Cheryl Hughes: Gifting Loop
One of my friends recently confessed to me that she had rejoiced at the news that Patti’s Restaurant (near LBL) had been temporarily closed due to a fire. Her first thought had been, “Thank God, my kids won’t be taking me there for Mother’s Day!” Evidently, they make the trek to Patti’s every year, believing they are doing their mom a huge favor, when all she really wants is a short trip to Bowling Green and a filet mignon from Rafferty’s. It’s amazing how many of us are caught up in a gifting loop.
For years, I took my mother-in-law a jam cake from Riley’s Bakery every Christmas. I did so, because one year she made a home-made jam cake for us all. Making that cake took a tremendous amount of time and effort, and she never made another one. I thought I was being nice by buying her a jam cake, so she wouldn’t have to make another one.
“Cheryl, it’s so thoughtful of you to bring me jam cake every year, but to be honest, I don’t really care for it,” she said one Christmas. Come to find out, she had made the cake that one year because she had heard me say I liked jam cake.
According to a recent CNN poll, forty percent of moms only pretend to like their Mother’s Day gifts. I’m shocked. I thought the statistics would be much higher than that. Given that moms are moms, the other sixty percent were probably covering their bases, only pretending to the poll-takers, and they didn’t like their gifts either.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pretending to like a gift. I, myself, did it for years. I don’t do it anymore, though, unless it’s a gift from a child, that is. When my husband, Garey, asks what I want for my birthday or Christmas or Mother’s Day, I tell him. Sometimes, I even order it for myself, so I’ll get the right one. On Sunday, I received a piece of luggage from Garey for Mother’s Day. It is a piece that is part of a collection I’ve been putting together for the day when I finally get to travel to England and Ireland. My granddaughter, Sabria, informed me she’ll be going along also, and she called dibs on the colorful hard shell carry-on.
Sabria gave me my favorite present this year, one she picked out herself. She carried in a flower pot, a packet of seeds, some Miracle Grow and a pair of blue garden gloves. She bought herself a pair of pink ones, so she could assist me she said. It was a wonderful gift, because it shows that she knows me. I didn’t have to pretend I liked it.
One of the most difficult gifting loops I’ve ever had to break was a Mother’s Day loop. It had to do with activity, more so than gifts, but it was a loop none the less. Because of my background with my biological mother and my stepmother, Mother’s Day was difficult for me for many years. I made the effort to put on a brave face for my kids when they were young, but as they grew older, I stopped making the effort.
It all came to a head one year when my oldest daughter wanted us to spend the day together doing mom and daughter things. She would pay, she said. I told her I just wanted to be by myself. She left my house very hurt and very angry. Looking back, I understand now that children need to celebrate Mother’s Day as much as mothers need to be celebrated. But sometimes, what a mom represents to her child is not what her mother represents to her.
Later that year, I made a decision to stop living in another lifetime, and to be present for my children. I have continued from that day to this, allowing my children to celebrate my position in the family. It was a good decision.