Mother’s Day is this coming weekend, which means that I will, this week, be thinking of something to do for my mom, and for my sister, and for other mothers that I love, and that I’ll be telling my husband to get me flowers instead of chocolates and maybe a reservation for a nice night out somewhere, and that I’ll be clearing a space on my desk for the inevitable happy onslaught of bespoke Mother’s Day cards from my children. And it means, too – or would mean, any other year – that I’ll publish a post or two about the awesomeness of mothers in general and the awesomeness of mothers in our virtual community in particular and lo, the warm fuzzies will be brought.
I’m not going to do that last thing this year. Not because I’m any less convinced of the awesomeness of motherhood and the awesomeness of our mothering community – if anything, I’m more convinced – but because this year, I want to deploy my mother-celebrating energies in a different direction.
Today, I’m flying to New Jersey, because New Jersey is awesome, but also because Johnson & Johnson is there, and I kind of work for them – as a social media ambassador slash advisor on all things related to moms in social media using social media for social good, which is one of those job descriptions that sounds like a caption on an Oatmeal comic, but there you go – and we’re doing a thing this weekend – we’re calling it a salon – strategizing and brainstorming with a small group of moms-in-social-media type persons about using social media for social good, etc. And I’m excited, not only because New Jersey is awesome and who doesn’t want to go to New Jersey in February, but because some of the causes that we’ll be discussing are near and dear to my heart and I love talking about them and thinking about how to help them and I would totally work to help them out for free. Don’t tell J&J that.
It was sometime early on in one of the first sessions of TEDWomen last week that the question occurred to me: are we saying to each other here – in this go go women go celebration of everything that women can do – that women are the new men? And if that’s the case, is the corollary that men are the new women? Or that less-advantaged women are the new (and old) women? Whither women qua women, if women are trying to escape themselves?
In September, while I was in Lesotho, I received this email:
I’m a frequent peruser of your blog but haven’t had much time for blog reading lately. My husband and I have been working our asses off to get the paperwork together to adopt two little boys from Lesotho. I was amazed when I clicked on your blog this morning and saw where you were. We’ve not seen our sons faces yet. We heard about two little boys (one who is HIV positive, one who has vision issues, both under the age of 3), knew they were ours even though it’s foolish, and started working on getting all the paperwork together. My fool heart hopes that one of the children you’ll take a picture of will be one of my boys because I’m aching to know their faces, but I know that’s unlikely. Still, I hope.
I’ve been home, now, for a few of days, and I think – I think – that I’ve recovered from travel fatigue – 28 hours it took me to get home from Lesotho – and jet-lag and the brain fog that comes from traveling halfway around the world and back in less than a week. But I haven’t quite recovered from what I can only describe as soul-lag: the existential exhaustion that settles upon you when you’ve experienced something that changes you so profoundly that your psyche has trouble catching up to your transformed heart and soul.
I have soul lag. It’s getting in the way of writing anything meaningful or informative about everything that I saw, everything that I learned, everything that changed me last week. It’s clouding my mind and tangling my thoughts and every time that I sit down to write I am faced with a screen that demands, now, something better than before, something worthy of the stories that I heard and the stories that I was part of, and as I stare at that screen something inside me sags and crumples. I tell myself that it will all come, in time, as my heart and soul and psyche reconcile themselves to each other and to the clock of my here and now, and as I find the words to do those stories justice, but my self is not entirely convinced. My self is also not a very good listener, but that’s not really the problem here.