I am bad at waiting.
And there’s good reason for that, I think. Indeed, there is a way in which my whole pre-parenting life was an exercise in gaining independence and then control over my life. I followed my parents’ rules and my teachers’ directions. I studied hard and got the job I wanted. I lived on my own and ran my own classroom. Boom. Independence and control. And in these settings, I grew accustomed to things happening at my own pace. Yet I now find myself at a moment in life when I am playing the waiting game far more often than I’d like.
My inherent impatience reared its ugly head when I was first trying to get pregnant. It was hard for me, conditioned as I was as an educated working woman to being in control, to surrender to the fact that there is no rushing pregnancy. Either it happens or it doesn’t and there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it (other than the obvious, ahem). And if it doesn’t happen, you’ve got to wait a month – a month!? – to try again. You mean planning and effort and good intentions don’t seal the deal!? How could this be!?
And the challenge of impatience has extended right into motherhood. When the pace of my days is largely dictated by the health and whims of three very short people. By the chronic cough of my four year old. The snail’s pace at which my toddler eats. Whether or not my daughter takes a good nap. Sure, I can outline a skeleton schedule for each day, but my kids determine the ways that the skeleton breaks, its bones fractured by an early wake-up or a bad dream.
And now this impatience has surfaced again in my writing career. I send my essays and query letters off into the ether and then I wait. I check my e-mail every hour, then every half hour, then every five minutes and, somehow, the responses don’t come any faster. Eventually they trickle in: a question, a no, a yes. But in between the sound of crickets can grow deafening.
And I’m left wondering if this parental crash course in patience has really left me any better at playing the waiting game.
Are you a patient person? How do you occupy yourself when waiting for someone or something?