Anyone who has little people in their lives, whether their own children, children of friends, or nieces and nephews has heard the phrase uttered “What should I do? There’s nnoooottthhhiiinnnggg to do!” I don’t think anyone on the planet could understand them better than women in the long wait for motherhood.
We often face the question of what to do with ourselves while we wait, and wait, and wait. Sure, there is a world full of stuff to do, mountains to climb (proverbial and real), and checklists to tackle. Yet even so, it can feel like there is nothing to do, because in some sense there isn’t.
When children verbalize that feeling we tell them that there are a million things to do; go play with your friend, go read a book, go ride your bike, and on and on and on. Yet those of us living in the endless wait know just how those children feel; bored out of our unimaginative minds.
People will tell us that we just have to keep living our lives. Plan your vacations! Climb the ladder at work! Spend time with friends and family! Enjoy this time without children because you will miss it when they arrive!
Yet just as those children do with the advice of well meaning elders, we throw our hands up in disgust and say, “No you don’t understand, there is nothing to do!”
We can’t move forward into parenthood. We can’t move backwards into the bliss of ignorance. And we can’t stay here because time won’t let us stop moving.
So what do we do when there’s nothing to do?
We become the teachers of patience. We become the teachers of perseverance. And we become the keepers of endless disappointments.
People who love us will tell us that it makes us stronger, that it makes us wiser, that it makes us into the great parents we will one day be. Perhaps it does, perhaps it doesn’t. And all of these things we have time, so much time, to contemplate.
Even so, at some point for many of us it will come to the point where there truly is nothing more to do. No more paperwork, no more tests, no more procedures, no more home visits or adoption profiles. No more. There will be nothing more to do.
And when we reach that point, though not the answer any of us wants to hear, all that we can do is sit in the uncomfortable Twister-like position of our lives and hold onto that contortion for as long as our hearts will take it. Because we know, we all know, that if we give into the shaking of our muscles, if we give into the fatigue, if we give into the sweat dripping down our brows, we will fall, and when we do we will lose the most important game of our lives.