Author Topic: A birthday dilemma  (Read 5058 times)

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kitchcat

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A birthday dilemma
« on: July 26, 2013, 01:46:58 PM »
My MIL will be having a milestone bday next week!   :D the only hang up is DH and I don't think we were supposed to know. Growing up, money was very tight in DH's family. To ease her children of guilt over being able to buy her a gift or even a card, she never revealed her bday to them. She's the type of person who never wants to be even a slight burden, so even once DH was an adult, she never shared her bday. We've know her birth year, just not the actual date. We've asked before, but she always tells us not to worry about it because she doesn't want us spending money on her.

Well, we recently discovered her birthday on accident while helping her fill out some paperwork that required that info. We said nothing at the time, hoping she wouldn't realize what just happened. We've since bought her a card and a gift (a case for her new ipad) to give her on her bday. I was planning on making a cake for her as well. Is this okay? Now that the day is looming closer, I'm wondering if it would be rude to surprise her with gifts and a cake seeing how she had declined multiple times to tell us her bday.
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Zizi-K

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2013, 02:06:20 PM »
I think the best thing to do would be to be straightforward. Money may have been tight back in the day, but now your husband is established and can certainly afford to do a little something for his mother's birthday. He should call her and have a discussion with her about it, emphasizing how much she means to him and how much you all would like to be able to celebrate her in the same way that you do everyone else. You can also be upfront about how you know her birthday. I would not just spring it on her, though, because habits like this (even when the reason is long since gone) are hard to break. She may not feel she "deserves" it for whatever reason, she may like playing the martyr, it might just be what she's used to. But a gentle, loving and direct approach would seem to be the best way to address it.

EllenS

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2013, 02:06:46 PM »
I don't think it is rude, but how it is received could go either way.  Some folks are afraid of being a burden, but are very touched by spontaneous expressions of love - they deprive themselves but crave it.  Others might feel violated.

Is she intensely private?  Would she feel put on the spot if you present it in person?  Would she feel better if you left it for her to find and open on her own?  I think as long as you emphasize that you just love her and want to celebrate how special she is to you, that's your best shot.

Bast

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2013, 02:36:57 PM »
Ask her, especially about the cake.  The card and gift can be passed off as "Oh, I was walking through the store and saw these and thought of you," but a cake comes across - to me, at least - as a bit more involved.

I'd love it if I was able to keep my birthday a secret, but I end up being put on the spot every year and it makes me incredibly uncomfortable.  I've never been asked if I wanted it or not, it was just shoved on me because it was what they wanted.  (When it comes closer to my next birthday, I do plan on shining my spine and putting my foot down as much as I can, but I still have a few months.)
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cwm

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2013, 02:38:55 PM »
I think the best thing to do would be to be straightforward. Money may have been tight back in the day, but now your husband is established and can certainly afford to do a little something for his mother's birthday. He should call her and have a discussion with her about it, emphasizing how much she means to him and how much you all would like to be able to celebrate her in the same way that you do everyone else. You can also be upfront about how you know her birthday. I would not just spring it on her, though, because habits like this (even when the reason is long since gone) are hard to break. She may not feel she "deserves" it for whatever reason, she may like playing the martyr, it might just be what she's used to. But a gentle, loving and direct approach would seem to be the best way to address it.

POD to this. My grandma never wanted anyone to do anything special for her birthday, even once she realized that money WASN'T tight any longer. My parents spoke with her about it and it was resolved that we wouldn't do anything because that's what Grandma wanted. The why didn't matter.

Talk to MIL, explain to her that you know her birthday is coming up and you wanted to get her a gift and have a dinner and make her a cake, and would that be okay? If she doesn't want to, then respect that. Wait a few months and then give her the iPad case as a random gift. "We saw this and thought of you, please enjoy it."

Piratelvr1121

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2013, 02:42:11 PM »
If she is still keeping the birthday a secret even now, it might be for reasons other than money. Some people are uncomfortable with having a fuss made over them.

So maybe just presenting her with the present randomly on any date would be good.  An "unbirthday" present. :)
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White Lotus

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2013, 03:08:40 PM »
I agree with the people who say she probably doesn't want to be fussed over.  So e people adore it; so,elope hate it.  I think quietly giving her the iPad case and a card on the day, with no fuss would be OK.  I think taking her out to dinner near the day would be fine, but I wouldn't mention birthday.  I would only do a cake as a separate gift (and not a singing-cutting-serving fuss) for her to enjoy on her own or with those she chooses, and only if there is a cake or dessert she loves, but doesn't get very often.  Lemon merengue pie and flourless chocolate cake -- things hard to make at home -- come to mind.

Hmmmmm

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2013, 03:43:15 PM »
If she is still keeping the birthday a secret even now, it might be for reasons other than money. Some people are uncomfortable with having a fuss made over them.

So maybe just presenting her with the present randomly on any date would be good.  An "unbirthday" present. :)
POD to this. I think there are other issues that drive herb to not want to celebrate other than money. It costs nothing to say Happy Birthday, let me do the dishes tonight.

I guess it's too late time ease into the celebration, like continuing to pretend you don't know and then in a few months picking a random date and surprising her with "Mom, since you want share your bday, we've decided that's from now on, today is your special day."

Kaypeep

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2013, 04:29:22 PM »
I'd try to find a happy medium here. I'd go ahead with the gift and cake, but I'd do it fast and not make a fuss.  Like if you go over her house to bring them, present them, and then beandip as soon as possible.   No candles and make a wish, etc.  Just bring the gift and cake (bring paper plates, too, and plastic cutlery even?) and tell her you remembered her birthday and just wanted to let her know you were thinking of her.  But don't make it all about her and put too much of a spotlight on her if you think that's going to make her uncomfortable.

delabela

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2013, 04:56:34 PM »
What about maybe sending her something, so if what she really wants to avoid is being fussed over, she's not confronted with it?  Maybe some flowers if she likes those or an edible arrangement?

shhh its me

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2013, 06:12:48 PM »
   I'm going to go against the grain a little and say "yes its rude" she has gone through some effort to never acknowledge her birthday. forcing a party no matter how small on someone against their express wishes is rude.  I think you can give her a gift , take her to dinner and buy her a lovely card telling her how much she means to you (neither card nor cake should mention birthdays)  and give them to her on another day.

JoieGirl7

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2013, 07:30:23 PM »
I've got to POD Merry Mrs Martin.

You found out by accident, not because she wanted you to know.  When you hve tried to find out her birthday she has beandipped.  If she wanted you to know, she wouldn't beandip the question.

It's not necessarily a given that her reason for not wanting you to know if the reason she has given you.

Knowing how extreme she has been about keeping this from you, I do think it would be rude surprise her on her birthday.  You won't only be surprising her with a gift, but with the fact that you now know something she didnt really want you to know.


Oh Joy

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2013, 08:36:20 PM »
Just ask, then respect her response.  'MIL, we noticed when filling out your ABC application that you have a birthday coming up next week.  How would you feel about having cake, just the three of us?' If she accepts, you can also offer something bigger while reassuring that you'd be glad to do whatever she wants - even if that's nothing.

Best wishes.

AmethystAnne

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2013, 11:26:27 AM »
I, personally, would take the gift and the card (or even a hand-written note saying "we love you Mom") and go visit her and unobtrusively put it somewhere not obvious in her house, where she would find it later after you have left her house.


Specky

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2013, 01:02:46 PM »
I think you should respect her stated wishes, wait until nowhere near her birthday, and give her the gift.  To ignore her wishes would be rude, dismissive and disrespectful.