I had the best of intentions this past Thursday. I was headed into work with a full load of zoom meetings, a long “to do” list, and plans to check in on a few facilities projects. I don’t go to my physical office very often with our COVID restrictions so when I do, I make sure to take advantage of every minute. I had just unpacked my belongings in my office, gotten a fresh jug of water, and sat down to begin my first meeting when I saw the most terrifying name flash across my phone screen, “Primrose.” Primrose is my girl’s daycare and for those of you that aren’t parents all I can tell you is that it is never good news when daycare is calling you in the middle of the day. I felt the familiar drop of my stomach, took a deep breath, and answered as calmly as I could. In the kindest way possible, daycare informed me that my oldest daughter, Sydney, had split the side of her forehead open and was “bleeding profusely.” They asked me to come immediately as she would need stitches and were worried about the amount of blood she was losing. I felt the panic creep in and told them that I’d call right back. My mind was racing with a thousand thoughts:
- “I needed to get to Sydney ASAP and take care of her”
- “I’m 30 minutes away so can’t get there as soon as they need – what do I do?”
- “What about all my meetings- how will I let everyone know?”
- “Do I cancel the facilities tour or reschedule?”
- “Where should I take her for stitches?”
- “I need to let my husband know!”
- “This is an important day at work, I can’t leave.”
- “My family is more important than anything and I absolutely will leave work right this second. Sydney matters way more.”
- “What do I do first?!”
As my head was spinning, I simultaneously went into action. I called my neighbor and God bless her she was able to secure a carseat from a neighbor and pick Sydney up while I packed up my things and headed home. During the drive home, I called my husband to update him on the situation and then called one of my best friends that’s a nurse to figure out the best place to take her for stitches. Then, I called as many colleagues as I could to let them know what was going on in case I couldn’t make my meetings. My plan was to call into all the meetings while in the waiting room, take a break while she was getting the stitches, and then hop on the ones by the end of the day. “I got this,” I thought to myself as my revised plan was starting to take shape…. little did I know.
When I got to my neighbors to grab Sydney I felt that pit in my stomach return. My poor baby was going to need stitches and this was not going to be fun. The emergency room happens to be super close to our home and it was the only place open for stitches until 2pm that afternoon so off we went. It wasn’t busy when we entered so after filling out the paperwork, I dialed into my next zoom meeting with Sydney tucked in my arm on the waiting room couch. I hadn’t been in the meeting two minutes when the administrative assistant came up to inquire about an insurance question. No problem, I handled it swiftly and hopped back on the call again. At this point Sydney was getting impatient and starting to run around the ER waiting room so I had to go grab her and bring her back every few minutes. I hopped back on the call a few more times when Sydney started bleeding through her band aid onto my shirt. Then, while bleeding everywhere she announced that she had to go “potty.” I gave up and hung up the zoom call.
We headed back to the ER shortly after that and spend 4.5 hours in the hospital. The staff was incredible but we waited a long time between various visits. When she was finally numb enough the doctor came into to give her the stitches and let me just say this, the procedure of getting stitches by your eye is horrible. I think everyone was traumatized by the end with me being the worst. I attempted to call into one more meeting while we were waiting for the numbing cream to take effect. but it was no use. Sydney was in pain and uncomfortable – she needed her mom. Work could wait, I needed to be there for my daughter.
I learned a tough lesson that day. I kept beating myself up trying to make my meetings happens and show everyone that I was still working hard when what I needed to do was focus on my baby girl. At that moment, I turned my attention fully to Sydney and held her close for the rest of the time we were there. Sydney was so scared but we got through it and 4 stitches, a popsicle, promises to watch Frozen, and a million stickers later we headed home. I didn’t make a single meeting. I have no idea what happened at work that day and I had 48 unopened emails when I got home, but my little girl was loved and taken care of and that’s what mattered.
As I walked back to the car, I took a deep breath, “this,” I thought to myself, “is life.” Life isn’t the perfectly formed plans that we make each day. It isn’t the autopilot meetings and emails we answer at every ding and it sure as heck isn’t everything going perfectly. As Allen Saunders said, “life is what happens to you while we are busy making other plans.” If we truly pay attention to what happens when things go awry, we will see the answer rather than confusion. If we pay attention to the pause that disrupted plans may cause, we can find peace. If we pay attention to the 6 inches in front of our face, we will know where we need to be.
I know that there will be hundreds of more moments like this as a parent. I know that I will get called for injuries, illnesses, and challenges. I will also (hopefully!) get called with good news like activities that they get selected to participate in, good deeds they’ve done, and awards that they’ve won. All of these moments will shatter my Type A planner personality to pieces, and every single time I will remember what matters most. The schedules can wait, the perfect plans will be put on hold, the “to do” list will grow and that’s all in God’ plan. My girls will only be young once and what matters is them. What matters is family, faith, and me showing up for them over and over again.
Our plans mean nothing if the people we love aren’t taken care of first. The world can wait. The 6 inches in front of my face is where you’ll find me.