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Maria’s Musings & Advice: Mom’s confounding Christmas morn

By on Jan 5, 2017 in Advent and Christmas, Advice, Moms | 6 comments

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holiday_8Dear Maria,

For Christmas, my husband and I gave our teenage daughter a very nice gift. It was an iPad, something lots of people her age would like, or at least I thought. She opened the package, pulled the plastic cover off the screen, and then shoved it back in the box without even turning it on. She seemed angry about it. I was so confused and hurt. We tried to talk to her about it, and all she said was that she isn’t into electronic stuff. I let it go for a few days, then asked her about it again. She said she was disappointed that I didn’t know she didn’t want electronics. I guess moms are supposed to know everything their children want. I was so hurt. I’m glad my husband stepped in at that moment. He took her to the store to exchange the iPad for something else, or for the cash. I don’t know. I didn’t have the heart to ask. I guess she’s happy now.

I think I have two questions for you: Was my daughter being fair? And, how can I get over my hurt feelings?

Signed,

Shoulda Checked My List Twice

Dear Shoulda,

My condolences on your Christmas morning. What kid doesn’t want an iPad? I could ask my own 16-year-old about this, but I don’t want to give her any ideas.

As a fellow mom, who some years hit the mark on Christmas, and other lonely mornings sat shaking my head, you have my sympathies. It was easier to delight the girls when they were younger. In their teens, their interests seemed to change so often, It was hard to keep up, but I tried. As you did, too, mom.

Don’t be hard on yourself. I think all my readers will join me in affirming your good and generous attempt to make her Christmas Day. You have hereby fulfilled your maternal duties. At its best, a gift is freely given, and we can’t control how it will be received.

heart-handI can’t judge if your daughter was being fair. Would you have preferred that she pretended to like the gift? And never told you how she really felt? Talk about hurt—you’d be dealing with a double-whammy of disappointment. While I’m stumped as to why she didn’t want an iPad, I’m kind of impressed, too. She’s choosing against the mainstream. That kind of strength will come in handy in life. I do hope that, despite her disappointment, she said the words, “Thank you.” You can’t force her to like the gift, but you can insist she be gracious about it. Graciousness, too, comes in very handy in life.

As for your hurt feelings, I wish I could give you a hug. You’ve experienced that lonely feeling when we realize, with painful clarity, that we cannot completely know our offspring. They were born to us, and through us, but not to be us. There are parts of your daughter that will remain mysteries to you, just as there are parts of us that our own mothers will never know. That’s normal; that’s adulting. A friend of mine once paraphrased a famous quote, “The truth will set you free, but it will hurt like hell in the meantime.” This is the bitter part of motherhood. Try and accept your daughter’s honesty as part of the sweetness.

mom-and-pieTherefore, as part of your recovery, I hereby grant you permission to do something wonderful for yourself, up to and including buying an iPad of your very own. Or the equivalent in spa days, a spiritual retreat, wine, books, movies, sweaters, lunch with friends, etc. Find out what you love, what feeds your soul, and go do it. Moms tend to place ourselves at the end of the line, the last on the list, the one who never did care for pie, anyway. So, from one mamma to another, be good to yourself. Take a day off, put your feet up, and know you’ve done your best. Then, buckle up, and brace yourself for the next shocker. Believe me, it’s on its way.

In a quandary? Life got you down? Need some perspective? If you’d like to submit a question, click here. Let’s hear from you, or “for a friend.” Please add your thoughts, and suggestions in the comments section, below. 

Disclaimer: The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. The opinions or views expressed in this column are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed professional, physician or mental health professional. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional, psychological or medical help, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist.  This column, its author, and the publisher are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and clarity, and all comments are moderated.

 

6 Comments

  1. Tracey Yokas

    January 6, 2017

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    Oh I love this one maria….pleasing our children, Christmas or any day. What a conundrum. We want to so very badly, are hurt when they aren’t pleased, but it is really that satisfying in the long run to have pleased them over every single thing. I sure understand both sides of this equation and what great advice to give mom permission to a big healthy dose of self-care! Love it!

    • Maria

      January 6, 2017

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      I knew this would resonate with you, too, Tracey! You ask a great question: is it really satisfying [or the best for everyone] in the long run to have pleased them over every single thing? Our kids have to learn how to deal with disappointment, and if, as moms, we think we can spare them from disappointment, then we’ve set everyone up for failure. That’s a no-win situation, for sure.

      Speaking of self-care, what did you do for yourself this holiday season? Hmmmm, I’m trying to answer that question for myself….!

  2. Sharon

    January 6, 2017

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    It would have been irrational for me to expect my teenage daughter to be pleased with everything I did for her or gifted her. I too am impressed that your daughter told you why she was upset. The silent sulk is worse as I know from experience. The fact that you felt so hurt might come from your daughters statement that she thought you knew her better than that. Again from experience, knowing a teenage daughter in every aspect of her life is unrealistic and expecting it will set you up for many more hurts. Then maybe next time you can have a good laugh with your daughter and be the one that goes with her to return the gift. The rejection of the gift is not a rejection of  you. 

    • Maria

      January 6, 2017

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      You speak from LOTS of experience, I can tell, Sharon! Thanks for your advice. Perhaps we can know in our heads that expectations are irrational, but then we get hit with the feelings. I bet our LW, like you, will fold this experience in, and be in a better place to handle the hurt in the future. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Melinda Arvay

    January 6, 2017

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    I can see both sides of the coin.  I have two adult children and even when they were in their teens and older, I learned to ask them for a list of “would likes”.  My grandsons live out of state, so I ask their daddy what sizes and where their interest lie.  Of course, I wing some things and fortunately it all turns out ok.  When in doubt–ask.

    • Maria

      January 6, 2017

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      Great advice, Melinda! Yes, we have to adjust how we shop as they get older. Good idea to ask ahead, but then we have to let go of the thrill of the surprise! I guess kids, moms, and grandmoms are all growing up together. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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