Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Lady In Waiting

Lady in Waiting: A generic term for the female personal assistant for a queen, princess or other high ranking noblewoman. According to Wikipedia, a lady in waiting is often a noblewoman herself from a highly respected family who serves as a companion as well as a personal assistant to her mistress. References to ladies in waiting span countries around the globe and date from ancient to modern times.  Depending upon location duties may range from fanning one's mistress to keep her cool or bringing her food and drink to handing correspondence or simply providing companionship. She may work her way up in the ranks from maid to companion or might both help her mistress prepare for an event before attending it herself. Regardless of the situation, these women are essentially waiting, and perhaps anticipating, where or how their services will be required next. They are, waiting.........

I've been thinking about the term "lady in waiting" in more modern terms and how it applies to my own life. While I am neither of a royal background nor high ranking by any means I feel as though "lady in waiting" would be an apt title for my current position. After all, I feel as though many of my days are spent sitting around waiting to fulfill the needs of others. As a one car family my daily schedule revolves around morning and afternoon drop offs and pick ups from both school and work (whose times, of course, do not always coincide). Most days the times between drop off and pick up are filled with completely household chores or running errands during limited business hours that seem to be the norm for Belgian businesses. (Late openings, extended lunch hours, and early evening closings with businesses being completely shuttered on the weekends). Other days it simply doesn't make sense to go home between pick ups so I've taken to carrying a book in the car so I have something to pass the time as I bide my time before playing chauffeur again. Or, as I sit waiting.

But the longer we are in Belgium the more I realize that playing the waiting game is what seems to be expected for at least one adult member of the household (which in a military community tends to be women). Short notice requests from Sidney's Belgian school are the norm. A Tuesday notification for baked goods on Thursday or a Wednesday afternoon request (with a Thursday holiday thrown in) to bring in a special costume on Friday morning. If I wasn't sitting around "waiting" to be needed when on earth would I have time to fulfill these requests? Certainly not during the evening or on weekends!

But this waiting game extends into other aspects of our Belgian lives. As part of being officially registered in our Commune, we are to expect a visit from a local police officer who will verify that we do indeed live in our house. We've been in our house since February, have completed all of our required paperwork, but have yet to receive the promised visit (which is necessary before I can apply for a Belgian driver's license but that is a story for another day). According to the Federal police officer I spoke with, I am apparently expected to just wait for them to arrive at my door. It could happen at any time. But I've been expecting this visit for three months now without their making an appearance. But then again, I haven't been just sitting at home anticipating their arrival.

And then there is our house. When those oh too frequent maintenance problems arise, the expectation by both our property manager and the repairmen in question is that I am just sitting around waiting for them to arrive. If you gave me a window during which you would show up, I would be here. If you respond to our phone call and say you will be there on Monday I will be there all day on Monday if need be. But simply showing up unannounced doesn't work for me. Neither does calling when you are in front of the house or just a couple of minutes away. Without heat the last thing I want to be doing is hanging out in a cold house on the off chance the repairman will show up. But apparently I am supposed to be sitting at home waiting. And these expectations make me wonder how single people or dual income households manage when there isn't the luxury of having someone just waiting.

Again, as I type this I am once again sitting and waiting.......maybe this time the repairman and the police will arrive at the same time!

1 comment:

  1. A lovely look into the culture of a place we've also visited and have friends, thanks!