This afternoon, I caught up with Carolyn Hax’s column, which was posted on Facebook by Carolyn Hax and STFU, Parents. Given the clear bias in the first Letter Writer’s letter, I was shocked to see how many of the comments in both places defended the LW, even though Carolyn did not. While I did my laundry this evening, I got to thinking about the balance (or imbalance) between friends at different stages of their lives.
Luckily, I’m blessed with fabulous friends, most of whom are married and have kids. Though not a kid person, I adore my niece and nephews (related by both blood and love). Just like my friends are part of the family I chose, their kids are part of my chosen family as well. In fact, I had just returned from a birthday party for the three-year of one of those friends when I read the article. Of course, I know that I was free to to decline the invitation (as the commenters suggest) and not buy a gift, but why would I? It’s an honor to be a part of his life and share the day with his extended family. They also invite me over for dinner occasionally, requesting that I bring nothing but myself, gifting me with good conversation, a little bit of chaos and tiny human hugs.
It’s been a month of birthdays around here though. It starts with P in the middle of March, followed by A at the end of March and then C at the beginning of April. Throw in a baby shower gift for my best friend from college (due in June) and it’s been an expensive 30 days for gifts. Each family had approximately the same amount spent on the gift for their child, but collectively it adds up. I’d never presume anything about anyone else’s finances, but perhaps the LW should ponder where her friend is buying gifts at “a $25 gift here and there” for more than just her family. If the fundraising dinner is still too expensive, then she should explain that, but her friend isn’t wrong that the balance of gift-giving is likely off balance.
Though I don’t have this problem with my own friends with kids, I think it’ll be nice when those with and those without can see things from the other’s point of view. The friend was a little out of line in giving a line-item analysis of gift-giving as a reason why her fundraising dinner wasn’t too expensive, but the LW could stand to think about things outside her family-oriented paradigm as well. Some of us aren’t “choosing” to not get married or have babies, so it would be nice if the events we do have in our honor are treated in the same way. It’s not about bean-counting, but acknowledgment of value. And hugs from tiny humans – those really are the best!