I’m baking a Funfetti cake for Evaline’s 2nd birthday. I set the timer for five minutes. In five minutes, because our house is uneven, I will open the oven and spin the cake then set the timer again to remind myself to spin it back, all in the hopes that the cake will not bulge on one side and burn on the other.
An hour earlier, I was in the driveway, attempting to measure the transmission fluid in my van.
The instructions read: Step one, park on a level surface.
Our driveway slopes downward into our house at such an angle that we need to back in if our gas is low, otherwise, it might not start the next time we get in.
Before the timer goes off, I begin sweeping our subtly sloping kitchen floor. It is a dance, chasing after plastic beads before they roll beneath the oven.
My life is choreographed chaos. It is checking timers, spinning cakes, parking backwards to keep the gas light off. It is praising, disciplining, rewarding, uplifting, understanding, all while fumbling-toward-raising, my family.
It’s forty-eight hours after baking the cake and my baby has shuffled off the last of her baby blanket, leaving a curious, loud, moody, silly, yapping, child in it’s place.
The balance shifts, my heart feels…it feels off. Not cold or dead, quite the opposite. My heart feels both sorrow and joy, peace and panic. Hold on, let go. Stay, go.
My husband took Evaline with him this morning as he went to run some errands. With the whole house to clean after her little birthday gathering yesterday, I am instead sitting on my bed, quite literally dropping tears in my coffee cup and wish I could reach for the timer.
Just five minutes more, then I can turn things back around again, make them just right.
Five minutes to make things as they should be.
Which is to say, I’m waiting for what?
For my children to stop growing so I can just sit down and breath and enjoy them, just as they are? To have one more baby so that I can just sit and hold tightly to that newborn stage until I am finally – finally – over it?
(Never going to happen.)
For life to give me five good l o n g minutes to just feel everything all at once and then let me nap and not wake up until I want to, (forget about dinner or appointments or children scribbling all over the walls)?
For my littlest daughter to just. stay. put?
Of course not. (Besides, have you ever seen a two year old actually stay put? I mean, it would be nice, but I’ll save my prayers for miracles for something a little more plausible than that.)
Thing is, after so many years of this dance – of newborns, toddlers, children to the bus, birthday celebrations, money here, money not, job stress, life stress, the buzz and hums and hiccups, and so, so much happiness – I’m certain I don’t know what I’m waiting for at all.
Somewhere, in this dance, this constant shifting, sweeping beads before they roll under my oven, baking cakes that require extra love and attention, raising children quite the same – perhaps I’m already found.
And now, time to pour myself a less tear diluted cup of coffee.