It is my birthday. It is the end of a semester. It is the end of 2014. It is a time for reflection.
My birthday last year was different. I was just back from the Newborn Intensive Care Unit with a baby still needing bottled oxygen and a wife who was in the darkest stages of postpartum depression. I was full of adrenaline and endorphin as I took care of this new precious life. I was unsure of what to do with my wife. She just wanted to lay in bed all day. She didn't seem to want to take care of this new baby. I think it really hit me how deep she was into it on my birthday.
See, my wife's primary love language is gifts. She goes a bit nuts for birthdays. For me this is kind of awkward for a couple reasons. First of all, I don't really like gifts. Of course, it's always nice to get something. It is even more amazing to give someone something they love. Still, I don't think about it much. I don't want much from people. I don't generally think to give people things. It's bad because I don't give her gifts like she does for me. Last year, on my birthday, there were not the piles of gifts she'd normally get me. I didn't mind. I don't really want gifts. I want my wife to be okay. I knew when I didn't get a pile of gifts that she really wasn't okay.
This year, I know she's better. First of all, I count five presents in the pic of our kitchen table (pictured below), but there's also a box beside it. This is the woman I know. I don't care what's in the bags. the fact that there are bags shows me that Jamie is back. That matters so much more than anything else I could possibly want.
Last year my daughter was still on oxygen. She had to keep these tubes in her nose that had to be taped on her face. The tubes were attached to an oxygen bottle which kept a constant flow to her. Besides this added difficulty, she was a newborn. That means feedings every few hours. Her mom was really in no position to help much. I loved this new little girl so much but was completely overwhelmed.
Now my daughter is doing awesome. She is a big, smart one-year old who loves to play, make animal sounds and generally enjoys life (except when she can't have what she wants). She spends most of her day with her mommy who, admittedly, does most of the work caring for her. I get to spend my evenings watching her play with her toys and learn,, learn, learn. I my still be a bit overwhelmed, but I like it. Her mommy made this video for me this morning.
At work I wasn't sure what was going on. I mostly teach the introductory class in communication. In fact, that's about all I teach. That's sort of fine. I love the introductory class. I love teaching classical rhetoric as public speaking to new students, but I'd sort of like to do more advanced stuff. So, I'd worked on this Communication Minor and it was on hold. I was on way too many committees. I was sinking, really.
I am still on too many committees, but I've learned to say "no." I am excited about some of my research projects. The minor has been taking up by the administration and it might end up being something more awesome than I'd ever dreamed of. It all looks really good.
I get depressed sometimes. I don't have the money I need to give my wife and daughter the life they should have. I hate that. I am a long way from many of my friends and all of my family. That makes me lonely. I still don't have a friend who I can spend time with outside of specific settings: someone who can come over and play video games, or go out with the dogs, for instance, or something. I've got church-friends who have helped me out big-time with things. I've got colleagues at work who are more than just collegial. I have old friends from other eras in my life who are a phone call and a thousand miles away, but no one who just hangs out. I think I need that.
Overall, however, I can't say things are going poorly. If I truly and honestly reflect on the last year I have to say: "life is good."