My quarterly crisis is rearing its very ugly head. See, it’s birthday season around here and while the boys’ birthdays overlap with the holiday season, I tend to feel an irrepressible need to reflect. Holidays and birthdays are momentous moments, but also markers of time. Places on the calendar and spaces in my heart for subscribed reflection and perspective gathering.
So it is now, this time of year, where I seem to struggle the most with my choices as a mom and a doctor, a wife and a daughter, a community member and a girl just trying to get it all “right.”
I cry every year on my boys’ birthday. The tears well up both out of joy (wow-wow-wow my little boys love getting older & their joy with the special day grows annually) and also out of sadness. Sadness in my ongoing strife with the question of shifting balances, purpose, goals, and daily mindfulness. Am I working too much, am I missing something, am I as present as I can be? Should I be home more? Should I contribute and write more? Should I be seeing more patients? Can I help more people than I am helping today?
I’m torn. Shred up about what is “right” (for me) and on birth day, I’m nearly emulsified. This is tough stuff. As the years tick by and the acknowledgement of mortality grows as the days seem seep into the ether, I really want to have no regret. Sometimes, like most humans, I do.
Part of the trouble is the words of all the parents around me. They all say the exact same thing. And they have been saying it to me for over 5 years. I know they say it to you, too. The woman at the grocery, the mentor or peer, my good friend, the doctor across the country, the parents in my clinic, my mother, the barista, the man helping me at the parking garage…. They all say the exact same thing when they see my boys:
“It just goes too fast.”
If you haven’t heard that statement (followed by the inevitable advice), you haven’t left the house with your baby/toddler/child. Or you’re stuck under some big, heavy rock.
And so, as both of the boys birthdays are upon me, mixed up with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, I am awash in the irreplaceable quandary of living life to the fullest. Valuing my boys like nothing else, I am clear on their priority in my life. I am clear about the priorities of caring for and supporting my patients. But as a friend over the weekend said, “You can’t stop valuing your own life, too.” And part of that life includes my motherhood, but also my work, my self-care, my relationships with friends, and a commitment to those around me.
And so I will sit in this space today, spinning like a top at the end of the cycle when it starts to wobble, and I’ll wonder once again as the candles get blown out, am I doing it all “right?”