Right now, at this moment, I have two kids: a nine-year-old who is technically my stepson, and a three-year-old who is my biological son.
Julian and I met just before he turned two, so we’ve been together a long time now. Loving and parenting him have changed my life in ways that were immediate and ways that have turned out to be gradual.
When Zeke came, change struck in a bewildering flash.
Lindsay and I had talked during the pregnancy about being excited to meet the new baby, wondering what he might look like and who he would be.
But then as he was being born, I was getting ready to catch him, and I saw his face for the first time. Before I could process anything, or have any conscious ideas, my only thought was, “Oh, it’s you.”
I’ve basically spent the past three and a half years now trying to figure out what that meant.
I already knew him? Seems like it. And maybe I'd been expecting him? But I could only really see and remember those impossibly cosmic details during that instant when I first saw him again. Only for that brief flash could I remember what I’d forgotten before and have only begun to understand since.
We lose sight of the divinity of our children (and ourselves, frankly) in most of our conversations about education. I know I do, anyway. Gaps and grievances seem to loom so large I can hardly see past them, with systems and statistics and standardized tests casting shadows that obscure the incomprehensible beauty of our individual children.
Yet each kid in each and every school of every kind came into the world in an instant of infinity like Zeke’s. Most of them are loved and cherished dearly. Those who aren’t, well, it's hard to think too earnestly about how tragic that is without getting lost in it.
But then again, forcing myself to think earnestly about that is part of what keeps me active in all of this. When I think of every single kid in every single school in the world being someone’s Julian or someone else’s Zeke, I get overwhelmed. For one thing, there’s so much love in the world. Can’t you almost feel it when you start picturing all those parents in the world loving all those kids so intensely? But that intensity is a double-edged sword. You can also just about feel the fear. We're afraid to lose our kids, afraid of what might not happen. Uncomfortable with the timeless love we feel for them in a world of ticking clocks. Afraid to share our love vulnerably and freely even with them, let alone with the world.
Mostly, though, I feel urgency. The loves of everyone's lives can't wait on incremental improvements. They can’t wait for gradual change and promised progress to slowly bloom. Nobody should be asked to wait when it comes to something this important.
My partner and I are expecting another baby next month, so I am more acutely aware than ever that I am about to witness another bolt of cosmic lightning. That I have two kids now, but at any moment, that could change. What am I about to know? What am I about to completely rethink?
So, for the first time since I started writing this blog at the beginning of 2016, I'm going to take a planned hiatus. Admittedly I’ve snuck a couple weeks here and there a couple times, but let me tell you, I was anxiously feeling like I “should” be writing and couldn't the whole time.
It’s time to take a deep breath, welcome some change into the world, and spend a few weeks focusing on the lightning bolts I love the most.
I won't be gone for long.
In the meantime, here is something different: a song I wrote about that moment of seeing into the past and future. The moment of “Oh, it's you.”
I recorded this a couple weeks ago along with some other original songs that will be released into the wild sometime quite soon. This will be the first that anyone has heard of it. I had never really recorded a whole project before, but a change of mindset (and a push from Lindsay) got me over the hump this time. I realized I didn't need anything out of these recordings other than to document some strange art projects I’d been making in the living room so that my kids and grandkids could know what I’d been like. So, what is normally done in the privacy of my living room becomes slightly public. Be gentle with me.
Thank you, as always, for reading, and thank you for doing what you do. I appreciate you.