Waiting for things to be “right”

I have far too many bad habits to list in this blog (I would have to change the blog’s name to “Stupid Things I Do On A Regular Basis” and who would want to read that?), but I think my worst habit is my tendency to wait to enjoy myself until whatever current crisis I am dealing with is over, and my life is flowing smoothly.  I’ve been on this earth for over 56 years, and my life has never been without some problem or another.  Yet for some silly reason, sometimes I think that I have to wait for everything to be perfect before I can be happy.

When my children were very young, I remember thinking that life was going to be just fine once they were potty trained, able to sleep through the night, and weaned off the bottle.  They accomplished all that, and yet our family life was still very chaotic as they grew older and we juggled school schedules, sports activities, church activities, etc.  And through it all, I waited for that magic moment when things would “calm down” and life would be the way I thought it was supposed to be.

As an aspiring author, I thought that I would finally feel successful just as soon as I published something.  Then I sold my first article to a neighborhood newspaper (called, I kid you not, “The Zip-0-Nine News”) and I realized that didn’t quite cut it.  So I slogged away, selling articles to other, more professional, regional newspapers and magazines, and finally to a national magazine, followed by the sale of a short book to an educational publisher.  It wasn’t much, but I still wish I had been wise enough to take more joy in those accomplishments rather than always focusing on the next sale, which I was quite sure would finally launch my real writing career.

Between my family, my husband’s job, my writing, my friends, and just plain old life in general, there is always going to be some problem that needs to be solved, some crisis that needs to be dealt with and some event that needs to be planned.  And finally, in my middle age, I am starting to figure out that this is how my life is always going to be.  I’m never going to cross that final item off my “to-do list,” or feel as if I have finally “succeeded.”

It may sound corny, but life really is a journey, and learning to enjoy it through all the mess and imperfections is absolutely essential.  I’m not sure why I had the horrible habit of waiting for things to be perfect, or why I still find myself slipping into that mindset every once in a while.  But I do know that it is a habit I need to break if I want to really appreciate the gifts I have in my life.  The road on my particular journey may not always be smooth, but I’m finally realizing that doesn’t mean it can’t be good, right now, even with all the bumps and potholes.  I just have to be smart enough to know it.