Within the pages of the autobiography I will never write, several chapters are dedicated to the impact my mother, Kathy, has had on me. One such chapter discusses my experience with what I refer to my two siblings as Take Your Favorite Child to Work Day.
As a kid, I excitedly awaited accompanying my mother to the hospital where she worked as a nurse. Not only could I take the day off from school without running the thermometer under hot water to fake an illness, I had the chance to see medical practices up close, and maybe even catch some ER-type drama. For an 11-year-old, this was about as sweet of a deal as any.
What I didn’t anticipate, though, was the immeasurable professional assets the experience would provide. To honor both my mother and Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day, I would like to share a few life lessons I inadvertently gained from my annual legitimate absence from Saint Norbert Elementary School.
1. Everyone Should Take a Day Off for Adventure
As a kid, roaming the hospital made me feel like Tarzan in a medical jungle. I would swing through departments without reservation and soak up more information than any single day of elementary school could provide. Did you know that we blink roughly 1,200 times per waking hour? (This came in handy for future sick day attempts when I told my mother my eyes were ill.)
Whether you’re employed, unemployed, or a student, everyone deserves a day off solely for an adventure. Think about it: How many things do you encounter on a daily basis about which you have no previous insight or actual experience? Not many. Now, roaming the halls of your local hospital unaccompanied may not be advisable for the majority of the population, but removing yourself from the monotony of your daily existence to try something new could change your life.
2. Develop Your Niche
When I was a kid, I was positive I was going to be a cowboy: boots, spurs, hat, the whole bit. When you’re young, there’s no shame in picking something you love as an intended profession. But the sad reality is that most of us wannabe cowboys often end up wrasslin’ paperwork and employees instead of steer.
However, if my days spent with my mom at work taught me one thing, it was that although most of us won’t live out our dream, there are a lucky few that get to do something they love. Listening to the doctors communicate and work inside a body using handheld devices with tiny cameras was amazing! It didn’t take long to realize these folks had passion for their work. Now, of course not everyone can be a doctor or a cowboy, but we can all find something to be passionate about, something that makes us eager to start our day.
3. Keep Composure Under Pressure
In a hospital, life tends to happen on the fly. As my mom always says, “The unpredictable is the only predictable.” An unconscious patient can’t signal when his heart is about to stop, but when he flat lines, it’s the medical team’s responsibility to bring him back. Everyone has a role, and it’s critical for the unit to function as a team and communicate efficiently to save a life.
Similarly, if a medical emergency were to go awry, my mom possesses the emotional intelligence to know she would be prepared, and regardless of the outcome, she would be able to move on—sometimes quickly, by necessity—to help the next patron. Witnessing my mother’s ability to calmly focus under pressure and assess and solve problems in real-time has absolutely transferred into my own career.
4. Protect Yourself
When I was a kid and my mom was trying to force me into my very chic sweater vest and clip-on tie, I never failed to mention that it seemed unfair that she got to wear pajamas to work. As an adult, I’m still jealous, but I now understand that her “pajamas” are actually an imperative protective device from the bodily fluids one is exposed to in the ER. In fact, I recall a story my mom told me of a man throwing up in her mouth while she was reviving him (let the dry-heaving ensue).
Even if we don’t work in the ER, we all deal with personal wounds and a lot of unwanted “crap” flung our way. And if you don’t have a trusty set of scrubs that you can remove at the end of the day, you’re going to end up taking a lot of crap home with you. It isn’t about guarding yourself from others, but rather, it is about developing practices that prevent the crap from negatively impacting your life.
5. Moms are Awesome!
Aside from her willingness to wipe my snot with her bare hand, to pretend to believe I was sick when the thermometer mysteriously read 125 degrees, and to entertain my dream of being a cowboy, my mom is an inspiring woman. Her passion for helping others outweighs her paycheck, and for that she proudly stands among the few who live what they truly love. And she has absolutely fueled my drive to find what I love, too. For some this may take longer than others, but remember that fulfilling a calling isn’t time-sensitive. It all starts with the willingness to be Tarzan for a day. Love you, Mom!