• Anthony Machcinski

A Breath of Fresh Air


Excuse the humblebrag, but my daughter is as close to flipping over as a six-week-old infant can get – just an inch from the point when gravity does the work.

I laid on the floor next to her, doing my best impression of the weightlifting coach you see at the NFL Combine.

“Good set! You’ve got this! Don’t give up!”

More than 45 minutes went by. An eggplant parm sat cold on the stove ready to eat, but I couldn’t pull myself away. This became too much fun to watch.

She didn’t flip over – not that night anyway. But I didn’t care. It’s just incredible to catch these moments.

I’m not sure when it happened, but time seems to slip away these days. Minutes turning into hours as I’m caught up rocking my daughter on my knee or laying with her on the floor.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about what the pandemic cost me – not just my job, but life moments, special projects and a bit of sanity. Maybe it’s the acceptance stage of grief, but during my daughter’s workout session, none of those things mattered anymore.

As I watched her kick a cow flying an airplane in her baby gym, I thought about everything we did that day – two walks totaling five miles, an afternoon nap in my arms, her evening bath and the last minutes on the floor.

We’ve been on this routine for a few weeks now. Had I been employed all this time, who knows how many of these moments I would have missed. There’d be no time to sing Bruce Springsteen as I got her dressed in the morning and taking an hour-and-a-half to walk at lunch would certainly be out of the question.

Since I got laid off in March and my daughter’s birth in June, I’ve told people how blessed I am to spend time home to help my wife recover and watch my daughter grow. But until I looked into her ice blue eyes the other night, I didn’t actually feel it.


I don’t believe last night to be a magic epiphany. I know too well that the problems I’ve been facing the last five months aren’t going away.

My social media feed is an endless disease injecting the struggles of a nation into my veins every morning, day and night. The individual stories of struggle flow on a constant basis – those who lost their lives, the ones fearing next month’s medical bills or wondering where they’ll be able to eat.

But what last night gave me most is what I think we all need these days – a breath of fresh air.

Sure, the problems we face remain at our doorstep, but the short moments away provide the recovery needed to fight the next day -- and my daughter gave me mine.

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