For as long as I can remember, my sister and I have gone in on gifts for our mother together. Whether it was Christmas, her birthday, or Mother’s Day, we always consult with each other. “So, any ideas on what we’re getting Mom this year?” we’d start brainstorming in advance. Getting Mom a gift together was a strategy we relied on because we never know what to get her. The woman is impossible to shop for! So, two brains are better than one with coming up with something respectable. And, if she hated it, we could commiserate about our failure.
After I moved across the country, our collective gift-giving didn’t stop. I would go buy the card and sign it with a personal message and mail it to my sister Mandy so she could sign it and give it to our mom from the both of us.
Well recently, I detected a flaw in the plan: out of sight, out of mind! Since Mandy is the one who physically hands my mother the gift, Mom ONLY remembers that the gift is from her. Even though I’ve taken the time to help pick it out, pay for it and sign the card, Mom has amnesia about my part of the gift. Case in point, last time I saw her I pointed at her handbag, “Awww you’re using your bag. You like it!” I exclaimed.
“Oh yes! Mandy gave this to me for Christmas!” she beamed.
“Mom!” I exclaimed through gritted teeth. “Mandy AND I gave you that! Remember? I signed the card?”
She looked blankly back at me. “Oh…oh yeah, sure. Yes, of course…” she trailed off.
Then, later when she was wearing a necklace and I reached over to touch it and comment on it she told me, “Don’t you love this necklace? MANDY gave it to me for my birthday!”
“MOM!!! That was from me AND— you know what? Forget it!” I couldn’t believe it! All these gifts that we’d painstakingly picked out and coordinated and only MANDY gets credit for them!!
I had had it with her running around town telling everyone my sister was the good gift-giving daughter. I was done with being the deadbeat daughter in her forgetful mind. So, this year, I took matters into my own hands.
Two months before Mother’s Day, I called my mom. “Hey, Ma! So I just wanted to check in and see if there’s anything you need or want for Mother’s Day this year?”
“Oh…I don’t know, Trace….” She hesitated.
“Now you listen to me, Mom! Every year, every holiday- Mandy and I go in on a gift together. And every time, you say ‘Look at this great gift from MANDY’ and you forget about me. Well not this year!!! This year, Tracy’s gift will prevail! It’s every daughter for herself! Now you tell me what you want, woman!” I demanded.
“Okay, okay. I would like a new dress for the summer. You could get me that?” she suggested.
“Great!” I wrote “Macy’s Card for Mom” on my to-do list.
A couple of days later, Mom called me back. “Is it too late to change my mind?” she asked.
“Huh? Change your mind about what, Ma?”
“Well I was thinking about it and I could really use a new bathing suit. You know, we’re coming out to California to visit this summer and I really don’t have a nice bathing suit that fits me well. I was going to order one but I guess you could get that for me?” she suggested.
“Yeah, that’s fine, Mom. I was going to send you a Macy’s card. You can buy a dress or a bathing suit or anything you want that Macy’s sells with it.”
“No, no- the one I want is in a catalog. It’s item number F-2749 and you can call 1-800-“
“Mom!” I cut her off. “I am NOT ordering a bathing suit off a catalog. Who even DOES that anymore? I mean seriously….what’s the name of the store?”
As I pulled up the website online, Mom and I went through the steps to order it together. When it came time to enter the shipping portion, I contemplated whether to send it directly to her or send it to myself first and then mail it to her with a card. On the one hand, why should I pay for shipping twice? On the other hand, if it got to her early, and without a card from ME, she would probably find a way to forget that it was from me!! No way- I would pay for shipping twice- I was on a crusade!!
As I hit submit on the final part of the online order for Mom’s Mother’s Day gift, I yelled, (maybe a bit manically, if we’re being completely honest here) “AH- HA! You see that?! I’VE ordered your Mother’s Day gift! Early! And something you want! Something you need!! All from ME!! From me, me ME and NOT FROM MANDY! Ha-HA!”
Then, I called my sister, “Hey, so Mother’s Day is coming up… you know how we always get a gift for Mom together?”
“And every year she runs around telling everyone, ‘This gift is from Mandy’ and she never remembers that it’s from me too?”
“Yeah, but I mean, I TELL her it’s from you too…it’s not like I’m trying to be malicious or take credit…”
“Well, I know that. But, I’m sorry- I had to cut you out. I went off on my own and I got her my own gift this year. Enough! Enough of me being the bad daughter! And I had to sit on the phone with Mom while she rifled through her catalog. I mean. Did you even know that people still shop on catalogs? Like, it’s an actual thing?”
“I’m pretty sure one person shops on catalogs: Mom. That’s it. Our mom is the last person who shops through catalogs…and calls in her orders from a landline. Anyway, I’m sorry you had to deal with that and I’m sorry she always forgets about you. But I’m glad you got it covered this year! That’s great!”
I have to tell you, I was pretty smug about the whole thing. Pretty darn smug. Finally it was my turn to shine.
Except then I noticed that my credit card hadn’t been charged. Hmm that was weird. Maybe I didn’t complete the order? I went back and check and I definitely had received a confirmation email that the order went through. I clicked the confirmation email.
“Thank you for your order. STATUS: BACK ORDERED”
You have got to be kidding! No ETA. No more details- just a great big middle finger from the catalog company. So my gift wouldn’t be here in time for Mother’s Day. Looks like another year of being dubbed the deadbeat daughter!!
I know Mother’s Day isn’t about the gifts, but it’s nice to be able to recognize and show appreciation to Mom and give her something special if we are able. How about you: Do you struggle like I do to come up with a good gift idea? What is the best (or worst!) gift you’ve given or received for Mother’s Day?
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