Why I went “No gifts” and the result

I have a 2 year old.

TWO. Like I have kept a human being alive for 2 years.

I decided well before his birthday that I wanted to do a ‘no gifts’ party. I did some research on how to present this on an invitation, which was interesting to see from both sides. I just really didn’t want or need more toys in our house! In fact, I want even less than we already have!

DH and I didn’t really agree here. He wanted Little Bach to get gifts and be able to open them. But we obviously would still be getting him gifts as would his grandparents. I really didn’t want more trucks and balls and trains, I swear this kid already has all the toys a kid needs for a lifetime. And it makes me upset when I see members of my family and B’s family who live check to check, no retirement, no college savings for the kids, and the kids have SO MANY TOYS. And at their birthday parties they get SO MANY MORE! I can’t do it. I don’t want to do it. Here were some of the reasons I gave my husband:

  • I have been that person. That person who was invited to a party that couldn’t afford to give a nice gift. The one who felt embarrassed when my friend opened other extravagant gifts and then opened mine. The person whose family had to choose between buying a birthday gift for someone and buying necessities. I don’t ever want anyone to feel like this.
  • He is 2! He won’t even remember! He doesn’t understand it anyway!
  • It’s Christmas in a month… he will get stuff. Believe me.
  • I want him to know the feeling of giving and to enjoy it even more than the feeling of getting.
  • I want him to know that spending time with family is more important than getting ‘things’ in fact there are many things more important than having ‘things’
  • Less toys = bigger imagination
  • I don’t want him to feel entitled: “You made it another year without killing yourself, have anything you want!”

After a lot of discussion DH agreed, but with the stipulation that we may not do this for birthdays in the future.

I decided to go with “No gifts please. **** would just like to celebrate with you! If you would like to gift something please consider bringing a food donation for [Local Charity Organization] instead.”

People felt really weird about this when they received it. Really just B’s family. His cousin came up to me on Thanksgiving told me she felt weird not bringing a gift to a birthday party. She asked if she could bring a card and give him a little money instead. Well of course! We have put all of his birthday and Christmas money so far in an education savings program for him. Because what will a 2 year old do with $20? Rip it up and eat it, that’s what!

But we were happy to accept the gifts of money that he got, and I know that the people giving it don’t feel like it is as personal, but I can assure them that when he graduates high school and goes to college (assuming anyway) or even if he doesn’t and takes the money out of the account and pays the taxes on it, it will be a lot more meaningful to him than that plastic truck he got when he was 2 and doesn’t remember jumping on and breaking 2 months later.

We had people who brought just cards, some gave cards with some money and some didn’t, and some brought a book (fine) and a lot of people brought food donations which Little Bach will be taking to the local pantry to donate himself. And a few still brought toys, which we did not open at the party, we told people if they wanted to see him open it, they would have to stay after. One of the things I had read about was when the invitation says “No gifts” then the kid gets a lot of gifts and the parents do the whole gift opening thing during the party and how awkward that makes people feel. I was not about to do that.

Overall, it was a little awkward, at times before the party I was regretting it just because of how weird people thought it was and it felt weird to answer their questions when they asked if they could give him money or a check, because yes, they can, and yes it would go to his college fund, but I didn’t want it to seem like this was the whole intent of the ‘no gifts’ thing. We appreciate everything that he got, and he will appreciate it even more when he gets older.

It is nice to not have a bunch more toys at the house, though I still have to purge before Christmas. But it sickens me the amount of money that people spend on toys, I mean, if you have the money for it, right on, but I swear I know so many people who will go into debt or not pay their bills but their kids have tons of toys that they will break soon! Not judging anyone, this is each person’s own choice. I’m just voicing mine.

I don’t mean to sound like a Scrooge, I am getting my son a couple of toys for Christmas, and I’m sure when he gets older and understands a little more, I will get him more than that. But at 2? He is just going to be happy to get to rip some paper apart. he won’t care what is in it!

My gift to him every year is my contribution to his Educational Savings Account. I guess growing up without having any education (or regular) savings and having to start my life out with the debt of student loans helps me to want to give my son a better start and a better opportunity.

So one of the changes I have made since becoming “Mom” is that I no longer gift toys to young kids, they get money, money that I hope goes to an account for them for later, but that is up to the parents (In the case of our families, the money probably gets spent within the week on a toy the kid wants and doesn’t already have). Their kids, their decisions.

 

Wow… this does sound kind of judgey… wasn’t the intention. Just sharing my views on thing, this is after all, my blog, and apparently I have some strong views on this!

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Why I am so ‘cheap’

My step-mom made a joke about it last week, how cheap I am, I don’t remember how it went, I was initially bothered by it, but not for long, I am proud of being ‘frugal’.

My sister told me on Sunday that I’m ‘tighter than the skin on a hot dog’ to which I replied “And that is why I am in the position I am in, and you guys aren’t”. which she laughed about. I am in a better place financially than the rest of my family, but that doesn’t mean I can (or want to) blow my money.

I don’t want to have my son grow up how I did. Getting evicted and having to move all the time. Living in some bad areas. Living in a camper in my relative’s driveway. Sleeping on the kitchen floor because the oven was the only heat we had some cold nights. No savings for college, having to foot the whole bill myself.

Long story short in short(ish): My mom can’t work, she has RA, which makes her unable to keep a consistent schedule not knowing when what part of her body will be in too much pain for being crippled each week, she wasn’t able to keep a steady job because of this. She had 2 crappy disability lawyers and ended up being denied TWICE for her condition for horrible reasons (especially when I see people who do get disability and do all kinds of running around and heavy lifting) So she won’t be able to get that, but she was recently diagnosed with COPD, so she should be able to get disability with that (just no back pay). Her husband (my step dad) is an alcoholic. I mean, pints of whiskey everyday. EVERY. DAY. plus whatever else he can get his hands on. He doesn’t make much, and they are bad with money. They buy stuff instead of paying their bills with the money they DO have.

So who helps them pay the bills when they have shutoff notices? That’s right. You just won $100 if you guessed me! (Just kidding about the $100, haven’t you been reading along? I’m cheap, no money for you!)

Well, after a great Thanksgiving celebration at my house Sunday (I cooked everything) and everyone having a great time, my A*hole step dad ruined it for everyone, made so many people cry on drunk rampage. 3 days later, and both of my sisters have been staying at my house since, and now it look like my mom is leaving him over it, which is great for her emotionally (maybe?).

Except she has no income. So… who is going to be helping support her financially? You probably guessed it again.

Note: I am fine with supporting her to get out of that relationship. But I’m horrified because I don’t know what things will look like going forward. My sister can’t support herself, she is still living with my mom and working part time and spending money on all kinds of luxuries she wants, and thinks that she deserves to because of all she lost in her divorce. And with my company going through free cash flow issues and going through a major organizational restructure, I wasn’t worried about my job, but maybe I should be.

So yes, I am tight. Probably more than I should be. But I am tight because I HAVE to be.

 

I just want to go home and cry… but I can’t. My sisters are still staying there. And I have an adorable toddler to take care of.

The final straw

I was sick with a cold for nearly 2 weeks. It wouldn’t have been all that bad if I just could have slept! But it is hard to sleep when you can’t breathe. Every day I would wake up hoping that today was the day I would finally feel better. I was supposed to have a meeting with my counselor last Monday, but when I ended up not sleeping well Sunday night I gave her a call and left a message hoping that we could reschedule. When she finally called back she was like “What’s going on?” I told her and she asked “So there is no way you can come in? Being that this is late notice?” Sorry, my cold didn’t give me enough of a notice for you….

After I told her I could make it happen if I HAD to, she said we could just reschedule (flaky, eh?). The rescheduled appointment was yesterday. She seemed in a bad mood since she answered the door, telling me that I can just come in after ringing the bell (My bad for using manners to wait for someone to answer their own door at their home) and then when I went to shut the door she told me to leave it, so the next person knows to just come in. It doesn’t sound that bad in writing, but she did not say any of this in a very nice tone. Okay, whatever, we all have bad days.

For the past week or so I was afraid that DH would not follow through on his month of planning a date, at which time I would schedule us with a marriage counselor. Well, he did follow through, he asked my sister to watch Little Bach and he made dinner reservations to a place he knew I had been wanting to go for a while now. I was really excited about it. Of course I still ended up feeling like crap that day, but we still went out and had a good time experiencing fondue for the first time together.

I told (We will call her Mrs. B) that he came through on date night. She asked what we did and I told her we went to dinner.

Mrs. B “What else?”

Me “That was it. He asked me what I wanted to do after we left there, but I was still sick and couldn’t even stay awake, I just wanted to go to sleep”

Mrs. B “So he didn’t plan anything else?”

Me “No”

Mrs. B “So he STILL doesn’t understand what you want?”

And then it got into her saying that because he asked me what I wanted to do after, that he didn’t do what I wanted him to do. I told her I was happy just to go to dinner! And he booked it all and set it up at a place that he knew I wanted to try for a while. And she was just really trying to get me to be mad about it!! “But… he still didn’t know what you wanted to do after. He still asked you and wanted you to figure it out.”

I was seriously picturing in my head leaping across the room to choke a bitch. I was SO MAD.

I defended him saying that of course he asked me what I wanted to do, he knew I had been sick for over a week and it is not just perfectly fine, but also perfectly logical for him to ask me what I want to do in that situation so he can learn what I was up for in my condition. (Which turned out to be nothing. Going home and sleeping).

She did not like that answer. I am getting fuzzy on the details of the conversation by now because I am just so mad. But she seriously kept trying to convince me that I didn’t get what I wanted and that I should be upset about it. “But don’t you think that he … didn’t do… blah blah blah”

Finally after our arguing she said “So you are okay with it?” In a tone that suggested she thinks I shouldn’t be (which was obvious). I told her “Yes.” And she just stared at me (mean look on her face). And finally said “K.” pause as she looks at her notes and then said “What else then?”

I was so mad at this point (10 minutes in) that I wanted to just leave.

I know that no one else was there and couldn’t back this stuff up. But just based on her words alone. Does this seem like a legit reason to get mad and be done? I am on my period, so maybe I’m just over-reacting.

I had other things I had written down to talk about regarding my husband, but at that point I had NO intention of sharing those. I really felt like she was villain-izing my husband.

I had to fill the remaining time with something. So I brought up one of the biggest issues for me, being my anxiety, and how it keeps me up at night some times, when DS doesn’t get up and cry at night I get worried something is wrong, I get up, check the monitor, sometimes I even go into his room to make sure he is okay. This is ridiculous, and I can’t keep doing this, I recognize that. Her response: “You have to stop.” Ummmm Thanks Lady… “How?” she told me “You just have to discipline yourself to stop”

But she didn’t stop there she went on to tell me how my anxiety could affect my son, which I realize is something that could happen and is an okay thing to tell someone on its own. But she described this at length. “He will see you scared, and then he will be scared and will grow up being scared of things that aren’t scary, and then you will have to console him and then what will you say to him?”

So here I am pissed that I have to defend my husband after making what I think is great progress (and isn’t this whole therapy thing about me and my feelings?) and now ready to cry because I feel like an awful mother. I really did, she gave me no help in how to stop my anxious feelings but proceeded to tell me the terrible things that could happen if I don’t. Well as you ladies with anxiety know, telling an anxiety riddled person about all of the things that can go wrong is NOT going to help ANYONE!

The most advice she gave me during this session: say to yourself “I’m calm, I’m relaxed”

That’s it.

Never even brought up the perfectionist thing from the previous appointment. Didn’t have the info on it she was going to give me. Nothing.

 

Am I overreacting? Either way, I’m done with this B.

 

Perfectionist

So I learned something huge from the new therapist (Who I am not still sure is the right fit or not).

Last week after listening to me talk (for the 3rd time) she asked me if I was a perfectionist. I can see the confusion on my face, I am sure I looked at her like she was crazy. I fail way too much to be a perfectionist. Then she told me that people often mis-interpret the term. I took a “Am I perfectionist” test when I got home and… well, it actually fits me.

When painting or doing any house project, it drives me nuts when something isn’t perfect. Even when everyone else thinks it looks great, all I can see are the flaws. I often don’t start new home projects anymore because I don’t think they can be done as well as I want them to. So instead of doing something, I let the fear of failure/dislike stop me from even trying. When we go out to dinner (or anywhere really) I get frustrated the minute that something doesn’t go well (which is always with a toddler) and I tell my husband that we shouldn’t have even wasted our time to do said activity. Whether it is going to dinner or even trying to shop.

It has helped to realize this. But now I need to figure out what to do about it…

I have been looking forward to the holidays and my mom wants me to make a list of all of the things we should do to make the holidays fun like they were when I was little. And it is really easy to make a list and get this picture in my head of all of the things Little Bach will enjoy. And I get excited and really look forward to the memories. When in reality, he may not want to sit still and watch the Grinch, he may want to pull all of the ornaments off of the tree, he is going to cry when we meet Santa, it may be too cold for him to make a snowman.

DH and I actually talked about this last night. I need to figure out how to let go of my expectations and just take things as they come and be very grateful for the few things that do go right instead of dwelling on what I wanted it to be like. And not wishing that I hadn’t even tried the activities.

Seems simple enough. But I know it will be a big task. I’m ready to make some changes though. For my sanity and for my family.

 

Also… I got a candle from Kohl’s yesterday and it smells just like warmth and happiness.

Fall

Happy Fall Y’all.

The Afterthought

One of the things my counselor asked me in my first session with her is if I had friends. I responded “Yes” Of course I have friends. But the more I think about it, do I really have a good, amazing best friend? The one that I can tell everything to? One that understands or at least empathizes with various aspects of my life?

Suddenly, all of the friends I thought of didn’t seem to fit this bill. They are friends for sure, and good ones. But not many that I would actually be comfortable talking to about certain things. Not ones that would even know how to respond.

Honestly there is only 1 friend I have told everything I can think of to, and I have only met her once in real life, lol. But we do text almost every day.

The person I consider my best friend will go out with me and we text, but seemingly always about the normal stuff, kids etc. She would be awkward and not know how to respond in any kind of personal situation, and she only really would attempt to if she was completely drunk. She definitely doesn’t know what the right things to say are in most situations.  So when we do hang out, I just keep a lot to myself. The hardest most personal things. The things that you really need a good friend for.

I had recently started bonding with a neighborhood lady (who happens to have a balanced translocation and had many losses) and she is really nice. Once she invited me to have lunch with her (we work at the same location) and only a couple of times has she invited me on her evening walks. But she walks usually with another neighborhood lady, and it seems that I seem to get the invite when she is unavailable. Same with lunch, only when her normal lunch companions are busy did I get an invite. Her and the other lady started a “wine and walk” around the neighborhood and invited all of us as well. First one was last night, and it was a great turn out, 8 ladies, 2 laps (2.5 miles!) it was a good time. But I didn’t seem to fit in where most of them are. They spent the whole time talking about which teachers their kids have and the bus drivers etc. Things that I have not yet experienced (And I am a ways off) They ALL have kids in school. Not a problem, they are just all at a point that I don’t quite fit into yet. So it was a nice walk, and I will continue to go, just didn’t get the companionship out of it that I was hoping to. Not yet… but maybe next time.

One of my coworkers, A, (who I really like, as he is super nice and friendly and open and honest about everything, too much sometimes! lol) was texting another coworker, F,  from their personal phones, as they do hang out and shoot guns and stuff outside of work, and he showed me the message from F about how he wanted to go out to lunch with him to discuss non-work life stuff. Completely fair. But I did feel left out as A was telling me this and made it a point to tell me that this was all on their non-work phones. I really like the people I work with and I would love to bond with all of them (and their families) outside of this place. But being a woman makes it harder I guess. I do feel very lonely here sometimes. A lot of people here are friends outside of work and I just feel like an outsider.

Today when I came back to my desk before lunch, a bunch of the guys were standing at the end of the aisle and asked if I wanted to go get tacos. It was a nice offer, I almost always go with them, but had I not walked by at that moment I would not have been asked. They all had been texting each other and inviting each other and waiting for others so they could go, and since I walked by they invited me too: the afterthought. I have even filled my car up with these people and driven to lunch before. Why do I not come to mind? I do wonder if this is just one of those things about working in a male-dominated field.

I’m sure they don’t realize this. How could they know how hard it is to be a woman in a male-dominated field?

 

I’m sure this is all just me over-thinking things, but that doesn’t change the fact that I feel lonely.

 

But at least at the end of this day, I get to go home to an adorable little boy who melts his mama’s heart.

A simple text

“I love you S. L. you know you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me”

It’s amazing how much one thoughtful text can take away so much of the resentment and fear.

Maybe we will be okay.

Maybe I am enough.

I know he wants 1 or 2 more kids, and it had me worried that he wouldn’t stay with me if I decided I couldn’t handle going through it all again.

But this small act of showing me love makes me feel like he would choose me, us, our family of 3 over a (potentially) larger family with someone else.

BTW, he never told me that he would leave me for anything, he is not pressuring me at all for more kids when I am clearly not ready, these are just all those stupid thoughts that I put into my own head.

I hope that I get more of these reminders, because I could sure use them.

A simple text.

Seeing someone

A couple of weeks ago I decided to try out the EAP (Employee Advisor Program?) offered by my new employer.

I had my first session with the counselor last week. Before I went, I wondered what I was really going for. I was having a good day, things seemed to be going well, I almost thought of cancelling it. I didn’t. I wasn’t super impressed by the counselor, she is one picked by the EAP, she seemed less professional than the ones I had seen before, maybe it was the home office thing, I don’t know. Or because she wants me to come every week, and didn’t like the idea of my wanting every 2 weeks, and then brought up that we would have to continue with my insurance after the EAP sessions run out. It is probably just me reading into things, but she seemed most interested in her income. But I get 5 or 6 sessions covered by the EAP, so I figure I may as well use them, right?

She told me to keep a journal for random thoughts, so I have done this. My second appointment is today, here are some of my random thoughts:

  1. I feel guilty going once a week because I feel like that is time I am supposed to be spending with my son and husband.
  2. I feel guilty taking any ‘me’ time
  3. I feel guilty even taking ‘us’ time (Me and B)
  4. Everything falls on me. If I want us to go out, I have to make a plan, find a sitter, decide where to go. If I want a family outing, dinner, ANYTHING, I am told “Just tell me what to do” I don’t want it all on me! Everything is on me, I work, get home and start making dinner and play with the boy until DH gets home and I can finish dinner, we all eat, I do the dishes about 85% of the time, we both get DS ready for bed and DH puts him down while I shower, then it is finishing dishes if there are any and going to sleep, because Lord knows the DS wakes me up at least once every night these days!
  5. I hope this is a phase of teething. I feel like he will never sleep through the night again consistently. It has seriously been so long.
  6. I don’t know when to transition to the big bed. I don’t trust him at all, he cannot control himself when he wants to get into something, especially when he knows he isn’t supposed to. Am I doing something wrong?
  7. I have a lot of resentment towards my husband that I didn’t even realize. There is seriously 3 full pages about him fishing or kayaking or helping friends or working on the vehicle or the house while I watch DS.
  8. I feel like as a society Dads still get to be themselves and get the “Dad’ title as a bonus, I feel like Moms turn into just “Mom”
  9. I have completely lost my identity. I feel like I am “Mom” and nothing else. ( I love being a mom and I am so grateful) ThisI have been struggling with huge, I avoided doing a post about it because I feel like all I ever post is negative, but this is honestly an outlet for me (I’m not a very good blogger). But I don’t even know the person I used to be, I don’t travel much because I don’t trust DS to behave enough to not die! I couldn’t even remember when she asked me what I like to do for fun. Because even if and when I would get time, I don’t even know what to do with it, I spend so much time feeling guilty for not being around my son, and guilty for not making better use of my time, that it becomes unenjoyable.
  10. The massive anxiety I have even THINKING about early pregnancy and how to hide it and the pit in my stomach just thinking about having to announce it at some point. I am clearly not ready to have another child.
  11. I had another chemical at 6 weeks a couple of weeks ago, and I feel like the worst person ever, like seriously the worst person and have so much guilt over being okay with it, because I am not okay to deal with that anxiety of things going well again, I know that doesn’t even make sense.
  12. I’m pressuring myself into wanting another child and wanting it soon. I know this, but it doesn’t change the fact that I think about it all of the time.
  13. We are definitely avoiding TTC now. I am obviously not in a place to be okay with it yet. And I don’t know when I will be if ever. But I will not TTC until I can be okay and at least somewhat excited about being pregnant.
  14. I feel like if I get to go out for dinner with a friend that I am ‘using up’ the ‘me’ time I should be allotted (which is weird, because it isn’t like I’m allotted a certain amount or anything…)
  15. Maybe I just like to complain?
  16. DH and I NEED more date nights. Just us, because the very few we have had have been great and they make me so happy, but again, very few. And taking time for us isn’t taking anything away from DS, because we need our relationship to stay strong to set a good example for him.
  17. I hate my house. I hate it so much. For the amount of money we spent on it, I just hate it. I am not comfortable there, It is dated and dark and things seem to be falling apart. And It doesn’t smell like ‘home’ and I don’t know how to change the smell.
  18. I hate the color of my living room, grey and my blue/grey bedroom, I really think the colors make it cold and not at all homey and comforting, but I feel guilty about this because we just painted a year ago and I feel wasteful.
  19. My house has no carpet. I love carpet, I have hardwood, especially when it is throughout the house. It makes everything cold and hard.
  20. We moved the couch and TV in the living room around yesterday, I was hoping this would make me feel more at home. I do like the change, but I almost cried (and almost am now) because it still seems dark and gloomy.
  21. I worry that I can do all of these things to my house and still not feel at home in it.
  22. I miss my old house. Not the smallness and unfinished basement, but it felt like home, we did so much work to it, I was proud of it and couldn’t wait to show it off. I don’t like people coming into my new house.
  23. I realize a big thing I want to do to make me feel like me again: I want to get my house to a state that I enjoy it again. I want to remodel it top to bottom, inside and out. I LOVED home improvement projects before, and still do, though I never seem to have time for them. I really don’t have the time and can’t do things with DS around, and then I get back to the guilt of taking time away from him to do, well, anything.
  24. Working mom guilt is rough.
  25. All mom guilt is rough.

I love my son. So much. I want everything in life to be the best it can be for him. I want to be the best I can be for him. I love my husband. I want our marriage, our home to be the best for all of us.

So much falls on me. And I don’t feel like I am handling it as well as I should. I have so much anxiety over things I can’t control. I really want to learn to just let some things go and focus on the important things. But I don’t know how….yet.