I worked really hard today. I baked two cakes. I made chili and prepared munchies for 15 people. I cleaned the house up. I cleaned myself up.
I knew it would be hard for the kids, especially Daniel, to wait until 5 o’clock when our guests were supposed to arrive, so I made sure I had distractions: Pokeman balls just before lunch, then an early present of Spiderman movies around 2.
Just after 1 o’clock I got a message from Michelle (representing a third of our invited guests) saying she was sick or whatever, and wouldn’t be coming. Somehow, I was neither as surprised nor as sympathetic as perhaps I should have been.
At exactly 5:05, Daniel got the go ahead to start opening presents. A bit of a frantic moment ensued as I tried to get rolls out of the oven at the same time as keep Daniel focused on which gift came from whom, and the whole “come on now, let’s not be so greedy” meme. None of the other adults in the room took a break from their own scintillating conversation, nor even spared a glance at the birthday boy as he tore through his pile of packages. And, let me think, did they help clean up the wrapping paper? Um, no. They did not.
After dinner, I made coffee, found candles, carried both cakes over to the table and asked everyone back for dessert. Only Daniel, Emma, and Amanda came. I was the only one willing to sing. My asshole husband, who was out on the veranda talking to his father about some goddamn fish, couldn’t be bothered to come in until the candles had been blown out and the coffee had been poured.
Daniel didn’t touch his cake.
No one thanked me for all the worked I’d done to make that dinner something slightly special.
In fact, the only thing I did all day that I feel like made the slightest bit if difference, was even remotely worthwhile, was hear Amanda’s cry of true pain when Daniel tore the Nintendo she was holding out of her hands, pinching the tender skin between her thumb and pointer finger as it snapped shut. I was doing the dishes; once again the others around the table didn’t skip a beat in their conversation, even when she howled a second time and ran off to her room. But I recognized the cry for what it was. I went into her, and soothed her, and shushed her as she sobbed into my neck that she was only trying to help.
Daniel wouldn’t hug me tonight before he went to bed.
And I know it’s just because he was too excited, too pre-occupied with his new toys to be bothered with his mother’s prickly pride. But it’s just too much. All these minor slights, all these trivial disappointments of the day are ricocheting through me tonight, lighting up all my edgy buttons and making me feel like a faulty pinball machine.
I feel so sad, and so alone. And I don’t want to feel this way on my son’s 6th birthday.