My feelings don’t work … in the most positive way possible

I met A this morning with my daughter’s birthday gift. Backstory is that I got it for him and he paid me for it. Simple transaction really. But this morning we met so I could give him the gift for purchasing wrap and a card for her birthday on Wednesday.

I have known G and K are hosting a party for C’s birthday. I assumed it was a young people’s event, where there is much drinking and consumption of party food, etc. G wanted me to stress to A that surprises are not C’s thing; tell her about who he was inviting so she could be prepared for an actual party, versus just a get together, hang out with G and K type event. This morning A mentions that he has invited paternal grandparents, aunt and uncles, cousins, plus his brothers, parents, and family. He was hesitant about including us, even though M and I get along fine with the rest of the extended family. Funny part is, I’m not hurt or offended in the slightest. I tell him to run it by C; if she wants us to attend, we can attend. If it will be all too overwhelming, we are perfectly fine staying home.

What should have been awkward was not at all, because I get that everyone is different and A’s family is very different from C’s, from ours. I am sensitive to my daughter’s needs, though, and I fear it might be too much to have this broad mix of his and hers all mixed up together at her brother’s home. It is her birthday and she should celebrate as she sees fit. Our family birthday dinner is already on the calendar for next Sunday anyway, so it’s not like we will not see them and celebrate her birthday.

M was probably more concerned about the situation than I am. In his mind this is another indictment of A’s lack of sense. Seriously, do you tell your future mother-in-law that she is the only immediate family member not invited to her daughter’s birthday bash at her son’s house? From that respect I can understand the concern, and I am not sure if I am enabling his insensivitiy by not being particularly bothered by it. In my mind it’s a learning event. A, next time you plan a family party, be all-inclusive or people are going to judge you as an insensitive, incompetent ass. I recognize that it is turning into a bit of a mess, with G and K hosting and A in charge of the invitations and guest list. But how will they learn if they do not make mistakes? From my perspective, while my feelings are not hurt and I am not offended, I do feel sort of sorry for A now that I am imagining my daughter’s reaction when he tells her about it. M points out that she’s unlikely to be happy about his bungling, but again, we are all new to the idea of in-laws and learning as we go.

I am anticipating a flurry of texts and phone calls in the next 24 hours, and I am hoping the tone is mostly jocular and humorous rather than stricken or angry.

4 thoughts on “My feelings don’t work … in the most positive way possible

  1. Just wondering – why was he hesitant about inviting you when he invited his entire family? Too many people? The worrisome part (longer term – not this party) is whether this is cluelessness/obliviousness or just so concerned/focused on his family (which sounds like everyone must be invited to everything) that he doesn’t even think about the impact on others (hosting that many people at someone else’s house/expense, who is being left out, what C would want enjoy). just feels like this would be a good opportunity to refocus around him an C as the core and break away from the family. I love your attitude though!

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment, SAK. My real-life friends are absolutely crucifying me on this issue … *laugh* The readers digest version is that A is part of a big giant family that in heavily involved in each others lives and does everything together. My daughter is from a significanly small family unit – me, M, her dad’s parents, aunt, uncles, cousins – that accepts/respects personal boundaries and understands the limitations of what is our business, what is not. If she needs help, she knows to ask, we are all right there for her. It’s a very different dynamic, one A and C are both navigating and learning, one painfully awkward decision at a time. And to be fair to A, my son is merely hosting the affair; food and drink is more a potluck type engagement. My son was more worried about the “surprise” factor for my daughter – something she absolutely would not appreciate, even if it is mostly her family. Once that was overcome and explained very bluntly to A that it a terrible idea, we’re all a lot more comfortable and C can make the final call/cut on the guest list. It may be pared down to simply her father’s side of the family, which is perfectly okay with me. Even if A’s whole family comes, it’s still okay with me. At the end of the conversation, this is about my daughter and celebrating her birthday; M and I will do that with her, with A, with my son and his girlfriend next Sunday.

    • It’s really the difference between my future son-in-law’s upbringing, family practices and what I know and expect from my daughter and my son. He is smart enough to know not to offend his future mother-in-law, and since I am certain his intent was not mean-spirited, it’s easy to be gracious and overlook his social awkwardness.

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