The mother of all dilemmas.

I got a check in the mail yesterday for $2,000-some dollars. Made out to me. Holy shit, right? I was running up and down the hallway, waving my hands just like those ninnies on “The Price Is Right.” If all I had to do to cash that check was hop around on stage without a bra and rub up and down Bob Barker a few times, I would gladly do it. But it’s not that simple.

This check was sent to me, in my name, because my mother recently cashed out my life insurance policy. She had taken it out on me when I turned 18. Since I now have my own life insurance, there is no longer a need for it.

Technically, this money is unequivocally hers. But from a karma standpoint, she doesn’t DESERVE this money — and anyone who knows my mother would agree with this statement. Let me present the evidence:

  • She spends about $500 a month on clothes alone (she recently went four whole weeks without having to do a single load of laundry).
  • When she comes to visit, she doesn’t bring so much as a ball of lint for untitledson.
  • When she does buy the occasional outfit for untitledson, it is usually from the dollar store (not the luxury department stores she shops when buying for herself).
  • She rarely offers to pay for lunch when we’re together, and has even stiffed me a few times.
  • When I asked Mom if she would be interested in contributing to untitledson’s college fund, she said “no, that’s ok” (keep in mind she always told me the reason she didn’t pay for any of my college was that she never had the money).
  • When her granddaughter (my niece) was in the NICU for three months after birth and my brother and his wife were experiencing severe financial difficulties as a result, my mom told them all she could afford to give them was $50. (another relative — one who has always given my mother money when she needed it — generously stepped in to help them out)

This last incident disturbed me greatly. I am my father’s daughter (he was pretty giving), and I know he’d be turning in his grave over this one. The reason she has the money in the first place is because of his death. But it seems the more she has, the stingier she is. I mean, I would eat ramen noodles every day for lunch to be able to pay for art lessons for untitledson. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than giving to him. For most mothers and fathers, that’s the way it is.

So back to the dilemma — should I play karmic police and withhold the check? Should I cash it myself, perhaps put it in untitledson’s college fund? I’m almost positive she would never find out. In your heart of hearts, what would YOU do? Don’t tell me what you say you’d do — tell me what you’d really do. If you need further evidence to make your decision, click here and here.

33 thoughts on “The mother of all dilemmas.”

  1. cash it and put it into a college fund for your son. send her a Thank You card thanking her for her generous contribution…

  2. If I were dealing with your mother and not mine I would cash it and drop it in the college fund. It sounds as though your relationship with your mother is strained, at best, so who gives a spit if she does find out? What’s she going to do? Bring you up on charges?

  3. I would totally cash it. I would probably put most (but not all!) in untitledson’s college fund. And then I would take a little of it and go out for a nice dinner to celebrate. And I would never mention it to her. But then again, that’s probably because I’m not that nice of a person.

  4. Hey Untitled–You’re ENTITLED to the check.

    Keep it. Enjoy it. Pretend it was given willingly and lovingly. Treat yourself and untitled hub and son to something special, sock some away for college, have a very merry Christmas!

    If your mother wanted to collect on the life insurance policy, she should have killed you a long time ago! : )


  5. Why is that money “technically hers”? What did you go without so that she could pay the premiums?

    I felt that way before I read your previous post about your Christmases as a child. After reading it I realized your mother is sick. Mentally ill. If you give the money to her, it will just feed her illness.

    Cash the check, put some in the untitledcollegefund, go out to a nice untitledmeal, and buy the untitledchild a nice pair of Toughskins, not as a present.

  6. I would put $2000 in untitledsons account and some day tell him it was a gift from his grandma (it sounds like it might be the only decent thing she may do for him). He will undoubtedly know that you are covering for her at some point, but it will show him what a wonderful person you are and that the cycle of crappy parenting has been broken. Oh~~~take the “some dollars” and take U-son to a movie and out for pizza. πŸ™‚

  7. Cash it and take yourself (& son) out for dinner. If there is any left over, then put it in a savings or college fund.

    You (and your son) deserve it

  8. I don’t think you can ever rely on what a parent “should” do. According to what? I know this sounds Pollyanna-ish, but I also don’t think it’s so good to categorize the gifts she brings your son as “cheap” or unworthy. Remember: she doesn’t “have” to bring him anything. It will cause you less angst in the long run if you are simply grateful for the gift and don’t do the math too carefully, especially since you know her so well and know that this leopard will NEVER change her spots. But since it does hurt you that she is not more invested in your son (and I don’t blame you at all for that), and the check did come serendipitously to you, I agree with other commenters: put it in a college fund for him. It can be your secret reparation for her deficiencies, in honor of your boy.

  9. You certainly deserve it more than your mother…but i would check with a tax attorney or someone to make sure you wouldn’t be committing insurance and/or tax fraud by cashing it. But since it’s in your name hopefully it’s yours.

  10. You are being troubled by the conscience that somehow you developed despite having a mother that makes Marie Antoinette look charitable. Cash the damn check, deposit it into untitledson’s college fund and don’t say another word about it. No thank-you note, nada.

    And think of it gleefully, often.

  11. It looks like college money to me. If your mother’s name is not on the check, the money is yours. And I wouldn’t tell her about it — she might try to come after it, costing you legal fees. When your son gets to college age, tell him that some of the money toward his college was provided by his grandma, who made that possible by investing in your safety when you were younger. Not sure how old he is now, but if he’s little he might mention it to Grandma, triggering the above problem.

  12. From a banking standpoint, since the check is technically made out to you you’d technically have to cash it first anyway and let’s face it, anyone who cashes a check is going to spend it, not give it away to anyone else. My vote: Cash it! Or if your karma is feeling guilty, deposit it into the college fund.

  13. Think of it this way…Karma is what sent the check to you in the first place. Karma wants YOU to have it to save or spend how you see fit. If Karma aligned with your mother, she would already be spending it on clothes she won’t touch next season. Take it and never mention a word to her.

  14. I like to think of Karma as a bank account. You make a lot of deposits and you are rewarded with interest. If you over draw your account you are penalized with fees and the likes. If Ghandi decided one day “Screw it all to hell, I’m gonna toilet paper the neighbors tree” would that send his Karma account into overdraft protection? I think not. Moral dilemmas are for moral situations. I don’t see any of that going on here. If you are worried that this may be considered as a withdrawal do exactly what your mom doesn’t (but should) spend it on your son.

  15. I can understand your mode of thought. For me, I’d worry if I were acting too much like my mother in cashing and keeping the check. If I were entering the same pitfalls she did. HOWEVER. The difference lies in the fact that you realize what you are doing. I don’t think your mother understands that she is hurting you when she buys untitledson a pair of socks once per year, or something like that. Maybe she knows, but whether she comprehends…who can guess.

    Take the check and use it as you see fit. If that means buying some much needed items for the homestead, or splurging, or saving for college, do it. Your name is on the check.

    Enjoy yourself!

  16. cash it, put some in your son’s college fund, spoil yourself a little with some of it and this year buy that bitch a pair of tube socks for x-mas.

  17. Keep the dough. Don’t tell her. You deserve it. Besides it would only provide 4 months of clothes shopping for her. You child deserves the college fund more than she deserves more clothes.

  18. I felt the same way when my x-husband was still on my insurance. He paid the doctor bill, the doctor THEN submitted it to the insurance company, the insurance company sent me the reimbursement check.

    I called my attorney. She told me to cash it. It had my name on it.

    I did.

  19. Cash it and put a chunck of it in your son’s college fund. Then go and do something special that you would only use your moms money on.

  20. I’m totally with everyone else one this. It’s doesn’t really matter who paid those premiums or not. If the insurance was set up to pay YOU when it ended, then by the terms of that contract its yours to do with however you want.

  21. I say CASH IT. If she doesn’t know about it, she doesn’t need to know. If it was your life insurance policy, it is yours. Don’t think twice about it.

  22. Cash the check. Don’t tell your mother. I have lived with a mother who didn’t do this, but did other things at the expense of me and my brother. There are certain battles that are not worth fighting. And this is karma for her, for you and your son. She penny pinches with your son as she did with you, the check that she tried to get that was your money was sent to you. I truly feel it’s Karma. Enjoy it.

  23. Cash the check and donate it to charity. Let your son help you decide which charity it goes to — you may find out how he wants to help the world a little bit. This way your mom doesn’t get it, but you don’t have any burden on your conscience about keeping it. Surely there is an ill child somewhere that could benefit from a gift like this… and you have a terrific lesson for untitledson. πŸ˜‰

  24. I didn’t know I had a sister! Wow, will wonders never cease.

    KEEP IT! If she finds out and says anything, just tell her that you assumed she’d told them to send it to you, and that it’s gone, gone, gone, as in, you’re not gettin’ any, baby. Hee.

  25. F*ck ’em all. The college fund is a nice idea. Really nice. But you know, I am of the belief that kids should pay their own way and learn the value of a dollar. Not saying that you should not contribute something, but the notion of an entirely parent-paid education is simply not an obligation like so many parents now treat it.

    Cash the check. Take the money. Do something for YOU. Use it for a weekend away, order breakfast in every morning. Use it for something you would not usually have the money to treat yourself to. Spend it in shameless excess. Karma is forever.

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