Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What Do You Mean You Don't Want It?!!?

So this morning, I'm sipping my coffee and indulging in my guilty pleasure - advice columns. I come across Ask Amy, a syndicated advice giver, I think out of Chicago, who answered a letter from a quilter.  I'll let you read it here , but I'll post it below as well.

"DEAR AMY: My 27-year-old son and his wife are expecting our first grandchild this summer. I am over the moon. As a gift for the baby, I made a beautiful, meaningful patchwork quilt.
Not only did I not receive a “thanks” or “I like it,” but I was told that I would need to run any further gifts past them to make sure they would need it. My son went on to say that they do not have a lot of extra space to store blankets.
"This quilt was made with only one thing in mind — showing my grandchild how much I care. How should I handle my feelings of rejection and disappointment? Do I continue to send gifts with the hope that they meet parental approval?
"Or should I send gifts of cash, which I am loath to do? -- Quilter in a Quagmire

"DEAR QUILTER: I can understand how disappointed you must feel, but you have spun this disappointment into a massive dilemma about gift-giving. You might be someone who wraps your considerable positive and powerful feelings into quilts, gifts and other material things. This abundance of kindness can create unintended pressure for a couple who haven’t even become parents yet.

"You should determine to give this new baby the most important thing of all — an easy and loving relationship with you. Nothing further is required."

 Wow. Just wow. I mean, when does abundance of kindness expressed through a quilt equal pressure? In short, Amy's suggestion in handling feelings of rejection and disappointment was to blame the quilter for wanting to show kindness in a way that makes sense to her.  I'm trying to think as I type here, but here's the thing. This guy is her son, who is my own son's age. If his mom is like any of us, then he has to know his mom is an enthusiastic quilter. He should be anticipating that she is going to want to make a quilt for any baby he brings into this world. But to order his mother to run gift ideas past them first? 

Help me, dear readers, She sent a quilt, probably a 36" x 54" baby quilt. She didn't send a treadmill, or a Magic Bullet drink mixer that takes up an entire kitchen cabinet with all of its connectable parts. While I sympathize with the space dilemma a young couple starting a family might face as this is a common scenario that so many of us go through, his answer made no logical sense. He and his wife will find out soon enough that babies  will take up more space than they will ever have, even if they live in a mansion. I think his answer reflects a painful underlying dynamic here, and that is why this good quilter feels so rejected.

So I ask you - have you ever given a gift where you spent considerable amount of time and  maybe money only to have it so summarily rejected the way this son rejected his mother's gift? If you were to give this good woman advice, what would you suggest she do to overcome her feelings of rejection? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments. 


  1. I know of people that want nothing that looks country or homey in their home because it doesn't go with their strict modern decor. They want No hand made quilts or such.
    I'm a quilter and it is difficult for me to understand this type of personality.

  2. Ouch! Even though the gift does not equal us, when we loving hand fashion a gift (or give any thoughtfully chosen gift for that matter), we are including a lot of time/effort/love and it hurts to have that rejected. I traditionally make a quilt for each of my children when they establish their home. One son and daughter-in-law warned me that they much prefer comforters over quilts. I wanted to make them one anyway and had my daughter-in-law choose the fabrics as well as the pattern. When the quilt was finished, it spent a few weeks on their bed and then was removed to the guest bed in the basement. I told them that it didn't have to be their bedspread and that it was okay for it to be just an extra blanket. I wanted them to have a quilt that I made. Did I mean that??? I have to accept that they are not me. Maybe one day they will pass it on to one of their children..."a special quilt that grandma made many years ago."

  3. I made a baby quilt once for a couple who liked the back of it better than the pieced front. I'm OK with that, but never made them any more baby quilts for their growing brood. As to the son and daughter-in-law above, I'd get the quilt back and donate it to a good cause and disown them. What a thoughtless thing to say - whether you liked it or not. Good lord.

  4. I had a few different reactions when I read this. With the relationship I have with my children, I probably would have done the mom thing and chastised him verbally for being rude. I would have considered it a teaching moment; we are never too old to learn, Whether we like or want a gift or not, we should accept it graciously. Period! That's simple manners. My second reaction was not as a mom but as an artist. I get so much pleasure out of creating something that it often matters very little whether someone else likes it or appreciates the work and soul that went into it. I can't put a value on that even for myself. It is simply what I can't help doing...creating. Quilts are extremely personal things. Our homes are works of art, too. We create an atmosphere that we choose to live in. The gifts we are given don't always make sense in our space. Therefore, I have given quilts before and said this....If you like it, use it. If you don't like it, give it as a gift, pass it on, pay it forward, donate it, whatever.

  5. My first reaction was wow! That guy didn't get taught much about receiving gifts graciously whether you like them or not. Then I wondered about the marriage dynamics and how some young marrieds are so caught up in 'how things look'. Maybe they really, really don't like the homemade theme and didn't handle it very well thinking more about how to head off more 'homemade' gifts in the future. The fact is, the son undoubtedly knew his mom would jump to make a quilt for her grandkid, so he was a being a jerk. But NOW, the mom (who really should have been more attuned to how her labor of love would be received) knows not to put much time and effort into any future gift. Maybe the grandkid will grow up appreciating g'ma more.:)

  6. p.s. My sister dealt with an over zealous g'ma who rushed to make fancy, frilly Easter dresses for her oldest daughter every single year. Sometimes they were adorable and sometimes they were awkward looking, but regardless they weren't my sisters style of dressing her daughter at all and she never asked permission once. That was a dress meant to be worn on a specific day--much pressure involved. A quilt? Not so much pressure since any quilt can easily become an everyday quilt and not shown off or displayed anywhere.

  7. I would have responded that I understood and then gently suggested a solution to the son might be to return the quilt so that it could be used when the grandbaby visited and would also help them out by not having to locate a place to store the quilt. I'm sure that grandma put lots of love, dreams, and prayers into that quilt only to have it under-appreciated.

  8. Laugh. Offer some thing else.
    and donate the quilt to a kid in a non-adoption situation, a hospital, or a safe house.
    Everybody wins.

  9. I was told when I first started making quilts that it does not belong to you after you give it away. So I don't know, nor do I ask, anyone about the quilts I have made for them and if they use them. However, no one has ever told me not to make them anything else after giving them one already. I would be hurt and I would be apt not to make them anything else in the future - especially considering the time and effort (and money) into making a quilt, even if they asked for something in the future. Unless it's the grandchild asking, then I will make them whatever they want.

  10. I only make work for creative types that will truly appreciate it and love it - for those others - gift cards are easy and leave me more time to quilt! That said - I really think this case about a mother/son relationship than a quilt issue. If a son doesn't realize how much work goes into a quilt and what a family treasure it can become (especially made by gram) - he obviously needs a reality check. He and his wife must be self-centered and I'm sure this isn't the first time they have shown these tendencies!

  11. WEll, I was recently told much the same thing about my quilts, of which I have given several to my son and DIL. She told me "our cupboards are full..." meaning, they did not want any more quilts. I was so very hurt and disappointed! But I do understand that they are not me, that their home is minimalist and modern, and that I could give my quilts to people who really love them! So there...and now I make quilts for my patients at the hospital who need a lift, and I love doing that!

  12. I just started following you and just had to chime in on this. My son and DIL know I quilt. They knew I would make a quilt or half a dozen for our first grand baby who is due in November. They let me know what they wanted the theme of the baby's room to be and my son told me to "Go crazy Mom! I know we will never have enough blankets for him."

    They know the amount of time and money that go into quality, handmade items and they know the joy that I get from making things. My daughter in law looks at the pictures of each of my finishes on my blog and when I made one that she liked she called me right away and said "I love that one! Can I have it?"

    I told her I'd make her a quilt when they got married 7 years ago and I feel great that she felt she could call dibs on something that she truly loved that I had made.

    If I was that Grandma I'd take the quilt back and let the tyke use it at my house. Spoil the little nipper rotten when he came over and make him love Grandma's house so he'd scream and holler to go there ALL THE TIME! :D I'm evil like that though.