I haven’t been spending much time at my mom’s house… a long boundary setting story… but on this particular afternoon in mid-December, I almost skipped down the block to show off my new treasure.
A plastic charm necklace and a handful of cheap plastic charms.
Now, these things were massively popular when I was in about elementary school or so… I loved mine… and I know that I had mine until at least high school in a jewelry box.
Yes, it had a place in the jewelry box a decade later in spite of being a cheap plastic toy.
Actually, I’m not even sure when I got rid of it.
Some years back, I had actually looked for one for my kiddo when she was first getting into jewelry and had no luck… all I found was ebay sales of the originals going for high dollar.
So.. I was thrilled with my find… and knew my mom would very much remember my quest for those plastic charms when she saw it.
So I carried it down with glee to show it off.
She just kind of laughed about how everything old becomes new again.
So as I prepared to head back to my house, I jokingly commented that "I guess if it’s for my own stocking, I’m allowed to spoil my own surprise and post a pic already instead of waiting until I get them out Christmas morning."
Rather than joking back, she informed me in a serious tone that I wasn’t supposed to fill my own stocking.
I stayed in my joking tone… "If I don’t, then nobody else is gonna…"
There was unmistakable bitterness in her tone as she replied "That’s why mine always hung empty and I decided to stop hanging it up."
A bit caught off-guard… I pointed out that as kids, we just got candy in our stockings, and asked why she didn’t pick up an extra bag of the chocolate that she liked and tell us it was hers from santa and she didn’t have to share it.
Again I was told that you aren’t supposed to fill your own stocking.
I just kind of shrugged and left… but it stuck with me.
We were never given allowance as kids, and we lived 3 miles from the nearest store. We were never going to have been able to fill her stocking for her.
Even in the years before the divorce, my dad had some serious issues around shopping and people, and barely managed to make it through weekly grocery shopping with my mom. Asking him to go get random stocking stuffers for her without her around during the busy christmas season just wasn’t going to be something that was going to happen.
She knew that there wasn’t going to be a filled sock unless she filled it.
But rather than put in the same sort of inexpensive stuff for herself as she got for us.. year after year she chose self pity and bitterness instead.
Now, since we’ve been adults, my mother has been the only member of our family that gets gifts from us adult children. We don’t get gifts for each other, mom doesn’t get gifts for us… but we all give gifts to mom, every year.
More than a decade of gifts from us, when it’s something that we are now capable of giving…
And still the bitterness over the years that we weren’t reasonably able to have be expected to, and were clueless of the absence.
I get the pain and bitterness.
I battle it every year… around mother’s day, when the day is still is and always will be only about my mother with no notice that I’m a mom too… sometimes around valentines day, wishing i had someone both to give and receive a gift… sometimes around my birthday, knowing i will get no gifts but the ones that I get for myself.
But that’s the thing.
I fill my sock.
I care for myself.. and in the name of self-care, I do treat myself kind… and that means I fill my own sock. I buy myself a birthday gift. I wrap my own christmas presents to unwrap with my daughter… items that I want but don’t need.. knowing that they will be the only gifts that will be given to me.
Last year, feeling rather down, I even did my own valentines gift… of items that were probably more what I wanted than I would have ever expected of anyone else, and thus, made me happy.
I got my necklace… and my candy.. and a thing of perfume that I like… and a kindle fire that was on sale really cheap on black friday (my daughter got one too) amd case to replace my barebones kindle that the screen broke a few months ago… and a kid’s craft style pottery wheel that was half price on sale that I’ve wanted for a while just to mess around with…
And for about half the price that I spent on the gift I got my mom… I got items that made me happy, and joy… instead of self-pity and bitterness.
I choose to be powerful, and meet my own needs… to fill my own sock… when I could just as easily choose to be resentful of not having anyone in my life that feels a desire to fill my sock for me and to feel helpless and like a victim.
I choose to make my own happiness when it isn’t given.
And my necklace hangs around my neck at work being used as a lanyard for my badge… and the rest of the charms hang out around my rear view mirror on another chain in my (also 90’s looking) truck, which I also love… and they both make me smile.
It’s a very good lesson to have learned.