This morning I had to leave home again for a very quick work trip. I mean, really, just about 24 hours away from home and one that should’ve not caused any kind of a stir in my family whatsoever. Except that – well, my children simply own me, and I just got home from a 5-day trip that ended up being 6 days thanks to a canceled flight.
I tried to ease into this 2nd trip by offering (ok, bribing) a bonus day home from school on Monday before the Veteran’s Day holiday on Tuesday. But even the 4-day weekend and extra time with me fell flat when it came to packing a bag again. Last night and this morning the manipulations were off the chains as I worked to cajole, soothe, and navigate some of my little people to reason. As I sit on my plane this morning -where quiet rules and no tears are spilling – I can rise above their emotional pain and embrace a different perspective.
This concept of holding a different perspective immediately throws me back to November 20, 2001, when the physician in charge of my twin delivery applied this truth on me. My water broke around 3 AM, rushing Tim and me off to the hospital in true movie-esque fashion. After the initial evaluation of my progress, the hospital staff anticipated I would deliver well before noon. But, as most first-time laboring moms know, things don’t always go as expected; the afternoon and evening passed by without Michael & Isabelle making their grand appearance.
After 18 hours of labor, including 2 hours of pushing without an epidural, I was emotionally and physically drained. Unable to catch my breath with the never-ending contractions and 2 full-term babies filling up my body, I hadn’t spoken a word for hours. I focused on every single moment as it came and tried hard to ignore all the negative thoughts that whelped up inside of me. Finally, at 8 pm my obstetrician decided he was going to proceed with a forceps delivery in hopes of avoiding another C-section.
I looked at my doctor and spoke the only words I had the strength to utter in hours: “Why didn’t we do this a long time ago?” He replied, “Because I have a different perspective than you do.”
I’m not sure why, but this brief exchange has been seared into my memory. Probably because it was one of the most vulnerable and weakest days I will ever encounter during my adult life. I was honestly convinced I was going to die from childbirth and was confused that he hadn’t presented this option earlier in the day before I suffered so greatly. But more importantly, it was because I knew his decision meant it was finally time to meet my babies.
The ability to impart a different perspective is critical for anyone holding a place of leadership or position of authority. Whether it be a doctor/patient, manager/ employee, politician/ populace, or parent/ child relationship, it is important to be able to make the best long-term, rational decisions apart from physical and emotional pain. My doctor knew that women in childbirth are desperate and may be willing to do anything for relief. He was able to watch over what was best for me, and my babies, without being hampered or motivated by pain.
A good parent (doctor, manager, politician, etc.,) must understand and recognize both sides of this equation. I do recognize that my children need me and want me around, all for very different and valid reasons. Thankfully, I also have the benefit of holding another perspective in our relationship. I know that although they may not like it, they become a little stronger for standing on their own now and then, figuring out how to comfort each other in my absence, and learning to pick up just a little more weight in our home.
I also know that my advocacy work is important for other children who don’t have a mother to cuddle or to impart wisdom. This focus cost my children time with me, something they are not always willing to spend. However, I see a bigger picture they can’t grasp and that is what pushes me – and ultimately pushes them into a bigger life. A life where anything is possible, where pain doesn’t block vision, and where a higher perspective can lead you down an entirely new path you might have otherwise missed.