The longest days are the ones spent waiting for something
We’ve had a heat wave in San Diego this week. Ninety-degree days and cloudless skies. Every time the temperature dips below eighty, Mike says, “I’m calling it! That’s it! Summer’s over!”
He says this as a joke. Because it is ridiculous.
It will be hot well into October in Southern California, despite the fact that every major clothing retailer is already selling scarves, sweaters, and boots to San Diegans that quite literally shop for them in barely-disguised bathing suits.
The season hasn’t changed yet. But we keep wanting it to.
Here at the DiFelice house we are waiting for our baby boy to arrive. I’m 37 weeks pregnant, so he can arrive any day from now until a month from now, and the uncertainty of that statement drives me a little wild.
The other day at the library, I joked with a young desk clerk that I was ready to have this baby yesterday. She responded somberly that every week of gestation is crucial to a child’s neurological development. Though she had never been pregnant, she said she knew “all about this” because she had learned about pregnancy in her high school health class.
“Every time you wish the baby to come sooner,” she told me, “just think about how high you want his IQ to be.”
I smiled at her blankly politely and waddled my actively-contracting belly out of the library, into the oppressive summer heat, while holding the hand of a two-year-old who was screaming “I don’t want to go home!! I want a TREAAAAT!”
For the record, I wasn’t even checking books out at the library. I was checking out two movies for my daughter to watch so the afternoon would pass more quickly without my active participation in it.
Waiting seems so much easier when you’re not the one caught in the discomfort of it.
Mike is due for military orders this fall. Next summer we will move, which means we are waiting for baby and waiting for our future address at the same time. It’s annoyingly poetic isn’t it?
After nearly a decade of navigating the military life, it seems as though we should know more about how it all works. This is our fourth time waiting for orders. Our fourth time talking about what Mike would like to do next, where we would like to live, and if there’s a way we can secure an ideal scenario in one area or both.
A life in the military often feels like living at the end of a tedious row of dominoes. There are infinite contingencies that lean one upon the other: “If this, then that. If this, then he deploys. If that, then he doesn’t. If he gets this set of orders, we will stay in the military. If he doesn’t, we will get out. ”
I try not to get too wrapped up in Mike’s career identity, which is a tough thing to do as a military spouse since his work life radically influences every detail of our home life. I try to be engaged but not controlling, knowledgeable but not overbearing. I have to pray about this a lot, because I’m naturally quite bad at it, especially when we’re waiting.
Also, the whole pregnancy thing doesn’t help.
Because it makes me hot and winded, so that when I ask Mike pointed questions about our future it sounds like I’m begging answers from him with my last dying breath.
Though I’m not good at waiting, I have learned that to put hope in the process is to misplace it.
Two years ago, we expected to move to the East Coast. The guy who places Marines in jobs told Mike there was “no way” we would stay in San Diego. So we planned our lives around a cross-country move. I started looking at rental properties in North Carolina and Washington D.C. And you know what happened?
We got orders to stay.
Three years ago, I was pregnant with Molly planning for a natural childbirth. I had experienced a healthy, easy pregnancy and watched the entire first season of Call the Midwife along with several staggeringly descriptive childbirth documentaries. I wrote a birth plan that was two pages long and spontaneously quizzed Mike on his enforcement role. And you know what happened?
At 37 weeks I found out Molly was breech. Two weeks later I had a c-section.
We didn’t want to stay in San Diego. I really didn’t want to have a c-section.
But I remember talking to my mentor Tammy around this time and she said to me, “Bekah, this not a crisis for God. It’s just a change of plans for you.”
And this is what I have to tell myself often still, every time we wait.
This is not a crisis.
This is just a changing plan.
My God is stable, still.
My God is stable, still.
I have been walking every morning, pushing a new double stroller that’s so wide it evicts other pedestrians from the sidewalk. With each step, my belly contracts in practice rhythms. It’s like being gripped by a preview of what is to come, always noticeable, occasionally painful.
I told my sister this over the phone, about the walking and all the contractions, and she said, “Yes, but all of the contracting is productive, Bekah. Your body is preparing. It’s not work wasted.”
And I have to preach the same message to myself these longs days— that waiting is not work wasted. It’s a masterful tool God uses to unhinge my fingers from facades of control; one that productively dismantles my hope in anything other than Christ Himself; and one that trains me in the necessity of prayer if only to shift my eyes off the dominoes and onto the One orchestrating them into a meaningful row.
And in the meantime, all I know to do is to keep moving, to walk the sidewalks with a stroller only half-full, to wash newborn clothes and fold them in tiny stacks, to hang a baby mobile from the ceiling as if such a thing is necessary.
There is not much left to prepare for and yet I fill days with tasks that diffuse the restlessness of waiting. They call this nesting, I think—the menial tasks we invent to make these long days of waiting pass more quickly. They are not wasted, but neither are they as short as we’d like them to be.