Hope for the Fragile, Dangerous and Bacteria-Laden

My daughter is relentless. Every morning for the past 12 months (but who’s counting?), she watches me drink my morning coffee and cries because she can’t have the cup.

Rational explanations about caffeine, warnings about hot liquids, musings on my responsibility as a parent, theories about “mommy drinks”, distractions and soothing shushes…none of them really help. Yet as frustrating as it is to see her frustrated, I am proud of my daughter’s persistent spirit.


Last Sunday at church we lit the first candle on the Advent wreath, waking the first bit of light. The candles mark four weeks of longing and waiting for Christmas, that holy night of mystery and magic.

We asked hope to come stay with us a while.

We prayed for an end to hopelessness, poverty, injustice, despair.

We said that Love is always coming into the world.

I hear myself tell my daughter: “honey, sometimes we don’t get everything we want” as I comfort her.

Right now I could use some comforting. Every morning I wake up and reach for what I want — a second child, a sibling for my daughter — and every morning, I remember: “honey, we don’t get everything we want.”

Top of my daughter’s other unrequited longings:

  • the ceramic kitty cat (hand painted by her cousins)
  • snow globes
  • toliet bowl water

Which makes me wonder: How much of what I long for is fragile or dangerous or laden with bacteria?

When will I grow out of it, this oversize, ill-fitting longing?

And where is the mama that I want for myself, the one whispering “hush hush, it’s ok, climb on my lap and let’s read this book together”?

I don’t know.

I don’t know how to slip the knot of this suffering. I don’t know how to trade my longing for something useful like deep wisdom or spiritual enlightenment or something – anything – witty or funny or not-boringly-exhaustingly-the-same.

All I know is PLEASE and HOPE and WAIT and NO and TRY AGAIN.

This evening in therapy I realized that I have three things going on: depression (unremarkable, tenacious & boring), personal growth challenges (usual life circumstances), and bat-shit crazy (hormones). So there’s that.

Sometimes it is awfully hard to tell the holy from the laden-with-bacteria, is all I am saying.

I want to let go of this longing when I am done with it, not when I am done in. But I don’t know if I’ll get to make that choice. Too much is out of my control.

So I hope until it is time to sleep, and then I sleep. I sleep and dream, and then I wake, and ask again.


What do you hope for? How do you keep your balance?

p.s. Can I just admit that this  actually makes me feel better? Maybe it’s a personality disorder….