Patience

Although patience may be a virtue, I have never had very much of it. My mother used to say, “We only have patience when we don’t have any other choice.”  My mom had a lot of these nuggets of wisdom — I found myself dispensing one to my boys tonight, talking about social groups at school, and said, “It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in big pond.”  This is one that I actually took to heart in life, but then Griffin responded, “Why not make friends with all the fish in the pond?”  Leaving me stymied, as usual.  But on the whole I found her sayings to be useful.

I’m thinking a lot about patience lately, mostly because I’m being forced to have some. The process of deciding to buy a restaurant in France took months (years, depending on how you look at it), and once we finally got down to business and started making contacts, gathering documents, and figuring out the mechanics of it, that took months more still.  We put in an offer on one 24 hours ago and already it feels like months.  No word yet, in case you were wondering.  🙂

Our power is out at the moment, and I’m standing here in front of the fire looking at the display of family photos in frames.  My mom is there, but mostly it’s the kids when they were a lot younger.  Early school photos, playing in a blow-up pool on the deck with little watering cans.  Dressed up for Halloween; playing in the corn bin at Tate Farms.  I remember when they were little and life was hard. Just, honestly people, it was f*ing hard.  Four kids, three of them spread over five years, both of us working, not knowing which end was up for years at a time.  I loved practicing law, but I did too much of it.  I remember looking forward to the day when I would change the last diaper, when they could cut their own meat, when one of them would finally be old enough to babysit. Impatience incarnate.

Now that they’re older, I do things like take pictures of them when they’re asleep because I want to freeze that imagine in my mind for the rest of my life.  I take advantage of any excuse to drive them somewhere so that I can hold them hostage and make them talk to me for five minutes.  If one of them stops in the hall to tell me about his day at school, I feel like I won the lottery.  Every call or text from one of my daughters that has grown and gone makes my heart swell.  I know these days are numbered.

Living in the moment has never been my strong suit. Mom said I was anxious to be an adult from the time I was a toddler. But after 50… I’m finally getting better at noticing every day who is with me, physically or metaphorically, and being grateful. When I fall asleep at night, I reach out and touch every one of them in my mind and say thank you. I wish I had been more patient when I was younger, but better late than never.

Copyright 2018, Rachel Howard

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