look forward to a day when the kids can do their own laundry and hopefully their dishes, the fact of the matter is that time is neither now nor anytime soon. So much work goes into chasing kids around every day, and that doesn’t even speak to the real life shattering moments. 

I was not happy to be sitting where I was yesterday morning. Asking for a handout is not my style, but to be reminded once again the need for me to get a legitimate, on the books job just fucking kills me. I just had to retort with the simple question that seems to have no answer: just what the hell are we supposed to do with our kids??  What do I mean? I mean December 18th and the following 3 weeks that there is no daycare available! I mean that, “hey boss, I need three weeks off this month” doesn’t fucking fly after needing 6 days off the month just gone. I mean that there truly is not a job that will give me enough sick days just to cover the times my kids get sick. I mean that I literally cannot have any job that starts before 9am because I have kids to shuttle around. I also cannot have a job that runs later than 5pm because I have to shuttle kids around. One would like to believe such accommodations would be available, but alas, not so much. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to do all of this for my family. I know that at least my girlfriend appreciates what I do. My beef is that society at large doesn’t value or appreciate what I do. I do work, as well, thank you all very much. As much as possible, I have a few folks that keep me busy with little projects. It’s enough to make up at least a part time income, but not nearly enough to pay all my bills. 

Having pointed out the obvious fact that one school vacation alone far exceeds the stock standard two weeks leave even a decent employer offers, the helpful case worker says under her breath that we should maybe consider leaving the kids at home while we each work. At that point, my poor mind was kidnapped and hauled off in the way-back machine and felt the absolute fear, pain, and frustration of being a 7 year old boy burning eggs on the stove because I was fucking starving while my parents were away at work. 

God damn it, society! Wake the hell up! Children need parents, period! I am but one middle age man out of a whole generation of men that mostly have no clue whatsoever what it means to be a man. Why? Because our fathers were too busy -presumably being men- to pass on a fucking ounce of constitution of manhood to their progeny. I’m sick of the demand to invest my time into some money mongers’ sadistic little money machine when it means short changing my family of my own time. Is our following generation not worth investing our time in? Is giving the bank/shareholders more money really a priority over nurturing our young children? Are we really trying to figure out how to feed people on Mars while school gardens get turfed over because absolutely nobody in a whole damn neighborhood will take one afternoon out of their year to show kids how to tend them? 

I have a family. A family that I clean up after, feed, transport, and rescue. A family that I teach, hold, and comfort. A family that absolutely is my first priority before all other endeavors. I just wish that when I explain to someone that I have a family, they would understand the extent and importance of what I do for my family. 

Day 23: Adult TimeΒ 

It’s something that happens maybe twice per year at best, but once in a blessed while we are relieved of parental duties for a day or two!

My son is with his mom for the holiday weekend and then Nana and Papa offered to take the other until Sunday! 

We might make it out of the house for a date somewhere, or it might just be Discovery Channel all weekend! πŸ™ˆπŸ™‰πŸ™ŠπŸ‡πŸ‡πŸ΄πŸ˜

Either way, it’s nice to feel like a normal human being for a couple days instead of having to consider the kids every moment.

Day 22: It Could be Worse

“Well, it can’t get any…”

YES, it can. It can always get worse than it is. When someone near me begins to utter that phrase, I am sure to cut it off before they finish. Not that I’m superstitious, but I believe this phrase always precedes absolute complacency. 

I was reminded of this last night (or maybe early this morning) as my girl jumped out of bed. Apparently, the commotion outside rudely interrupted her sleep and she just had to run around the house, turning lights on and bitching up a storm. Dogs barking, people yelling, and a blip of a siren shook the complex last night. 

As it turns out, our neighbor has been trying to help her brother get himself together. I don’t know the full extent, but I see it in just about every dark, grungy corner of the city. I’ve heard the justification, and it truly breaks my heart. These people, at least some of them, just want to be okay. They want to not be cold, not to feel the pangs of hunger, not to be alone, not to feel like the pile of shit society at large makes them out to be. They want someone to care about them and to truly believe that better days lie ahead. Every conscious moment of their existence, they surely suffer, and if a little smack is all they are presented with, can you really blame them for making that choice? 

I’m not saying it’s acceptable, as I see the more nasty side of it just as well. Kids with a bad attitude, many times running from parents that have done their best for them. These kids were sheltered from learning their limits. They travel in packs like mangy dogs, and anything they can throw in their faces, goes. Those are the ones you see yelling at imaginary people, breaking any random thing that catches their eye,  and throwing their feces at people or buildings. Catch them early enough, and just maybe a short stay behind bars will be a wake up call. However, it doesn’t take long for the smack to find them, and at that point there is tragic little hope of recovery. 

He was standing outside with a cigarette when I came home. I looked him in the face, and with the warmest smile I could muster I gave him a greeting. He tried to say hi back, a couple of times, and all I saw was pain in his face. My girl was anxious, asking me if I had all my tools, if I locked the truck, if I had my phone, because that guy was standing outside. 

I went to bed feeling rather shitty. I have been struggling to force food down my throat all month despite my stress induced lack of appetite. In the middle of the night, hearing everything go down and remembering that man’s face, made my heart ache for him. I don’t know what he did to bring the K9 unit down on himself, but I know he is suffering. I know the eyes of a thug, a con, a shifty up-to-no-good, poised to strike at the next opportunity some unsuspecting victim left open. I also know the eyes of pain, confusion, and desperation. 

As the situation wound down, my girl commented on him trying to retrieve a white cross off the ground as he was getting hauled off. I imagine that in the blur of his mind, with nothing but a bleeding arm and the clothes on his back, it was the only thing in the world he could anchor himself to. 

It brought me to remembering that it could always be worse. I reckon sometimes that I have hit rock bottom and lost almost everything and everyone that used to mean something to me, but that really isn’t the case. I’m grateful that as bad as my life is, I’m reminded just how much worse it could be. 

Day 21: Life Goes On

I’m alive. I’m all kinds of things that go against expressing positivity right now. 

But, I’m alive. Odds are that I will still be alive tomorrow and the rest of the week. 

The end of my world as I knew it may have already come, but it wasn’t the end of my life. 

At some point I hope to feel like a complete human being, so to start, if only for the sake of this post, I will be thankful to be alive. 

Day 20: Knowledge

Throw an ad up on Craigslist for a calculus and physics tutor, and what do you expect to get? You might guess a chorus of crickets, and odds are pretty good you would be right. 

I would say that the moment I landed my first project this summer in an effort at self employment, I knew it wouldn’t last. Unless your bit is roofing or siding, the arrival of winter means the drying up of construction jobs. What is a free lancer to do? 

Well, I have been snapping up tutoring gigs because I am academic like that. About the only offer I could not take up was microbiology. Mind you, I have grown my share of cultures, so I was tempted to take a stab at it! The guy looking for physics and calculus thinks something went wrong with his post because my reply is the only one he got. What’s wrong is thinking that people with that kind of knowledge are looking for any thing to make a buck. Most people with such capacity are making money hand over fist, and if they aren’t now, they sure are working towards it. 

I’m the odd one in the whole damn city’s gigging economy that’s packing 5 years of scholastics! If I have to swim in a low yield market, at least I can swim at the top. 🐠

I’m thankful for my time in university. It was a great growing experience for me, and I had been working for it since I signed the dotted line for Uncle Sam in 2003. 

Day 19: Forgiveness

Today would easily have gone down in the ‘Always Something’ section if not for having to glean something positive from it. 

Eleven in the morning, and I’m trying to decide whether I’m going to work or taking the girls to the zoo. It was written on the calendar, yes. Just not on the day marked 19. I had no idea, and nothing about it was mentioned. So it was that I was sending an email to apologize and reschedule. A day at the zoo would be worth it, though. 

Well, a child’s extreme hunger collided with a tooth coming out and before we knew it, the morning was long gone and the afternoon was sneaking away. Alas, we realized there was almost no chance of finding parking at the zoo on free admission day, and the light rail only runs every 30 min on Sunday. My girl was not about to suffer the crowd and the wait on the MAX for a little more than a mere hour at the zoo. 

The day being shot, I was content to sit down to a simple puzzle by myself, though not everyone else was. It drives me crazy that we fail to launch when it comes to doing something as a family when it’s nothing more than a simple trip to get there. 

However, I am grateful today that people work with me through my frequent need to reschedule. I suppose the best way to do so in this case is to forgive my crazy family for these days that our plans unravel. 

Day 18: Individuality

I am unique. I don’t mean that in the sense that we all have things that are specially ours, like fingerprints or gene code. I mean that I am very frequently found comprising the narrow margins of likelihood. 

I am obscure. I’m not highly sought after and I’m not notorious. For those that know me and have seen me in my best moments, I am remarkable. Those that don’t know me very well have probably only known me for being strange and aloof. 

Sometimes, people like to converse with me. Often, this is because my thoughts and perspective shed new light on matters, provoke new thoughts, or reignite enthusiasm. People like brainstorming with me and coming up with ideas. Where topics carry weight, my organization additionally lends to being able to prioritize actions on ideas. 

Sometimes, people really don’t like talking with me. I can all too easily damage my relationships with blunt force truthfulness. I disarm perceived personal attacks with stone walls. I challenge assumptions. I question unsupported claims of truth. I listen to what’s said, but I absolutely make my own mind up about matters. I find myself having to defend my statements when they aren’t popularly received, but at no point do I let the popular vote determine my own course of action. 

Uncanny, bizarre, strange, and mystifying. As Genie said, “you’ll never have a friend like me!” Unlike the Genie, though, not everyone wishes for someone like me in their life! πŸ˜›πŸ‘ΎπŸ‘€