I am struggling with regret this morning. A simple phone call gone awry and an an apology is in order. What I said and meant in the heat of the moment is and was the absolute wrong thing to say, and I am mentally cringing and flogging myself for it. 


My daughter is engaged to a young man who is considerate and thoughtful and loving toward her. However, he is hampered by apron strings with his mother and family and it tends to annoy C and have impacts on their relationship. We are just not that type of family and they are actively working at compromises to protect their privacy as a couple. She shares things with us and we will offer our opinions and/or advice on the situation. Our feelings are not hurt if she makes another choice, and we are not “I told you so” parental units if things blow up in her face. Our family dynamic is to be supportive, to let grown adults make and learn from their own mistakes. A’s family dynamic is more like a democracy, where everyone has an opinion and is entitled to a vote on any/all personal choices and decisions. They are not above spiteful pouting or worse when they do not get their way or have their advice followed.

What happened this morning? A telephone call and invitation from A’s mother to a family event celebrating the kids’ engagement. We have been down this road before with them – C really does not want a fuss about it – and A’s mother is so hell-bent on having this party that she’s thowing it as a surprise for them. I flat-out told her this is NOT a good idea and that at a minimum she needed to discuss it with A and with C. While I did not say it to her, my daughter will not handle this well; it is my considered opinion as her mother that it’s actually dangerous to her emotional balance. My future sister in mother-in-law-ness was not dissuaded by my polite efforts to dissuade her and she could potentially be the most insensitive person I have met in a very long time. However, that did not justify the tirade I unleashed about C’s father’s suicide, the apron strangling going on with her son, and how both are affecting my daughter’s overall health and well being. She was quiet for a long moment and then thanked me and hung up; she sounded like she was fighting back tears.

Yeah, I went there and made her cry and probably am now particularly despised as a low-class human being by the entire clan. I lost my patience and then my temper and I feel really, REALLY bad about it. 

But I do not think I was wrong to be so frank about it. I do think my tone was wrong, the circumstances of the discussion was wrong, and whether or not it was my place to speak out about it was wrong. My conscience will likely make me apologize to for my tone in disagreeing with her desire and decision to fete the kids’ engagement this way. And for hurting her feelings and making her cry.

I did immediately call my daughter, explained what I had done, all I had said, and apologized profusely for being such a bitch and stepping out of line and into their business when it was not my place. While I feel terrible about the situation becuase of how I handled it, C was actually relieved, comforting, and thankful that I had spoken so plainly. She knows how much it takes to shove me over the edge this way, and she knows I was trying to protect her from this surprise event that would have been far more upsetting. C agrees I probably should apologize and knows I will, but she wanted to talk to A about it first. We are quite sure his mother has texted him all the sordid details by now, and C promises to defend me and my actions/words to the death. That makes me laugh, because that’s a family line we use amongst ourselves. I am hopeful all will be okay between them. 

M says that if our families are eventually to be joined this way we have to learn to work together. This is not him condemning me so much as acknowledgement that both sides must learn to communicate and respect the kids’ boundaries. Unfortunately A is so habituated to consulting his entire family about any/all major decisions and announcements it is proving difficult to establishe much less enforce. It is a struggle, one he has spoken of with us about more than once. 

Despite the reassurance from those who love me, I still feel badly about what I said and how I said it. I am segregating myself in the penalty box and having no conversations with A’s family until I can find the right moment to call her and apologize. 

Bad me. Bad, bad, bad. We may need to purchase a doghouse and put my name over the entry. 

6 thoughts on “When bad decisions befall (generally) good people

  1. oh dang! I totally get why you lost it on her and now why you feel bad. It seems like some people are just so wrapped up in what they want that they don’t even think of how it affects others (or even care, for that matter). But, I think this has to be C and A’s battle to deal with. It’s his family and soon to be hers, but certainly not yours, to really have to put too much effort into, if you so choose not to. Hope it all blows over for you. What was their response to finding out about the surprise engagement party? Sounds like A should do a sit down, this is how it’s going to be, conversation with his family, rather than just ignoring it and hoping it will all work out. I can speak from experience that intrusive, meddling in-laws only get worse after the wedding! C is going to have her patience tested for many many years!

    1. From what my daughter texted me, A is going to have a sit-down with this mother this evening and discuss the situation and try to make her understand why she needs to back off. It’s only been a few months since my daughter lost her dad, and while she looks and acts fine, she is still processing it and working out all the emotions and feelings and stuff that comes with grief as well as with his taking his own life. She is more sensitive to social pressures and anxious about normal interactions anyway, but right now a surprise party when she wants no party in the first place would send her into a really horrific tailspin. I could not speak to this with A’s mother out of respect for my daughter’s privacy, but I also did not need to rail on her (A’s mom) about how much pressure she’s putting on those kids to have a celebration, set a date, get going on the planning, etc., etc., etc. I am new to this aspect of in-laws and have tried very hard to be friendly, cordial, and not make waves. But today was just the wrong day to be pushing her own agenda with me and I completely lost it. Bad me.

      On the bright side, my daughter is grateful I’m her mom and A holds no grudges about speaking my mind to his mother to protect my daughter and assures me she will get over it. I am usually a lot more diplomatic.

  2. So relatable, Janelle. Sometimes out of uncomfortable situations like this, where you wish you can take something back, the best results come about. I guess some things are meant to happen in order to help everyone be more open/honest. You sound like a terrific mom. I’m glad all worked out for you.

    1. You’re very kind. I have amazing kids and am truly grateful we can and do talk to one another about the events of our lives. Family life is very important to us, and as my daughter is learning, there are different types of families and adjusting boundaries is complicated and tricky.

  3. That really sucks… I tend to keep my cool and be as patient as a rock being tossed around in the storm, but I have my limits. I always feel horrible afterward, but I can totally see where you’re coming from. I have seen these types of engagement parties at the hotel, and plenty are sort of what you describe… a, perhaps overzealous, mother trying to outdo the other set of parents, or compensate with what they wish had happened during their time, and a couple that doesn’t want to be there, but are stuck in the middle trying to appease both parents. We’re lucky when one of the parties doesn’t storm off, and I’m not even kidding. That said, sometimes you just can’t find a middle ground, and you have to start thinking about picking your battle and losing a few… I have had to do that with my parents a lot, and it’s the toughest thing.

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