Dillon was sick again. Blake had more than the usual share of snot running out of his nose. I shifted from Wednesday to sick day, and conceded that most of my to-dos would probably not get done. But there was one thing I really needed to do. In the grand scheme of life it could have waited until the next day. Of course it could have waited. Most things can wait. I heard all the voices: Life is short and children grow up quickly and today, your kids need their mommy. I needed the world to stop spinning. Just stop moving for thirty minutes. Okay, 45. I always underestimate how much time something will take, so the extra 15 wouldn't hurt.
Please, just slow down.
Sometimes the simplest—and the hardest—thing to do is be their mom. Dillon is a big boy now, so taking care of him involved tucking him into a snug cocoon on the couch and turning on his favorite TV show. But not Blake. It was barely 9am and he was already bored. He insisted on standing two inches from the television screen. Mommy, hold you. Mommy, I want a snack. Oh, sorry Mommy, I spilled it. I watched as coffee stained the pages of Seth Godin's Tribes. The book is about being a leader. I was being a terrible leader. A terrible mom. The voices of reason wrestled with the voices of my critics.
Angie, you just had a baby. You have three kids. You're supposed to be tired and cranky. Give yourself a break.
I thought that once I took a leap of faith and started doing work that really mattered to me, work that added a sense of purpose and meaning to my life, it would get easier somehow. I thought it would make me feel whole, not fragmented. Not so conflicted. But sometimes the tug is so strong I feel defenseless. The work is like a fourth child. Calling to me. Demanding my attention. I don't want to choose. But I can't be everywhere, everyone at once.
I glanced over at Cate, so tiny and precious, sound asleep in the vibrating bouncy chair. Thank you, Little Miss.
Later, she stirred and let out a pitiful baby moan. I picked her up and noticed she was hot. Yellow gooey stuff was oozing from her eyes. I called Shawn at work and told him to come home so I could take Cate to the pediatrician.
My infant is sick. I felt sober, awake and calm as I heard the doctor say, "I'm sending you to MUSC. And you need to be prepared because they will probably admit her." I put Cate in the car and headed downtown to the hospital. I called Shawn with instructions. "This is going to sound so much worse than it probably is. It's probably just a virus but they have to make sure. I need you to pack a bag for me. Can you make a list?"
The world had stopped spinning. There was no confusion. No tug. No conflict. I sat with Cate in a hospital room while they ran a bunch of tests. We bonded and I played paparazzi. She gave me the stink eye:
Two days later, Cate and I came home. The house was clean. My husband was my hero. Dillon and Blake were the most adorable creatures I'd ever seen.
Cate is six weeks old now. She is well. My family has been showered with so much love my heart might pop. And the work still calls out to me. Another story, demanding attention. Waiting to be told. And sometimes the world stops spinning, and I remember that what pulls me apart also holds me together.
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