As parents, we have all been there—the endless, time-stands-still, clock-barely-ticking waiting game. Whether you are waiting for the arrival of your baby or the arrival of your teenager (who is clearly late for curfew!), we have all stood by the door waiting for it to open. The anticipation and the anxiety can be debilitating. Not knowing what is happening and what could happen to your child can be incapacitating. And while we certainly don’t have any ways of making the clock move faster, we do have ways of dealing with the unknown. It’s called limits. We put limits on the situation, our surroundings, and ourselves to limit the negative emotions that can take over your mind and limit your ability to function.
- Limit the negative energy: The waiting game is not a solo sport. When you are waiting for news, be it good or bad, it’s nice not to be alone. It’s also nice not to be with people that drive you crazy. Find someone (or someones) who have good juju and can stay by your side as you are standing on the sidelines.
- Limit your idle time: When not occupied, your brain can go farther than a trans-Atlantic flight, especially when you are thinking about your children’s health. Your mind can concoct some pretty crazy stories. And while we are not recommending that you do algebra or geometry in your idle time, we are suggesting that you listen to music, read a book, consider meditation, and hop on the phone with one of your friends. Although these modalities won’t change the outcome, they can help speed up the clock and maybe even reset your psyche.
- Limit your Google search: On the heels of #2, be skeptical about what your searches reveal. While we too have many degrees from Dr. Google, the Internet can be a scary and sketchy place for advice (minus Truly, MD!). You can take any myriad of symptoms and make them into the Plague. Speak to a professional, and get their educated opinion before you make a diagnosis that is dubious, to say the least.
- Set limits for what you can and cannot do: So often, we try and do it all. It’s hard to find one woman who doesn’t want to be Cameron Diaz in There’s Something About Mary. But the reality is that there is no She-Woman (or He-Man, for that matter). We all need help. And we are all limited. Your limitations don’t make you less of a woman, a partner, or a mother. They make you real.
- Limit the what-ifs, the should-haves and the could-haves: Life is not lived in reverse. Unlike that car sitting in your driveway, it can only go forward. No matter how hard you want to turn back time, you can’t. At some point, you have to stop beating yourself up for what you “should have” recognized and what you “could have” done. It won’t change what happened; it will only change how you move forward.
Unfortunately, in this game there is no official time clock. There are no periods, no quarters, and no halves. To make it to the end takes fortitude and strength. Parenthood is a challenge. And while we may not be there on the field to cheer you on, we hope that just knowing how many other people have played the same game brings you comfort. You are not playing this game alone!