I have to say, I really did lose the plot, after everything that's happened recently, I was so tired and fed up and the fact that O2 had spoiled the one good thing, the one thing I was looking forward to just hit me like a bucket full of sledgehammers. No one could call me or text me on my birthday and I would spend my whole day knowing that any work calls would be met with 'this number is not recognised'. DS1 was brilliant and looked after DS2 while I raged. It turned out that when I asked O2 for DS1s 'emergencies only' phone to be transferred to a Pay&Go from a Pay Monthly (being very careful to send and receive e-mail confirmation of the correct number to transfer) - those wise old owls at O2 decided that what I actually wanted was my mobile phone number - the one I use all the time, the one that's on every business card, website, friends mobile - that was the one I wanted to transfer to a Pay&Go, and that I would be delighted to have that cut off for several hours ON MY BIRTHDAY!!!! while the transfer took place.
So instead of happily opening my presents with my lovely sons, I spent my birthday morning on the phone to O2 with one hand, to disavow of their misconception, while using the other hand to get myself and the kids dressed and fed and ready for school. It took three quarters of an hour on the phone to get them to agree to do something about it, but they still said it would be up to 8 hours during which people would get 'this number is not recognised' - and then we were late for school. As it turned out it was only 2 hours - they definitely were working the 'under promise, over deliver' mantra, but its an old trick that really doesn't impress when they've f***** up that badly. If any other network had decent coverage here, I'd be changing to it.
Despite O2's best efforts, however, the rest of the day was really quite lovely, here's what we did:
- DS2 was brilliant at his dancing lesson - really taking part the whole way through - and very little running off and hanging out in his favourite doorway!
- Lunch with friends - good food and good chat
- Bought myself a lovely pair of red suede leather gloves on the way home
- Had a lovely birthday tea with the boys - they sang me happy birthday to my one lit candle and clapped when I blew it out
- Me and DS2 showed DS1 our dance class moves and we all joined in to the tunes from Classic FM
And I had what I thought was a lovely, relaxing day to look forward to today, so that would make up for such a rubbish start to my actual birthday, wouldn't it?
Today started as badly, with coming downstairs to find the tumble dryer I had left to finish the drying overnight had conpletely packed up. Great. And the engineer couldn't come out for 10 days - even better. 10 days, in the winter, two kids, washable nappies, no tumble dryer - really good.
Not to worry I thought, at least I've got Mum coming over so I can go shopping and then come home for birthday lunch with the kids. I was so tired this morning, though, I thought I'll use Mum being here just to stay at home and relax after all the hassles, maybe have a bath, maybe play the guitar while there was someone to look after the boys. But no, that was not to be, my Mum in her wisdom, had other ideas. Even though she knew I hadn't had a chance to stop and breathe the last few days, so my house was a tip, nothing put away, important bits of paper precariously balanced on edges of things - you get the picture - Mum thought that what would be a 'surprise treat' for me for my birthday would be to have my nephew and nieces turn up (8, 6 and 5)- not with their parents, no, just 'for me'. Don't get me wrong, I love 'the cousins', as we call them, but when you've been looking forward to having another pair of hands to help out with your kids, it's hardly a 'treat' to have that person just bring a whole load of other kids with them that they need to look after too (my sister and brother-in-law obviously wanted a kid free day). You can imagine how much I enjoyed the mad panic to run round the house and try to kid proof it so nothing important got broken or lost - so much more fun than being able to relax in a bath or anything dull like that.
But it doesn't end there.
I hadn't even had a chance to get dressed before they turned up, and that was just as DS2 needed a nap, so I went up to my room to compose myself and give DS2 a feed to get him off to sleep. Two minutes later, Mum came up (knowing I was up there with DS2) and starts yelling 'Are you in the bath, N1 needs the loo', and when she doesn't get a response just does it louder, about 5 times, before she finally decides to knock on my door and then go 'oh, is he asleep?' - 'well no thanks to you you stupid b****', I didn't say. (Later when I talked to her on the phone about the fact that I was left upstairs by myself she used this episode to say, 'Well I did come up to check on you' - but left out the fact that she nearly woke DS2 up, and was only there because N2 needed a p***.)
After settling DS2 and grabbing a quick shower I came down to find my living room taken over by kids, no one even said 'Happy Birthday', or actually hello now I come to think of it. So I just got on with dealing with the washing - even though all I wanted to do was sit down and watch crap TV and blank it all out.
Mum decided to give the kids 'my' birthday lunch - 'my' in inverted commas, because there wasn't even a seat for me. I could feel the tears coming in response to that so I left the room and sat upstairs on the kids bathroom step crying my eyes out, trying to get myself together. I am 39, and this is my house and I just felt like a kid again, complete trapped with no escape - not wanting to go downstairs and cause a scene, not fair on the kids, and not being able to get out of the house because DS2 was asleep and I wasn't going to leave him. And no one noticed, no one came to check on me and see if I was okay, and when I popped down because I really was hungry, they had finished the food, and Mum said to me 'we left some stuff over there for DS2 when he wakes up' - but they'd left nothing for me, of 'my' birthday lunch. And then Mum said, 'well, do you want your birthday cake?' - its difficult to imagine how she could've made it sound more accusatory - and strangely enough I didn't feel like grinning for their entertainment just so they could finish off their birthday picnic in the traditional way - don't why they didn't just pick a kid and sing it to one of them. I politely declined and got the mother of all looks from my parents. DS2 chose that point to wake up and as he came down the stairs my Mum said pointedly, 'oh look at that beautiful smile' and Dad said 'well, that's something at least' and for one foolish moment I let myself speak something that I felt and I said 'well I'm sorry I don't have a beautiful smile for you' to which I got 'Don't' from my Dad and my Mum mumbling something about being stuck in the middle and running upstairs'. So not only did they make me feel like shit on my birthday, they made me feel bad about being upset by being made to feel shit by them.
They left shortly afterwards, obviously adding 'bad mother' to their list of complaints against me as DS2 cried when they went, because he'd only just seen them having just woken up.
When they'd gone, I found my lovely red suede gloves had been knocked into the bin.
Tonight, for once, when mum texted to say 'I'm sorry you've been having a tough time' - which translates as 'it wasn't me, I didn't do anything, it must have been the tumble dryer' - I thought, I'm a year older, I haven't tried this for a while, why not bite the bullet? Why not phone her up and explain calmly how I felt about what happened? I knew before I tried what was going to happen but for some reason I decided to give it a go. She may have disappointed in her total lack of compassion and understanding, but she didn't disappoint in proving me right. This is her standard repertoire if I'm saying anything she finds difficult:
- Try to stop me talking,
- Talk over me
- Lie about what she did or didn't do
- Say 'there's nothing I can say'
- Put the phone down on me
However, it has made me make a solemn oath to myself, dear reader, that as long as there is breath in my body, I swear I will do everything I can to make sure my children are never made to feel the way I was today by their mother, on their birthday, no matter how old they are.
I can forgive the inviting of 'the cousins', everyone can be a bit thoughtless sometimes - we say sorry and we move on. What I can't forgive is having my entire birthday lunch without me, without a seat for me, without food for me, without even appearing to notice or care that I wasn't there - and to do all of that not only without apology, but blaming me for it when I dared to express any feelings about it. And they still genuinely wonder why I stayed so long in relationships with men who treated me badly.
I know they won't change, but sometimes I think it would be lovely to have parents who accepted me for who I am, who didn't seem to have the attitude 'Well, ATOmum is just weird, so its best to leave her to it when she's in 'one of her moods', or if she insists on talking about it then just talk over her or shout her down with 'well what do you want me to do about it?' until she gives up and shuts up'.
It takes a hell of a lot to get me emotional, for reasons that may now seem pretty obvious, but nonetheless, any emotion is unacceptable and seen as a personal attack by my parents. Today was the first day in 39 years I've thought just for a minute, that I wish I wasn't adopted, that I wish BGP had kept me, and maybe then at least someone would've understood me. But blood isn't all that is it? Maybe it would've made no difference and I still would've felt like a weird outsider my whole life.
I know I have to remember that I am normal, that emotions are not bad things, that it is healthy to express how one feels and find appropriate ways to let it out. But tonight, as I sit here that feels hard. I just feel rejected and sad.
My boys were amazing after everyone had gone. DS2 played with his vehicles while DS1 listened and sympathised and cuddled up on the sofa with me watching 'Singing in the Rain'. He said to me at tea:
'I think you're really brave, mum, to tell Gran how you felt, after she'd been like that to you'
'And I think that you're really brave to talk every weekend to someone who hassled you for 3 years',
he meant his Dad. He is an amazing kid, for all the fights we have, and I am very lucky to have him, and tonight I really felt that. The presents he chose me, BTW, were:
- A tea tray with beautiful pictures of birds on
- A Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer chocolate lollipop
- A bar of chocolate 'infused' with Famouse Grouse whisky