Gift giving in the eyes of my mother

When I originally set up the baby gift registry, I knew my mom was going to pry and try to find out who gave me what and basically calculate the “value” of each gift. Granted, she’s not that computer savvy, so it’s not like she’s going to make me send her specific links for who bought what off the registry, but that’s just the kind of person she is. When it’s come to pretty much every event, whether it’s a birthday, graduation, wedding, when she finds out what someone has given me, she has either opened up the envelope (amazing and classic her) or gift, or done a mental calculation in her head of the value of the gift. For her, gift giving is purely quid pro quo — if she’s given the person a gift of say, $100 in the past, she expects a gift of that value in the future for herself or for me. It’s pretty exhausting and infuriating.

So when the baby registry gifts have been coming in, she tries to ask who has given what, but I give very broad-stroked responses, “Oh, she bought the baby swaddles and bibs,” or “He got the baby a bunch of toys.” I don’t tell the quantity or the exact item name because I know she will try to get my dad to open the registry and actually do a calculation.

When I give a gift, I just want to give a gift. I don’t want to obsess over what that person will give me for a future event or expect a “payback” in the future. I used to think similarly to my mom since that’s what I was taught and what I knew, but my thinking on gift giving has evolved. I will give a gift if I want to do it. I should feel good doing it. I should feel good about the item I’ve chosen to give. I don’t really expect something of the exact same value in return. At the end of the day, not everyone is of the same means as me, and others have more or less, so gift giving is what it is, and I’m grateful for anyone to give me or my child anything because at the end of the day, no one “owes” me anything. Also, not all “gifts” are physical or can have an exact dollar amount assigned to them. That’s not a concept that my mom can quite wrap her head around.

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