“You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
This popular passage from “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss whimsically describes a place that all of us have been at one time or another in our lives; the waiting place. I’ve yet to meet the lucky individual who hasn’t experienced at least one dolefully, dreadful, transitional period in their lives where each slowly passing day seems like a personal version of the movie Groundhog Day. All of us have been in waiting places. Whether they’ve lasted days, weeks, months, or even years, we’ve all had some sort of agonizing time period in our lives where we’ve had to wait for something. Sometimes waiting places are mini versions of hell, like when were waiting for test results from a doctor, or for word about the safety of a loved one. However, some waiting places are right where we need to be and are for our own good, whether we like them or not.
When I was 29 years old, I journeyed to what felt like the worst waiting place of my life. At that time, I was already the mother of my, then, three and five year-old daughters. I was teaching elementary school full-time, and I was the wife of my university’s handsome, former, star quarterback. Ours, looked from the outside to be a lovely marriage, and I worked very hard to be the kind of wife and mother that would keep it that way. The problem was, while I was concentrating on my family and career, my husband was concentrating on a pretty young thing at his workplace. Two days before my 30th birthday, he revealed to me that he wanted a divorce. I was crushed.
It was a surprisingly amicable split. We shared custody of the children and remained respectful to one another for all of our sakes. I concentrated on mothering while mourning the loss of what I’d always wanted to be; married with a big, bustling family. After my mom died, that was something that I’d felt that I’d lost. My father had quickly remarried and sold my childhood home. With few other living relatives, I yearned for the warm connection of family. So eight months after my divorce, I slowly began the hunt for my perfect husband that would help me continue to create the family that I so desired.
My journey began with a list of husbandly attributes that I was seeking; kindness, fidelity, good humor, responsibility, etc. I fueled my list with constant, vigilant prayer and officially entered “the waiting place” waiting for the perfect guy to come my way. Slowly, but surely, I met people and I dated them, but none were quite right. One wanted me, but not my children, so I quickly said goodbye. Another wanted me and, unfortunately, several other girls. Others were sweet, but just not the right match.
Years passed and I pretty much gave up on finding love. I concentrated on mothering and dealing with life on my own. I got pretty good at being the head of a single parent household and was proud of myself for my management skills. My children were thriving. I was receiving excellent evaluations at work, I’d started college funds for my daughters, and was even looking in to buying my first home. I’d figured out a lot about myself and my capabilities while banished to the waiting place and I was almost content with life just as it was when a friend suggested online dating. It seemed kind of flaky, but that small part of me that still yearned for a big, bustling family was willing to give it a try.
The first and only ad that I answered was my now husband’s, a shy, brilliant engineer with a son, who had been waiting, like me, for a big, bustling family. Six months after we met, he proposed, but to be on the safe side, we waited. We stayed in the waiting place together for just one year more, because it was a safe place to learn in. We learned more about the things that made us happy, and strong. I learned the things that made his son smile and hug me, and he learned to make my daughters laugh and trust him. We tested each season for that one year more until at last, on a hot August morning with our children by our sides, we exited the waiting place hand-in-hand and said the vows that have pledged us together for the past 13 years of marriage.
The waiting place sucked, but I had to be there. I had to learn my worth and capability, my accelerations and my limits, my simple likes and dislikes, and even my tolerance for deprivation and loneliness, in order to fully appreciate the noisy, crowded, crazily wonderful life that I have today.
Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
With banners flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!
When have you been in a waiting place? What did you learn?
If you would like to participate in Wisdom Wednesdays, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to read stories of how life’s situations have helped you gain personal wisdom. I welcome writers of all ages and experiences.