‘Not particularly,’ I answer.
‘Did the boys do something special for you?’
‘Don’t be silly.’
She looks taken aback. ‘What, no treats?
‘Not even a card?’ Shock now.
‘No.’ This dialogue is starting to get to me. ‘We don’t do Mother’s Day in my house.’
We’re sitting in my car watching the rain bleed against the windscreen and as we have this discussion I cast my mind back to last Sunday, trying to recall how the day panned out. We had driven home from Gloucestershire where my eldest had been competing late the night before so no one was in a hurry to get up (understandably) and when bodies did eventually surface it was to go to work (husband), disappear into Xbox land (eldest) or lounge in bed listening to Harry Potter for the trillionth time (youngest). At no point did anyone mention the M word until I finally caved in and thanked everyone for the lovely day I was having (just saying, that’s all). To be fair my youngest then decided he would cook me supper and spent the next half an hour leafing through recipe books. However, having decided on a what looked appealingly tasty, I had to tell him that as we were missing most of the ingredients and that given that all the shops were now closed, he would have to save the gesture for another time.
Frankly, when you live with three males you get used to the lack of attention, almost to the point of not caring. I would be the first to agree that Mothers Day is much like Valentine’s Day, just another way of getting us to spend money on sentimental tat. On the other hand there is something about acknowledging what your mother does year round by making some small effort even if it is, as was the case when my boys were small, bringing me in bed a few Frosties swimming in a pint of soya milk and a cup of watery tea.
It appears I am not alone in feeling unappreciated. My friend tells me that another mum we both know was so offended by the lack of effort made by her family that she has been serving up baked beans on toast for supper ever since.
‘Come on,’ my friend now says cheerfully, ‘I’m going to give you a Mother’s Day treat by taking you for a manicure. Nothing like a bit of pampering to gladden the soul.’
I am touched by her thoughtfulness and immediately feel better. Suddenly the world is a happy place – girlfriends can do that – and, warming to the plan, suggest buying coffee to take with us. As I get out of the car, however, my attention half on my friend, I forget to move my hand out of the way as I slam the door shut and catch my right index finger. The pain is astonishing and for several minutes I cannot stand, but remain bent double in the road waiting for the waves of nausea to pass. Breaking my toe, giving birth – twice – simply don’t compare.
We take refuge from the rain and the bitter cold in Cafe Nero. I spend the next twenty minutes waiting for the pain killers to kick in and feebly attempting to bend and stretch my offended digit to, as my friend advices, keep the blood flowing. Already the nail is black and there are signs of swelling though at this point I care not a jot what my finger looks like, only that I can manage the pain. It does, eventually, ebb but the lure of a manicure has lost its appeal. And so I bid my friend farewell, and head home, trying not to look at my black swollen finger, and think about cooking baked beans on toast for supper.