What I want for Mother's Day this year is clarity. It has been a lot of confusion all year long, and now even my identity has changed. This will be the first year I do not have a mother to celebrate Mother's Day with. My mother passed away gracefully 6 months ago. And while I am not motherless, I do feel different and a bit confused.
This might have a lot to do with the usual simultaneous career, mothering and homemaking track that I keep. My husband and I have three teenagers; 14, 15 and 16. I work a job and am involved in just a few too many social and political projects and community organizing. But there is something else in the air beyond parenting and work, something beyond that that I need to figure out to get clarity.
Take for example Tuesday, May 8. I drove my 27 miles to my work in Washington, D.C., and arrived my usual half hour after the office start time. Today, however, I was a bit later than that and ran right to the phone meeting that had started five minutes earlier I wasn't sure of the agenda as I am backup on this task but relied on my steadfast colleagues. After the meeting I clarified a few things here and there. Later, I followed up with a couple e-mails that were on somewhat sensitive topics. Therefore, as I wrote I danced around the topics yet I hoped to get clear replies.
With several pressing family concerns on my mind, I wrote an e-mail to my husband consoling, but mostly chiding him on the disagreement that ensued the evening before between him and his son, my 15-year-old stepson. My husband is quite a kind and gracious man so I actually do not know what happened other than that they were both upset and still are. I also wrote quickly to the father of my own two children, my former husband and a respected friend, to work out summer.
Lunch time involved picking up old furniture the office manager was giving away and wiping the dust off to load them in the car. With my hair sprinkled in dirt from the basement stored furniture, and although I really should have used the time for work, I walked out of the building to clear my head. I stopped at a vendor outside of a new restaurant giving away samples of zucchini bread. Yummy, it reminded me of the kind my mother used to make. I told him so and shared with him that this was my first Mother's Day without her. With kindness in his eyes he told me he recently lost his mother too. For a moment, clarity came to me and he extended a fist bump and a wish. "My strength is your strength" he said with clear sincerity.
The afternoon started with negotiating technology which involved a work cell phone with a battery charging issue and setting up a laptop to the office Internet for Skype call. I was unsure at first with the cable, the speaker and mic as I am no longer technology savvy. I remembered in my time I was an early adopter and 15 years ago I built my own 486 PC before anyone else in the office. It allowed me to work from home before there was a concept of work from home.
My Skype call allowed me to talk with a student in Pakistan to help him explain and clarify if I should fund his grant proposal. I needed to know if his project to provide business assistance to impoverished PWDs (Persons with Disabilities) in the SWAT region was as feasible as it was noble. Still not sure, but am more awed by the tenacity and gumption of youth in the developing world who want to change and improve their country.
After working late to send on clarifications on the proposal to my management asking for their clarifications, I headed home. I called my father in Wisconsin to know about his plans for Mother's Day, his first without his wife of 50 years. He assured me that all would be well, so that cleared that up.
Upon arriving home, my 14-year-old daughter immediately engaged me in an important, but difficult discussion about her teenage confusion. It was difficult for both of us. She said that I did not understand what she was going through. I told her I did not but am sympathetic. She said that I was not listening and not there for her and that it is much harder to be a teenager now than in my time. I was moved ay her honesty but clearly did not know what to do. I told her we could hang out together on the weekend and she said that I didn't understand that as a teenager she didn't want to hang out with me then. Honestly, I really do not know when I should be available then for hanging out.
I invited the kids out for a quick bite to eat as cooking dinner has been on the back burner due to lack of clear menu planning since my 16-year-old son has become a new vegetarian. In addition, there is also a lack of time for grocery shopping and I really don't know what to buy for protein alternatives. Unfortunately, as we were heading out, a discussion with my 15-year-old did not go well. It was something about being allowed to drive on his permit which I cannot remember in detail at this time. I remember feeling, again, confused at having created discord with this kind teen boy. Yet I knew that after a short cooling off period, teens can let it go and start engagement anew.
Only my 16-year-old took me up on the offer for going out for dinner. At dinner, the conversation was lovely and uplifting. I am so thankful for the 45 minutes of his wisdom. It is clear that he becoming a man, inshallah (With God's will). Ah Hah! So, clarity did come!
Grocery shopping was still on the list for the night and I set out alone. On the way I managed a few short conversations with friends; amazing women who I do not want to lose by neglecting them. No matter the murky waters, I am attempting to make time for these nurturing relationships, even if only by phone.
At the end of the day, there are just a few short minutes of reflection. My head is not hurting; no headache. However, it is not clear. I am in deep need for clarity. Yes there have been a few times throughout the day; a conversation, a touching moment, a fist bump. So, it is possible to find. I have hope. Perhaps on Mother's Day I can catch it all day. I will think fondly of my mother and pray for her and for clarity.