My First and Worst Mothers Day of all
Truth is stranger than fiction
I heard a radio announcer ask the question: What was the best gift you ever got for Mothers Day?” Frankly, I can’t remember, but I can certainly remember the worst Mothers Day I ever had. It was my very first one as a new mother.
My then-husband had really wanted our baby. He had begged for us to have a baby as soon as we were married. I was the one who wanted to wait until we were settled and more financially secure, and I had graduated from college. But as fate would have it, our little Junior was born about 10½ months after our wedding. The following year was my first Mothers Day. His father named him after himself, and we called him by that same name. Here he is appropriately called "Junior" because he really is a Junior.
I don’t know what I expected: a small gift, maybe going out to eat, at least a card, but most of all, respect and recognition as the mother of our son. We lived 800 miles from our families, and we would not get to spend the day with our own mothers, but I did expect a small celebration of our own. After all, he had wanted this son so badly. Here’s what I got instead.
Joy quickly faded
I was rudely awakened by my husband, George, shaking me and telling me to get up. I told him that I wanted to sleep in, but he kept on shaking me and telling me to get up. Finally, I asked why. He said to get up and fix his breakfast. That was odd because he never ate breakfast. It was always just a cup of coffee on the run.
“Well, it’s Mothers Day,” he said. “That means it’s mother’s day to do more work!”
“What are you talking about?” I asked, still thinking that he had a surprise for me. He had a surprise for me all right. Then the baby awoke and needed changing and his bottle. George had no problem with my giving attention to Junior, but as soon as I placed the baby back into his crib, he started again.
Mothers Day is mothers day to do more work
He kept shaking me and telling me to get up. He poked and prodded me all day long and would not let me rest.
Why are you doing this?
“Why are you doing this?” I asked, still thinking it was some kind of a joke.
“It’s Mother’s Day to do more work, now get my breakfast.” He shoved me into the kitchen. I could not believe what was going on. Was he really serious? Nobody in his right mind would be serious about this, but I cooked breakfast and we ate. He got up from his chair and began to shake my shoulders again. “Now do the dishes, it’s mother’s day to do more work!”
By now no gift or pleasant surprise appeared, and I was beginning to realize that he really was serious. What kind of mean-spirited joke was this? I tried to reason with him, but there was no reasoning. Here was a man that I did not know. The only answer I got in return was the same sarcastic repetition, “its mother’s day to do more work,” and more poking and shoving.
THIS WAS THE BEGINNING OF A TORTUOUS DAY!
We had no dishwasher, so I washed the dishes and left them drying in the rack. Then I went into the living room and sat down. He came in and started shaking and poking me again, telling me to get up and work. I answered that there wasn’t any work for me to do. His answer was to “find some. “Get up, it’s mother’s day to do more work.” He told me to go start dinner if I didn’t have anything else to do. He would not allow me to sit.
I cooked our dinner. For Southerners, dinner is the main meal of the day and in many homes, especially on Sunday, is the noon meal. I did my usual chores and cared for baby Junior. George did not bother me anytime I was taking care of Junior, like feeding, diapering, bottling, or feeding him his baby food. However, any time I put Junior down for a nap, the hassling by shaking, shoving and telling me it was mother’s day to do more work started again.
This emotional torture did not let up all day. By late afternoon, I was in tears, but he was laughing. This was sooo funny! This went on into the evening hours until bedtime. I went to bed and cried while he laughed and thought himself so clever. The ugly phrase "it's mothers day to do more work" still rings in my ears.
Why did I put up with this...
Why did I put up with this abuse all day long? Most older readers will understand; the younger reader needs to know that this was an entirely different era, the 1960s. Women then were taught that we were obligated to put up with our husbands’ bullshit. However, what I endured on Mothers Day went beyond the usual male BS; it was sadistic. I had never been emotionally bombarded before, and I had no idea how to handle it.
As I stated earlier, we lived far away from our families. Had we been in the same town, I would have gone to my mother with the tale. She would have called my mother-in-law immediately and told her what was going on. That sweet little mild-mannered lady harbored quite a temper. She would have been at our door right after breakfast and, in no uncertain terms, put the fear of God and motherhood into her son. Under our circumstances, I did not have that option.
That was before I learned to drive, so I could not leave the house unless I walked. I came from a family whose father was unreasonably opposed to his children learning to drive a car. When I was 15, my mother gave me one driving lesson and made the mistake of telling my father. After that, the lessons stopped, and anytime I asked for more, her answers were always evasive. Daddy did teach my brother to drive a car, but it was only after driver services refused to renew his motorcycle license at age 16. My brother depended on his motorcycle for his paper route, and Daddy grudgingly made an exception for him. Except for shoe-leather express, I was stuck.
Even if I had left, I had nowhere to go. I was too stressed out to think of an alternative, the truth be told.
The next morning, George was back to his old self, except for feeling pretty smug for the “cute” joke he had played on me. I was not. I had a big deep hole of hurt in my heart and a new attitude of distrust toward him. I hoped that day while we both had cooler heads, I could talk to him about how he had made me feel. I explained how hurt I was, but he just laughed and said, “well, it was mother’s day to do more work.” He could not put himself into my place. He had no empathy. I have since learned that the term for that type of personality disorder is "malignant narcissist."
I was still hurt, and I was not going to let him get away with it. Father’s Day was coming up in the next month and he was looking forward to it. Believe it or not, he actually thought he was going to get special treatment on Fathers Day. He was a Father! He had begat a son! He deserved special treatment! He got my best all right.
Don't get mad, get even!
I awoke early on Fathers Day and shook him awake. “Get up, I said, it’s Fathers Day.”
“Yes, I know,” he answered smiling, still expecting the royal treatment. I began to give him the same treatment that he had given to me.
“It’s father’s day to do more work,” I said, shaking and poking him. I told him to cook our breakfast. He acted surprised, but I kept shaking and poking him until he got up.
“I don’t know how. I can’t cook,” he said, which was true.
“Then go take care of Junior. Change his diaper and feed him his bottle.” I went into the living room and sat down. I didn’t budge even when he came in and asked when I was going to pick up Junior from his crib and take care of him. “You do it, it’s father’s day to do more work,” I spewed.
It must have dawned on his little pea brain that I was getting him back for what he had done to me on Mothers Day because I stood my ground. He was still adamant that he didn’t know how to cook, and that I would have to cook breakfast. I went to the kitchen, and seeing that I was not going to take care of the baby, he went to take care of Junior.
He came in later, bringing Junior, to find me eating my eggs and toast. Where’s mine?” he asked looking at the empty range.
“Fix your own damned breakfast if you want some, it’s father’s day to do more work,” I retorted and continued eating. I did not budge toward the stove. He was bewildered. I do not remember whether he fixed a bowl of cold cereal or contented himself with coffee. Frankly my dear, I didn't give a damn. He was beginning to get the picture, but I don't think he thought I would keep it up all day long like he had done to me.
Any time he sat down all day long, I poked him or shook him and told him to get up, it was father’s day to do more work. Whether or not he got up, I gave him the same hell he gave me. There were few, if any, peaceful moments in that day for him. By the time the day was over, he looked as disappointed and hurt as I had felt on Mothers Day. He did not like receiving the same contemptuous treatment that he had dished out to me on my day.
When he mentioned how I was making him feel, I merely told him that he’d started the tradition, so he had nothing to complain about. He got no sympathy from me.
Now some of you do-gooders reading this will say to me that I lowered myself to his level. I say “good, that is what I intended to do.” A malignant narcissist doesn’t have the capacity to empathize with others. They do not understand the Golden Rule. They cannot or will not put themselves into another person’s place and feel what that person feels. The person cannot be told, this type of malignant narcissist has to be shown. Then if you are lucky, he or she will know how it feels when the shoe is on the other foot. In this particular instance, it worked.
I don’t remember much about the next Mothers Day except that he treated me with the respect and dignity that the mother of his child deserved. It was a very nice day for me. After that, all the Mothers Days and Fathers Days of our 10-year marriage were normal.
As I said at the beginning, this is my story, and it is the truth. I don't think I could have made this one up.
I really want to thank everyone who has responded so favorably to this hub. Not one of you, yet anyway, has chastised me for turning the tables on him. I had actually expected for some (do-gooders, as I call them) to tell me that I was behaving badly myself, and that forgiveness was the order of the day. Thank you all so much for your support.