The Waiting Room

We’re in the car, and Jonah is asking me for our “old playlist,” as he calls it. There’s a shared, almost secret language that exists when you have a child where they talk about and ask for things and only you and your small circle know what they’re talking about. Imaginary friends, certain songs, the way they like their food cut, the random request they make about that playground you went to that one time with the green slide and something about a duck. It feels good when you instantly know what they’re talking about; there’s a closeness in that conversation that feels so tender and sweet – proof of a shared life (and everything you do for them everyday). It’s like having an inside joke or a wink moment with a spouse or close friend. 

The “old playlist” includes songs that I used to play early on that were the backdrop to our brief stint of car napping. (Sidebar: Jonah hated the car – and only now at 3 1/2 he tolerates it if he’s in the mood – and so he was never a carseat sleeper. BUT. There was this one brief six month period where I could get him to fall asleep if the timing was perfect and then get back home within five to ten minutes to transfer him to the bed. Any longer and it was scream city.) Whenever I hear those songs, I’m transported back to little Jonah nodding off, his sweet little head slumped to the side, all the things on his lap that he had to bring with him. Now, I hear him singing along to the music, even making up his own hilarious words to the tune. In those moments, I hold both Jonahs in my heart and wonder how parents everywhere do this. This holding of memories so clear you can see them while watching their children grow into wonderful human beings. Being the keeper of all of it.  

There’s another album of songs (Basho’s Dance Party on Fun Street for those of you who know it) that reminds me of the unending months early in the pandemic when a friend and I would try out every possible playground to try to get out of our homes for a moment, often driving to multiple ones to find one that wasn’t crowded. These friends were the only people we saw besides my mom during most of the pandemic, and even with them we’d play outside. I remember how I felt vividly. When will this end? When can I build a community of friends for me and my family without feeling utter terror? What struggles are attributed to new parenthood vs. the pandemic? They’re forever intertwined for so many.

Of course, more than songs, there’s so many moments throughout the day that bring me back to other times, even times before Jonah, and the wave of memory rises in me, and I try to take it all in – how we got here, the present moment, all that’s to come. I hold it all as the wave swells to a crest, and I ride it over and over again. This is parenthood. Or life rather. Opening my heart wide enough to encompass all the things and hopefully gather the joy in each swell. 

And now, with another baby on the way in the next five weeks or so, I practice that heart expansion as I hold the excitement of what’s to come with the love of what is now. Learning to sit in the “before,” the anticipation, the unknown…I know that’s all part of it. And it’s hard. Harder than it was when I was pregnant with Jonah. Anticipatory anxiety has already been hard for me my entire life. The transition before the transition – when my body feels the shift, but the actual shift isn’t quite here yet. I feel it deep within me first. 

I’m so physically done with this pregnancy. The over 107 degree heat and discomfort is just adding insult to injury at this point.

And…I’m scared. I’m on the brink of something new, something wonderful and hard, and I am trying to find footing in this place beforehand. This waiting room.

Written September 6, 2022

Photo of me and Jonah during a carseat nap transfer.

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