They say a watched pot never boils. We all know that this is scientifically untrue. The water in that pot will boil when it reaches 100C whether you’re watching it happen or not. All the same, we all know what the expression means and have felt its truth over and over again. The time we spend waiting seems to move at its own (snail-like) pace and the more you think about it the slower it seems.
When I was a kid, we used to make paper chains with a link for every day leading up to a much longed–for event, such as Christmas or a big vacation. Each night at bedtime we could remove another link and watch it get shorter and shorter until it was finally time. I’ve used this trick with my own kids and it helps. The visual makes it easier to understand and who doesn’t like seeing some regular progress? Waiting is hard for kids because they have more trouble understanding units of time – especially bigger ones like weeks or months. Our kids have a special flair for the dramatic, and even if the wait is short, we are accustomed to hearing things like, “Will it be here before I’m dead?”
But really we adults aren’t that much better at waiting, we’ve just (mostly) learned how to keep our mouths shut about it or at least learned socially acceptable ways to talk about it. I’ve never stood in a check-out line and wondered (out loud) if my turn would come before I die. But I have been known to check the time once a minute, maybe chat with someone nearby about whether or not my parking will expire before I get out of there. I haven’t made a paper chain for myself in years, but last fall when Staffan was traveling for 10 days, the first thing I did after dropping him off at the airport was set a countdown app in my phone for the exact time his return flight was scheduled to land. Any time I wanted to, I could see how much longer I had to wait, down to the minute.
The bigger the event, the harder it is to wait. Kids starting kindergarten this year are being welcomed as the class of 2029, which really is a long time to start waiting for high school graduation. (When I googled this info I got a host of product offers, in case you have a 5 year old who wants to start sporting class of 2029 gear already.) Somehow, waiting to get married got a lot harder once we got engaged and put a date on the calendar. And of course, waiting for a baby, when you don’t even know which date to count down to exactly, but you’re roughly the size of a planet and complete strangers look at you with pity and ask how much longer you have to wait. As if you know the answer.
For the third time in our lives, we are anticipating this amazing, life-changing event. According to our due date, we have two weeks left to wait, but we all know that’s just a rough estimate. Our first baby was born two weeks before her due date, which made it that much harder to wait for our second, who hung out until two weeks after his. It’s anybody’s guess when we’ll finally get to meet this new little person, but one thing is for sure. Waiting is not easy. Everyone is watching the pot, but it just isn’t boiling yet.
While we’ve waited about nine months for our new child to join us, we’ve waited even longer to begin the life on the road that we’ve been dreaming about and planning for these last three years. That will start shortly after our baby’s arrival and anticipating both events is right now compounding that lovely waiting feeling. Travel is booked (though we have specific reasons for not sharing dates publicly) and those early weeks of having a newborn will be filled not only with diapers and midnight feedings, but with paperwork and expedited passport applications. Staffan has only a few weeks left at his current job, but still wants to give it the attention and energy it deserves. The arrival of fall weather reminds us regularly that it’s soon time to move out of our camper, after more than 4 months living here, to prepare it for winter storage. We are surrounded by a constant feeling of SOON… but not yet. Think ahead… plan… prepare… but don’t act quite yet. Everything is so close but somehow that makes the waiting that much harder.
It’s kind of like when you get in a really long check-out line, and when you’re at the back you know it’s going to take a while. Then finally you’re next in line, and you’ve emptied your cart onto the belt and you can see the exit. But then the cashier flips on the blinking light and calls for a price check. Who knows how long this will take? So close and yet so far. I’d say it’s a similar frustration, but maybe times a thousand.
So close and yet so far. We’re waiting on pins and needles for the next, much-anticipated phase of life to start. But still it’s not yet and we still need to be engaged in the here and now… planning homeschool, making dinners, sweeping floors, going to meetings and dance classes, living life.
Turns out I’m even worse at waiting than I thought. Maybe I should go make a paper chain.
Posted in Simplify and tagged anticipation, patience, pregnancy, waiting by Christine with 2 comments.