My parents decided to come visit for my birthday. I’m not sure if I mentioned it here, but I’ve been avoiding my mother for the past few months. Mostly because the only thing she ever wants to talk about is Brady and the only thing I ever want to talk about is Brendan. She called me one day and suggested the trip and I told her that I’d need to check my schedule and get back to her. I didn’t have any plans yet, obviously, but I wanted to hang out with Brendan.
She kept reminding me to check my schedule and let her know because “Dad needs to ask off work,” and I kept ignoring her. Eventually, a few weeks before the trip she texted me saying, “I went ahead and bought flights for dad and me to come to New York for your birthday. We get it on Sunday and are staying until Wednesday. We’ll get a hotel.”
Ugh. Obviously I was happy that Winnie and I would get to spend time with my parents, but I was so not looking forward to hanging out with my mom. I knew she would have questions that I didn’t want to answer.
The week after the wedding, Brendan tested positive for Covid. After all that, the wedding turned out to be a superspreader event? Thank God I’d been disinvited! Luckily, his symptoms were mild and I hadn’t seen him since well before the wedding so I was fine.
I trotted into the office on Wednesday for a day full of meetings and as I was setting up one of the conference rooms, Mike poked his head in and gave me a funny look.
“Reese…do you need to take a test?” he asked me.
When he first said it I just assumed he meant a pregnancy test and I was thinking, “Wow, I really shouldn’t have eaten so many Pop-Tart bites this morning.” But then I realized he meant a Covid test. Because of Brendan.
“I took one yesterday. I’m good,” I said.
That was the first time Mike acknowledged my relationship with Brendan (to me) and he did it in such a Mike kind of way.
“Okay,” he said.
He was standing in the doorway and Paige slid past him into the room. They both looked at each other blankly as she passed him, but didn’t say anything which felt really weird to me.
“Hey! Need any help?” Paige asked me and over her shoulder I saw Mike walk away.
Wait…Mike and Paige? They’re both married, but somehow it made sense to me. She’s definitely out of his league, but there’s something kind of sexy about his pompous demeanor and Big Dick Energy. I’d hate-fuck him for sure.
“Yes please!” I said. “Ugh, Mike just came in and confronted me about taking a Covid test since Brendan has Covid. I haven’t even seen Brendan in like a week!”
“Any excuse to yell at someone in the morning,” she said. “I’m not even surprised.”
I knew she would take the bait and use this opportunity to talk shit about Mike, rather than anything else. She’s been bad mouthing Mike every chance she gets lately. So that’s something that needs investigating.
By the weekend, Brendan was feeling better but knowing that I would be spending time with my parents and baby soon, I still wasn’t comfortable seeing him. Plus, I needed some time alone to mentally prepare myself. My mom was going to question me about Brady and my weight and my hair and my finances and any other intrusive topic she could think of. So I wanted to be ready for that.
I met them at their hotel and the first place my mother wanted to go to was the Vessel at Hudson Yards which she’s been seeing all over the internet. After spending $4K at the luxury stores in the mall there, we sat down for lunch. My dad commented that he likes what I’ve done with my hair.
“Is that the new look these days?” my mom asked with a big smile.
I haven’t been to the salon in forever so my hair has grown out and half of it is my mousy light brown natural color. I’ve been too lazy to get it done, but I also don’t hate the way it looks.
“I guess so,” I said.
“And the no-makeup look?” she continued on. She was decked out complete with falsies and lipstick while I’ve been sticking to just mascara and brows most days.
“Yeah. I’ve been focusing on skincare mostly,” I told her.
“Are you using new products or finally getting lasers?” my mom went on.
“Do you think I need lasers?” I snapped at her.
My dad turned to her, amused, to see how she would talk her way out of this one.
“No, not at all. I think your skin looks wonderful,” my mom said. “But do you know what will help you look less tired? Carrots. You need to eat more carrots.”
She blathered about how she can tell that I haven’t been eating any vegetables or anything nutritious and did I want her to look for appointments at the salon so we could do something about my hair? Rude. Then when I wasn’t really biting she said, “So we will do your birthday dinner at 6 on Tuesday. I booked it for 5 in case you want to bring anyone special.”
“Like my boyfriend?” I said with a straight face.
I scoffed. Who? “Brady? No.”
“Oh, I hadn’t thought of inviting Brady,” my dad chimed in.
“I’m sure he would want to celebrate with us,” my mom said sweetly.
“I don’t want him there so don’t bother inviting him,” I said.
My mom was already pulling out her phone and said, “I was going to call him back later anyway. We thought we’d spend the day with Winnie tomorrow while you’re at work, wouldn’t that be fun?”
The way my mom changed the subject so fast, I thought she wasn’t going to bring up my “boyfriend” comment. And I wasn’t going to elaborate further if she didn’t ask — my mom has somehow convinced herself that Brendan left his wife for me, even though I’ve told her multiple times that that isn’t the case. After lunch, they wanted to take a stroll down the High Line which took hours because they stopped every five seconds for pictures.
Eventually we dropped my dad and the shopping bags back off and then my mom and I wanted to get drinks before dinner. On the walk there, my mom asked, “So are you dating Brendan now?”
I paused before replying, “Yeah.”
“Well, I’m quite disappointed to hear that,” she said.
“Uh, why? He’s like the nicest person ever and if you got to know him, you’d actually really like him,” I said back.
My mother shook her head. “You shouldn’t be with someone like that.”
“Divorced, separated, whatever. You don’t want to be someone’s second wife. Because you certainly won’t be his last,” she said, like she knows anything at all.
“What are you talking about?” I exclaimed. I was on the verge of freaking out and my mother stayed calm. “Second wife? We aren’t even there yet.”
“Has he met Winnie?”
What did that have to do with anything? “Yes.”
My mom stopped walking. “I think that’s highly inappropriate.”
I just stared at her.
“Especially if what you’re saying is true and you aren’t talking about being together long term. He’s just some random man to her. There’s no reason they should be getting to know each other and spending time together,” she said.
“What?” I was just so confused. I knew she was going to have a big reaction to Brendan (hence not speaking to her for months on end), but I didn’t expect her to go down this path. Inappropriate? Like I’m fourteen fucking years old?
“And I don’t even understand what happened with Brady. No one ever explained that to me,” she said in a voice like it was all so ridiculous.
“I don’t understand either!” I blew up at her. “All I know is I was depressed all of last year and now I’m happy and finally feel like myself again!”
“Oh, love, I didn’t know you felt depressed,” my mom said, softening.
“Yeah because you were so worried about Brady!”
“I’m sorry about that. I just know how much you both love each other so I wanted to help.”
I squeezed my eyes shut so I wouldn’t cry.
She said, “I’m happy if you’re happy. Do you want me to meet Brendan?”
Was she fucking joking? After all that? She was never going to meet him. “No!”
So needless to say, I was sick of my mom after the first day of the trip. She kept me out until midnight that Sunday because she wanted to skip around the bars in Midtown. After yelling at her earlier, I felt too guilty to tell her I was ready to get away from her.
On Monday morning they called and let me know that they’d coordinated with Brady to pick up Winnie so they could spend the day with her. That was fine with me. I wasn’t able to take off work to hang out with them (nor did I want to, let’s be honest) plus I was having lunch with Brendan.
Brendan texted me just before lunch and let me know that his meeting with the contractors at his new apartment was running long and why don’t I meet him there so I could see the progress? It had been several months since I’d seen the place in person so I gladly hopped in a cab to meet him.
I arrived and Brendan greeted me wearing his used car salesman uniform: polo with his company name on it tucked into slacks. But at least he’d chopped his summer hair off and the fuckboy hair was back. He looked adorbs. The place looked a lot different than the pictures I’d last seen. The flooring was in (a stained oak picked out by yours truly) and the kitchen was completely done (definitely not the all white marble kitchen everyone is doing these days). Because it’s me, I walked around critiquing the completed work (if I’m moving in I’m expecting perfection), he thanked me and then we walked to lunch.
After thinking about it all day, I felt bad about how things had gone with my mom. It’s like, she doesn’t try to be annoying, she just is. So by the time my parents came to get me for dinner at my apartment, I was feeling re-energized. My mom walked in carrying a big white and black bag from Sephora and shoved it at me.
“I picked up a few things for you while we were out!” she announced.
I peeked in the bag and saw boxes from Estée Lauder, Charlotte Tilbury and Tatcha. Really?
“Mom, I don’t need any makeup!” I screamed at her.
“Oh, I know you don’t need it, but I wanted you to have it just in case,” she said, proud of herself.
“I have plenty of makeup, I choose not to walk around with a full face every single day!” I explained.
“Okay, I’m sorry,” she said, finally getting it. “I’m just used to you having a more glam look.”
“God, you’re rude,” I mumbled and she pretended not to hear me.
The next evening was my birthday dinner and my mom made reservations at a chic little Italian restaurant near the Flatiron building. She wanted me to meet her early so we could have drinks at the restaurant beforehand (I reintroduced her to espresso martinis and she’s obsessed). I was starting to forgive her for all her antics this trip, but then my dad, Winnie and Brady walked in.
“Mom!” I screamed at her as they walked over.
“What?” she said back.
“I didn’t want him here!” I whined.
“I didn’t invite him, Winnie did,” she sniffled.
Yeah because Winnie knew the time and details of dinner. I felt so betrayed by my mother — I’d even done a full beat for her!
“Hi, Reese,” Brady said, handing me a gift bag. “From Winnie and me.”
And why did he even want to be here anyway? Didn’t he have anything better to do than hang out with his ex’s family? And then he leaned down and hugged me like we’re friends or something.
“From me!” Winnie squealed.
We headed to the table and Winnie, always passionate about seating arrangements, dictated where everyone sat. She sat me across from her and next to my mom and placed herself right in between my dad and Brady.
“I want pasta,” Winnie announced to the group.
“You’re gonna have pasta,” I said, no nonsense.
“You can have whatever you want, honey,” my mom cooed. “And we have a cake coming later for your mommy’s birthday.”
Winnie screamed and danced in her chair at the news of impending cake. I shushed her and my mom elbowed me.
“She’s not hurting anyone.”
It’s like, she’s hurting my ear drums! And since no one wanted to be the bad guy, Winnie was on her worst behavior at dinner. She was whining and hitting and screaming. Very embarrassing. At one point, she was standing up in her chair and reaching to grab something off the table. Brady, who was sitting right next to her, was too busy gabbing with my parents to even notice.
“Uh, can you get her down?!” I yelled at him across the table.
“Oh, yeah. Sure,” he said like he was doing me a favor or something!
And of course Winnie was sad after that and sat in Brady’s lap and pouted. Brady looked at me and shrugged and then when he thought I looked away, he made this goofy smirking face. Really? You weren’t even invited, dude.
And anyway, it was my birthday so why were they paying so much attention to Brady? They were so interested in his job and staff (no one asked me about my job) and it’s like, Brady’s job has never been interesting so stop. I was beyond annoyed with the whole situation.
My parents offered to pay for the meal and then when the check came out, my frugal father started checking it line by line and of course found a mistake. My mom started flagging down the server obnoxiously and I was not about to sit there while they quibbled over the check.
“I’m gonna go outside for a smoke,” I announced to the group. “Winnie, do you want to come with me?”
“Okay, honey,” my mom said, not even batting an eyelash at my smoking comment. I don’t fucking smoke!
“We’ll both come with you,” Brady said.
I rolled my eyes at him, but didn’t object as he helped carry Winnie and my various gifts outside with us to wait for my parents.
“You look pretty,” Brady said to me as we stood there and it had my mother’s name written all over it. She’d guilted me into putting on a full face of makeup and now Brady was complimenting me? When’s the last time he’s complimented me? She definitely put him up to it.
“Thanks,” I said, not believing him.
“Do you have any other plans for your birthday?”
I side-eyed him. “Actually yes. I’m going on a trip this weekend. But you already knew that, didn’t you, stalker?”
Brady laughed (a little too hard if you ask me) and said, “Stalker?”
“Stalker?” Winnie repeated.
Ugh. So yeah, my parents trip was kind of a disaster. Am I the asshole?