Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - FEATURES - by Amy Dick­in­son

Dear Amy: I have a hand­ful of mommy friends that have come into my life within the last few years. I have one 3-year-old son. We get in­vited to many birth­day par­ties.

I had a birth­day party for my son last month. One mom and her son were sick so they could not at­tend.

Last week they came over for a play date at our house. I thought she would bring a be­lated card and gift, but she did not. But then, she in­vited us to her son’s birth­day at the end of the month.

Do we bring a gift? Dis­cuss ex­chang­ing gifts? My hubby says peo­ple just don’t talk about this kind of stuff. I don’t want to hurt or of­fend her, but I also don’t want to end up feel­ing used.

Also, we have many friends that have two or more kids. How do we cel­e­brate all of their birthdays with­out feel­ing that we are ex­pend­ing much more money on them than they do for us?

Is it wrong to want things to be even be­tween friends? My fear is that if I don’t keep things fairly even then over time I may have re­sent­ment and re­gret.

I al­ready do nice lit­tle ex­tras for my friends. I put to­gether Valen­tine treat bags for my mommy friends as a sur­prise and de­liv­ered them at a mommy night out.

I would just like to feel like my kind­ness will be oc­ca­sion­ally re­cip­ro­cated. — Won­der­ing Mommy

Dear Mommy: First this: As long as you re­fer to your­self and your friends as “Mom­mies,” you will stay stuck in this ju­ve­nile place where grown women don’t have first names, and where you and your friends pri­mar­ily re­late to each other based on your role play­ing sec­ond fid­dle to 3-year-olds. Please, grow up!

No, a child who wasn’t at your son’s birth­day party should not have to fol­low up by giv­ing a gift later, un­less this is a close and spe­cial re­la­tion­ship.

Yes, if you at­tend a child’s birth­day party, you should bring a gift for the child. If you are in­vited to mul­ti­ple par­ties over the course of the year for sib­lings in one fam­ily and you don’t want to give gifts to them, you should at­tend the party for the child clos­est to your son and skip the other gath­er­ings.

Of course your kind­ness will be re­cip­ro­cated by your friends. If it is not, then you should dial down your gen­eros­ity, and also re­think the dif­fer­ence be­tween a Mommy and a friend.

Quit keep­ing score. I as­sure you, life has a way of evening things out.

Dear Amy: The other day I was tex­ting my girl­friend while shop­ping for presents for my sis­ter’s birth­day party. My girl­friend asked if it would be OK for her brother to come to the fam­ily party (we both have sib­lings in grade school that are around the same age).

I told her that my par­ents were throw­ing the party, not me, and that the de­ci­sion on who can or can’t come to the party is not mine to make.

She took of­fense. Later that day, we had a spat over this. I re­peat­edly told her that as a guest I can’t de­cide if some­one can or can’t come.

My girl­friend in­sisted that she was just try­ing to “unite our fam­i­lies” by bring­ing her brother to the event. Af­ter she brought it up mul­ti­ple times, we agreed to dis­agree.

Did I do some­thing wrong? I feel like I did the right thing. The last thing I want to do is be rude and in­con­sid­er­ate to my par­ents and strain our close re­la­tion­ship, but I also don’t want my girl­friend think­ing that I don’t care about her fam­ily. Was there a bet­ter way that I could’ve or should’ve han­dled this? — Con­fused Boyfriend

Dear Con­fused: I fail to see how in­clud­ing your girl­friend’s grade school-age brother in this fam­ily birth­day party would help unite your fam­i­lies. Your girl­friend seems to have wanted you to take this re­quest to your par­ents. You de­clined, and that should have been the end of it.

Dear Amy: “Baf­fled and An­gry” was up­set with her mother’s re­sponse to her 10-year-old son’s rude­ness. Wow. I was baf­fled by a par­ent who would per­mit her son to be rude to his grand­mother, and then blame the grand­mother for be­ing up­set. — Up­set

Dear Up­set: I agree that this mother seemed to be ex­cus­ing her son’s be­hav­ior, but not her mother’s. I as­sume this par­ent­ing dy­namic in­di­rectly en­abled the rude­ness.

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