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“This is going to happen. I can’t control it. I’m just waiting.”
A pregnant mother shared these words with a giggle as we chatted in a long line at the grocery store. We were both annoyed by the waiting there and the waiting we’d experienced all day in Austin traffic.
When I moved the conversation to her soon-to-arrive child, the idea of “waiting” became something very different. Expecting. Waiting with promise and hope. A specific action. Not a passively received imposition.
With a seed of life growing within, there is a halo of hope, anticipation, wonder, joy, fear, and acceptance surrounding the experience of parenting.
As I loaded my bags into my car, I mourned the loss of that particular feeling of expecting.
I drove off deciding to relearn to wait with hopeful expectation. I want to go back to being the mother who feels and sees the growth of my children with a sense of mystery and awe knowing it’s not up to me or due to me. It’s in spite of me.
This won’t be easy because our culture has snuffed out the magic of waiting. We honk our horns, whip out our cell phones and change channels if we aren’t quickly moved or entertained. And after the birth of our children, we move from hopeful “expecting” to managerial “expecting” – one attached to some external schedule: my child is supposed to talk at a certain age. Lose his lisp at a certain age. Ride a bike at a certain age. Be good at long division and grammar at a certain age. Go to a dance at a certain age.
Our anxiety rises if our children aren’t progressing in lockstep with others their age and so we work to fix things for them. We fill them up with busy schedules and nagging questions; in the meantime, losing our sense of waiting for the seeds of potential slowly and surely growing within.
During this season of expectation and waiting, I ask myself: How can I rekindle that deep sense of waiting as a parent? How can I release my external expectations of my children and move to celebrating the birth of each new glimpse of their potential that bursts forth – little by little, uniquely to each of them?
This is a radically active choice to live fully in the present while embracing a grounded hope in the future. And as I stop impatiently poking at the seeds of genius within my children, I trust they will grow and flourish. Then I, too, can giggle in the mystery of humans being and becoming.
Originally written by Laura Sandefer and posted Dec. 19 2017.