It has been a month of days, many sweet, many plain, a few grueling. I've made it to the grocery store with a mouthful of children. I've nursed and read stories, sung songs and prayed, and wrangled all three into bed for the last three nights alone. I've fed people every day, though I don't remember really cooking anything or any full meals we've eaten. I've gotten everyone to school and home on time-ish each day (Eden is almost always 20 minutes late). I haven't run out of gas, despite the gauge being in the red repeatedly. These are the little victories I am living in.
Today Maeve is tiring in the regular baby ways: muscles ache from the lifting, hauling, holding; another wet diaper right as she's finally drifting to sleep; poop immediately after I've changed her and snapped and resnapped her jammies until the snaps all lined up; a blow out when there are no extra clothes; fussiness right when we start to drive so that I end up driving while standing, my arm stretched as far as possible into the backseat to hold a pacifier in her mouth. I'd forgotten how driving with an infant is worse than driving drunk. Oh babies. No wonder they smile so deliciously when they are hungry.
I keep feeling like congratulating myself for living through a winter. But then I remember that, yes, I do have a down coat on, but it is in the 40's and there has not yet been ice on my windshield or snow on the steps. The Farmer's almanac and general weather people everywhere all are predicting a particularly cold and snowy one. Even the weird cat vet Ben met said the cats' coats are especially thick this year, so I don't think I've arrived... I wouldn't say that I am dreading it, but I will be glad to land on the other side.
Looking out the window it looks like winter. The trees stand with tangled ink branches. A few still hold on to brown rattly leaves, but for the most part, the landscape is altered: outlines against a pale gray sky that yellows as the day ends. I don't mind these short days, the fact that the sky darkens at five. We burrow in a little deeper, pull down the blinds, sit under glowing lights. In only a month, the days will begin to stretch again, inching out until we find ourselves squarely in summer, surprised by its sudden arrival.
The kids and I have been talking about Advent, about how to receive, what to give, about generous unexpected out-pouring, about remembering and preparing. These dark cold days that we didn't have in California feel fitting, a long tunnel toward Christmas, and the promise of light and longer days at the end.