On Father’s Day, I watched my two year old “help” my dad assemble a shelving unit. Her busy little toddler hands sought out the parts he requested, lost half of them on the journey from her grasp to his, and scattered shreds of packaging and packing tape around the room.
A task that would have taken him 10 minutes ballooned into over an hour of this Sunday afternoon, while he taught her the names for various pieces and tools she found and lost.
His patience with her was as revelatory as it was familiar: I have so many childhood memories of assembling furniture or painting walls or completing other household tasks with my dad when the process was the whole point. I always felt like a valuable contributor, a BIG helper, and never like I was burdening or detouring from the finish line.
That incredible patience, too, feels uniquely foreign: if I had to identify my defining character flaws, impatience just might top the list.
The contrast between his tirelessness with that shelving project and my own tendencies was especially striking this weekend: restlessness and anxiety are the mood du jour as I watched my due date come and go, with nary a hint of labor.
No matter how well I intellectually understand that a due date is just a silly guess, that I am still pregnant, four days later, has me on an emotional high wire, second guessing and over interpreting every spark of sciatica and whimper of a would-be contraction.
Part of me suspects my body is hanging on to this baby because it can’t bear to bring him into this world. Every time I think I’ve hit maximum heartbreak, the relentless cycle of lies and outrage and partisan howling cracks open brand new fissures in my naive understanding of humanity and the nature of progress.
I’m taking a break from the news, and all non-work-related social media. I’ve even taken the long-overdue steps of unfollowing a few people whose posts reliably send me into a tailspin of woe unto the world.
These are steps I should have taken long ago, but in a moment of clarity—thanks to a cleansing, affirming conversation with a friend—I realized that keeping these people as part of my online diet in the name of openness to other points of view was awarding them undeserved power. No longer will these strangers so casually manhandle the levers of my emotional equilibrium.
I won’t step back forever. Stepping back is a luxury and a privilege, and I like being informed so I, too, can howl into the algorithmic void. But right now, I have to chill the fuck out. There’s no vacancy in my headspace for trolls or tribulations. Instead, I’m nurturing my paltry reserves of patience to let this baby boy come on his own terms, in his own time.