Thursday, July 27, 2017

How to stop being an asshole when it comes to giving gifts...

With this pregnancy, I've run into something that I should've fucking expected and just didn't; shitty gift givers. So I briefly bitched about the uselessness of registries, but I realize I have more to say about it.

As I said, I didn't really want to create a registry. When Adam and I were married, we didn't create a registry. We weren't really in a position of needing to have our new house furnished with all the things new houses need, so we didn't make a registry. 'Cause, just to remind you, the purpose of registries is for friends and family TO HELP those who created the registry. People seem to forget this. Since Adam and I didn't need the things a traditional registry provides, we just didn't have one. Instead, we included information about two charities that really meant something to us; a local animal shelter and the conservancy that serves the National Park, where we were married. Unsurprisingly, no one donated a damn thing. Maybe because we also said gifts were unnecessary, or maybe because...

When people give gifts, it's to make the giver feel good, not to make the receiver feel good.

This is why the entire registry debacle has caused me such stress for the past couple of months. Instead of people looking at my very practical registry with a few "fun" things as a way to help me and Adam set up a new life for the new human we are going to be raising, they didn't even look at it at all. And I really don't know why this surprised me, because this is a fundamental thing I've known about gifts and's the reason I always ask for no gifts for birthdays, because otherwise I just end up with a bunch of lame and stupid bullshit. Why go through all the trouble of receiving gifts I hate or can't use just so someone else can feel good about it? It's easier to avoid the whole gift-giving culture.

But I didn't manage to avoid that when it came to this baby situation. Instead, I was encouraged and then let down. In total, I've received eight gifts of varying degrees :

1. A donation from a friend of a breast pump, bottles, and some cloth diapers; all of which I needed.
2. A donation from the mother of a girl whose senior portraits I did that included way more clothes than I could ever use, some diapers, some clothing accessories, receiving blankets, and a swing. I received so much stuff that I was able to sell what I wouldn't use and buy bottles that I needed.
3. & 4. Gifts from some of my mom's friends that weren't from my registry. I exchanged them for bottles and cloth diapers.
5. Another gift from one of my mom's friends that wasn't from my registry and included no method for returning or exchanging it.
6. Furniture and onesies that my mom has bought over time.
7. One item from my registry that I didn't really want or need.
8. Another small assortment of gifts from my registry that arrived shortly after I posted my rant, and makes me sort of wonder if I made someone feel guilty. These items are almost useful...I put them on the registry because I thought I'd need them, but after receiving nothing, I did research and found some other solutions...and now I don't know if I'm gonna keep these items or not.

All in all, a disappointing return from 43 opened announcements.

On top of that, I got a really good dicking around from a friend who insisted on checking in over the course of these two months to see what I "need" but never actually coming through with buying anything. It all came to a head when she wanted to "help" me purchase my stroller, but the amount she was willing to give me just, honestly, was a joke. Also, she made a big deal about the cost of it and had me look around and find it somewhere else cheaper, which I felt pressured to do, because I felt like I was supposed to accept this "help". In the end, after being super stressed out for two days, I declined the help.

This is the problem with registries : People treat them like they are a burden, when they are meant to be a help. But a registry is created by the people who need what's on that registry. It's not created for the sake of those purchasing gifts...and yet, that's how everyone acts. They buy the shit they think will be fun or they just go off registry, which defeats the entire fucking purpose. And you know what, it's really fucking rude. Going off registry is super rude and self-centered bullshit.

Several times, over the course of having this stupid registry, I was asked what I "need". It's not fucking complicated, right? I need what's on the registry...and you know, common sense says I probably need bottles before toys because of how eating is a basic human function that prevents death. Also, several times over the course of this registry, I was told how to get things cheaper. Since obviously, I didn't put any thought into my registry, the items I might need, and the safety regulations involved in buying those items. So I often felt shame because I had carefully selected certain items that would suit me well, but everyone assumed I wanted to find everything for cheaper. Because of this, I ended up buying the baby's bed from someone online for way cheaper...and it was an entirely creepy experience. The bed smelled bad, required cleaning, required parts to be thrown away, and had some parts that were chewed by dogs though still usable. I felt pressured into compromising not only what I wanted, but also what my child will need, because everyone thought it was their business to go on and on about buying items used or on sale or with a coupon.

What I never got to do, was have a nice conversation about how I was setting up things for my baby and how excited I might be to provide for this new life.

Even worse, with all the begging for a registry, promises to buy me something, receiving gifts that weren't on my registry, and having to go figure everything out on my own, I felt guilty and selfish for the bad behavior of others. Because in America, we view gifts as some sort of amazing part of our culture, and even though no one really tries to buy gifts that are helpful, practical, or meaningful, we are still expected to receive gifts with no complaints. Gifts are viewed as something for which the receiver must be openly and publicly thankful, no matter whether or not it was wanted.

Y'all, this is extreme bullshit.

Because of this extreme stress, the hassle of returning shit, the annoying requirement to act all thankful for crap I didn't want, the constant talking about "helping" me with absolutely no follow through, and just all of the shitty feelings I've had after being convinced by others to participate in a social contract for which I was wholly unprepared, I have decided not to participate in these sorts of situations in the future. I will not allow myself be baited into participating in social contracts with which I don't agree and never understood anyway. No post-baby announcement. No more conversations about my registry. No more appeasing people with niceties when they want to assign a gender to my unborn child. No more quick jokes about being "excited" or whatever. I'm just totally done with all of this bullshit. I also plan on refusing any future requests about gifts. It's a burden I'm no longer interested in bearing.

I am grateful to those who have been helpful, which I think they know. I'm exceptionally grateful for the people who cared more about helping to provide for the baby than in making themselves feel good about giving me some presents. I'm grateful for the help my mom has provided in securing things the baby really needs. I'm grateful for the items I was able to exchange for something I really needed. Everything has sorted itself out, because I was proactive about it and made sure to prioritize what I knew I needed, even if it made me feel slightly guilty for exchanging gifts.

If you're reading this blog post and you've been in this position, you have my sympathies. It sucks to feel shitty because people are too inconsiderate to buy gifts that the receiver actually wants or needs. And if you're reading this and this blog post seems somewhat inane or even offensive, then please, GET OVER YOURSELF!!!

Remember that gift giving isn't supposed to be about making the giver feel good, registries are meant to serve a purpose, and true gift giving is meant to be a selfless act that allows the receiver to accept things he or she needs or wants. If you're giving a gift for your own selfish purposes, you're being an asshole.

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