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Whenever I complain about a situation where I feel like Big Dude has let me down, a good friend of mine says that we can’t look to our husbands to meet our every need.

Women need other women, the Wise One says. Did you read the Twilight saga? Bella’s and Edward’s romance sweeps you away because it’s such a romanticized fairytale. Edward meets every single one of Bella’s needs, from rescuing her every time she is in danger to watching over her while she sleeps. Real life and real relationships aren’t like that.  Sure, we need our spouses, our partners, but we also need friends to lean on and reach out to. Real life necessitates more of a
patchwork support system made up of a group of friends, not just one ‘perfect’ significant other who meets every single one of our needs.

This conversation made me think. I have made a lot of friends over the past six months, and I am definitely a happier person because of it. Now I’m starting to think about how to cultivate those friendships. Meaning, how do I become a better friend? If I want people to be there for me and to reach out to me, I have to reach out to them.

Of course, this invariably brings up all kinds of anxiety and guilt for me.
Anxiety over reaching out to friends:  What if I invite So&So out to lunch and she declines? Does that make me the nerdy grade school bookworm who eats by herself again?

And guilt when So&So actually accepts my invitation: I have to give up an hour of my workday and go relax over a meal with pleasant conversation, connecting with another human being, instead of absently eating my lunch in front of my computer screen while continuing to work?

Or, horror of horrors: I make plans with a friend on a weekend and Big Dude must spend an hour by himself with Little Dude while I grab coffee with a friend.

That guilty place inside of me naturally thinks about the impact my social time will have on those around me instead of thinking about how that social time will fulfill me and support me and make me happy.

Stupid, I know. But, I’m a work-in-progress. And I’ve got friends.


Now that Little Dude’s birthday has come and gone, and he’s enjoying all the new toys he received as gifts, I’m left with only one last thing to do.

Thank you notes.

Of course I bought the thank you notes that matched the birthday invitations I used.  At the party, I even passed around a spreadsheet I made for each guest to write down his or her address in order to mail out the thank-yous. (Since Little Dude changed schools, I need to mail the notes.)

Have I actually written the notes yet?  No.

Am I the least bit motivated to write the notes?  No.

I really don’t know what my hang up with this is. I feel like I just HAVE to send thank-yous.  It’s the only polite thing to do.  But I also hate having to do it.

A couple of the parents at Little Dude’s party commented, as they wrote down their addresses for me, that they had not sent out thank-yous for their kids’ birthday parties earlier in the year.  That got me thinking:
1)  I hadn’t even noticed or remembered whether or not these people had sent thank you notes.
2)  Further, I didn’t really care whether they had sent thank you notes.
3)  So why should I worry so much about sending out thank you notes?

Is sending written thank you notes an outdated social custom?  In today’s high-speed, technological world, do people still expect written thank you notes?  I mean, really, if you’re going to hate me just because I didn’t write a damn thank you note for a plastic helicopter that is currently in a million pieces all over my living room floor, then I don’t need to be your friend that badly.

I thank you all for coming to Little Dude’s birthday party.  I really do.  Little Dude thanks you, and he thanks you for the gifts.  Each of your kids went home with a goodie bag as a ‘thanks for coming’ gift.  Do I really have to still write thank you notes?  (Which, essentially, are notes to thank the parents for stopping by Target on their way to the party, aren’t they?)

So maybe I just won’t do them.  Maybe I’ll wait until nex year, or the year after, when Little Dude is big enough to understand the concept a bit more and can help write the notes and sign his name.  Because, right now, writing them myself would primarily be an exercise in alleviating my own guilt if I didn’t write the notes.

That’s it.  I’m taking a stand.  I’m not writing thank you notes this year.

Oh, who am I kidding?  Of course I’ll write the thank you notes.  I made an address spreadsheet for goodness sake.  I would be horribly guilty if I didn’t do it.  It’s like a chain letter — I don’t want to see what will happen if I don’t send out seven copies right away.  But I can still think it’s kinda silly, right?

Where do you stand on the great thank you debate?  People deserve gratitude when they give — that goes without saying.  But are written thank you notes for things like birthday or Christmas gifts truly necessary or an outdated social custom?

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The Guilt Goddess

Giving guilt a voice one post at a time.

I am your average guilt-ridden mother of one (or 2, if I'm being honest and including my husband), trying to balance running my own business, running my household and now writing a blog. Someday I hope to have vanquished all of my myriad pangs of guilt and be living blissfully free from moment-to-moment. But, until that time, my guilt will live here.

Twitter: @guiltgoddess

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