Thursday, December 14, 2006

Family Burdens

For most of my life, my dad has been a special event and gift giving idiot.

For Christmas he would always drag me out on Christmas Eve to find something for my mom, hours before the family was supposed to show up for our celebrations. Then there were the years that my parents decided not to get each other anything, but my mom always made sure to get him some snacks and a couple of his favorite magazines. Dad always took their deal at face value and so my mom never got anything. Then there are the many, many birthdays and anniversaries that he flat out forgot.

Regardless of who was right or wrong in any of these situations, Mom ended up feeling sad and neglected. Over the years I began to email or call my dad a few days before a big event to remind him that it was coming up and encourage him to pay attention to it. In fact I just sent the "Remember your anniversary" email today. And for those that I forgot to remind him about, inevitably I would call my mom to wish her a happy whatever and she'd be melancholy b/c my dad didn't do anything.

I don't know how it happened, but all of a sudden I feel responsible for this reminder and consequently guilty if I forget. How did I end up in this position, squarely between my parents? I don't know where exactly it comes from. Perhaps from the very close relationship I have with my mom and that I would do anything I could to make her happy. Or maybe I'm just too damn meddlesome and I should keep my nose out of other people's relationships. I don't know the why of the situation, but I know that it sucks to feel like I could have done something when he has disappointed her again.

How do I extract myself from this loop?

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Your dad sounds a bit like my husband!

This past mother's day, in fact, (my first with both him and Amelie present) I told him that I didn't want him to spend money on a gift for me. Money is a bit tight with the house and all and truthfully, I really don't need a new piece of jewelry or underwear or whatever.

Perhaps I should have been more specific - I don't want a GIFT, but a CARD would have been nice. He took "I don't want anything" to include a card - which I didn't get. So, I got kind of bummed out and moped most of the day. When he had had it with my sulking and decided to take a nap, leaving me to handle Amelie, straighten up and cook dinner for myself, I was out and out PISSED. He apologized (though truthfully, I'm not sure he really gets why I was upset...) and we salvaged the rest of the evening. I just hate having to spell it out for him. What do you say "Honey, please go out and get me a mother's day card. Oh, and some flowers might be nice, too." ?? Sort of takes the fun out of it for me.

Christmases without fail, I get him better gifts than he gets me. Not more expensive or fancier, I just remember things he mentioned wanting or needing and buy them. When he goes out shopping, hes almost always stumped as to what to get (even though we've been married for 5 years AND I periodically throughout the year mention - not so subtly either - things that might make good presents...) and ends up bringing home things that I sort of have to work up some excitement for, if you know what I mean. I know his heart is in the right place, but hes just not a good gift-giver-special-day-celebrater either.

Let me know if you come up with a way to work this out! I could use a bit of help in that department myself!