After eleven years teaching art at Clarke Middle School, my wife is currently finishing her first year at Cedar Shoals High School. She has the summer off to spend with Jonah, and to try to catch up with all the things that get set aside when you’re a working mom. Like sleep, for instance.
Last August was quite a transition, with Jonah going to day care for the first time, me attending classes for the first time after two semesters of online studying, and Laura Lee working at a new school teaching older kids. There were some tough days there for a bit.
By early fall we were in a groove, of sorts. I was driving Jonah to daycare every morning, then going to class, then heading to a cafe to study for a few hours, then rushing across town to see my boy for a few minutes, then driving back across town to work the evening shift at the restaurant. Once a week I’d keep Jonah at home for a half day, just to hang out, just to be around part of my family for a few extra hours.
I learned a lot last fall, hanging out with Jonah and rushing around town. The most important thing I learned is that I had gone back to school just in time. I felt with a crushing certainty that I didn’t want to spend too many more years working evenings while my wife and child were at home without me. So I was pretty emotional a good bit of the time, overwhelmed with all the newness, and with sleep deprivation slowly catching up to me.
But no matter how sad or lonely or frazzled or exhausted or uncertain I got, I knew that Jonah was in good hands while his momma was around. Every day after work she’d pick him up and text me a picture of them hanging out in the car for a few minutes before driving home:
Or out for a walk down our country road a bit later:
She kept me going with those photos, and with her love.
A lot of words have been strung together by people trying to talk about love. But I have never seen or heard anything that speaks of love more powerfully than the look in my son’s eyes when he’s happy and in the company of someone he loves. And he sure does love his momma.
She’s been everything to me since the day I met her. She’s an amazing woman, and she’s got more class and smarts and drive and fortitude than most people I ever met. And she’s beautiful, which is nice.
But it’s the light in her eyes that makes me feel like the luckiest man I ever knew. I don’t owe her everything: there’s been a couple of other people who are incredibly important to me, who helped me off my knees back when I was too young and too naive to realize that I was even on my knees. But Laura Lee latched onto me pretty damn tight, right from the start, and she’s never let me go, no matter how bad things got, no matter how lost I sometimes felt, no matter how confused we sometimes were about where we were going. She’s the light of my life in a world where there’s entirely too much darkness.
And now, here’s this little dude, walking his funny walk and smiling his sweet smile, with all the love in the world just spilling out of him like it’s no big deal. It’s me and her all mixed up together in him, shining like the sun.