Is it the wait itself that makes the best things worth waiting for?

When I was 18, I went off to BYU, fully expecting to meet a returned missionary, fall in love, and start planning the rest of our lives together.

A week after first semester started, I was hopelessly, head-over-heels in love with the man I wanted to marry.

The only catch? He was a freshman too. And for the next four years I watched couple after couple follow the “standard BYU courtship” of four months of dating, followed by a four-month engagement. I wrote lots of letters. I told myself it would be worth it.

And it was. Those two years we spent apart, two prime dating years for this girl who grew up in Connecticut where the Mormon boys had been few and far between, felt like a sacrifice. But when he came home, I felt bound to him in a way that I’m not sure I would have if we’d gotten married four months, instead of four years, after we met.

Once Ed got home, I crossed “patience” of my mental checklist of trials. “Got that one covered,” I thought to myself.

And for the last two years, I’ve found myself waiting again, first for a daughter from China, and now for her little brother.

Waiting for Rose was so much harder than waiting for our biological kids. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t love not feeling good, getting fat, worrying about miscarriage, or spending nine months constantly on edge. But I wonder if being on edge has less to do with hormones than it does with being responsible with a child’s safe passage into the family.

With Rose, I worried about paperwork. I worried about how she was being cared for in our absence. I hated any and all government holidays because it meant that someone who could be pushing my paperwork on to the next stage was home doing their laundry or getting their oil changed instead. One of the very hardest parts was that, unlike pregnancy, which takes about nine months for everyone, the adoption timeline varies– some people jump through steps in 20 days that take others 120, and you never know whether you’re in the long line or the short line. I both loved and hated getting updates– she was growing up without me. I spent every spare moment on a message board with other adoptive parents, comparing stats and worries, and planning our travels. We all worried that spending that critical first year of her life apart would make it hard for us to be a family.

But when Rose came home, she was undeniably ours.

As the world’s least patient person, I’m not one to advocate for long, drawn out waits. But as I watch her write all over herself with pen while I write this post (she already emptied all of the drawers in my dresser that she can reach), I’m surprised that I’m grateful for this busy one-year-old stage. I can’t help but feel that the pain of waiting for her, and now of waiting for Eli, is part of what bound us together.

Can you relate? Am I crazy? How have trials that involved waiting affected you?

About Shelah

(Managing Editor) doesn't know how to say "no." That's why she's training for another marathon, throwing together a Sharing Time, writing a blog post, and trying to get a batch of cookies in the oven before the kids get home from school. If you ask her to write an article or bring dinner to someone, she'll be sure to say "yes" to that too. She lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and six kids.

9 thoughts on “Is it the wait itself that makes the best things worth waiting for?

  1. I’m currently four months pregnant with my first baby. Because of a combination of serious health problems and then infertility, we have been waiting for this baby for many years, during which time I’ve watched most of my friends go on to have two or three children. And I have to say – yes. I have cherished every moment of this pregnancy, including the sick ones, including the heartbreaking and difficult ones. Every time I feel these tiny little popcorn kicks, I am overwhelmed by my love for this little soul. I have loved this baby for years, many years longer than they have existed in any flesh-and-blood form, and I think that in the end, my husband and I have a little bit of a deeper appreciation for this miracle of parenthood that is coming into our lives. I think it’s much easier to take things for granted when there’s not much waiting involved. I married early, without a lot of waiting, and I can only imagine that my friends who are just now getting married feel a kind of joy in it that I didn’t understand, because it had come easily to me.

  2. i waited to go on a mission since i was a sunbeam. i waited to get married, but still lived my life, and married at nearly 29. i have been waiting for three years now for babies. this wait has been by far the hardest.

    i am not sure if i loved my mission more or was a better missionary because i waited so long (i am beyond jealous that if i were in college now i could go at 19!) i think i would have had the same mission if i had left earlier.

    i also feel like even though i waited for what felt like forever for a good, steady boyfriend and then husband i am not being a different wife. we still have ups and downs. in a way, getting married older, living our separate, independent, single lives has been harder than when compared to my friends who married during undergrad and grew up essentially together.

    as for the baby business – this wait is killing me. i felt as if elder eyring spoke directly to me during conference. while i would love the babies i am finally given one day (hopefully) very much, i would hate to say that my wait makes me a more loving mother vs. someone who does not face the trial of fertility issues or recurrent pregnancy loss.

  3. Robin Marie–

    You bring up a good point. I don’t think I’d ever say that I love the babies that have been harder in coming than the ones that came easily, or that we were a better married couple because we waited so long. But I do think we knew each other better and had an easier transition to marriage because we’d been together for a long time, and because his mission bound us together.

    I don’t think I’m a better mother to Rosie than I was to my other kids, but I do think that there is some sweetness that comes in having her here and knowing how hard I had to fight for her. I don’t know if that makes any sense– it’s more that I appreciate her in a way that I might not have otherwise.

    I hope you don’t have to wait much longer.

  4. Your words brought to mind a favorite verse in Isaiah 40:31~

    But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

    I don’t know if it applies, but the concept of waiting for important things, of delaying gratification, of appreciating the things we’ve worked hardest for more than we might if we were granted them easily or faster–maybe there is something in that? I’m hoping there is!

    Waiting seems to be one of the primary activities in my life. Some things I’ve waited over half my life for, and they are still out of reach. They are righteous desires that would bring me great joy.

    I believe heavenly father wants me to be happy, so there must be a way to both be humbly patient and also feel joy, even while I wait. I haven’t really found it yet, but I’m still looking for it.

    I don’t love waiting.

  5. I don’t know. I was going to say that I’ve not really had to wait for anything but maybe the fact that I met my husband when I was 16 and we married 5 years later might qualify. Except that I had plenty to keep me busy during the “wait” (and I dated a lot while he was on his mission) so I’m not sure that counts. Also, we’ve never had to wait for children–starting with a honeymoon baby. But I have had to learn (still learning) to wait in the sense that for the past almost two decades I have had to put what “I” want on hold a lot to take care of what someone else wants and needs–a newborn or a toddler or a teenager. Lots of things I have done over the past 18 years have not been things that I of myself would choose or want to do for me but have been done because they were important to someone else. Having to learn to defer and invest and “wait” in this sense hasn’t hurt me–even the times it has been really hard. I wish I did it better and was less selfish though.

  6. I have no doubt that waiting makes whatever it is we are waiting for all the sweeter. Like Alma’s recognition with his journey to faith. The darkness was so dark, it made the joy and light all the more exquisite. Spanning the spectrum from lacking to having gives us greater appreciation for the Lord.

    And He does not forget those who wait on Him, put their trust in Him. While struggling through years of infertility I memorized the first three verses in DC 98:

    “Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks. Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament—the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted. Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord.”

    Prayers and support as you wait for Eli. You are creating a miraculous, beautiful family Shelah. xo

  7. Ah, Emily, you make me blush! :)

    I should add that I don’t necessarily feel like we will LOVE our child more than other people love their children – but I do think that maybe we APPRECIATE the miracle of parenthood more, at least, than many of my friends. When something is hard to come by, I think it’s only natural to have a little better sense of the miracle that it is when you finally do receive it.

  8. I definitely think that I appreciate my child more than other mothers that I know, waiting 11 years and finally getting a miracle will do that. I know that this is my only child, and I only get to do things once. We joke that you can tell the parents of only children because they are the ones with two camcorders at preschool graduation, whereas parents with multiples don’t even bring a camera.

    We have friends who got married when we did who have kids who are graduating from high school and we have a second grader. Those 11 years were so hard.

    I also didn’t feel that I could complain at all about being pregnant because of how long it took to happen. And I will admit I wanted to backhand anyone who griped about how it took forever to get pregnant and forever turned out to be three months!

    Waiting is hard.

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