Sometimes it is spoken in a whisper, other times it’s a bark, this, “Be patient” seems to be an inevitable refrain in parenting. And, as it turns out, in life. I try to keep the burn from showing in my cheeks as I bite back yet another, “But I don’t want to wait.” I am unapologetically tired of waiting. Waiting to have time, waiting to know, waiting to have the footing I sense is out there, but just beyond where I am. I want now to be the now that delivers me to what we’ve been working toward.
If I were parenting me I’d say, “It’s this time right now—these nights of going to bed dreaming about it, followed by the mornings waking up imagining being one day closer— this is what makes something so sweet when you finally get it.” The girls would dutifully nod and gamely smile, but their eyes would be a little vacant. Because really, saying the waiting is part of the payoff is a sweet load of crap when you are in the thick of waiting.
We sold our house in January and, instead of turning around and buying another house, we paid off debt. All the purchases that had been made on credit had taken their toll, any in-the-moment savings having long since gone up in a cloud of interest smoke. It was gratifying and galling at the same time. We agreed that we would save and buy a house that would fit, that we would weigh our options and make the decision based on what was best for our family. It would be great.
Fast forward to today. We have been renting for several months, the street is busier, the house smaller and the sense of doing-the-right-thingness is much less fulfilling than we (I) had imagined. I have been wanting out of now and into soon. Every day we’ve each pored over the listings, searching for where we were supposed to be. Days went by in a blur, the motions of work and school carrying us into family time at night and then onto more surfing. It began to feel as if we couldn’t have one without the other— if we stopped searching, we’d miss the house, but if we spent all of our time searching, what was the point of having worked so hard to rent in a place that allowed us to keep living?
Last week after a challenging course of negotiating, the offer we put on a house was accepted. Yay! Commence fantasizing about our house. Much of my dreaming is about nesting, which carries me to online stores and DIY magazines as I imagine things we can do. I mutter to myself to be patient, our plans involve saving until the very day of closing, not buying dishtowels or night lights a minute sooner. I go and paw through boxes wanting to reconnect with the things that have been packed for nearly a year now, since before we put our house on the market. Except that the timing seems unmanageable. On the one hand I wanted it to hurry up and happen, but then our landlords accepted a contract on their house. Our until-summer house. They want to close 4 days after we are scheduled to close on our next house. I had thought we’d do a leisurely move, manage to accomplish the task over weeks as we continued to work and the girls had a place to be. Instead we need to be ready to go, which is fine, but I just want to start now.
I don’t want to to wait to pack. Don’t want to wait to nest. I want, I want, I want. It is deafening, this roar of wanting to end this chapter and begin the next one. My thoughts are a circuitous loop of doing that ought to happen in late June, not now. We have two birthdays to go before we can pack. Fin will turn 2 in 5 days and then 15 days later Ave turns 4. I need to be here mentally and emotionally to honor those passages and yet, despite my best self-parenting, I am petulant and distracted.
This weekend was different, we spent the better part of Saturday tromping our way up Shelving Rock along Lake George, laughing and cuddling through a picnic at the top. After sleeping like logs, we again attacked the day, with Sean working a few hours in the morning and me mopping the floors and scouring the sink while the girls napped. I had mixed feelings as I admired my work thinking, “If only this were actually our house and we were done,” but I shook it off. After lunch Sean took the big girls for the afternoon while Fin and I had some alone time. We went to three parks, between each one I thought, “Maybe I should…” but cut myself off, “What? What could you possibly have to do on a Sunday afternoon?” Pushing the stroller to the 3rd playground I leaned forward as Fin asked me something, “What’s that, baby?”
“Can we have a cog? One day, mama, can you get us a cog?” She asked.
“You want a dog?” I asked. “Not a cat?”
“No, I weelly, weelly want a cog.”
“You know what honey, once we move we’ll get a dog, ok?” I prompted, hoping for a yes.
“Ok, mom, but ’til we get a cog let’s play at the playground. We go home and have litty, bitty milk and cuddle, ok?”
“I wuv you so much, mama. D’is is the best day of ever ever in my whole life ever today!” and she clacked her heels on the front of the stroller as if to say, “Let’s go, let’s go have fun.”
Finding the path to contentment in the heels of a dusty almost-two-year-old is the kind of thing that can make any wait bearable.