Shayne on You: Beach blanket brouhaha

Dear Maggie,

I spent six months knitting a special baby blanket for my pregnant daughter. It was made of a rare and expensive wool, and one of the most beautiful things Iíve ever made. And I told her specifically that it would have to be washed in cold water and dried flat. Well, the other day she phoned and asked me how hard it was to make, and did I think I would have time to make another. (The babyís due in one month.) She said she loved it, but forgot my instructions and threw it into the washing machine. Itís completely ruined.

Iím just so deeply hurt and upset and angry I can barely speak to her. How could she be so careless with something I put so much work into? I mean, sheís always been thoughtless and irresponsible, but with something like this I just didnít expect it. It was a work of art. And how could she ask me to make her another one? I told her no, I couldnít, and then I just got off the phone, too angry to talk anymore. I donít know how to deal with my anger over this. Help?


Dear Grouchy,

So you spent all this time making this blanket. And every day that you worked on it, you were doing it with what on your mind? Was it the warm, loving feeling of looking forward to your new grandchild? Were you thinking of that wonderful gift? Or were you making the blanket with your daughterís undying gratitude as your motivaton?

If it was the latter, it was your mistake. You already knew she tends to be thoughtless and irresponsible. If you expected the blanket to suddenly change who she is, you must have been using magic wool sheared with a blade of gold from the seventh sheep of a seventh sheep at midnight on the solstice or something. Or else why would you expect a mere blanket to do the the impossible?

And if your mood depends on what your daughter does, youíre seriously out of balance. Whenever you say or think, ďIíd be happier if only YOU would change,Ē you should stop yourself. Your happiness is your job.

All the love and warmth and joy you put into that blanket is still there. It was love and joy at the thought of your grandchild. And that grandchild is still on the way, and all those feelings are still there. The presence or absence of a a blanket does not have the power to change any of it, unless you allow it to.

Yes, your daughter was careless. Whatís new? If you decide to spend a lot of time creating anything else thatís going into her care, do it knowing this and accepting it ahead of time. Do it for the joy and satisfaction you get from creating it, not from the gratitude and care you want from her in return. And if you canít enjoy creating it without the expectation of her repaying you by changing who she is, then donít put the time in. Just go to the baby store and buy her something. In fact, if you see her, love her and accept her for who she is, and stopped trying to change her, you might see that a durable product that can stand up to lots of use and needs minimal care would be a far more thoughtful gift for her.

Accept that the love and joy you got from making the blanket were their own reward, and let it go. Turn your focus instead to the child on the way, and the amazing power of the mother-daughter connection, that is far more valuable than any blanket. (Even a magic one.)



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