Friday, February 28, 2014

patience

I am not very good at being patient. Of course, parenting requires patience - lots of it - and that's probably the thing I've had to work the hardest at since Daniel was born just over eight years ago. Pregnancy, labor, tantrums, potty training - all that stuff that you're supposed to love and treasure just brought out the worst of my tendency to be impatient and just have this over and done with already. 

Now that my kids are age 6 and 8, the kind of parenting patience required is much different. No longer am I playing interminable games of peekaboo and CandyLand. No longer am I reading the same storybooks over and over again. Diapers are a distant memory (hallelujah for that). But they are at an age where they dawdle, even when we're running late, especially when we're running late in fact. They are old enough to have a bit more responsibility with household chores, simple things like setting the table and tidying their rooms and hanging up their own coats and depositing dirty socks in the proper receptacle but of course these tasks aren't completed without constant reminders and I often find myself losing my patience and turning into a nag. I hate it. Hate. It.

I have to be patient on a larger scale, too. This is more existential. Having kids completely derailed whatever career path I thought I was on. For years, people said to me over and over some version of "Be patient. Enjoy them while they're young. Be patient. You can always get a job later. Be patient." And that's what I've done. Well, I haven't been entirely patient and saint-like about it. I do my fair share of complaining about my limited employment options, given my chosen professional field and job opportunities in the area; my husband can attest to that. (Thank goodness he's a good listener or I'd be griping about this stuff even more on the blog.)

Work-wise, the school year got off to a really slow start for me. It was frustrating and yes, tried my patience. Things have picked up since then. These days I'm working with a lot of teenage kids, playing for contests and auditions, which there are a lot of in the spring semester. I enjoy it for the most part. I like working with young musicians and I don't even mind the hand-holding and counseling through the inevitable nerves that come with inexperienced performers. I even think I'm good at it.

Musically, though, this is not the most fulfilling work. I've had to learn a lot of music really quickly, mostly for people who more than anything need a live body at the piano to keep time and not screw up too badly. I'm doing a lot better than keeping time and not screwing up, obviously. And it pays, which is very important.

But I can't help thinking…is this it? Is this why I spent 7 years in graduate school and got a doctorate and wrote a really good thesis (no one will read it or care but I'm proud of it anyway)?

No. I like the freelancing fine, but I stayed in graduate school because I wanted to get as good as I could at something I love. And I wanted to learn how to dig really deep into pieces worth knowing. I thought I'd use the degree to get an academic job someday, but I'm pretty sure that's never going to happen. Given the current academic climate, I don't regret that.

Anyway, my point in all this rambling is that I'm tired of being patient. By this time, being patient feels like being passive. I ought to pursue something more actively but I'm not sure what. Some days I don't feel confident or smart or innovative enough. I do need to figure this out, though, before my patience wears out completely.

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