As the great 60s band, The Byrds, once said, "There is a time to live, a time to die...." Well, I'm going to relate those lyrics to my life as a mom. Since Emily June has graced us with her presence, my husband and I have found that every single second of our day is accounted for. Working like a well-oiled machine, we have moved into a rhythm of waking, eating, playing, working, eating, cleaning bottles, bathtime, bedtime and countless other "times" that are associated with taking care of a baby, not to mention the time needed to take care of the dogs. It wasn't until recently that I thought hard and wondered what the heck we did with all of our time before Emily June. I imagine countless hours of movie watching, book reading, and the carefree lifestyle that goes along with being part of a childless couple. I'm not saying that I envy my friends without kids or that I think they just sit around and twiddle their thumbs while we parents work away in misery. I'm saying that prioritizing has become one of the biggest things that I learned from parenthood. I used to spend any spare moment I had cleaning the house and dedicated countless Saturday hours making sure that the tiny crevices in our old New England home were dust-free. It wasn't necessarily that I had the extra time then, but it was more of a priority to me before. Now, I dedicate every hour that I'm not working, sleeping, or taking care of myself, to spend time with Emily June. While I may slip on dog drool that has accumulated on our dirty floors and have trouble viewing myself in our filthy mirrors, I'm watching my little girl grow and learn and take on a personality all her own. And that, my friend, is why I will echo those Byrds lyrics and sing aloud whenever I leave a mess for another time, "A time to live, a time to clean."
Until my daughter was born on October 13, 2013 at 1:13am, I had never been a big fan of the number 13 and this past Friday has given me a reason to sink back into the fear of the superstitious number. It was the first Friday the 13th that we've had since little Emily was born. A good friend of ours made a list of all of the birthdays that Emily would have that would land on Friday the 13th. Unlucky for us, her 21st birthday is one of them. The morning started out great as I took our monthly birthday picture of Emily holding a sign indicating yet another month gone by and another size bigger. But, after I dropped her off at daycare, things went downhill. I walked into the post office for the third time that week. I had been attempting to get a new passport reflecting my married name. The previous two times that I had been in the post office, they had told me that I had to come back with different documents. My patience had been tested the second time, but I took a deep breath, was kind to the clerk and walked out smiling and saying that I would be back with the other documents. So, eager to please the postal workers, I marched in with my marriage certificate, two documents filled out in the required ink color and a smile on my face. "I'm back." I said as I was greeted by the same lady that I had dealt with for the other two visits. I felt the positive attitude drain from me as I realized that she didn't remember me. She hadn't remembered me the second time, but I was certain she would remember me the third. No recognition whatsoever. Normally I wouldn't be offended, as I understand that postal clerks see a lot of different people and packages all day long, but I must admit, since I live in a really small town and I had been there two times within five days already, my feelings were a tad hurt. My un-remembering clerk looked down at my paperwork before consulting another very unfriendly clerk out back, who I'm guessing was her boss. The boss came to the counter and told me that I had the wrong documents. Had she spoken kindly and apologetically to me, I wouldn't have been quite as upset. But the woman seemed far too excited to tell me that I wasn't getting my passport anytime soon. It was as if she thrived on sending me away. I'm normally calm in these situations but my patience had been tested so I stormed out of the office and made a promise to myself and that particular post office that I would never go back there.
My next stop of the day was my doctor's appointment. I had time to breathe and calm down for the 30 minute commute in traffic. I used positive self-talk to get myself back up and running in a good mental state. By the time I got to the hospital, I had forgotten about the painful passport issue and I was determined to get in and out of my appointment and to work on time. First stop was to get my blood drawn. Long story short, I've never been a fan of needles and I've been known to get dizzy at even the sight. But, after all of the needles and exams that I had to go through in my recent pregnancy, I was fearless. I walked into the lab with my sleeve rolled up and confident that this would be a cake walk compared to labor. It wasn't. I started to get dizzy and the tech reclined the seat and gave me water. She made me sit for a couple of minutes and when I felt okay, I was free to go. I thought I felt okay. I got up and marched down the hall toward the elevators determined to "breathe it off," and head to my next appointment. The next thing I knew, I was lying on the floor drenched in sweat and being propped up by some very kind nurses. I was so embarrassed. I must mention that I was at a VA hospital where most of the patients are older men, several in wheelchairs most of who have faced combat and a life that I cannot even begin to fathom. And here I am, this little blonde girl passing out over a tiny vile of blood and making a scene in the hallway. Yet they were all so kind to me, rolling by in their wheelchairs with consoling smiles and scruffy beards as I was getting wheeled to urgent care. I'm sure they were thinking "what a baby," underneath those kind smiles. After my blood pressure got back to normal and I had a normal EKG, I was cleared to go. So, while my day started out somewhat crummy, I must say that the kind hospital staff made me become a believer in the lucky number 13 again. After all, my sweet little princess was born on the date.
I've always been a big supporter of "doing what you love," and I truly feel that it is our responsibility to use the talents that we have to make the world a better place. Last summer I ran into a very unhappy goat keeper who really made me think about the power of doing what you love. It was a beautiful summer day and my husband and I decided to go to the zoo for one of our summer weekend adventures. We had made it a point to have a new Boston adventure every weekend during the summer months of my pregnancy. The zoo is one of my favorite places in the world and I cannot imagine how someone could not love being surrounded by the delicious stink of animals. But when I came across a young curmdugeon of a goat keeper, I had to remind myself that we all don't have the same interests and talents. This particular zoo employee had the job of letting people into the goat petting area. The equivalent of seeing this guy do his job was about the same as if someone saw me working at a gamer convention or a professional map-reading store. His eyes were glazed over as if goats were the most boring things in the world and he couldn't possibly be more inconvenienced having to repeatedly tell the wide-eyed children that they must keep the gate closed behind them. This is a perfect example of why we need to take responsibility to discover our passion and do whatever it is that we need to do to create a world that we love. If you ever see a person doing a job they love, it is like seeing magic happen. I'm sure if you are a coffee drinker you have come into contact with that one barista that loves his/her job. You can tell in the way they dance from counter to cash register, pumping in flavors and adding dollops of frothy milk to their delightful concoctions. They greet you as if you are an old friend instead of a customer. It took me awhile to succumb to the fact that I wanted to be a writer. I fought this passion tooth and nail and refused to give in to my love for writing. Creating stories and characters is my ecstasy and doing so not only makes me happy, but it keeps my family and friends entertained. Doing what we love and what we are good at, has a magnificent rippling effect on the world.