Column: A mad dash before life-altering deadline

Things to do: Add baby sticker to wife’s car.

My wife and I entertain a lot. We have a good house for visitors. It’s got an open floor plan, unfinished basement replete with table games and, during the summer months, an ice-cold pool. (The thing just won’t warm up.)

We often joke that the frequent visitors help the house not fall into total disarray. When there’s company coming, you’ve got to clean up. So before we entertain, we scramble. There’s the vacuuming. The tidying up. The toilets.

Michael White, editor

Lately, we’ve been scrambling a lot, because permanent disarray is on the way in the form of a little girl named Abigail Serafina White.

The baby’s middle name is that of my wife Suzanne’s beloved late grandmother, Serafina (Sophie) Bonomo. The baby’s first name, well, we just liked it. We’ll call her Abby. As a bonus, the name is also that of one of the country’s most revered women in history, Abigail Adams. That Abigail was born Nov. 11, 1744. Our Abigail is due here Oct. 9, 2013.

Now, I can handle deadlines; it’s what I do for a living. But this particular deadline has had me and Suzanne running frantically. I guess that’s because we’re now anticipating a different type of company — the kind that’s expected to stay around for a while. We’ve been using our firstborn’s arrival to take on every chore and project that’s ever needed attention in our house, all in just a few short months and weeks.

It’s been a slog. Finally, on Saturday afternoon, we found ourselves lamenting — no, panicking — because I likely wouldn’t have time over the weekend to install the bathroom towel rack, a chore I had put on my list a few months back but had never gotten to. Voices were raised, and then it dawned on us, eventually: What the heck does an extra towel rack have to do with a little baby? Come to think of it, why did I put “organize workbench” on the list at all? For one, I barely even work down there. Why would I suddenly need it nice and tidy?

We might have gone a bit overboard, we realized. So, instead of tackling any more projects in the house before the baby’s arrival — a psychological process called nesting, say the experts — we went out to dinner. It was someplace real fancy, too. I had the duck and she had the lamb shank.

Sure, a baby on the way is a nice excuse to get work done around the house. But there’s no reason for added stress over the last few weeks of pregnancy. What we should be doing is R-E-L-A-X-I-N-G. (It feels good to say it nice and slow like that.) No more madness, we decided. The essentials are done. Our bags for the hospital are packed. The baby’s room is near completion and the side-sleeper — which I just found out is like a bassinet, whatever that is — is all set up.

I’ll still try to get that towel rack installed some time between now and Abby’s delivery day, but no pressure. It’s just a towel rack and the baby’s towels will probably be about the size of napkins for a while. And I suspect that, one day, when children are driving me a bit mad, I may just get around to organizing that basement workbench after all.

Michael White is the editor of the Riverhead News-Review. He can be reached at [email protected] or (631) 298-3200, ext. 152. Follow him on Twitter @mikewhite31