A Labor of Love…


Anything I’ve done up till May 27th 1999 was kind of an illusion, existing without living. My daughter, the birth of my daughter, gave me life. –Johnny Depp



Huff – huff – huff – Blow!

Huff – huff – huff – Blow!

Huff – huff – huff – Blow!

Okay… relax.

Ah, the fond memories of my first outing as head coach for the home team.  Well … actually a labor coach in a hospital’s maternity ward, but a coach nonetheless.

7CAJN46SACABLGKTLCAFQ3DDQCAJ9XKMPCA4I5HH5CAH0196MCAYO1XB7CA3T0GUGCADLVQ80CAN3CEYVCA38GU3BCAQH9B56CA0NS56TCAWZOB0MCAB3BK2VCAZBTMW8CA3TLDYGCAENQI1ZCAWZVQ1VSure it was a small team, my wife the only player. But, hey, it was thrilling. An NFL-like experience – studying film, analyzing charts, working strategy. There were pep-talks, conditioning, two-a-day practices, and of course, the whistle. I really liked the whistle…until my wife insisted I blow it out my @$$–  But we were ready for the big game, and what a game it was — physical, sweaty, and cursing. Lots of cursing.  

And here we go again… We [Candi, Marie-Claude, and me — John] wanted to announce how pumped and proud we are with the anticipated arrival of a new member to our MuseTracks family. If you haven’t heard, our talented writing partner and special friend, Jennifer Bray-Webber and her real-life hero, Mark, are soon-to-be parents for the second time ‘round. A new and highly anticipated chapter about to be written after a prefatorial, nine-month prologue. Exciting, isn’t it? Can’t wait for the big day…err, no pun intended. And like a typical dad, myself, I can still remember game day, holding the trophy and counting its fingers and toes. But…

Is it weird for a guy to gush over the little booger’s arrival? From the quote above, perhaps Jonny Depp and I have shared a common past — a living illusion.

Maybe it’s a guy thing. I’ve got no reservation now, but once upon a time, after the wife and I slipped on the ‘burning rings 6CA7X43FWCAVJA7YTCAFDGRJ0CA7C2DV3CAF5OTCTCA038O2OCA00JSKOCATS9JP8CALGWGJVCATTBLFCCAOOUDYUCA1MP341CADNKGXYCAW2ZOE9CAI42H8JCAMII8K9CA1ITEO3CA8VY1R5CALP7O9Nof fire,’ I was a little timid about family building and the baby thing. Sure, for friends and relatives, I’d come to the hospital, followed protocol, and armed myself with a stuffed bunny for THEIR new addition. And of course, I’d efforted a glance at the little critter while trying something perfunctory like, “Hey, cool! What kind is it?”

The game plan here, I instinctively knew, was maintain a safe distance and come prepared with a quick exit strategy should the mother get that telltale glint in her eye just before she asks – Hey, you wanna hold it?2CA78HJR7CAHOV3E4CACUVE0DCAR6K986CARF0NJMCA15AFXICAJDRRPRCAMUPWZJCAPVHYKDCA07X8ZMCAKFNFB9CA7VM67HCA9XFX28CA8D7SQ5CA4YGJM7CA1YUTL0CA75JLJ7CAM1ZGJ5CAHY3KKZ

Have you ever seen our kind? The ones with that dazed look in our eyes when a child is thrust into our arms.

Panic-stricken, I realize I’ve got to take the handoff lest I be penalized for delay of game. But, my God, how do you hold those things? By an arm? A leg? How will I know if my grip is too tight?   

I tried my best to seem delighted with this little alien, held at arm’s length, while I wondered. Is this a trick? Some kind of test? Really, what lessons are to be learned? 

Then it hits me. This is how they infect you. Ah-ha! My suspicions confirmed as I look around the hospital room, and the knowing glances and crafty smiles shared between my wife and the other women. Jeez! How fair is that…they communicate telepathically.34474454_thw

Spores. It’s got to be the spores. Invasions always begin with spores. I’d read it in a book –  Dean Koontz, I think. But how do these little aliens release them. And with that thought, a smile spreads across the cherub’s lips, its eyes pinch, and a quaggy flutter rips its diaper. That smell, my God! It’s begun. The invasion. To late. Can’t breath…

And infected, I’d become. But suddenly it all became clear when a child, one of my own, was beamed into my world. Gone was the awkwardness when they placed her in my arms. I held her — cradled her — sheltered her, this new and wondrous creation. Without forethought or fear, I pulled her close to my heart.

1I looked at my wife and in that one moment as a new father, I’d become all kinds of philosophical. An expanding sphere of understanding, an epiphany of life, love, and all things beautiful. I stood at the window and held my child in the glow of a new day.

It seemed all my perceptions had changed: the distant song of a bird, the gentle sway of treetops, the happy buzz of a bee that danced among flowers, lured by the sweet scent of nectar drifting on the breeze.

Life abounds. And I realize that this child I hold in my arms is a much larger part of some greater design. She’d come so far. Traveled billions of years across an evolving universe, and gathered to herself the elements of life. Then, one day, she crosses the threshold into our world – the first spark of mortality, spirit, and then self-awareness. And as she grows within the miracle of her mother’s womb, she listens to the tales of her ancient ancestors whose names have long become forgotten, but who are here with her in the shape of her mouth, the color of her eyes, and the sound of her voice. How had this child found us…how are we worthy.

Of all the people in the world, Bristol has chosen you, Jenn — someone mother-and-child-detail-from-the-three-ages-of-woman-c-1905-gustave-klimt1who’s as much a miracle as you are. What a lucky child. We’re so excited and happy for you and your family. And, hey…Labor Day is Monday, but you do know  that you don’t have to take it literally, right? And if Mark needs it, I think I can dig out my coach’s whistle around here someplace.

26 Responses to A Labor of Love…

  1. Candi Wall says:


    Jenn, if you aren’t crying hard enough, I am.

    John that was beautiful and so aptly written. I’m glad you could find a way to put into words, even a semblence of what we all feel/think.

    How profound and powerful…

    But my usband and I both had a HUGE chuckle atthe whistle and blowing it somewhere unpleasant. I had the F.I.L. who couldn’t wait to see y contraction meter reach the same number as his favorite racecar driver. had to be 88!!! Needless to say – he left the room just after my meter hit that mark.

    Jenn, I’d print this and save it in Bristol’s baby book…


  2. Sarabeth says:

    ” She’d come so far. Traveled billions of years across an evolving universe, and gathered to herself the elements of life.”

    It’s all lovely, but those lines are my favorite part.


  3. Kelly says:

    It’s nice to get a guy’s take on the little critters.


  4. Jessica says:

    What a beautiful post John! You’re right, they change our lives forever. 😉
    I’m excited for Jenn!


  5. John Roundtree says:

    Hey, Candi!

    Favorite driver #88, LOL — I’m glad to see I’m not alone. Please, we too need distractions while you wives escape to that grassy meadow within the picture pasted to the ceiling.

    I hear Jenn’s getting a little impatient. Bristol is taking her time. Hmmm… a surprise BLAST from the ole coache’s whistle might do the trick. What time does Jenn waddle out to the mail? Anyone know? There’s got to be good hiding places near ’bouts. 🙂



  6. John Roundtree says:

    Hi, Sarabeth!

    Ooh, a familiar face! Thanks for coming.

    Thanks for the nice words. It really is kind-a-cool. And it’s hard not to get all philosophical… watching a child peacefully asleep in h/her mother’s arms. And, wow! I’ve seen your group on facebook. What a handsome and beautiful trio! Good job, girl — a writer and everything!



  7. From football to Star Trek and beyond. Unique analogies, but so appropriate to the “assimilation” of the masculine element. Me, I think they’re like fungus—they grow on you, and the stain they generate on your heart and life is indelible.

    Wishing RS2 Jenn a quick and uneventful delivery.


  8. John Roundtree says:

    Hi, Kelly!

    The world’s so different from their POV, isn’t it? Simpler. Rewarding to experience new discovery through their perspectives. Until the teen years… 🙂



  9. John Roundtree says:

    Hi, Jessica!

    Always nice to hear from you! How’s the WIP?

    Change? Seriously! They’re a catalyst for change. And meeting others through their schools, clubs, sports and etc, we’ve probably formed some of our closest friendships. Could be a problem for Jenn though. I doubt she has room her rolodex for more friends. 🙂



  10. John Roundtree says:

    Hi, Gwynlyn!

    That’s too perfect!!! Wherever there’s sun, there’s shade –too inviting for fungus to ignore. We could compare stories.

    I wondered if mixing the metaphors would get me in trouble. You’ve got me thinking, though. You can’t beat Sunday afternoon football. On Star Trek, there is no football. And in the ‘beyond,’ there’s never any losers. I thought the beyond was supposed to be fun. What’s the fun in celebrating when every game’s a tie. The future seems bleak. 😦 There is, of course, the alternative.



  11. Lovely, John, just lovely. We moms love it when dads wax philosophical and delight in their children 🙂


  12. Tess says:

    Great post, John! Just lovely!

    Good luck, Jenn…won’t be long now!


  13. John Roundtree says:

    Hi, Robin,

    So happy you dropped in!

    You’re too kind. Guess it’s the company I keep here at MuseTracks. My writing partners are extraordinary. Here and there, I try to do the little things for them. That’s why I’m sending my full manuscript for Jenn to CRIT during labor. Honestly, which is more painful. 🙂

    See you on Elements! –John


  14. Ah, John. Wonderful post. I’m lost for more words. Just absolutely wonderful. di

    2009 Golden Heart Finalist


  15. John Roundtree says:

    Hi, Tess!

    Thanks a ton for dropping by, and the kind words!

    >> …won’t be long now!<<

    I'm sure she's ready. Bristol Weber — that name looks good on a book cover, doesn't it? The daughter of a GH Finalist. Those are big shoes, err…heels to fill!



  16. John Roundtree says:

    Hey, Di!

    Thanks a bunch for dropping by! You’re the best.

    Again, you’re website is dynamite. Those hues are perfect, my favorite. Got to tell me where you shopped the photos for the trailer. Looked like you’d hired models. Very professional.



  17. Nick Genovese says:

    Hey John, I ‘m coming in a little late but I just spent my last two days with Heather Graham at her workshop, “Writers for New Orleans” that she sponsors to assist the city and its writers from the devastation wreaked upopn us by Hurricane Katrina some four years ago Not to run a cliche into the ground but, better late than never. That’s what I always say.

    Your blog is so eloquent, evocative, and lighthearted. I enjoyed the read and I can see how you were inspired to write a labor of love. By the way, have a happy and safe Labor Day holiday, even if it you are in the clouds or maybe just on cloud nine.



  18. jbrayweber says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You are a true poetic author, John.

    AND you know ALL the right things to say to a girl!

    Thanks for the beautiful post. I laughed. I cried. And I’m a lucky gal to have you as not only a writing partner but a true friend. Thanks!

    You bet I’m going to print this out and put it in Bristol’s baby book.

    BTW – I was SURE Bristol was going to be born last night. But, nope. 🙂


  19. John Roundtree says:

    Hi, Nick!

    Yep, you nailed it! I’m flying the holiday weekend. After my aircraft arrived, tardy, from Montego Bay, I departed late for Las Vegas then, with a quick stopover, flew to Los Angeles arriving late in the morning of the following day (today). But after a good sleep with the curtains shut tight against the rising sun, I slipped across the street to a favorite café and heartily consumed a two-egg veggie omelet with a side of Cajun potatoes topped with tabasco, all drowned with two tall cups of half-Columbian supremo and half-French roast. Now, with rock steady hands, I can split the eye of a needle using a frayed thread with my eyes shut just by sensing the vibrations in the space around me.

    But how are you, my good friend, former G-Man, Professor, Writer, and esteemed SOLA colleague of the Romance Writers of America? Ah, I still remember the day when Harrison Ford and Spielberg chanced a trip to New Orleans and stumbled upon you and thus was launched the modeled character for Indiana Jones.

    Seriously, I don’t know how you do it all! You’re always there volunteering, supporting a cause, or encouraging a writer. Thanks for helping rebuild the city and keeping those who suffered from Katrina in everyone’s thoughts. You’re the man! –John


  20. John Roundtree says:

    Hi, Jenn!

    Nope! Take a look to the right of this column. There you’ll find three lucky writing partners who appreciate the hard work and detail you put into all our projects, all the while inspiring and motivating us. Like I said, Bristol is a lucky girl.

    Speaking of Bristol… Whoa! A close call last night, huh? You tell her for me, it’s tomorrow. Tomorrow is Labor Day! Today is Mark’s ‘debut season for College Football’ day. Sheesh! What happened to priorities? 🙂

    Big hug, John!


  21. Stacey Purcell says:

    I have heard so much about you from Jenn over the last two years, I feel like I know you.
    Everything she says about your writing is spot on. You are amazing and I cried an ocean of sweet tears reading your entry.
    Please blog again, love to read more. Stacey


  22. John Roundtree says:

    Hi, Stacey!

    Great to meet you. You’re too kind. I could imagine you two were a blast together at Nationals! We should set up a pool — see who gets closest to T.O.Birth after official admission. 🙂 –John


  23. Teena says:

    Hey Cuz, hopefully it will be this week, keep me posted, and you really need to save that and put it in Bristol’s baby book, it really does put that image in your mind and make you realize the journey we all take! 🙂 Love Your Cuz Teena


  24. Stacey Purcell says:

    I didn’t know another way of leaving a message here for Jenn….she gave birth last night at 11:34p.m. to a healthy baby girl. She’s a tiny thing weighing in at 5 lbs. 6 oz. and is 19ish inches long. Both are doing well and Jenn will be in the hospital until tomorrow some time. She wanted the Tree House to know as soon as possible! She loves you guys.


  25. John Roundtree says:

    Ooh, thank you, Stacey! Big hugs and high fives. Give Mark a slap on the back and a big handshake for me. Then for Jenn, a tight hug. And Bristol, a light kiss on the cheek. The TreeHouse will be rocking in celebration. So excited for everyone in Houston. You’re a sweetheart, thanks again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! –JOHN

    John D Roundtree


  26. Candi Wall says:

    Stacey! Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting us know. We tend to be somewhat – protective of our other treehouser, so when the big day came we all wondered how we’d know.

    You’ve made my day, and that of everyone else’s waiting for news on our Jenn +1, now the lovely Bristol.

    Hehe. Pass along our love please…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: