Posted: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 8:00 pm
Dear Annie: When I was little, my mother would insist, “I’m not your mother.” I’d be convinced and start to cry. Then she would say, “I’m just kidding.” As a 6-year-old, I was afraid of the vacuum. She unplugged it and told me it was OK to sit on it. When I did, she turned it on and scared me to death. When I was a teen, she said, “No one will ever want you.” When I reached my 20s, she told me I was an unwanted pregnancy.
My entire life, I’ve been the butt of her “jokes.” Any kindness from her comes with the price tag of putting up with her nastiness. Honestly, I feel bullied. Nothing I say or do is good enough. The days of expecting her approval are long past, and I know she will never give me the positive acceptance I crave. But where do I go from here? — Grown Up
Dear Grown Up: No stable person would play such sadistic practical jokes on her child. It’s possible this is the way your mother was raised or, just as likely, she suffers from some type of mental illness. Knowing this might help you respond to her sickness with a more distant compassion, instead of making it a reflection on you or your relationship. Please contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (nami.org) at 1-800-950-NAMI (1-800-950-6264) for more information.
Dear Annie: I have recently been invited to a wedding where the only gifts requested were contributions to the honeymoon. Included in the wedding invitation was a card with directions for accessing the “Honeymoon Fund” website so I could make a donation. On the website were explicit instructions from the couple saying they’d like the donation made prior to the wedding so they could plan ahead. The website fund is broken down into specific items ($20 for breakfast in bed, $80 for a couple’s massage or $100 toward a down payment on a house). All I had to do was click “donate here.”
Am I old-fashioned, or is it still considered tacky to tell your guests that you want money (and only money) and ask for it in advance? If I donate online, do I still give a card to the couple at the wedding?
I’ve asked a few younger people about this, and it sounds as if such things are becoming more commonplace. Please rush your answer so I can donate early. — Bring Back Wedding Etiquette
Dear Etiquette: Yes, it’s still tacky to tell your guests what to give you. Of course, bridal registries were created to make it easier for people to help the couple stock their new home. And since many couples live together these days, they do not need sheets, towels or dishes, hence the honeymoon websites. But a honeymoon used to be a personal, romantic gift from the bride and groom to each other. Aunt Mildred shouldn’t be paying for it. We say get them whatever you want.
Dear Annie: May I comment on “Undecided Mom,” who can’t decide what mementos to give her children? Give the kids everything.
I, too, saved our children’s report cards, notes to the teacher when they played hooky, school photos, Boy Scout and 4-H awards, everything. When the last one graduated from college, I made a scrapbook for each child. I captioned the photos and trimmed the newspaper clippings. Dates, occasions and names were handwritten below. The entire project took several months to complete, and it was a walk through memory lane and a labor of love.
It was their Christmas present that year. The looks on their faces were priceless. These scrapbooks are now among their most prized possessions and are shared with their friends. They are still enjoying them 15 years later. Yes, there were a few embarrassing things included, but that was part of the fun. — Burwell, Neb.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 9.25.12