Tuesday 25 October 2016

Before we say anything foolish tomorrow, let's take a day out to reflect

Published 31/03/2014 | 02:30

Today is sandwiched in between Mother's Day and Fool's Day. In a Bally somewhere in Ireland, there lives a man who was very foolish on Mother's Day.

  • Go To

In Bali, in Indonesia, today marks the beginning of Tte Caka New Year, a day of complete silence, the purpose of which is to give people time to reflect. Televisions are turned off and the streets are empty. There's a lot to be said for it.

His missus was expecting a bunch of flowers for Mother's Day. Even a cluster of the humble daffodils bound together with an elastic band from a bucket in the supermarket would have done her. There's a lot to be said in praise of daffodils. We don't really appreciate daffodils. It's just that there are so many of them there and they are so easy to grow.

All you have to do is stick a bulb in the ground around November and the resurrected blooms announce the end of winter just a few months later. She would have loved roses but daffodils were fine. It was all about symbolism and just being appreciated for looking after the kids and the house.

We'll call him Fred. Her husband that is. Foolish, forgetful Fred forgot Mother's Day. He told me some of his story.

Fred was called down to the room. That much we do know, from Fred himself. I only got a very brief sound bite of what was a longish talk. Much of what we will relate is guesswork.

Men always know there's a giving out on the way when there's a summons to the room. The kids were given an Easter Egg, bought by her, early and cheaply, to help the household budget. Says he, somewhat sarcastically: "What are you doing giving them that for? Is Easter Sunday after falling on Mother's Day?"

That made it worse.

She didn't answer. There was stuff to be said and the egg would buy them some alone time. They walked silently down the hall to the room.

In they went and the room door was closed. She started giving out to him over his not appreciating all the ironing and washing and doing most of the rearing of the kids and mostly everything, and him not even putting out the bins or throwing his socks into the big basket. And him saying he forgot. And her saying you didn't forget to go for a few pints with the lads after work on Friday night. And him saying well I worked hard all week. And her saying well I have two jobs, one here in the house and the other outside. And she says you didn't even cut the lawn. And he says I had hay fever. And then she says you didn't have hay fever down the pub on Friday night. And he says you said it was okay and I hadn't been out for a month.

Her voice is loud now, being hurt and worn out from life as a mother of young kids and doing most of the housework, as is still the case in most houses in spite of all the shite about new men being deadly handy at not mixing colours with whites. She goes on and on with a long list of grievances.

Then he gets up with: "I'm not sitting here listening to this."

She escalates as he rises up off the old sofa in the giving-out room where once upon a time they used to make out. "Go on," she says, "and bring your spare tyre there with you," as she jabs him in the belly with her index finger.

"That's personal," says Fred. Hurt because he's so tired from slaving away all day at work for a brute of a boss, and then when he comes home he wants to spend an hour or two playing with the kids or helping with the homework.

At weekends there's driving to sports and dancing. That's the context of the line he comes out with. The line that will be forgiven, eventually, but never forgotten and in the unlikeliest of times and places, he will be reminded of this moment for many years to come if not forever, and a day.

Fred, angry now, says: "I don't see why you're so het up about all this Mother's Day rip-off by the card companies."

The remark that landed Fred in real trouble was much worse than an attack on what he perceived to be the hi-jacking of Mother's Day by commercial interests.

Fred says: "Anyway, you're not my mother."

She was really upset by that insensitive remark, and would you blame her? She was a mother, she says in tears now, the mother of his children. Fred didn't really mean it and said he was sorry, but by now the hole he dug for himself was so deep, there was quite a nice view of the Sydney Opera house at the bottom of the shaft.

That's the thing about relationships, in that we say stuff we don't really mean but we are judged by our words and the hurt is remembered long after the context is forgotten.

Maybe we should make today 'Silence Day' and reflect on how we can be nicer to each other.

Irish Independent

Read More