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Four Months

You are starting to reach out and grab things. It’s not quite coordinated or entirely voluntary. But a couple weeks ago you stretched out your arm, and your tiny hand hit my face. You laughed, and then you did it again. And again. About ten times in a row. That was cool.

I took three months off when you were born, but this last month I’ve been back at work. It was jarring, after being with you all day, every day, to suddenly be at the office all the time. I enjoy my work, but I felt suddenly guilty, like the classic absent father, especially when I had to go to the occasional evening meeting.

I haven’t seen you at all in the last seven days. You’re in Indiana while we have work done on the house to mitigate the danger posed by all this old lead-based paint. I suppose parents can’t worry about everything, so they pick a few things on which to fixate. Lead poisoning is one of the worries I’ve focused on.

A lot of the work is being done by teenage volunteers. Last week we had Unitarians from Ohio; this week it’s an even bigger group of evangelicals from all over the country. It’s humbling to realize that people will come from far away to help someone they’ve never met out of a simple desire to do good.

I still worry. Have they been properly trained? Are they exposing themselves to lead hazards or are they adequately protected? Are they doing a good job, or could they actually be making matters worse? Honestly, I don’t know. It’s been too hectic and crazy.

They say you get what you pay for. Maybe so. But your mother and I would prefer to get the work done cheap, rather than pay some contractor who would likely be as sloppy as any teenage volunteer but much more expensive. That’s just the way we are.

I miss you and your mother. I wish I could say I didn’t, wish I was sufficient to myself. I’ve always enjoyed solitude. But it’s been weirdly stressful not having you here. I’m looking forward to seeing you again tomorrow.

Published inLetters to Persephone


  1. Julie Julie


    You could have paid a contractor an exorbitant fee and the work would probably have been done by a teenager anyway.

  2. cherie' king cherie' king

    One of my coworkers is on vacation this week (I’m in Ft Worth). She’s in New Orleans with her church’s youth group doing volunteer work. I wonder if it might be the teenagers she chaperoning that are doing your house? That would be so cool!

  3. julesb_town julesb_town

    these letters you are writing to persephone are lovely and will be such a treat to have down the road. Welcome to parenthood- there are so many things to focus on…lead paint sounds like a good one to me 🙂 hope your girls had fun in b-town.

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