My birthday and Mother’s Day both fell during my community’s coronavirus-related shutdowns. I’m not a greedy person, so — when asked what I wanted — I mentioned some perfumes I like and what color socks I need. Some of the perfume is in the $28-30 range. You can get socks from about a couple of bucks up to $10 or so, depending on how fancy you want to get. That shit can be gotten at Walmart, Walgreens and even — if you plan further ahead than the end of your nose — by ordering online.
I got nada on either occasion.
Now I know that birthdays and holidays are about showing that you value the person, not about being presented with gifts. And hey, it’s clearly not the biggest priority during a frigging pandemic. But I wondered why they couldn’t be bothered to make minimal effort.
Pick me up a fake rose and a keychain at the convenience store. SOMETHING. Let me know I matter to you. Or just write me a heartfelt letter (one that’s longer than a sentence or two — put some thought into it), so I can press it to my heart and cherish it.
Seriously — I felt overlooked. Forgotten. Disregarded. Unappreciated.
For my birthday in late March, I just sucked it up, figuring we’d make it up at some point, or I could just get over it.
Then April and part of May went by. Still, no one bothered to do anything. Okay, it is what it is.
Then came Mother’s Day and … a nice family meal at home. Nothing else. I know my girls are strapped for cash, but I think my husband could have bothered fronting them $10 or $20.
My older daughter is a brilliant artist, and she could have given me a quick pencil sketch. My younger daughter knits and crochets, and she could have given me a hand-crocheted drink coaster. But I don’t think it occurred to either of them how much a handmade gift would have meant to me.
At first I just sucked it up on Mother’s Day too, wondering if maybe they ordered me something and the shipment got delayed due to the pandemic mess. Shit happens. But couldn’t they mention to me, so I would at least know they felt like celebrating me a tiny bit? That was a weird day, all day Sunday. And now it’s Friday.
Today, I came to the conclusion of “Fuck that shit.”
Instead of stewing in my own feel-sorryness (yes, that’s my new word), I went online and picked out two bottles of perfume for myself. I resisted buying the $188 one and got two moderately priced ones that I love for less than that. And I sent my husband this text:
“Since I didn’t get any presents for birthday or Mother’s Day, I’m going to use one of the credit cards and order a couple of bottles of perfume for myself. Just an FYI so you can stop me if you have any surprises or if you want to talk first. <3”
He called to say, apologetically, that this made him feel sad. (I noticed that even the half-assed apology was about how HE felt.) I remained polite. He said he felt even worse because it was on his “to-do list” to order me something today.
On his to-do list.
Like doing the dishes, feeding the cat, and dragging the garbage bin out to the curb on Mondays. A chore. And it was clearly a leisurely response, not a priority. On the list of ranked priorities, I think it was about a 3, rather than a 1 or 2.
Do I wonder how this man justified to himself having a four-year affair? No, I do not.
And my daughters … I’m sorry that I didn’t teach them to be kinder to me.
In my head, I’m saying that one was dealing with the end of college and what’s next, and the other is moving out of a bad relationship and wondering what’s next for herself and her baby. So I get it. I feel less melancholy for their forgetting of me than I do for his forgetting of me, but it still stings.
Moving forward, here’s what this tells me: I need to do MORE of telling myself how I matter, how I’m valuable, and how lovely I am in various ways. And I need to do WAY, WAY, WAY less of hoping to get appreciation and validation from others. Even my immediate family.
How my heart feels today: Kind of sucky.
I already knew how I felt and thought about this, but one of my longtime favorite YouTubers, Jaime Primak Sullivan, had a recent video that was illuminating. When I listened to it today, it reminded me that I always have permission to feel my feelings and to act in my my own best interests. Check this part of her recent video on the topic: “It’s okay to make a big deal out of things that are a big deal to you.”
For me today, I “made a big deal” by mentioning my sadness to my husband and by doing something to take care of and celebrate myself — buying those perfumes. I am worth it. Even if others close to me don’t really notice that.