Are You Having Fun?

I’ll be home for Mother’s Day.

School is over for the semester. My obligations as a teacher and a student are, temporarily, finished. For a little while I go back to being a person without a schedule. It is a good time to see my mother.

After a great deal of trying and the best of intentions, my relationship with Daniel has come to an end. I am no longer one in a party of two, half a pair of tickets, Carrie and… anybody else. It is one more role I have to give up. And it is a good time to see my mother.

Saying goodbye to my students at the end of the school year was hard. Not a mother myself, I felt a little like one as I gave them brownies and last words of advice. Saying goodbye to my fellow classmates was painful in these workshops where we have all laughed and learned and shared so much. My cat Lucy died last week and saying goodbye to her was hard, even though I could see she was tired and needed to leave. Saying goodbye to Daniel was hardest of all, even though I know we had both tried our best to make things work out differently.

And even if all of these endings came at an appropriate time, all of these endings make it hard to know who I am, in this moment, hard to remember who Carrie is without any of her roles.

But through it all, I am my mother’s daughter. And, in this time of not very much definition, that sounds pretty good to me. Because my mother doesn’t really care if I get a book published, or land an important job, or have a fancy title, and she never has.

While I worry about whether I am learning fast enough or teaching well enough, my mother asks, “Are you having fun?”

My mother doesn’t see me as a middle-aged, divorced woman, mourning her dead cat, just washed out in the romance department and feeling adrift. While I feel like a bit of a failure and wonder if I will ever have anyone to share my life with, my mother says, “I’m so sorry, we really liked him.”

And that is why it is good I’ll be home for Mother’s Day.

Because I need my mother and the other people in our life— my family, my oldest and dearest friends— who know me too well and have shared my life for too long to be influenced by my professional conquests or my romantic tribulations. The people who care about me most see me as the imperfect and struggling person I have always been.

I met a woman recently who did not have the loving relationship with her mother that I have with mine. She kept a photo of her mother on her desk that showed her mother as a young woman, young enough to be this woman’s daughter. When she felt frustrated with her mother, she would look at this vulnerable young woman in the photo and her heart would soften. It helped her accept her mother as the person she was, as a daughter, as someone who was once a child. I like that.

I like the idea of looking at everyone a bit more as a mother would. I want to remember to see others not for what they do or have accomplished today, but see the child inside that never entirely goes away, and remember to ask…

“Are you having fun?”

Till next time,

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