Tonight, I held Noelle in my arms and sang her a new song before bed.
"But no writing that was worth doing was ever done the first time nor in one day or one year, sometimes, oftentimes, not in one decade." -- William Faulkner
"Oo - mommy! I found the mountain!" Noelle says reaching with her whole body towards the car window.
I know what's coming next because we have this conversation every time we drive East on Route 66.
"I want to hike up mountain."
I nod my head, and then the "I wants" spill forth triggered by that first utterance like a brook over little white pebble teeth.
"I want BopBop to hike up mountain. I want BopBop and NaNa to come in a plane. I want to see the nay nays. I want BopBop and NaNa to see nay nays. I want to ride the trolley. I want to listen to the yay-yay song. I want a pop. I want a snack."
Really the progression of her sentences makes no sense at all. She is just skipping from one desire to the next as quickly as they come to her.
It's hilarious. But always at first there is this knee jerk compulsion in me to give her what she wants, to rush to her each whim. Except of course, I am driving, buckled into my seat behind a wheel. There's no possible way I can appease her wants.
And so I'm let off the hook.
I sit in the front seat and listen as her "I wants" dissolve into whines, and fusses.
I realize that my daughter doesn't actually want any of those things. I realize that she's just bored and also excited to try new words.
I also realize that it is my job as her mom to make sure she doesn't always get what she wants because in denying her I am teaching her that she can live free of her every whim. And what an oppressive existence it would be to live at the every command of our desires, right?
Just as I am coaching myself through this line of reasoning, sitting in the car watching the foothills slip by, and listening to Noelle whine, the sound of her voice morphs into the sound of my own thoughts.
I can hear my own whispered prayers in her little mouth.
Dwayne and I are on the cusp of a change. We know in May that everything is going to transition for us. He graduates, and we have to move out of the dorm by June.
The tricky thing is that we don't actually know where we're going. This all depends on where Dwayne gets a job. Now, he's been looking at schools and submitting his resume and lining up interviews and literally these job opportunities are all across the nation.
In the face of so much of uncertainty, I've found myself grasping as superficial realities to try and navigate the change. These have been my spoken and unspoken prayers:
“Please, I want to live in a city. I want to live somewhere beautiful. I want to live somewhere I can still teach. I want to live somewhere with a good school system for Noelle. I want to live somewhere with a church that values the arts and isn’t exclusive. I want to live somewhere close to family. I want to live somewhere close to friends.”
Not surprisingly, I’ve been a spirit cycling around with as much calm as a tornado, whipping from one want to another. Nothing, not one of my carefully articulated desires has given me peace.
I’m scared to death of moving to a new city in a new part of the world and finding that there is nothing for me, finding that I am alone, unknown, and useless. All the relationships we have built here, all the work I’ve done, all the connections I’ve made, all the progress I’m mounting in my career swept away.
I mean, there’s no real way to prepare for that, right? And the irony is that while my “I wants” feel like a way to assert control in the midst of this chaos, they in fact are just depleting my soul. They are tossing me about on their tempestuous shoulders because they are not real, they are simply preferences painted across a future without clues or hints or signs about what is to come.
Really what’s left for me to do? but sit in the car, strapped in, watching the foothills slip by, and let all my fusing and whining boil over the surface and then evaporate leaving behind a residue that looks something like surrender.