The Sweetness of Clarity

Today I was blindsided by chaos.  I imagined it would be a mostly ordinary day – kids to school, Mom to work, and husband on a rare business trip.  Silly me.

The drama actually began late last night when teen daughter waged a war against chores and chicken for dinner and all things parent.  Poor husband sought consolation, “Can you believe her?! ”  To which I responded with my go-to justification, “She’s a teenager.”  When rational explanation fails, this single fact makes it all better.  Teenhood is not a permanent condition.  Doors were slammed, lights flicked off, and sleep was welcomed.  Tomorrow would be a new day……A day that began too early.  Midnight to be exact.

Like Cinderella who transformed at the stroke of midnight, dear son turned into a vomiting machine. This, as you fellow parents know, is a game changer.  Instantly, my day went from busy/manageable to crazy/juggling.

As it were, I was scheduled to drive my usually-bus-riding daughter and a friend to school for the Architecture Fair.  SHOOT!   This is the event that husband was supposed to attend to fulfill the ‘at least one parent should show support’ thesis.  But he is away on business which means I should go. But when? How?

The phone rings, breaking up the rapid-fire problem-solving in my head.  It is friend, wondering if we’ve forgotten her or are we just running late?  Scrambling to the car, bagel in one hand, trifold display in the other, we settle into a comfortably illegal pace on the highway when teen daughter exclaims (too hysterically) that the written portion of her project has been forgotten at home.  Would I go back and get it after dropping her off?

I gaze at the Heavens with a ‘You’re kidding me, right?’ look.  Is this level of chaos all in one day really necessary?  Daughter gives further instruction on the location of said paper.  It’s beside the computer which, by the way, “crashed when I was trying to print off another copy.”  Lovely.

I am torn.  Yes or no?  Go out of my way, taking more time than I have, in order to save my daughter?  Or help her to learn responsibility by suffering the consequences?  She was, after all, a beast last night.  She wasted valuable project preparation time with her tirades.  I’m not feeling especially generous toward her.  But there are other factors to consider too: a younger child in tow who needs to be at a different school momentarily, a son who clearly shouldn’t be left alone, a dance carpool commitment (of all weeks!) and oh yes, a job that is expecting me.  My mind is on a spinny ride at the amusement park and I want to get off.

When Chaos arrives like it has today, Clarity eludes me.  She loves a game of Hide and Seek.   Sometimes it’s easy to find Clarity.  She’s like a small child who hides in the same obvious spot every time she plays the game.  Other times she gets sneaky and hides somewhere in next week or next month – so far away that I have to give up searching for her, knowing that eventually she’ll return to me.  So I keep the door unlocked.

Today, Clarity jumps out at me from behind the phone.  Grandpa calls and would LOVE to drive  45 minutes to spend part of the day with a sick child so mother can take care of the rest of the world. Mercy abounds!

This one monumental gesture of kindness lights a spark in me.  My cold and confused heart warms from the gift it has received and it feels like giving too.  It feels like calling work to say that business is never more important than children.  It feels like fetching and delivering the forgotten school report.  It feels like completing the child chores that were left undone last night.  It feels like attending the Architecture Fair to support not only it’s own child, but the others whose parents didn’t hear their hearts today.

My heart is rewarded with immense gratitude in the form of bear hugs when I arrive back at teen daughter’s school.  It is further elated when it returns home from a brief stop at work to find that, without prompting, the dishwasher has been unloaded by the very same teenager.  The heart knows this path.  It gives generously and without expectation and ends up receiving.  The mind is not as smart.  It would have me judging and measuring out gifts, and calculating retribution.  I really should learn to consult my heart first.  It would save me, and my mind, a lot of trouble.

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