Waiting is an activity robbed of its activity. Anticipation is waiting plus joy. Dread is waiting plus fear. But sheer waiting itself is empty.
But this is what we are doing now, with the house spic and span and the pictures on the Internet, we wait as the white and black For Sale sign swings on the front lawn. And I ramble about the empty house with its echo, and scrub stray fingerprints off the barren fridge. No pictures, no knick knacks, all the toys in bins. Everything valuable is either pack in numbered boxes in the basement, or stuffed into a black gym bag to be stowed in the trunk of the minivan when someone comes to look. Look at a house which is still ours, but may not be for long, or maybe ours forever.
The next item on the house selling project agenda: wait.
I went for a walk with Princess, Big Boy and Baby yesterday. As I pushed the Chariot stroller down the icy sidewalks, and I looked up at the front room windows of my neighbours and I somewhat envied their state. My emotions reminded me of sitting in the reception area while waiting to be called in for a job interview, as they employed nonchalantly moseyed by trying to get a look at who they might share a cubicle with. Meanwhile, all I could think is how great it would be to be one of them, with a pass card and a paycheque. Now here were all these Not For Sale houses, and I imagined their toothpaste stained counters, stacks of personal papers and corners of unfinished projects, with no worry of someone calling an demanding entrance to peek in their most distant closet.
But at least the waiting has given me a chance to stop working at getting the house ready to wait, and I have had a chance to slow down with the kids again. I realized that my parental skills had slipped this past month when today, Art Girl kept jumping up from lunch to play a musical accompaniment on the computer. I finally got up to check what she was up to and found that she was jumping from game to game on the National Geographic Kids website.
This last month Princess changed the most. Sometime in the last 4 weeks, she grew up. I noticed it first at the restaurant on Tuesday when she confidently ordered a cheese pizza, carrots and chocolate milk from the waitress with no help from me. Full eye contact, please and thank you. Then today, I dropped her off at her preschool dance class. I kissed the top of her head and she ran off into the room, and started leaping toes pointed, across the floor, her arms out, smiling. She was wearing her hot pink and blue tutu tunic, with leggings covered in multi-coloured heart polkadots. She looked like a deer in the sugar plum forest. And it filled my heart with such joy that I could have stayed there all day and watched her and wept. As I dragged Big Boy, Baby and myself back to the car, a lady passed by. She looked up at the blue sky and sunshine. “Isn’t it a glorious day?” she asked. It was.
The problem with waiting, is wishing the now over, wishing the time to pass and the days to fall away. With so little time on this earth, and so much to make us happy, it seems a sacrilege to wish it away, to pine for days ahead. That’s why I see waiting as empty, and a waste. So we will call this phase resting. Because whatever the future brings, we will find some joy in it.