When I was around 19 years old, I was out shopping with my mother at a local jewellery store. The shop was running a drawing where the top prize was a free cruise for two people. We both decided to put our names in.
A few weeks later, the shop called to tell me I had won. When I phoned my mother to tell her the good news, I mentioned that I would probably want to take my boyfriend at the time. We had been dating for three years (since I was 16 and he was 17), so it was what I considered a very serious relationship. I didn’t think to break this to my mother gently, because I was relatively young and foolish and it didn’t even occur to me that she would have expected to be my cruise companion. Despite making an effort to spend time together doing things like shopping, our relationship during that period tended to be quite contentious. We tended to fight (and make up) just about every day.
She got VERY angry with me, but I decided to stick to my guns. Partly out of stubbornness, and partly because I thought I’d have a much better time doing romantic things with the man I was smitten with, rather than spending the entire cruise inevitably bickering with Mom.
All this was before I had officially claimed the prize. When I went to the store to collect, I asked a little more about it. It turned out that, as is common, the prize ONLY included the cruise. It departed from Florida, and we live in Ontario. Being a university student, I didn’t think I had enough money at that time to make the trip. The store told me I could think about it for a day or so.
When I mentioned this to my mother, she replied that it was too bad I hadn’t asked her, because she could have afforded the trip. Because I did selfishly want to go and because it seemed like she was going to be gracious about all of it, I almost asked her after all. But then she started saying very nasty things like how my boyfriend didn’t deserve such a nice trip anyway. (She thought he was too “low-class” to associate with, one source of our many fights.)
I let the jewellery store know I would not be claiming the prize, and gave them the go-ahead to offer it to somebody else.
My mother and I never mentioned the trip again. I am 36 now. Our relationship is much better. We still get on each-other’s nerves, but we only get together a few times a year. I’ve grown up a lot, and the man I eventually married (who is not the boyfriend from the story) is a very calm man who tends to have a calming presence on everyone around him.
Do you feel I should have offered the spot on the trip to my mother first? Did I have an obligation because she was with me at the time of entering? Simply because she is my mother? At 19 would you expect a girl to travel with family and not a boyfriend? Was I foolish to give up a great travel opportunity because of a personality clash? 0905-18
Your mom may have had an unspoken expectation, even prior to your winning the cruise, that you both were entering to increase the odds of one of you winning so that both of you could go together on the cruise. It appears the decision to enter the contest together occurred during one of those moments when you both were not engaged in being contentious. The question in my mind is, how would you have felt if your mom had won the cruise and announced to you that her guest was not you but some new boyfriend of hers or an old school friend? Would you have been bent out of shape at her choice? If the answer is “Yes”, that you would have been confused or hurt by her choice, then I think you owe your Mom more understanding in regards to how she reacted.
Declining to accept a prize because you cannot afford to utilize it is no shame but I would have asked if the cruise tickets could have been used by another person and if that was possible, offered it to your mom. “Mom I won the cruise but I found out that there are fees associated with claiming it that I cannot afford. I can transfer this to someone else so, here, enjoy that cruise.” It would have then been interesting to see who she would have then chosen to go with her or if she would have also declined because she did not want to actually pay for airfare either.