So I pick up. Everyone else seems to be on the phone, too. There should be a rule, but okay.
It's my daughter-in-law asking me to come for a Mother's Day brunch. This takes me by surprise, because usually it's my generation making the brunches, the dinners for Hallmark holidays. And Mother's Day is a bear because so many people, believe it or not, want to see their therapist on Mother's Day. My people.
I'll do Father's Day, is my reaction, and will knock off by 10:30 on Sunday morning to make it to the lox and bagels, hopefully there will be quiche. What can I bring, has to be a part of that conversation, but I forget, in a hurry to watch the movie.
Later on I begin to think about the gifts, because there have to be gifts, and it occurs to me that the better you know someone, the easier this is. And if you don't know someone very well, it's almost impossible to get the right gift. But your mother-- you know her. How hard can this be?
This is why it's so funny that we buy for our mothers-in-law, too, because really, their first degrees should be doing that, they know them better. But okay. Over the years, we know them, too.
Sometimes there's a theme of the week in therapy, to change the subject for a minute. Like last week the song, I Will Always Love You, popped up twice. The Whitney Houston song! Different reasons, different people, same concept. People become separate, move in different directions, but that attachment isn't going anywhere, or so says the song. The song is wrong, though. If you wait long enough, actually, it does dissipate, even for mothers. That can be good or bad, depending.
The theme this week, not by coincidence, seems to be about giving, and how that's so easy for some people, and yet these same people can't take a gift graciously. This is communicated with clarity:
Don't spend money!
Don't waste your money!
Please, I don't need anything!
Please, I'll just return it!
I won't like it. Whatever it is, I won't like it. Not my taste.
I had to beat more than one person up over this, not wanting to take gifts, not giving someone else the opportunity even to do anything for them. Why is this so bad? Independence is a good thing!
Because the joy in life, for many people, and you don't know who these people are, is in the verbs, the action. Giving is an emotional exercise for them. They need to give. And they're not co-dependent, they're just nice. People who don't let them do this are denying the use of that muscle, the one that feels really good when it gets a giving-doing work out.
It's a feel-good workout for everyone, imho. For a few moments, under the influence of giving, a person feels selfless. At least in those moments we're not engaged in our everyday selfish behavior. And we know, come on, how far that can go.
Don't forget, whether giving or receiving, that the gift itself is symbolic, it will be remembered. If you're the one giving, this is you, this gift. Be it a vacuum cleaner or a Swarovski figurine, this thing has your name all over it. He gave it to me. She gave it to me. His taste. Her taste. The gift has fingerprints-- touch, attention --all wrapped up in a little box.
Little gifts, little boxes are a good idea, if you're unsure about what to give. (My kids give me winder toys-- why didn't I ever mention Swarovsky!-- just kidding, kids, don't you dare spend the money) Little is good in case the gift misses the mark. Some of us won't throw a single gift away, even if they have long outlived their usefulness or we never like them. How hard that is, throwing gifts away, even cards. Those boxes in the basement! We pray for a flood. I've started sticking a post-it in my cards to other people, writing on it:
I love you, please reuse this card.So it's a crazy day, full of emotion for a lot of people, and probably if you get invited to brunch, you should totally go. Check out the whole gestalt of the gift giving thing.
And when it comes to a gift for mom, if you still have one, I know it can be hard sometimes. Not everyone can, not everyone even wants to give a gift, or even a card, certainly not a call. That's how it can be when people don't treat us right. We avoid them. It's not being selfish, either, believe it or not, rather it is what it is. Staying disengaged can preserve sanity for certain sensitive souls. And somebody has to stay sane.
Those of us lucky enough to know that we have to get something for Mom, whether we want to or not, had better get going on it. Brunch is coming right up, and it's going to be good.
Just one last thing. Moms, when you open them up, those cards, those presents-- smile and say thank you.