Long post warning!
This upcoming weekend is going to be busy:
- My parents’ dog is having a party
- My parents are throwing an engagement party for my brother
- One of my favourite kids is having a birthday
My parents claim they’re reverting to the people they were before they had kids hence the non-pup has celebrated every year on earth with a small party.
She really is a very appreciative little soul who loves opening presents even if they’re not technically for her. Her gifts have ranged from toys to cash. I’m not sure what I’ll be getting her this year. I’m leaning towards cash as she is getting up in age and is seeing her vet more frequently. My parents won’t accept the cash any other way and won’t make too much fuss this way.
My brother got engaged last week and while I’m thrilled for him it was sad realizing that we don’t have a fantastic relationship. I love him but I’ve been more excited for friends because I had a greater role in their relationships e.g. double dates, movie nights, etc. I just see them at family gatherings. Since we’re such different people this isn’t a bad thing.
While my urge is to give them a generous cheque toward wedding planning, I can’t afford to do so without sacrificing some goals. I also recognize my urge to throw money at uncomfortable things which is not the same as giving a heartfelt gift.
So I went to one of my favourite places: the bookstore. I was considering purchasing a wedding planner but most of them were bride focused which bothered me on 2 levels: planning is not woman’s work and should be shared, and I wanted something they would clearly do together.
I ended up purchasing a book that coaches you through writing your love story and a pen.
I really am thrilled for them and I want them to have the opportunity during, what can be a stressful time in your relationship, to focus on what matters: each other.
Now to the kid!
As a family member I know his birthday but there is an expectation that ML and I will drop everything to be there. I mean this in the sense that we’re supposed to magically know the birthday plans and be present.
Since before he was born I’ve been his baker. Each year, once I know the birthday plans, I ask if he’d like me to make a cake and get him to approve a design.
This year, I asked about birthday plans last month and was given a vague kid only party response. I followed up at the beginning of the month and was told that there would be a kid only party at a local play area with a family drop in later.
Here’s where my back went up. I know that I’m expected to attend the family drop in but I have to call multiple times to get the information. If this was happening for an adult’s birthday I would save my gift money, send a birthday wish on Facebook and not attend the event.
In my world you invite people you want to attend an event and hide details from those you prefer not attend. I would see it as respecting the person’s wishes. Back straightening went to fuming when I was then told,” You have to decide on the cake you’re making!”
When the remark was met with stunned silence the addendum followed,”Or we could buy something if you’re too busy.”
I was shocked and upset by this unsurprising lack of respect and I was heartbroken when faced with the possibility that for the first time in his life the child wouldn’t have a lovingly crafted cake at his birthday. Except it wouldn’t be lovingly created, I would be angry with the expectation that was placed and with myself for not holding my time and talent in higher esteem.
The last time there was a gift giving situation with this child he was thrilled with everything that he got but I felt that there was a sense of competition between the grown ups. I definitely played into it. Upon discovering that he was getting an insanely expensive technological gift, I called ML and suggested he pick up an alternative present. We got him a toy and reserved the other gift to give as part of his birthday. Surprisingly he chose the toy over the technology and I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I felt a petty sense of pride.
I know that same is going to happen again but this time I am pleased with our gifts and I refuse to be petty again. As I feel there is a sense of entitlement that ML and I will just provide I found myself not wanting to spend near my budgeted amount. In the past we’ve tried to provide something for the child as well as something that would benefit the parents. This has included clothing, classes, school supplies, etc.
This time we’re just giving the toy and are including the t-shirt that had been purchased for the previous event.
It’s been an emotional week. It’s been full of worrying about Bunny, having tough conversations with my parents, revelations about family dynamics and feeling stressed at work. It’s only Tuesday!
It’s also made me see the ways I use money to help deal with uncomfortable situations and to feel like I have control. The journey to getting out of consumer debt showed me that I had a warped relationship with my finances. I was able to set boundaries with myself to create a much healthier relationship. Instead of dreading my budget I look forward to touching base with it.
In my What Matters to Me II post, I spoke about honouring myself. Honouring myself includes:
- Accepting my relationships as they are and working on improving them if possible
- If improvement is not possible then I should not hurt myself with regret or wishing
- Not using money to hide behind situations. The monetary gift to the dog is coming from a good and caring place. A monetary gift to my brother would be alleviate guilt that we’re not closer and make me feel like I don’t have to do the work.
- Accepting my own abilities and not bending over backwards for people who think I should
- Baking the cake would not have been a joyful experience for me and the child now has the opportunity to go to the grocery store and pick out one. Based on the timing our previous method definitely wouldn’t work as I don’t have time to make a sample cake and tweak it accordingly.
Thank you for reading this diatribe!
I hope you’re having a much less emotional start to your week!