the waiting months

Spring and waiting seem to go together like coffee and cream. It’s not winter anymore; some parts of the country have crocuses and snowdrops springing up and snow hasn’t been on the forecast for weeks. At the same time, a certain Dairy Queen in Moorhead, Minnesota opens for the season March 1st and you can see a line of people with spring in their hearts and winter boots on their feet stretched out several feet long, waiting to get ice cream that they hope will, with an irony as swirled as their chocolate-and-vanilla cones, convince the cold to leave again.

But whether you’re licking an ice cream while you stand in the snow, or welcoming snowdrops, there’s no finality to March and April. They’re an in-between. Spring probably doesn’t feel fully real yet in the first warm days. And yet spring is a season unto itself. These months may be seem to be a segue to summer but they’re really a destination too. 

I think there are seasons in our lives that feel like that. We’ve waited and worked to get to where we are and we’re there now, at a destination of sorts, but it’s a moving, shifting destination. An arrival that signals an end and a beginning, and is itself a long, stretching, middle. It’s like having toddlers. (So many of my ideas and writing and topics revolve around toddlers right now.) You’ve waited and wanted to become a mom, and then you were eager for them to be walking and talking, and now they’re walking and talking, and you know that childhood comes next but it’ll be a minute yet, and here you are! But here you remain. 

It’s possible that this is largely the sleep deprivation talking. The nap strikes, the refusal to eat dinner. Don’t misunderstand me – I love this boy of mine and his sweet attitude and his constant activity and his curiosity. I love him deep and whole and I love him all the time. But if you’ve ever gotten on a treadmill to run at a fast jog for hours until your legs give out and then another lap for good measure, you know what kind of energy and tenacity it takes to parent a toddler. 

It’s just like the month of March. You’re in between two starkly contrasted seasons and it’s a season of its own and it seems to be longer than January and February put together, ya know? 

But don’t swear off children just yet. Recall the snowdrops I was talking about. They’re not the only spring flowers. Snowdrops come and then crocuses come, and soon there are even daffodils. Here in Colorado the golden forsythia glow even on a cloudy day. There are green spikes of irises reviving in my neighbor’s garden bed. The sharp yucca plants become more vibrant. Lilacs are stirring. Trees are budding out before they sprout leaves. You may lay down on the landing of the staircase in exhaustion and open your eyes to discover your toddler bending over you to give you a goodnight kiss as he “tucka ‘oo in” for a nap. You may find that one day when you lay down next to him in the middle of the nap strike, you both begin to giggle uncontrollably, down on the floor, face to face. Making memories, I hope. Laughing memories that stay bright in the dusty storage banks of recall.

Look for those moments. Hunt for them. Lay down – a patch as small as the landing of the stairs will do – and stare at the ceiling until you can remember what it is about this season that brings you joy. Don’t hustle too far too fast yet: let moments of happiness “tuck ‘oo in” to the season of in-between. It is better when we linger.

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