Working for Family
… and the lessons learned
Apa was created to be a Pediatrician. He did his craft better than any other person I met. He was stupendous with the kids. He spoke their language and figured out what was going on with them on a deeper level. He was a child whisperer and was darned good at it.
Working for Apa was easy. I started working for him when I was twelve-years-young. Every Friday, during the summer, I went on rounds with him then headed to the office. I cleaned while he would do whatever it was he did. Mama often joined us at the office. It was a family effort. Some weeks were easier than others to get the job done. There were times I wished I would have gotten paid real money for the work I put in.
At the start of high school, my responsibilities increased — but my pay didn’t. I learned how to professionally call patients for appointment reminders, improve my alphabetizing skills through filing, become familiar with the printer/copier/fax machine, be a medical assistant (learning how to do urine cultures, CBCs, strep tests and various other things), and how to bite my tongue. (I assure you, there were patients whose intellectual neurotransmitters were misfiring regularly.)
Even though the actual pay was minimal, it wasn’t until decades later when I realized the true value and payments received from those experiences working at the office.
When it was all said and done, I worked at the office for six years. During high school, I had another actual job, my class load, and all kinds of extracurricular activities. Through it all, I learned valuable lessons about life. I learned:
- Family first
- How to find joy in the little things
You only get one family — they say. Technically, yes. But in theory, no. As adults, we have the capacity to create our own family, our own tribe that supports us and loves us unconditionally. So many get stuck on the minutiae of family having to be biologically related to you. In reality, family is what you make it. It’s not going to be perfect, but it is going to be yours. When you choose your family members, make sure they align with your highest good. Make sure they’ll love you through all of life’s challenges. And by all means, make sure you can have crucial conversations with them.
Sacrifice is a pretty big deal to all of us. We may define sacrifice differently than others. Sacrifice means giving up something for someone else. I’m not saying give up who you are for someone else. But I am saying that sometimes, we have to give up our own desires in order to uplift others. Sacrifice can be mowing the lawn when it’s super hot outside. Sacrifice can be giving part of your favorite meal to a niece/nephew who’s been eyeing your pie but isn’t comfortable speaking up and asking. Sacrifice can look like driving 30 minutes to bring someone tea and sitting with them in silence. Remember that our definition of sacrifice doesn’t have to match up with that of others and their definition doesn’t have to match up with ours.
Being resilient is a task all within itself. We are called to push through and bounce back after challenging moments. Let’s be totally honest, we don’t always want to do that. And, while still being honest, we don’t have to always be resilient.
I encourage you to feel the feelings that come up. I also encourage you to be resilient so as to not fall into a depression.
It appears as though patience is an ongoing lesson in my life. Every time I feel like I’m more patient than the year before, something happens to show me I have yet to learn this particular lesson. I used to joke, and sometimes still do, to call me Job.Job endured a whole slew of things in his life and was called to be patient and to trust God. Working in the office taught me to be patient with the patients, with Apa, with Mama, with my coworkers, and with myself. Back then, I was a bit more reserved than I am now. I didn’t show frustration or give way to it as much as I do as an adult. Honestly, I didn’t think I had a right to — the whole children should be seen not heard thought process. Just because I didn’t show the frustrations, doesn’t mean they didn’t exist. If I recall accurately, I was mostly frustrated with the patients. Why? Because we would give them instructions on how to allow their child to heal, and they would be ignored. Even then, I didn’t understand why parents would seek advice only to ignore it. Here’s an example: A phone call would come in at 4:30pm, “Hi, my daughter is running a 102.5 temperature, may I bring her in tomorrow?” My response, “Of course. We can get you in at 2:00pm.” Patient, “Is there any other time by chance, she has a piano lesson then.” I mean…. Come on folks, really??? It was in those moments when I valued the lessons most.
Working with family wasn’t always easy, but there was always something to be grateful for. Finding joy in the smallest of things was paramount not only to the success of the business but to our own mental health. This particular lesson has carried with me well into adulthood and as a mother, I have passed it onto my children. This lesson, above all others, is what leaves the greatest legacy. If you can find joy in the tiniest of details in life — catching a red light, being waved to by a child in the back of the school bus, or having extra time with your family due to a snow day — then your outlook on the big things will be more rewarding than ever. You already have a healthy mindset and can see the value of precious moments.
All in all, I value and love the lessons learned at a young age whilst working for Apa. They have helped me through life’s peaks and valleys and have laid the foundation for my own children as they maneuver through life.