Lately I've been feeling a little down about my writing. I watch as one by one my fellow writers succeed, signing with agents or getting book deals, while I continue to linger at the starting line. At times like these, it's easy to think about giving up. How much easier would my life be if I didn't have this constant nagging voice in the back of my head telling me what a complete and utter failure I am? Wouldn't it be nice to just go to work and spend time with my family and not feel so unsatisfied all the time? But there is a small part of me - a rather persistent and stubborn part, it turns out - that refuses to give up. And when I need the occasional reminder that some things are worth the struggle, I have Jack to turn to.
When you're three, the battles you face on a daily basis involve seemingly simple things like fastening a pajama button or pouring your own milk into the cereal bowl. And it's easy for me as a parent to say, "You're killing me over here, kid. It's cereal, not rocket science." But I have to force myself to take a step back and look at things from a different angle. If I don't let Jack take the time he needs to learn these basic skills, I'm not just making life a little easier for myself (although there is something to be said for making my life a little easier); I'm also taking away his independence, not to mention prolonging the development of important motor skills. Do I want to be pouring milk into my kid's cereal when he's 15 because I couldn't take the time to let him figure it out as a toddler? Probably not.
Patience has never been my strong suit. Persistence is actually a form of impatience, in my case; I can't stop desperately clawing my way forward because the thought of staying still is agonizing. But if Jack has the patience to spend twenty minutes buttoning up his damn monkey pajamas - hell, if I have the patience to watch him spend twenty minutes buttoning up his damn monkey pajamas - surely I have the patience to wait for my own hard work to pay off. I'm not religious, but it would be nice to think that someone out there in the ether is watching my daily struggle from the sidelines, smiling knowingly at my failures and saying, "Hang in there, kid. You'll get it right one of these days."
(A little demonstration in persistence - Jack and the Footie Pajamas, in three acts)