It’s been a tough few weeks of firsts and facing things alone.
One of the hardest aspects is fronting people but it has to be done. It’s sad - terribly, unbelievably, gut wrenchingly sad - but as the old saying goes, “Life moves on,” and I have to do it some time. The boys need me to keep going. There’s no chance to curl up under a stone to hide away, however tempting the prospect so I have to overcome these events and push through the pain.
When things first kicked off I managed to keep a distance from the bus stop parents by dropping off and picking up whilst remaining in the car, waving and forcing a smile. However, the school summer show was less forgiving. Only a couple of days after I'd found out, I had to brave the other mums and dads, and watch them walk around hand in hand with their eyes twinkling and smiling faces, I couldn’t help comparing their happiness to my life a few months ago, wondering what might be going on behind closed doors, and whether any of them were betraying their partners.
Walking into the school hall to see the judging of the Home Entries was tough. Neither Quiet Mousie nor I had entered anything this year. Despite our good intentions, we didn’t feel like it once events took over. Child sized tables displayed the categories; best home produce, best half dozen eggs, best teatime fancies, best flower arrangements etc…
I glimpsed the entries for the men’s cookery section but couldn’t bear to look at the scones on display remembering the hysterics of some of hubby's attempts over the last six years and the caustic criticisms from the judges; “Lacked presentation,” “Too much butter,” “Should have been placed on a doily instead of straight onto the tray…” His cookies were sublime and I'll never forget how we all cheered when we went into the hall and spotted the gold 1st rosette next to his entry. He feasted on his success for weeks but there will be no more domestic chaos on the weekend of the summer show in future with our family stressing and rushing to pick all the flowers, do the displays, bake the cakes, make the jams and finish all our entries to get them to the hall for the cut off for judging in time. And Quiet Mousie only has one more year of the summer show before he goes to secondary school.
Despite the emotion and spending all day with my sunglasses on to mask my eyes, I did well considering, and lasted an hour and a half then slipped away and left Quiet Mousie to go home with our lovely neighbours.
Two days later, sports day was slightly easier. I only cried three times and lasted the duration, although I chose not to partake in the refreshments afterwards.
A couple of weekends ago was the first time of facing the other mum’s and dads from QM’s footie club. I couldn’t let him down as he’d been looking forward to a night camping with all the kids and parents.
If I'm very honest, it was horrendous and I spent most of the weekend trying to keep my face from crumpling, especially when someone’s sincere words and good wishes touched me, or as I watched QM stop playing with his pals to check his mobile phone and see if he’d had a message from his Dad. A year ago I would have abhorred the thought of my ten year old having a mobile phone but hey, he’s over the moon with it and is in more contact with his dad now than he was before with him being in London through the week. QM is doing remarkably well, considering.
To him the weekend was a huge success and that's all that mattered. The people were wonderful and protected me throughout, and as they detected my fargile mood, they left me to my thoughts and solitude and let me continue to gaze into the flickering, leaping flames of the camp fire. And they understood when I chose to sleep in my car alone rather than in the dorms with two of the other mums.
Last weekend was the hardest hurdle so far. The annual village party, the one time of year when everyone in the village gets together, we all hire a marque and bouncy castle, each bring food and drink and have a merry time. News had travelled through the village grapevine apace and I’d had many sincere offers of support and help, but so far I’d managed to avoid people (other than my nearest and dearest neighbours) by simply driving through the village, giving a wave and a weak smile as I passed them in their gardens, walking their dogs, or in their cars.
As I pulled up at this year’s host’s garden and saw the melee of people and children, the kids on the bouncy castle, I felt physically sick and wanted to turn on my heels and run but my neighbour, who had followed me down in her car so we might arrive together geed me up.
‘Come on, or I’ll grab your hand and drag you in!’ she said, guiding my arm with her hand. Then Quiet Mousie spotted me, beamed and waved frantically, happy to see me and there was no choice but for me to go through the gate to join them all...
I’d planned to stay an hour then go and collect Idle Jack from work, drop him there and make my excuses to go home (knowing my neighbours would bring the boys back up the lane.) But once I was there and felt how my wonderful community wrapped me and the boys in their warm blanket of friendship and care, I actually ended up being one of the last to leave.
Along with me at the end of the evening were three good male friends who sat at a table, merrily tittering, drunk, cracking their juvenile jokes as their wives stood opposite, smirking at the state of them, knowing they would suffer in the morning and rolling their adoring eyes in feigned annoyance. If recent events hadn’t happened, my hubby would have been there, ‘one of the lads,’ his humour more juvenile than them all, and I would have been crying with mirth at the scene.
As I sat there smiling at their antics, I remembered the words that he said to me when I first discovered the affair;
“I don’t know when, but at some point in the last year I realised I wanted more than this…”
I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve replayed those words in my head over the last couple of weeks. And I wondered, how could he possibly want more than this?...
Until another day
Next Letter for Kids: Susan Hughes
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