In the waiting room of the health department today a family of five lingered before their youngest son’s shots. They placed their son on the floor and gathered around him, guessing to whom he would crawl. “Quiere su mama,” I said. Because little kids always choose their mother. I watched the six-month old as he began to crawl towards his mother, much to the chagrin of the other family members. I felt so lucky to be observing that moment. I felt the same pride, awe and humility that I feel whenever a client asks for my advice in court. Or when a women cries to me after her husband has been deported by INS. Or when I listen to the heartbeats of a baby still in its mother’s womb. As an interpreter, my words are not just words. They are a wholehearted attempt to bridge the gap. To say, “I don’t know your past but your future is here, and I welcome you.” My words are my way of providing comfort, empathy and support, my own way to bring clarity to a difficult situation.

And while I love those moments, I sometimes feel like it’s not a “real job”. After all, what is it that I’m actually DOING? During the work week I sit in a lot of waiting rooms, I stand awkwardly like a fly on the wall in court and am a necessary interloper in the most private of affairs. I inject myself into touchy situations and personal moments and sometimes I wonder: “For what?” To change words from one language to the next? I often feel like an automated language service, not unlike the phone lines the hospitals dial for emergency situations.

On days like this I know deep down that this job isn’t for the long term. That it doesn’t meet my very human need to be an active participant in my life. It doesn’t offer health insurance or benefits or security. But then I remember that little boy crawling towards his mother and the woman who, last Tuesday, waited anxiously, desperately, for proof that her late-in-life pregnancy was there, alive and growing inside of her. And I remember that often our role in life isn’t to be the star of the show, the most obvious character in the play. And then I think, Enough. This is enough for now. I am enough.

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