I’m sitting here waiting for the phone to ring. A realtor called
shortly after noon, just as I was starting to make lunch for the kids.
She asked if she could show the house between one and three, with the
time frame somewhat flexible. Of course I said sure, even as the voices
in my head commenced their panicky clamor: The upstairs is a mess!
Rug needs vacuuming! Toothpaste spatters on bathroom mirror! Unfolded
laundry on bed! Dishes! Lunch! Baby’s nap! Oh look she just spit up on
the floor AGAIN!
But I’ve learned to ignore those voices. They never shut up, and you
could drive yourself (or more to the point, your kids) crazy by paying
too much attention to the pressure those strident little nitpicking
mind-voices love to heap upon you.
So I told the kids lunch would have to wait, assigned each of the
girls a job, and called pal Lisa to ask if we could barge our noisy
selves right into the middle of her day. Because Lisa is an absolute
peach, she said of course, and asked if I wanted to send any of the
kids ahead while I did the cleaning.
I decided to keep them here until the realtor called back (she had
promised to give me a heads-up when they were ten minutes away, so that
I wouldn’t have to keep the kids out of the house for a big long
window), and I’m glad I did. Because here it is a little after two, and
there’s been no heads-up call yet. I gave everyone a snack on the front
porch, but no one’s had a real lunch. At least I had time to get the
place presentable. Now the waaaaaiiiiiiting.
But I know this is part of the place we’re in. Limbo. I’ve spent a
lot of my adult life in one kind of limbo or another: in a state of "as
soon as we get through THIS, life can go back to normal." Somewhere
along the line it dawned on me that this IS our normal. There will
always be some factor turning life upside down: a new baby, a book
deadline, an illness, a new job. If I sat around waiting to JUST GET
THROUGH THIS, my kids would spend their entire childhood waiting.
Instead, I have tried to embrace limbo, to make it a place for real
living, not getting-through.
So we go on with our read-alouds and our nature walks, our silly sing-alongs and our bean feasts. We try—
Hey, the phone’s ringing! Maybe it’s the realtor!
It was. Calling to say: they aren’t coming. Someone locked her keys
in the car. This ate up all the buyer’s time and he’ll have to
I just called Lisa, cracking up. "I don’t know how you can laugh
about this stuff," she said. But she was laughing too because it really
is funny. As usual, life makes my point far more eloquently than I ever
could. You can’t let Limbo get you down. You have to put up your tent
and make your little ring of campfire stones and get busy roasting your
marshmallows right there in limbo, or else one day you’ll look around
and say hey, we finally got through it!, and you’ll discover that your kids are grown and they never got to try s’mores.
I Never Did Tell You About Those Junkyard Dogs
We all have our priorities.
Laundering Secrets of the Middle-Class and Only Marginally Famous