She stared at her reflection in the mirror and a stranger looked back. It has been a while since she took a hard look at herself: her hair was hard and brittle, her skin looked dull and lifeless, and her eyes just looked old. She looked back at the major events in her life and felt content.
She married early in her twenties and had her first child a year later. She chose to stay at home and be a full time mom while her husband was working to support the family. The first few years of her marriage were fine until she got pregnant again. It was as if her husband didn’t want another child, as if her girl would cost so much and there was no way to support her. She proposed to work part time from home and got a job as a data entry officer; this way she was able to be home with her kids and still earn some cash.
Then she got pregnant again and it wasn’t as easy as her previous pregnancies. She would doze off when her second child naps and would wake up barely in time to prepare dinner. The house was a mess, the laundry was piled up, the dishes were stacked, and the kids were dirty. Her work was never done on time and she still had to manage play-dates, birthday gifts, homework, and doctor appointments. It was getting out of hand but she still stayed strong. Still managed to take on more responsibilities.
Years passed and things settled a bit. Her kids were at school and they were very much independent. She still had to raise and discipline them, it’s just easier without late night feedings and diaper changings (at least).
During all those years, she ignored herself. Ignored her dreams and ignored her aspirations, ignored her desires and needs. Her friends drifted apart from her as she became more consumed with her family. She knew that her family is her life. She chose her family over her life. She sacrificed herself to make their lives easier: to make her husband and kids happy.
And today, she gets to celebrate her family. Her little boy got accepted in the college of his choice and is leaving the next day so they were all gathered for a farewell dinner. Her husband made the reservations and told her to “dress up” because it’s a very high class restaurant. She opened her cupboard and got her floral evening dress out. She put on her makeup, smudging the eyeliner over the creases of her lid and put her lipstick on quickly. She brushed her hair over the little bald spot she just realized and clipped it in place. She looked for her expensive perfume and sprayed it on her neck and wrists. She grabbed her shawl, glasses, and bag and went down to meet her husband who was already waiting in the car.
“I tried to be quick” She said.
“I’m sorry, you only gave me 15 minutes, I barely got out of the shower when I heard your car come up the driveway.”
She didn’t say anything else. She wanted to concentrate on the positive so started thinking of the previous years. She remembered the sleepless nights and difficult days, the books they would read at night and the homework she ends up writing just because one of the children was tired. Now they have their own life. Her eldest works as an accountant, her girl is still studying to be a doctor, and now her baby is going away to pursue his dreams.
She looked over at her husband who looked dead serious. She didn’t want to speak to ensure that the night’s not ruined and she started fiddling with her shawl.
They walked in. Her husband didn’t bother to wait for her and reached the table where their children were sitting and flipping through the menus.
“Finally, mom! We thought you’d never make it! Why are you wearing heels? You don’t even know how to walk in them!”
“Dad, couldn’t you at least make her wear something better? I’ve seen this dress a million times, it’s the one she wears for everything!”
“Excuse me, I have to visit the ladies’ room.” She walked into the stall and started crying. This wasn’t how she expected the night to start. She didn’t think her children would be so mean. Didn’t they know of everything she has done for them? Don’t they know she’s their mother.
She stopped crying when she heard the bathroom door open. A lady in heels walked in. “Yes, Janice, I’m here already. He’s telling her tonight. They’ll just have dinner then he’ll tell her. We planned it so well! I can’t wait to see the look on her face when she finds out we’ve been together for 10 years. I’m not a home wrecker, she doesn’t deserve him. We already established our new office in Delaware, he says he doesn’t want to be around anything that reminds him of her. Yes I’ll get her ring, that old hag! He says giving her his mother’s ring was the worst decision he made after marrying her. No, I won’t let her keep it. Did you see the diamonds on it? She doesn’t even know how to wear it. Hahaha yes she’s wearing that hideous floral dress…”