Post 339

Family Counselling, Part 15:
The Weight of Waiting

The stories of those who wait are rarely told.
Part of the reason is that those who wait are often forgotten.
They are in the background.
They are not active, catching everyone’s attention.
So often, they are the women.

When I think of Jacob waiting, I think also of the women.
What about Dinah, the sister and half-sister of these brothers?
What about the wives of the men?
What would become of them if their husbands did not return?
Surely they had their fears as they counted the days and rationed the food.
When will my husband return?
When will they be back?
Will my husband be among them?

And what of the mothers?
Leah, Bilhah and Zilphah
Would they not wait as well?

Who considers the waiting of a woman?
Yet to be a woman is to wait
To be a woman is to wait

A man remembers the time he waited
But it is not his very existence
It is not his strength

A man recounts the time he waited
But is not his very existence
It is not his strength

A girl learns early that she must wait
As her cycle begins, runs its course, and finally

And again
Her cycle begins, runs it course, and finally

I claim it for woman
It is our life

It is our life
To such an extent
That we forget
The ways in which we wait

A woman wants a man
She waits for the man to notice her
Modernity has not changed everything
A man wants to think he chooses the course of his life

A woman waits for the man
To pursue and to propose
The story of the woman who proposed
Is a story
This proves my point

A woman who wants to conceive
Waits for the man to begin and to end
And then she waits again
Will this month be the one?

Ah no,
Not this time
Maybe the next

A woman has conceived
At first, it is her secret alone
Later everyone knows
That she waits

But they forget
How she waits
Oh, how she waits!
She waits to feel the kick
She waits for the pains to begin
She waits for the pains to end
The birth

The newborn babe wakes
And sleeps
— Finally!
The newborn babe suckles
(The new mother’s toes curl with pain)
And is done
— Finally!
Bless the mother with twins

Which man can understand?
No man can understand.
This I can say for sure.
How I wince when a priest describes childbirth.
Leave that analogy alone.

To wait is difficult.
Watch people who are waiting and you will remember
The feeling of life in suspense
Outward inaction because of inward unease
Flip through the magazine if you will
Flip through your phone if you will
You can do nothing better
Conversation is halted
Cannot get traction
Because we wait
The weight of waiting is underestimated
And misunderstood
Study any waiting room anywhere
Study the lobby of an airport
A person in line
Is a person in limbo
To wait is difficult
What is purgatory if not waiting?
To wait is not in our nature
We want fulfillment
We want solutions
We want happy endings

But this difficult thing
Belongs to women
Before it belongs to men
It belongs in two senses
First, even in the world we call modern
We do it more often
So often that we do not realize how often
Second, we do it better
And yes, this is a comparison
A contest we win
Women do it better than men
A man who says otherwise
Talks nonsense