Since about this time in 2009 I’ve been learning how to capture light as a photographer. At first, I had no idea what I was doing. I could see a scene and know how to frame it within my viewfinder, but I had no understanding of how to properly react to the lighting of a scene in order to turn out a properly exposed photo. Aperture numbers were confusing. Shutter speeds didn’t make a ton of sense to me. And then add in the element of ISO, and I was definitely lost.
But over the years I’ve become conversant with light.
I can now look at a scene, no matter the time of day or the lighting situation, and almost instantly know what settings I’d want to use on my camera to capture it well. It’s taken many years to get here, but I’ve learned how to dance with light, even when it barely is present.
Each day for us is an adventure. When you live in a house full of teenage girls and two preschool boys you can never truly predict how the day will go.
Once a week I meet up with another family-teacher friend for drinks. And every week it feels like we together analyze the results of our individual assays.
How did we do this week?
What impurities were found in our own behaviors and attitudes?
How was the quality of our teaching to the girls?
It’s good to be able to have a trusted friend in which we can look at these elements together and get better at taking care of these girls and our own family.
Because we do have impurities.
We can do better. Be more intentional. More patient.
And that is what I strive for every day.
I feel like over many of the 31 years of my life I have built up a protective shell around myself. I am a people pleaser, and I like to try and control the way people perceive me.
Maybe you know this too, but that’s exhausting.
I’m not talking about better than reality Instagram or Facebook posts, although for many people that’s an issue, too. But I’m talking about the daily grind. How we go about our lives. How we talk to those around us, even those closest to us. Our family, friends, co-workers. Even strangers out in public.
Over the years I’ve built up a thick shell around myself. I’d like to think it’s just because I am a tender person and I needed to do this for my own health and safety. But I think that was just an excuse.
Recently my five year old and my almost four year old have been on a destructive rampage. I can’t leave them alone for the time it takes to go to the bathroom without them making a mess in the kitchen or finding something to destroy.
Here’s a list of things they’ve recently done:
- Dumped out an entire of black beans all over the kitchen
- Sneaked into the kitchen to eat a couple doughnuts.
- Got scissors from a drawer and found my lap desk and cut it open to spread the styrofoam all over the house.
- Dumped out a bag of pistachios all over my bed.
- Opened eight bottles of honey and spread it all over their bedroom and the living room carpet.
- Sneaked out into the kitchen in the early morning to take nearly everything out of the cupboards and scattering it all over the kitchen floor. This included two large boxes of biquick, chicken broth, powdered sugar, sugar, all sorts of pasta, etc.
That’s just a sample. And that’s all been within the last two or three weeks.
Each time the kids do something like that, I feel like my shell cracks a bit and I have have a humbling experience. It’s a weird sensation. But after this weekend’s kitchen adventure that took literally hours and hours to clean, it felt in some ways like I had hit emotional rock bottom. I felt broken. I felt helpless.
The 31 year-old shell that had encrusted itself around me had been completely worn away. I was a ball of nerves.
Since then I have made some life changes. One of which is getting up with my kids in the morning and taking some intentional time to write.
And here I am.
I have a five year old son with special needs. His brother is one month away from turning four. Both of which get up around 5:30 every morning.
My wife and I also parent eight at-risk teenager girls for a living. They have doctor appointments. Dentist appointments. Therapy appointments. They get sent to the office for their behaviors. They are in cheerleading and basketball and soccer and cross-country and track and swimming.
We laugh constantly.
We cry constantly.
We teach constantly.
We pray constantly.
We grieve constantly.
We give thanks constantly.
My response to the prompt of “Fork.”