“Mom, I need to talk to you about something.”
Looking at her in the dim hallway, all I can think of are all the things I have yet to do before I can finally file this day away with all of the others that have felt unbearably out of control and out of reach. But the dishes and the laundry and the mess of papers on the kitchen island and the vegetables that need to be cut and the pile of playthings on the half wall and the dirty shoes scuffs in the carpet and the inky black spider creeping up the wall and the broken toilet and today’s burnt out light bulb and the oil-splattered cooktop and the broken cupboard door and the bills to be paid and the camp registration forms and the workday not yet finished and the emails and text messages can wait.
“What’s up, lovely girl?”
“I think you are spending too much time on your work and not enough time trying to find someone. Can you talk to your boss and tell him that you need to only work for half the time and the other half you can … you know … look for someone?”
I have to hand it to her. She knows exactly what she wants and all signs point to her not giving up until she … ahhhh … I … get what she wants.
“You really want that, don’t you?”
“Yes … I want us to have someone very, very much.”
All joking aside, I am not mother of the year. I simply know how to apply an excellent shade of lipstick on a pig. I have dressed up my disheveled life in my daily desperation to have their life hum as smoothly as possible, letting the chips that are for me fall where they may. And fall, they do.
But the one chip they watch with sadness and frustration and irritation is their hope that I might find love again, because my love is in turn theirs.
I remember long ago a conversation with my husband, about a woman left on her own to raise her child, a mother and son who lost their loved one far too early. We talked about how, so many years later, she was still on her own. How naïve I was. Insensitive. How utterly unacceptable my judgments were. But it wasn’t until I joined her ranks that I understood how hurtful the idle ruminations and curiousity of bystanders can be. And that writing a new chapter takes time and strength. Patience.
And a sex ed refresher course.
My children are convinced that their mother is resting on her dead spouse’s laurels. It’s my fault, really. Because after one very brief false move I have made a very conscious choice not to expose them to any male specimen that might be under consideration until such a time when said male specimen has proven a substantive degree of staying power. That commitment – to them and to myself – has made the pursuit of affection exponentially harder.
Dating after death is not for the weak of heart. And dating in the style of a covert operative requires stealth, ingenuity and availability I simply do not have in spades. To protect their hearts, I have to wedge in any opportunities to exercise mine offsite and under cover.
“I promise you, I’m working on it.”
Annual Review of Mom’s Romantic Performance: Mom says she is working hard to find a man, but I have yet to see any real evidence. In the coming year, I expect to see stronger results.