“This is like the Advent for winter,” WJ said to me as we lay in my bed one morning looking out the window at the dawn of a dull and blustery fall day.
The clocks had moved back over the weekend but not the one inside this child. Mothers and fathers near and far know these early moments alone with children for whom the changing of the clocks mean nothing. The first number on my clock that morning was still five when WJ climbed into bed to share his big ideas about hosting a hot chocolate stand and several realizations about words that start with C but sound like they start with S.
But his company was somewhat welcome. I had been spending many of the early morning hours alone and awake. As he babbled next to me I fought back exhaustion, replaying the fitful night and realizing that it was entirely possible that I had gone to the bathroom four times between 3:20 and 3:40 AM.
As the calendar pages had been flipping by, I had begun to feel like I had been pregnant forever. WJ’s recognition of the hints of the coming winter drilled that home and I felt weary. I started this pregnancy at the end of last winter. And now it felt as if winter would be here again soon.
Waiting can be an attitude but sometimes it is just a verb. This particular waiting had become a challenge for me.
One week and four days past the due date written neatly on our calendar. Those of you who have carried children into the 41st week know of these things. Of getting a super-manageable, short haircut in time for the baby to arrive and having it grow out to shaggy and messy while you still are waiting. Of emptying into your tea cup the remaining drips of the milk carton from your fourth, and maybe even fifth, stock-up-before-the-baby-comes shopping trip. You know the unique torture in these last weeks of speed bumps and flights of stairs and tying shoes and keys dropped on the ground as you pull them out of your bag. You know about long walks and acupuncture and spicy foods and a reluctant friendship with castor oil.
WJ lay next to me thinking of the fall as an Advent for the winter, full of anticipatory hints and momentary glimpses of light and goodness to come. But my waiting felt more a moment in Lent. Lent in the middle when the joy of the discipline has worn off but the hope of the Good News is just not yet breaking through.
Sometimes waiting is a chore we endure. We trudge through it; we grumble; we hang our heads and fix our eyes on the difficulties and rockiness of the path.
And sometimes when we finally look up, we see that for which we have been waiting and the joy comes as a delight and a surprise.