From the time I first suspected I was going to be a mother, I had to wait. First I had to wait until enough time had passed that I could count on a reliable result from a pregnancy test. Then I had to wait to get an appointment (obstetricians are very popular people) and then even more to hear that precious heartbeat. Then there was the very long wait for labor to start and even more waiting to meet my child. I never suspected that the act of waiting would never stop.
Over the years, I have found this to be a constant part of parenting. We wait for them to wake up; we wait for them to go to sleep. We wait as they find their shoes (those blasted shoes!) and we wait for them to go down the slide, “Just one more time.” We wait as they decide what flavor ice cream they want and wait for them to decide as they deliberate over which toy travels with them to Grandma’s. We wait as they select a bedtime story and which stuffed animal gets the privilege of spending the night in the bed. We wait for the tantrum to end and we wait for them to be ready to apologize.
We call the doctor’s office to keep them healthy and to patch them up when they get hurt where we often are put on hold, and have to wait. I quickly learned that, unless you have the first appointment of the morning or the first after lunch, once you get there, you sit and wait. If they need emergency care, you head to the hospital, where you wait, and wait. Until you have a squirming toddler with you, you may not have realized how much waiting you do and just how frustrating it can be.
They start school and we marvel at how much they have grown. They are much more independent and don’t need us as much. Yet, we still wait. In the morning and again in the afternoon, we wait for the bus. They go on playdates and to birthday parties and we help them curb their excitement, waiting for the event to start and then we wait for the time to arrive to bring them home. They join activities and we wait while they practice T-ball or soccer, basketball or lacrosse. As they improve their skills, the competition increases, as does our time to wait. We arrive as practice is scheduled to end and wait for the scrimmage to be over. As performance dates for recitals and plays approach, practices run overtime and we wait some more.
Time goes by and they finally get their shoes without reminding (sometimes). They need a ride: to and from practice, home from after-school activities, to the mall with friends, and we wait for the moment when they are ready to go and then wait for the phone call telling us they are ready to come home. We grow weary of the shuttling and wait for them to learn to drive and travel on their own. Once that day arrives, we wait, anxiously by the door for them to arrive home safely.
Before we realize it, senior year arrives, college applications have been sent out, the holidays go by and we wait, hopefully, for acceptances to come in. Boyfriends and girlfriends appear on the scene, and we wait for hearts to break. They choose a school and we wait for the day they move out. Then of course, we wait for them to call to let us know how they are adjusting. We wait for the day they return for break, and then wait for them to go back to school again.
Graduation comes and we wait for news on a job or once again for acceptance letters to come in. Maybe they live home for a while to save money; we wait for the day all their stuff leaves the house. They find their own place and we wait for them to visit. Perhaps there is a significant other. We wait for a proposal, and then for a wedding. After that, I suppose we wait for grandkids and if we’re lucky, maybe even our children’s grandkids.
I guess like loving, the waiting never stops.