Sorrow in Anticipating Joy

There’s a certain amount of inescapable sorrow for me at this time of year that perhaps can only be adequately explained via anecdote.

Last night, GeekBaby set his shoes out for Saint Nicholas. And then he looked at his shoes up against the wall alone, and made us put our shoes out as well. After he was in bed, I pulled out our painstakingly acquired bag of chocolate coins and divvied them up. Two shares for GeekBaby, and one each for Himself and me.

This morning GeekBaby escaped downstairs then came back up to announce there was money in his shoes, and my shoes, and Daddy’s shoes. We opened up a coin or two to find the chocolate, then settled down for breakfast. And over breakfast, he wanted to know why he got more chocolate money than Daddy and Mommy. And I explained to him that Saint Nicholas is the patron of children, and he only leaves gifts for children, but that he also knows how sad it makes GeekBaby that he has no one to share this game with, and so he left token gifts for Mommy and Daddy. This was accepted with a solemn little nod and an “I know,” then he turned his attention to the baked oatmeal.

His loneliness, and his patience in his loneliness, just breaks my heart. He doesn’t just accept that Mommy and Daddy can’t play with him because we have work to do; he frequently gives up playing to come help us in whatever it is we’re doing. He would rather help than play, it crushes him when he can’t. When he does play alone, its only with frequent updates, and invitations for us to join him. And when I’m feeling particularly down, he knows, no matter how I hide it, and comes over to snuggle and comfort me.

Because for all that he’s lonely, he’s not sad. And while this provides a certain amount of relief, I find myself unable to escape being sad for him. It’s hard for me to reconcile these feelings with Advent, and the anticipation of joy. I only seem to know about the anticipation of sorrow.


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One Response to Sorrow in Anticipating Joy

  1. Julia says:

    It’s okay to be sad, even while awaiting joy: this life is filled with mixed feelings. The joy is given (mercifully, very mercifully) even in the midst of suffering and want and imperfection. And perhaps that’s the way the mixed feelings are reconciled, no? In the manger.

    It’s not our job as mothers to eliminate suffering from the lives of our children. It’s our job to teach them to handle it with grace.

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