My maternity leave ended last week. It was extended a few days because I had to have my appendix removed on June 6, which happened to be my 24th birthday.
It was without question my worst birthday ever. However, turning 23 was a close second.
I had been Mrs. Zac Cohron for exactly a week. Since it was my first birthday as Zac's wife, I assumed he had planned something a little special.
Imagine my disappointment when I asked him about his plans and he said, "I haven't really thought about it."
That morning, I made my own birthday cake. Later we went to the Galleria and I bought my own presents. I don't even think he bought me a card.
I've given Zac a lot of grief ever since. He returned the favor as I was being wheeled away to the operating room.
The last words of comfort he gave me were "Last year's birthday isn't looking so bad now, is it?"
He also gave me a scare when I woke up after surgery. I was still groggy and recovering in my room when Zac walked in wearing a big stain on his white T-shirt.
I wondered if he had been shot, possibly by me considering his previous remark. It turns out that he had spilled Orajel on himself while trying to treat a toothache during my surgery.
Before I change the subject, Zac would probably want me to mention that he did redeem himself a little this year. He bought me a dozen yellow roses and cooked us a steak dinner the night before my birthday.
Or so he says. I was under a general anesthesia a few hours later so my memory may be compromised.
I'll admit that I've been looking forward to returning to work. I'm a lousy stay-at-home mom.
I adore my son, but I need another day job so that I can be the mother he deserves when I come home.
When I heard other women say that before, it sounded like a bunch of baloney. Good mothers should want to stay at home with their babies.
I have felt a lot of guilt about leaving Wyatt. I always said that I wouldn't have kids because I was dedicated to my career and I couldn't have both without each of them suffering.
However, Zac and I did start a family, and my job is financially important to all of us.
Writing means more to me than a paycheck, though.
One of my journalism professors once told our class that we should change majors if we weren't having fun because we could make more money doing just about anything else.
He had a valid point. Some of the people I went to high school with were making more money a few months after graduation than I ever will.
I've sometimes wondered if I should have taken a different path. I think I might have enjoyed being a lawyer. But then I wouldn't have met Mr. Downs.
I met James Downs, known locally as "The Bee Man," last summer when the Natatorium's Active Traveling Seniors went to Curry. I was riding with the NATS' fearless leader, Jennifer Smith, when we saw a man and a bunch of honeybees in the bushes.
The next thing poor Mr. Downs knew, he was being asked all kinds of nosy questions by a couple of crazy chicks named Jennifer.
He certainly informed us and entertained us as well. Jennifer and I were both surprised when he asked if we wanted to hold one of the male bees, which can't hurt people because they don't have stingers.
"But the females will sting you. That's like people females," he said.
It was obvious that Mr. Downs loved his bees. He told me that he once stopped selling hives to a customer when he found out that the man was stripping the bees of all their honey, leaving them with none to survive.
"There's no use in killing bees just for our use. We can do better than that," he said.
Mr. Downs died in May at the age of 83. I didn't get to go to his funeral because Wyatt was just a few days old.
But maybe it's for the best. I don't want to remember Mr. Downs lying in a casket. In my mind, he'll always be out on the side of that road taking care of his bees.
One day Wyatt will ask me why I have to work, and I'll tell him about Mr. Downs. As long as my job allows me to meet people like him and tell their stories, I'll continue to love it.