On Mother’s Day, my partner cooked me breakfast. My daughter gave me a gift that she had bought from a stall at school. She forgot about the card she had made, though, and no-one reminded her.
My sons were dragged out of bed for breakfast and both muttered “Happy mother’s day” before turning to their food and their usual bickering.
And I felt sad.
I mean, I appreciated the breakfast and all, but there was no hug. It was all very obligatory and not with any real appreciation. There was no message that this was because I am special. I try really hard not to indulge in “You should have…” statements, but there should have been. My partner should have made the boys give me a hug. He should have made them be more genuine in wishing me a happy mother’s day. He should have made my daughter give me the card she made. He should maybe even have made the boys buy me a card or something.
But he didn’t. Because it wouldn’t cross his mind to do that. He would not be able to see that the token gesture of a cooked breakfast with some muttered greetings from everyone is actually hurtful. Because there is no actual feeling in it.
Maybe one of these days I will tell him that. And he’ll say it was because the day before I had yelled at him and slammed doors because we didn’t go to lunch. Like the year when he did nothing for my birthday because the day before we had had an argument.
On Saturday, I needed to go and get my middle son some new dance shoes. I decided we would go to a place on the other side of the city where the shoes are handmade on the premises, they always have a lot of stock and there is a nice cafe nearby. We could all go and have a nice lunch together. By the time everyone got organised and ready, I thought to check the opening hours of the dance shop, only to discover we would not get there before they closed, so there was no point trekking all that way. I told my partner and we tried to come up with ideas for where we could go for lunch instead, but could not agree on anything. I had had a busy week last week and was so tired I could barely string together any coherent thoughts. I went upstairs to go to the bathroom and he went out to hang out some washing. I was waiting expectantly to see if he had come up with any ideas when he came back in and peremptorily asked everyone what they wanted for lunch, and started dragging things out of the freezer. I protested that we were meant to be going out to lunch, and he responded “I don’t want to go out to lunch just for the sake of going out to lunch.”
And this made me furious, because it speaks volumes to me. Naturally, I retorted with, “Well of course. Why would you want to spend any time with your family?”
And this is the nub of the matter. He doesn’t. His evenings at home are spent in front of the tv with a laptop. He watches tv whilst surfing the ‘net. I mean, we all do that, right? Sometimes he also has headphones on. I generally go to bed and read or whatever, but he does not come to bed until well after I have gone to sleep. Sometimes he has things he’s working on out in the garage and his time is spent out there. On weekends he works on the boat, on the car, on other stuff out in the garage.
He has little time for the kids, and definitely none for me. Saturdays and Sundays are now taken up with sailing. This is not a man who wants to spend time with me. I’ve said to him, so many times that he’s tired of hearing it, that I don’t think he likes me. He has not offered me a compliment for as long as I can remember.
It’s a relationship of obligation and convenience. There’s no companionship, no affection, no real love.
And this is why it hurts to hear my boys mutter “Happy mother’s day.” Obligation over, fuss made, let’s get on with eating. A minor inconvenience that must be observed before we can go back to our regular scheduled programming.
I don’t want to be dismissed this way. I bust my arse to make everyone else in the family feel special, and I think I have a right to expect the favour returned.
But I can’t do that in this environment. My children are getting the message that I am not important, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
Yet if I mentioned all this to my partner, he would tell me it’s all in my head. I’m creating drama out of nothing.
And maybe he’s right. Maybe I am being a drama queen. But this crushing sense of grief in my chest doesn’t feel like nothing.
It feels like the end of something.