are we there yet?

by carolinenoelle

When Wyatt’s mother got home from work the other day and relieved me of my nannying duties, I overheard her offer to make her son some pasta. Although Wyatt was excited to see his mother again after eight hours apart, her question caused his posture to drop, face to crumple, and little voice to whine, “Is it gonna take a long tiiiime?”

“This is his new thing,” I commented.

Earlier that day, I had mentioned to the three-year-old that I could cook a pizza in the oven for us to have for lunch, and he opted instead for a microwavable corn-dog, even though pizza is his absolute favorite—the reason being that he has figured out that cooking something in the oven takes considerably longer than cooking something in the microwave. Even as I was placing the con dog on a plate, he was quick to instruct me, “DON’T put it in the oven!!”

Whenever we get in the car drive anywhere (which is a process in and of itself now that coats and hats and gloves are invovled), I can always expect to hear from the backseat, “Is home far awayyyy?”

The farthest from home I take him is to library for story time–which is a whole twelve (!) minutes away. The only way that he doesn’t complain about it being “far awayyy” and it taking “a long tiiime” to get there is if we listen to his favorite country song…on repeat. Right now it is “Hard to Love” by Lee Brice, which I actually (thankfully) enjoy. All summer it was “Pontoon” by Little Big Town and I think it is safe to say that I will never listen to that song again, despite how catchy I thought it was in June. Even though we drive to the library every Wednesday, his brother Will’s school frequently, and the bakery every morning that he wants a doughnut and I want more coffee, Wyatt asks if said location is “far awayyyy” everytime I strap him into his carseat.

It is as though Wyatt has just now become aware of the concept of waiting. He never complained about waiting for things before, but now he seems to be in the inevitable “are we there yet?” stage. When he had a lunch date planned with his grandfather, he said to me, “I want Grandpa to be here” every ten minutes from when I arrived at 8:00am until his grandfather finally arrived at noon. He looks at me as if I am the one who makes things happen. When he tells me he wants to go outside, we go outside to play. So when he tells me he wants Grandpa to be here, Grandpa should be here, right?

I often find myself acting in the same way. I eat dinner when I want to, go to bed when I want to, and get annoyed when people aren’t available to hang out when I feel like being social (which is most of the time.) I am terribly impatient. I don’t have a nanny to whine to, so I tell God, “I want this to happen.” I should probably be working on some applications for grad school, but I can’t seem to get started because I know it’s going to take a long tiiiime. Also, I would rather be out drinking wine or running or porch-sitting at Rachel’s than be home with my computer.

Speaking of which, where is home anyway? Is it the place where I wake up every morning and keep my favorite books and journals?—or is it where I grew up: a split-level with a yellow lab, a giant TV, home-cooked meals and a loving father’s echoing laugh? Is home far awayyy?

Most people figure out the “home” question eventually. When you marry, move out for good, build a family of your own, find a real job, or life throws you some other game-changer in terms of supporting yourself, you have a new place that is home. There is no more in-between stage where you can say “I just got home from work” and “I’ll be home for Christmas” and mean two entirely different places.

Mastering the art of patience is in itself a long-term process. Maybe it’s a combination of the American dream meets “the grass is always greener”, but so many young people I talk with want to be more and do more, but aren’t sure where to begin—or end, for that matter. We are patient until we get what we think we want, only to find ourselves asking again, “Am I there yet?” An artistic friend of mine who works at a photo studio longs for the life of a construction worker, who works all day with rough hands and tired legs. Another creative friend of mine works all day washing windows, and is currently looking to work at the front desk of a quiet dry-cleaners, so that he can sit and read books through the cold winter months. My friend who works as a project manager wants a job where she is not stuck behind a desk all day, and I envy her because she gets to wear heels and pencil skirts to work and contributes to a totally hip local business.

In terms of career and productivity, I think an overwhelming amount of people feel stuck. That must be why there are so many self-help books about being productive and doing more with your life. Because in the 21st century we aren’t patient. We want to get things done, and move forward, as long as it doesn’t take a long time. We could use some patience, and a whole lot of faith, but we continue to chose the microwave. Give me money, happiness and a feeling of self-worth, but DON’T put it in the oven.