Monday, December 19, 2011

Gift Giving and Receiving Is Shrouded In Agita.

At what point does my boyfriend and I sign the gift labels on his kids' Christmas and Chanukah presents, "From the both of us?" Up to this point, we've shopped separately, and paid separately. It's not about the money, although those little people aren't cheap, it's more about the feelings of separation and inclusion.

I enjoy buying the kid's gifts, and I like labeling them, 'from Chanukah Henrietta'. I wonder if this will always be the case. I wonder if the Girlfriend part of The Girlfriend Mom will merge with the Mom part. I wonder what that might look like. But like everything else in my life as The Girlfriend Mom, things will work themselves out organically. I've learned not to use force or guilt, and to sit back and watch it all unfold.

My boyfriend and I went shopping the other day to buy him skis (we're going skiing next week) and a kick-ass ski bunny outfit for me. I had to face the facts. In the past, a major reason why I never warmed to the idea of going skiing or to be outside in the cold in general, was because I never had the proper gear. Since I moved back east, five years ago, I have been doing without snow boots. I know.

I had a press conference with myself, and left the meeting prepared, and dare I say, excited, to drop some cash and stock up on all that I needed. If my boyfriend suggested that we go sledding or tobagganing, I would be the first one out the door. As an aside: The same holds true for dinner party and business clothes. The only thing I'm prepared for, attire speaking, is working from home, or at my local cafe, teaching Pilates and sexy time in bed.

I hijacked the saleswoman at the Ski Barn and told her that it had been awhile since I bought ski pants, and gloves, and that I needed some TLC and whole lot of  help. We started with the layer closest to my skin and I worked my way out. It was painless and productive. These aren't words used to describe my shopping experiences. Ask my mom or my friend Liz. Anyone who has had the pleasure of going shoe shopping with me, can attest to the fact that I HATE shopping. I am not my mother's daughter.

My boyfriend gave me the thumbs up on my wicked tight and sassy snow pants and after I picked out my helmut, I met him at the register. All of my crap was already in bags. He paid for everything. It sort of confused me because I didn't know if he was trying to expedite the transaction because he was hungry and ready to leave, or if he wanted to pick up the tab. I started to feel nervous. This wasn't discussed at the press conference. What the f? I'm a Virgo for crying out loud. You can't do this. 

When we got in the car, I told him that I'd pay him back. He said that it was my Christmas present. I said that it was too much money, and that I didn't feel comfortable. The anxiety was building up in my gut. I started to flush.

He assured me again that it was my Christmas present but I couldn't do it. I immediately rejected the idea and then, in no particular order, shit shot through my brain, in rapid fire.

I refuse to be a kept woman. I don't want to be like his ex. I don't want to come off as sponging, or spoiled. I'm not worthy. You can't buy me. It's controlling. I don't want to be a taker. He who has the money, has the power. I was looking forward to buying the stuff myself. I don't want a hand out. I feel nauseous.

When I was a kid, and I saw my name on the presents under the Christmas tree, (and then Chanukah bush and sleigh) I dreaded picking up the presents, taking them, and then opening them. I must have expressed my uneasiness because my brother would inevitable pipe in, "If she doesn't want hers, can I have it?" Maybe I was trying not to be like my brother and well, it just never stopped.

In the past, I've returned birthday present checks from my father, if I thought that it was an excessive amount. Of course I was the one who determined what was excessive. If the amount didn't make me feel queasy, then I would be able to accept it.

When we got home, and for the next day or so, I kept thinking about my boyfriend's offer and my reactive response. Why couldn't I have trusted that if he didn't want to give me this generous gift, he wouldn't have offered? Why couldn't I have said, "Thank you. That is so sweet, thoughtful and generous of you. You'll definitely be getting some tonight. And I have what to wear."

But I didn't say that (he got lucky anyway) and then yesterday he presented me with the receipt, so that I could make sure what items were mine. Here's the honest to goodness truth. I was secretly hoping that he would insist on giving me this incredible gift. That he would see through me and my angst and ignore my neuroses. What better way to learn to accept than through practice? I mean, come on, how much does he think I make as a Pilates instructor and writer anyway?

We spoke briefly about the incident and I nutted up and suggested that maybe we could split it. He didn't like my idea and said, "Too late. Now maybe the next time I want to get you something, you'll wise up and just say thank you." He ended up giving me a gift after all because I will never be so asinine again!


Kathy said...

It's funny Dani but I had a really hard time accepting gifts in the beginning of my relationship with my husband. I had never been good with receiving gifts and with Joe it started to get even more uncomfortable, but in time I learned to be gracious and happy. All the feelings you wrote about I experienced, I was proud of my independence and I wasn't sure what it all meant. Even when we got engaged I didn't want a big ring because I just couldn't handle it. Last year when he gave me my netbook I was thrilled and wasn't upset at all! I think it's one of those lessons you learn in a close relationship. Great topic!! I hope you have a great time skiing! I bet you look great! Enjoy the holidays!! Love to you!!

Aimee said...

Hmmm...well the goofball learned her lesson.

Anonymous said...

I can appreciate your feelings..But how do you think HE feels when he is being thoughtful, and generous to you..If someone loves you and wants to treat you to something special you should learn to accept it graciously...Obviously it is giving him pleasure . And who are you to deny him that,

thegirlfriendmom said...

Kathy, Thank you for reading AND sharing your thoughts on the subject. It's all a process now isn't it! Enjoy your holidays and I'm planning on reading you tonight. xoxo

thegirlfriendmom said...

I know, Bitta, what can I tell ya. I'm an idiot! xox

thegirlfriendmom said...

You are right. And it's because I know how much I enjoy giving that I can understand how the other person would feel. Thanks for stopping by.

Sandra said...

Absolutely fantastic. Also I like the colors as well. Silver is definitely my kinda choice. I am always looking out to sexy boots to check new designs and pick up which I like.