Thursday, June 3, 2010

The fickle love of children—and disappointment of adults

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."


Cari Skuse said...

I know Miss! Oh how I know. I got a cynical laugh out of your comment of "not responsible for chores". Mine has no chores and balks when I as him to do something that he doesn't want to do.

Don't feel too bad though, kids go through times like this when they just prefer one parent to another. I have the same here. But for the important things, they know they can come to me and they do! But it still hurts when you get ignored by your own kid.

I'm glad you got to go out and have some of your own "me" time. Now you and I have to get together sometime soon!

Facie said...

I agree with your friend Cari; it may take a few days or maybe a few weeks, but Marcus will eventually come back around. But don't let that stop you from doing something fun once in awhile.

It just sucks the whole working parent thing. And it sucks more that you seem to be doing more than your fair share. If you had lower standards, this would probably work in your favor.

I don't think I have ever washed sheets every week, FYI. Jordan takes a bath nightly, so it seems unnecessary for her, and when I get sweaty, I shower at night as well (in addition to the morning, lest you think I shower only on occasion, as I discoverd someone in the blogsphere does), so I think we do just fine with every 2 to 3 weeks.

Hang in there!

Athelas63 said...

So... lessons learned are:

1) kids are unforgiving little brats at times...

2) men are dirty pigs...

3) Moms hold the world together...

4) the "Feminist movement" basically screwed over women by raising every expectation. Yeah, you can go to college and get your own job. But you damned well better get a GOOD job and make good money and keep a clean house and have nutritious meals and blah blah blah. It's a load of **&$*$. Why do you think so many women are trying to figure out how to stay home again?

Well, men and kids won't change, but don't worry, the economy seems to be moving us in the direction of NO ONE working soon. Of course, no worries - the blessed Govt will care for us all...

chris h. said...

I am with Athelas63. I have said for years that I hated the women's movement that I thought was so cool when I was 11 and "could do anything boys could do." Yeah, we can "have it all" but only if we do it all. Bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, indeed...the whole thing was probably secretly developed by men. I'd love to be a "housewife" and only have to do half the work I currently do.

BTW, I'm with Facie on the sheets thing...

Mel said...

Ladies, thank you. For support, for commiseration, for telling me in no uncertain terms that I am not crazy.

And I am really glad I'm not the only one who shuns the "wash sheet weekly" club.