well, the new car smell is out. we’ve had our first visits with family, the guys at kroger know who i am, and the girls understand that “just a few errands” means a morning getting in and out of the car, suckers at the bank and the possibility of a surprise gift – today was a hello kittie pin for h. and a “free hugs” pin for a.. we are settled, or as settled as we get.

the start of the school year has brought a range of emotions. kind of.

animals instinctively know when to migrate, we know when to excuse ourselves from the table, and people with reconstructive knee surgery know when it is going to rain. our bodies talk to us. i love people who have had a surgery that gives them the “power” to play weather-person. the sky is grey, the temperature has dropped 10 degrees, wind has picked up and thunder is heard in the background. yet, inevitably someone will come up to you and say “man, my knee is really hurting. is it going to rain? i’m pretty sure it’s going to rain soon. my knee knows these things.” really? thanks. my body was no different on september 1st, the first day of school. i felt something, it was more of a questioning coming from my body than a feeling. my muscles, bones and organs seemed to ask “where is the stress? the movement? the planning? the smell of school?” while my body was having these reactions, my mind had a separate set of thoughts, namely, “why am i so at ease? why am i not longing for the start to a time of year that i pride myself on, that i went through years of schooling for, that is an intimate relationship with the public, and dare i say, especially these days, extremely important?”.

questioning myself is exacerbated by the ways others question me. i hear the “you really enjoy this?” behind the “how are yous?” the “man, how’d you pull this off?” behind, well, the, “man, how’d you pull this off?”. a tip on the last one: find a man/woman who is driven, intelligent and amazing, treat one another as equals in your relationship, support the dreams and desires that you both have, realize that you will screw up, don’t let that stop you from trying, and it is really about taking care of yourself and sacrificing for the family – you may even get the sunday ticket out of the deal. not that easy, but a big part is trying to do what is best for the ones you live with and love, and believe me, it’s not pulling anything off, it’s just how things happen – it makes sense. i have a stock answer when people ask “how do you like it?”, referring to staying at home with the kids, i say “i feel fortunate to be able to be at home with the girls. some days are tough, but it’s really great.” i’m not sure what else to say. maybe there is nothing else to say. i am fortunate, it is a lot of work (and you can’t get in your car and go home.), the day is all day, and there is only so much whining one person can take, but how could i complain?

i don’t know how i am supposed to feel staying at home all day with our kids, but i don’t think i have any different feelings than i would if we were both working outside of the house and the kids were in daycare. the big picture is different, we are able to have a greater role in the early years of our children’s lives, we can speed up the process of warping their minds with our beliefs, and they will listen to david bowie, nirvana, and bob dylan more than rafi, laurie berkner, and the wiggles, but day-to-day emotionally i am as i was. some days are awesome and my patience is high (totally related) and other days are tough. now, what i mind trip on, and feel like a 8-year-old staring in the mirror trying to cry so i can convince my mom how hard my brother really hit me, is that being a teacher is a part of my identity. it is a part of “who i am”, away from “who i am” to those that know and love me intimately. ( i think that is the second time i used the word intimately. weird. light candles for the rest of your reading of this blog). i look in the mirror and tell myself these things, i try to feel like i am missing something or that i should feel unfulfilled being a man and being at home (i am going to leave the last sentence because it is who i am, but man or woman, the transition from working a career outside the home to staying at home with kids is the same.) but i end up laughing and moving on. perhaps it is because i know that i will work again, hopefully – i don’t take that for granted, but more importantly it is because i know it is fleeting. our daughters will not always want to hug, kiss, show us their drawings, talk to us, wrestle, and think that we are the greatest things in the world. we are able to be a part of a time in their lives that they actually want us to be a part of.

i felt the need to say something about my transition (i only wish the girls could write a blog relating their feelings about the transition). it is something that i need to be, and am, mindful of, and i do miss: the kids, our staff, the fast paced environment, problem solving, and the smell of the hallways on the first day of school (because after the first day it is all downhill). i do, but i am at ease because i am still a teacher. the benefits? i never had a student stand behind my driver’s seat after we parked, say my name (dad), and give me a kiss out-of-the-blue. for many reasons i am glad that i am experiencing that now.

this song, “killing an arab” by the cure, is not about what it’s title suggests. it relates to a scene in albert camus’s “the stranger”. if you have not read “the stranger”, please do. it is my favorite book. i will blog about my love of it soon. i chose this song today because i had the main character of “the stranger” in my mind, a few times, while writing this piece.