My heart got broken earlier this evening.
For months now, I've tried to make the best of a situation gone ugly. My being away from home a lot of the time, during crucial family hours, has taken a toll—mostly on me. I've tried to make the best of the fact that I miss plenty of afternoon activities, four days per week, every week. I've tried to put on a happy face and drive the boy to and from preschool three mornings per week, tried to make sure the shopping list is either taken care of or clearly written in aisle order. I've cooked dinner in the morning about 3 mornings per week, trying to ensure healthy eating choices for both my family and for me (as I am unable to leave work to seek dinner food, let alone healthy pre-diabetic-friendly food). I've managed to keep up with cleaning, not to my usual standards but reasonably well. I've still changed the sheets somewhat frequently, maybe not weekly but not monthly either. I've remembered to shop for the soccer snacks, the preschool snacks, the gifts for Sunday school and other teachers, the special giveaway purchases for birthday parties, the birthday gifts for other kids' parties.
In other words, I have done all I could to make certain that life continued, relatively smoothly, for the boys in my house.
And I, in typical fashion, have been rewarded with apathy, disinterest, and lack of appreciation.
I got together with a friend tonight. A gal pal I used to work with, someone whom I honestly haven't seen in almost 4 years. She was in town. She wanted to meet for a cup of tea. I was excited. Oooh! A friend! I still had them! Yeah, I haven't painted a picture in months, I have no hobbies, I haven't read a book since Christmas, I haven't met any buddies for as long as I can remember, no dates with my husband since last year (because guess who plans those? yep, me)... but ooh! I get to have tea with a friend after work! I made my plans. I made certain it wouldn't be a problem. I was told it wouldn't be. I went. I visited. I had a lovely time for 2 hours, and then I hurried home so I could see my sweet boy before he went to bed.
He gave me the cold shoulder.
My darling son did not act happy to see me. He did not give me a hug. He wanted Daddy to help him brush his teeth. He wanted Daddy to read him a story. He did not want me. I rushed home so I could be slighted by my five-year-old.
Of course, he doesn't realize that the past year has been torturous for me. He doesn't realize that I don't enjoy being the "tidiness nazi" every day but that if I didn't, we would live in filth and ruin. My small child doesn't realize I am the one planning our lives, making the shopping lists, paying bills and budgeting for vacations, remembering his end-of-year program at school. I'm the one who washes his soccer shirt and socks. I'm the one who makes his bed, who marks on the calendar upcoming playdates and birthday parties. I'm the one who vacuums the floors of dirt tracked in, who saves snowballs in the freezer so we can gain free admittance into the science on the first day of summer.
None of that matters. I can't compete with the other parent who is more fun. Who has no chores. Who comes to soccer practice weekly. The person who offers only fun without boundaries, who doesn't have to cook or clean or bank or make boring shopping lists. How can I possibly stand alongside that person in popularity? How can I even begin to measure up when I dare to do laundry, ask for help folding towels and picking up the mess, and then have the audacity to meet one of my own friends for tea? Gosh, if I have a social occasion every four years, I'm doomed to be the least favorite parent for life.
This really sucks. I just said to my friend earlier this evening, "This has been such a hard year because I don't feel like I am doing anything really well." Tonight's lack of support from my own offspring pretty much underlines that whole point. Welcome to motherhood in modern America. Do the job, all your jobs, for less recognition and less respect. Expect nothing. Do more, and get even less.
And oh, by the way: you should also expect to be the less-loved one. Because if you have expectations and an agenda for your family? To quote Yoda: "You will be [the less loved one]. Oh, you will be."