I had waited for the day of freedom. When Jason would be finished with paramedic school and clinicals and his National Registry exam. Finished with all of the work and the busy and the time-consuming activity spent somewhere else. When he would just be a firefighter with a one day on, two day off schedule. When he would be home and truly here; no more textbooks dictating the amount of time he could spend with all of us. We waited and persevered and found God faithful in the wait. And then as the final months broke down to weeks and then days, the hour of his exam was here and he passed! And we celebrated! And at last we were in our own home, with schooling behind us, and we were ready to just be and play and dream and figure out who we were after the messy three years of schooling and moving and waiting we had just emerged from.
But even as he was finishing, our van’s transmission was going out. And as soon as the National Registry was completed, Jason dove into car mechanics with the same fervency (even more so) as he had exhibited toward his paramedic studies. Not because he really wanted to spend all of his time rigging up engine braces made out of scrap lumber or traveling far and wide in search of used auto parts or schooling himself on transmission removal and a host of other pertinent information. No. He was motivated by a lack of money and the desire of having two working vehicles. He even went out to a Beaumont junkyard twice only to discover that the used transmissions they had sold us were defective. The first one we got was the wrong one and after returning it and picking up the second one, it wasn’t long before he figured out that that one, too, was bad. It seems like at every turn there have been roadblocks. And futility.
And so we came to the conclusion that he had to give up trying to fix the van and just settle for a cheap commuter car until we could save up enough money for something else. But when you settle for a cheap commuter, you usually settle for a car that needs a bit of work to get it going. And so we bought the 1996 Nisan Altima… The blueberry-colored one. The one that needs a new water pump. The one my husband, the car mechanic, is working on right now.
And when you scrounge around for change to purchase auto parts and payday is tomorrow and there is not much food left in the pantry, that’s when snacks start to get creative. So I pour out the rest of an opened gluten free pizza mix and I add the remains of a gluten free pancake mix and I say, “Thaddaeus, we are going to make muffins.”
And my son wastes no time, but begins to drag the step-stool over to the counter. He grabs the milk out of the fridge and muscles it up next to the bowl I’ve just brought down from cupboards overhead. I crack eggs and add oil and milk and he stirs the mix happily as I oil the muffin tin. And then we fold in the frozen blueberries. I scoop out batter into the tins and he looks on hungrily. He licks the fork he had been mixing with. The oven is ready and I put the muffins in, set the timer and walk away.
“When is it done?” Thadd immediately asks. It hadn’t been in yet for even a minute.
“Twelve minutes, buddy. We just put them in.”
The blonde-headed four year-old has no concept of time. “I want them now!”
I turn on the oven light and he looks at the muffins, still gooey. “I can take them out and you can eat them if you’d like,” I offer. “But they will be all sticky. They are not done yet.”
He doesn’t want sticky muffins. He wants done muffins. Now. He has worked so hard pulling out ingredients and beating batter and dreaming about actually eating the muffins. And now to wait for them? This is more than he signed up for.
And that’s when I realize I am a lot like my son. Waiting makes no sense at all. Especially if what I am waiting for is something good like a chance to rest and breathe and spend time with family. Especially if we have already waited three years to get to this place. It’s not fair.
But wait we do. Whether we like it or not. Thaddaeus cries and complains and keeps a vigilant eye upon the muffins. But finally, twelve minutes come to an end. I, at long last, take the muffins out of the oven and they’ve changed! They are plump and golden and hot.
Another wait. For I make a cup of coffee. Muffins cool and Thadd jumps up and down. But as soon as I put the long-awaited muffin on his plate, all is well. He forgets the wait.
We take a cup of coffee and a steamy blueberry muffin out to the car mechanic. Big hands smeared with grime take the cup and plate carefully. He smiles and thanks us. I take a deep breath, go back inside and keep waiting.