My two-year-old son has a mind of his own.
At lunchtime today, I poured some applesauce into a bowl, handed him a spoon, and asked him to join us at the table. He proceeded to throw himself on the floor in an all-out-tantrum: fists flailing and tears streaming down his face as he shouted, “No! No! NO!”
“Use your words, kiddo,” I demanded, trying to cool my mommy-jets so I didn’t fall into an all-out-tantrum as well.
Still sobbing, he showed me his spoon, then sprinted into the kitchen and dropped it into the sink.
He’s not into words just yet.
“So you don’t want your applesauce?” I asked, desperate for clarification. His response was another frustrated cry. He ran to the silverware drawer and got a fork, then to the cupboard and got a plate.
“So you want something else to eat, something you can eat with a fork and a plate?” I feebly tried again.
More cries, more frustration from my two year old.
He ran back to the table, plopped his plate and fork on his high chair tray, and poured the applesauce onto the plate. He impatiently handed me the now-empty bowl and climbed into his chair.
Oooooookay. The kid wants to eat applesauce off of a plate… with a fork. And he’s been refusing a bib for months. This has “disaster” written all over it.
My mommy-gears working at full force, I decided to let him try it. Kids learn to walk by falling, right?
“When the mess comes – and it will come,” I said, “you can clean it up.”
That’ll teach him a lesson, I thought smugly.
I sat at the table and looked at him expectantly. He stubbornly met my gaze, lowered his fork into the ever-expanding puddle of applesauce, and brought it to his mouth.
Ninety percent of it leaked through the prongs and back into the puddle.
He was deterred, but only slightly. This time he lowered his face to the plate and made quicker scooping motions. He was more successful this time, but was still making more of a mess than he was making progress.
After five minutes of unsuccessful trials, he brought the plate to his lips and started drinking the applesauce in, using the fork as a kind of plow to bring the leftovers into his mouth.
He did it. The little turd had accomplished what I had said he couldn’t do.
And even though it wasn’t the easy way, or even the way that made the most sense, he stuck to his guns and saw his plan come to fruition, albeit with a few modifications along the way. And because he succeeded, he didn’t seem to mind wiping up the remnants of food at all.
That little turd is a lot like his mama.
My parents will be the first to tell you that they have never encountered a child as stubborn as I was. I didn’t necessarily set out to be naughty, though. I set out to be right. I didn’t settle for being patient – something in the deepest core of me just couldn’t.
But that has changed in the last year.
You see, about a year ago today, I signed on the dotted line with a reputable literary agency, one with New York Times and USA Best Sellers on its impressive representation resume. I was excited and overwhelmed – anxious to get started, yet nervous I would fall short of my own lofty expectations.
I had been a “closet writer” for many years: loving the vocation but lacking the audacity it took to claim the title. I had spent years writing a book I loved, one that I felt spoke to my heart as well as entertained me. And after I thought it was ready, I pitched it to the agent of my dreams, who loved it, too.
It was enough to make me go public with my secret identity. I wrote a blog about my experience, and had the support of everyone I knew. Close friends were excited that I was finally sharing my talents – sharing the “real me” with the world – and people from my hometown were proud.
They were proud.
And I was proud, too.
But more than anything, I had dreams – big dreams. I secretly wished that in 2015 or 2016, my name might be right there with those other best-sellers, that my book would be printed in twenty different languages and get movie rights, that people I don’t know personally might actually come to a book signing.
Now a year has come and gone. And although it happens much less frequently, I still get asked the questions.
“So how’s that book thing going? Can I buy it yet?”
I don’t get frustrated with the people who are asking. They’re my biggest fans and support system. Of course they’re going to ask. And to be honest, I’m glad they’re still asking. It shows that they believe in my book, too.
I sigh and smile, and I tell them, “I’m still working on it. My agents are pros. We’re making it absolutely perfect before we submit to publishers.”
And we are.
My agents have had many sleepless nights reading and re-reading my story to make sure there are no flaws, that the pacing is just right, and that the characters and setting have become real. I’ve had many sleepless nights fixing the problems when my novel fell short.
We’ve done this for a year. Without reward.
Let me clarify that last sentence: Without monetary reward.
I can’t speak for them, but what I’ve learned while I’ve waited might actually surpass any of the monetary gains I get from this novel.
Like my own life, the book’s premise and main character have morphed into something almost unrecognizable from what it was in its early stages. It’s become something I didn’t expect, but something better than I could have ever imagined.
It’s turned into something beautiful, and all because I – for once in my life – was patient.
I had to be. I am one of many clients at my agency, and I came with a novel that needed some overhauling. I am one of tens of thousands of writers, and most have more experience than I do.
This year, I had to wait my turn. I was forced to. At first, I was somewhat petulant about it. But as we’re entering the final stages before submission, it’s easy for me to see what I’ve gained while I’ve been forced to wait.
I’ve learned that some of the most beautiful things created take the hardest amount of work. And some of the biggest sources of pride can exist with no applause.
– Is my book published? No. Not yet.
– But am I proud of it? Damn right I am.
I’ve learned more about the writing craft in a year than I’ve learned my entire life, have met incredibly nice people in the business, and have learned as much as I can about the publishing process.
But I’ve learned patience, too.
As a child, I was stubborn and made things happen, and as a teenager, I was the same. As an adult, I got even worse.
Prior to this year, I was successful at getting my way. Like my son and his applesauce, I was able to say, “I am going to do this MY way, in MY time, and I WILL get it DONE.” I’d look at the problem from multiple angles and approach many different sources in order to solve it.
Yep, most of the time, I reached my goal. But, like my son, I was left trying to clean up the leftover messes.
And there were messes:
Empty laughter instead of everlasting joy….I could go on.
And all because I had to do things my way.
Now, I know better.
What I hope to teach my applesauce-covered son is this: Your way works… as long as you’re okay with cleaning up the mess your stubbornness leaves behind.
But God’s way works even better, makes no mistakes or messes, and can create something more beautiful than we ever imagined.
If you take the time to think and learn and listen, if you just stop acting and reacting, God can put amazing people in your life. He can lead you to notice things you never noticed before. And God can make you happy with the blessings that you have, not only what big dreams you’re chasing after.
This last year, my life didn’t go the way I thought they would. But I am so thankful – SO THANKFUL – that he used this time of waiting to imprint more important things upon my heart.
Dear son of mine, I hope you know that God always – always – has big things planned for you. He has being things planned for all of us.
Especially if we’re patient enough to wait.
Source: Amanda Deich