*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Having a close relationship with your parents will give you plenty to laugh about, and you can always feel you are loved and supported, but what happens if you forget about an important event?
Is it fine if they can get whatever they want from you as a way to replace the gift you didn't send, or would you feel that's going too far and argue about it? How much does a birthday matter, and can you make up for letting it pass unnoticed with a simple apology?
My friend Allie, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona, is in college and working part-time. She's still living in her mom's home in Phoenix to save on rent and bills, but she plans to move out as soon as she graduates.
"I don't have a relationship right now, so I thought it made sense to stay home and avoid all the costs of renting a new place. My mom and I got along great, so I felt there was no need to rush and get a new place with my friends. I can do that after I graduate and have a better job with a higher salary," Allie said.
As she changed from being in high school to college, Allie had a few disagreements with her mom because she wanted to stay out later and go to parties with her friends. In the end, they kept their relationship positive, and Allie agreed to let her mom know where she goes and with whom so she doesn't get worried about her.
"I got upset for a while because it felt like she was trying to tell me what to do, but then I realized it was because she cared. My friends told me how their parents never ask where they go and they don't even notice them when they're home. Me and mom are not like that, and I think I'm lucky," Allie said.
As time went by, she adjusted to studying and working part-time, so she could help her mom with the bills and their other expenses. Amanda, her mom, divorced her dad ten years ago, and since then, he moved to a different state, remarried, and hasn't stayed in touch with his ex or with Allie.
"I called him every week when I was little, but I gradually understood he wasn't interested in keeping up a relationship with me. I was sad for a while, and then I decided I wouldn't let his behavior change me. I can still be happy and do well even if he won't ask how I'm doing," Allie said.
Now that she's grown up and earns her own money, Allie likes to make surprises for her mom and get her little gifts even when there's no special occasion.
"I like to show her our relationship means a lot to me. I feel that she supports me all the time and keeps trying to help me whenever she can. And she didn't get married again, so we only have each other for now. So, it's up to me to make her feel happy and know that she matters," Allie said.
While her mom appreciates the surprises she gets from her daughter, there is one thing she's not happy about. She would like her daughter to find a partner and have kids, even if that means giving up on a career.
"I think it matters more to have a family, and I really want that for Allie. She won't be a single mom like me; I know she will find the right person for a long-term relationship, and I'm so ready to be a grandmother. And if she doesn't have a career because she stays home with the kids, I don't think that would be a bad thing at all. I never got to do that. I was on my own and had to keep working for both of us. I would have been so much happier being a housewife and looking after a home and my kids," Amanda said.
In the meantime, Alie has taken on two part-time jobs because they need to buy a new fridge and have some extra bills coming up. That means she has less free time and is a lot more tired.
Unfortunately, scheduling her time for her studies and two jobs made her forget about an important date. Her mom's birthday was last week, and she skipped it. At first, Amanda thought she was getting a party in the evening or a gift, but when the day passed, and Allie didn't say anything or give her a present, Amanda got upset.
"I was so sorry when I realized I had forgotten. I apologized and offered to go shopping together in Phoenix and get her anything she wanted. Mom said it was ok and not to worry about it, but I could see she was upset with me," Allie said.
What she didn't expect was her mom's idea of making up for the forgotten birthday. This weekend, Amanda waited for her daughter to leave for work and then went through her closet and chose the nicest dresses she'd been saving up to buy.
"We wear the same size, so I wouldn't mind if she wanted to wear anything I have, even though the style is not really a match. But she didn't do that. She just chose my favorite three dresses and got stains on them. Now I can't wear them, she can't use them either, and my money was wasted," Allie said.
She couldn't understand why her mom did such a thing, and she asked for an explanation, but her mom kept saying she didn't intend to do that.
"She told me she just happened to spill coffee on them and then drop the cake on each one also. That just can't be. I know it's about me forgetting her birthday, but it's too much. I saved two months for each of those dresses. I forgot about her birthday; she took what she wanted from my closet. It was on purpose, and I didn't think she was like that," Allie said.
Even though Amanda won't admit the stains didn't happen by mistake, Allie is sure that she intended to do that. And she's considering if she should move out since her relationship with her mom is clearly not what it used to be.
"I wouldn't want to do this, but I feel like she disrespected my hard work. And now I have two jobs in Phoenix; what if I forget something else and all my wardrobe goes away? I need good clothes to wear, I work to be able to buy them, and I pay my share of the bills," Allie said.
What do you think about this situation? Was it ok for Amanda to spill coffee on the dresses because she didn't get a gift for her birthday? Should Allie move out, or would that make her relationship with her mom worse?