Monday, March 23, 2009
Monday Memories: The Commute
Gayle over at Planet M Files is hosting her third Monday Memories. This week I finally got together a post to share. Some of you already know this story (Amy, Andrea, Keri and the girls from work). To you I apologize if it's old hat. To the rest of you I apologize for the images that will unmercilessy be forced into your heads. And if you are a man I apologize again. Happy Monday!
“From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.” Dr. Seuss
I started veterinary school in the fall of 1996. My family lived in Eugene, Oregon but school was in Corvallis, an hour’s commute by car. Corvallis and Eugene were connected via two routes. The first being the I-5 which meant blasting up the corridor with 18-wheelers and drug smugglers. The second route was a two-lane country highway meandering through Willamette Valley’s humble farming communities. Needless to say I took the road less traveled by.
I’d be out the door by 6:45 am, taking our only car; a white Subaru Outback (we were, after all, a prototypical Northwest family). My husband pedaled our young son to daycare on a bicycle with a Burley Cart, rain or shine.
On clear days my commute was phenomenal; fields upon fields of grass grown for seed, pastures peppered with sheep, archaic barns and Christmas tree farms; all indulged my senses and provided much needed visual sustenance and mental fuel. On rainy days, which in the Willamette Valley occurred more often than not, the commute lost it's appeal and became harrowing. The roads, pitted by years of travel and poor upkeep, filled with water and grabbed the car, tossing it to and fro. Getting lost in the landscape was not an option during those waterlogged days.
The country road contained other hazards as well. With only one lane each direction getting stuck behind an old person, or God forbid, a tractor added precious minutes to a tight commute. Nonetheless I carefully obeyed the speed limits. The gestapo in the small farming towns were also known for their speed traps. I had no interest in losing additional time or money but also had other drive time activities I did not wish to explain. Therefore, no matter how late, I always followed posted road signs.
You see my son was 3-months-old when I began this commute. He was my first child and I was determined to do right by him while still pursuing my dreams. I was a young modern mama and could do anything. Despite school, despite the commute, I continued to breast feed. This meant pumping.
Thank God for the double breast pump with a cigarette lighter attachment. When did I pump? While driving of course! My boobs were available having no other commitments during the drive. They didn't have to steer, push the gas pedal or shift gears. Their schedule was wide open. My schedule - not so much. Time was precious and I was not going to waste a single moment.
Now there were some technical difficulties with this particular endeavor. The cups had to be hooked into my nursing bra (under my shirt of course) and the bottles had to be balanced on my knees. I had to make sure the bottles did not overfill and short out the pump. I had to relax and think happy thoughts. I had to endure strange looks from farmers on tractors. I had to drink a lot of water. And I still had to drive.
Luckily for me I was never pulled over while pumping though I’m sure I wouldn’t have been the first “pumping while driving” offender. My baby boy is now twelve-years-old, almost thirteen. Looking back it’s amazing I was able to commute, raise a child, breast feed, go to school and stay married. I also managed to squeeze in a few other accomplishments including having a second child and graduating with honors (in that order). I was told it couldn't be done and I proved them wrong.
I don’t know I’d have the tenacity to do now what I did then. I was younger and just naive enough not to listen to others. Today I'm older and a bit more tired. But despite my age and the requisite wisdom that comes with it -- I will never ever tell anyone it can't be done (whatever their "it" is). Because with the right attitude "it" probably is possible. Though I may not be able to do it someone else likely can. Instead I tell people it won't be easy, you'll struggle, you'll want to quit. People will try to talk you out of your dreams. But, to quote U2 (and whomever originated the phrase before them), "Don't let the bastards grind you down."