Sophie and Samuel when times were simpler
Sophie and Samuel when times were simpler

Motherhood has earned me a Ph.D. in waiting

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When I was pregnant, I waited for my babies to arrive. Both were late. This was surely a sign.

A few months after they were born, I was desperate for sleep. I waited 18 months for Sophie to sleep through the night. Samuel was about 2 when he finally slept soundly through the night without waking up.

I waited for potty training. I waited for that glorious day when I didn’t have to lug around diapers and wipes anymore. I waited for our small children to dress themselves — tie their shoes, pull on shirts, button buttons. I waited for them to be old enough so they could get ready in the morning on their own so I could get ready on my own.

I watched Sophie with pride at tap lessons, gymnastics and bitty soccer. I was thrilled to sit and watch Samuel in music and art class. But, eventually, it got a bit boring. I found myself waiting for the time when I didn’t have stress about finding a parking spot, and I wouldn’t have to watch every single after-school activity every single time. And soon enough, they reached an age when I could drop them off, and they could go to some of their activities by themselves sometimes.

I waited for one of the kids to ditch the friend I didn’t like. I waited for my daughter to lose interest in the annoying singer she became obsessed with in 5th grade — she walked around the house singing her songs for a full year. I waited for that awful haircut to grow out.

We received b’nai mitzvah dates two years in advance for each child. We waited for what seemed like forever for the day to finally come. We shlepped the kids to Hebrew lessons and planned. Then it was all over suddenly in a weekend.

I’ve waited at doctor’s offices, and I’ve waited at the after-hours clinic. I played Sudoku while I waited in the clinic in the middle of the night for Samuel’s throat to open. I waited two nights in a row. When he finally got better, I promised myself never to play Sudoku again.

I waited for warts to go away on hands and toes. For the upset stomachs to pass. For Samuel to grow out of his itchy allergic skin. For the boo-boos to heal. Some became scars. Those scars became good stories to tell.

I wait for summer. I wait for the school year to end when the kids’ schedules become more flexible, when they won’t have homework, and we can go to the movies together during the week, binge-watch TV shows and eat lots of ice cream. When mid-August rolls around, I wait until the kids go back to school because as much I love to be with them, I’m ready to return to routine, where everyone has a place to be and the kids will eat lunch at school not at home where they make a mess, and I have to clean it up.

I wait for teenagers to do their dishes like they said they would. I wait after the first time I ask, and I’m still waiting the fourth time I ask, which by then turns into me nagging and chances are it will now never get done.

I wait for my high-schoolers. On the weekends, they sleep so long and forget we had morning plans. My version of morning and their version of morning are not the same. And so I wait. I wait inside and outside and give up things while I’m waiting.

I visit colleges with Sophie. I realize soon, I won’t be waiting for her anymore. She’ll have a different life, apart from us. And I’ll miss it deeply and profoundly — all that waiting for the kids to be older — and now we are here, and I’m not ready.

Julie Levine

Julie Levine is a writer who lives in San Francisco.