February 29, 2024

Two Days

My youngest is in the kitchen, hacking a slightly past-date pineapple into sticky bits with a meat cleaver. The chicken that I set out in water hours ago to defrost is still frozen. This afternoon, we showed up 30 minutes late to my eldest’s medical appointment because we spent 35 minutes acquainting ourselves with a half-mile section of expressway. And that’s just the past 3 hours.

I sometimes ask myself how I can save lives for a living (at least in theory, at least some of the time) and still lose my keys so often that I use my keychain-tracking Tile at least as often as I call one of my kids by the wrong name (which is not infrequently). Just this week, after narrowly surviving a seemingly interminable winter break with a pack of snow-deprived house-bound cranky pants progeny (why oh why did the school district schedule the break with the holiday highlight observed in our household at the very, very beginning?) I found myself staring down multiple looming, relatively pressing deadlines only to be slapped, rather rudely, with two (count them, two!) extra days off school in the first five days after our purported return to class. Not to mention a federal holiday. I can’t even talk about that.

Don’t get me wrong, I like snow (and snow days) as much as the next person who has chosen to live on the lake-effect side of a state surrounded by water. But two? After we’ve been off for two weeks? Don’t the meteorologists know what this means for my carefully laid life plans? Don’t they care even a little? It would seem that the answer is a hard no, because as we braced for the predicted morning onslaught of high winds, freezing precipitation and general wintry fury from Mother Nature (which started with the sweetest, gentlest hint of a flurry about 30 minutes before the maniacs would have gotten home on a normal school day) I couldn’t help but ask myself what I’d done to deserve this hearty dose of karma. Which is a question that’s probably left unanswered, frankly, for a variety of reasons.

We didn’t lose power. The number of times that we shoveled in one day did not exceed three. Our incredibly kind neighbor took pity on us and bailed us out of the worst of it with his trusty tractor. The sledding and snow-forting was AMAZING, despite devastatingly outgrown snowpants and a distinct lack of mini-marshmallows for the cocoa. No one lost digits or facial features to cold-related injury. The carefully curated collection of board games was utterly neglected in favor of screen-sitting and noise-cancelling headphones so that something, anything, could actually get done.

And we made it. As painful as the 0530 alarm chime was on the first day back, as bereft as the dogs were whilst pining for their inexplicably missing lounging buddies who are delightfully careless with snacks, we made it through. Somehow. Three deadlines have inexplicably been met (one was even beaten by two days. Two days!) Kid #2 has mastered a Roblox game called “Sinking Ship,” which seems alarmingly apropos. We even managed to put the new lamp together. And it works. The wonders may never cease.

“Mom, is there something else I can cut up?”

Why yes, child, there is. That apple spiral that you’re making is brilliant. And after we thoroughly dice these crazy ideas of mine that the world is something that I can control, let’s start on that huge block of dark chocolate in the cupboard. STAT. 

Diana Nordlund, DO, JD, FACEP
Emergency Care Specialists, Grand Rapids, MI
Immediate Past President, Board of Directors, Michigan College of Emergency Physicians (MCEP)
Chair, MCEP State Legislative Committee
Chair, ACEP Medical-Legal Committee

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