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I’ve been with my husband for six years, during which time, I have never become exceedingly close with his brother’s wife, Jennifer. She has not attempted to form a close relationship with me and has, at times, been rude. I have always made an effort in hopes of maintaining a good relationship for my husband’s sake. Often, I will suggest Jennifer and I go for pedicures or shopping while the boys watch basketball. We do and mostly we have a good time.
Jennifer has suffered from infertility for two years. They announced they were pregnant at Thanksgiving and I immediately offered to co-host her baby shower. I was so excited for them. Unfortunately, they lost that baby. They announced they were pregnant again in June. She is in her second trimester and she’s doing great. My husband and I are over the moon for them.
A few months ago, I started graduate school and I work full time. I have a 1 hour 30 minute commute each day, a 10-month-old son and, as of recently, a very ill dog requiring major care for 10+ weeks. In short, I do not feel I have time to co-plan a shower.
To be honest, I keep remembering that she told me she didn’t want to be in my wedding when we announced our engagement and the fact she didn’t offer to help with my wedding or various showers. I suppose the nagging thought of her behavior toward my special events gives me pause.
I don’t want to hurt Jennifer and I realize how sensitive hormones can be but I don’t want to throw the shower. Am I obligated to throw the shower since I previously offered? If not, any suggestions on how to rescind my offer? — Offer Rescinded
Well, no, you are not OBLIGATED to throw the shower, but it would be pretty insensitive to NOT offer to throw a shower for your sister-in-law when you offered to throw one, less than a year ago, before she miscarried after trying to conceive for so long. Your excuses of being busy are valid, sure, but citing resentment over your SIL’s behavior during your wedding, which I assume happened a few years ago, before you offered to throw a baby shower the first time around, is just … odd. Did you just forget last Thanksgiving, in your excitement over becoming an aunt, that you were pissed at your SIL for not celebrating you/your wedding enough? Are you simply using her past behavior to justify your current lack of interest in adding one more thing on your to-do list?
Look, throwing a shower doesn’t have to be THAT much work, especially if you have someone helping you. What if you reached out to a close female in your SIL’s life — a friend of hers or another family member — and asked if that person would like to organize something small to honor your SIL? Once you have another person on board, you could divide the the work in a way that feels manageable — maybe even fun — for you. Perhaps you could even get a third person on board to further share the load. Send out some invitations, get a few inexpensive decorations, buy or bake some cupcakes and a couple of quiches, make a punch, hang up some tiny onesies on a clothing line, and BOOM!, you’re done. You could even just make brunch reservations at a restaurant (though if you do that, you and the co-hosts should split the expense rather thank ask your guests to pay).
I know that social media might have you believe that throwing a baby shower requires endless lists, DIY projects, and multiple trips to party supply stores, not to mention weeks in the kitchen perfecting the most delicious and adorable finger foods, but, honestly, there’s no reason why you should have to spend more than a few hours planning this thing. All you need are guests, some decorations, and a few things to nibble on, and you’ve got yourself a shower. A few hours of planning, really. And those few hours will go a long way in not only “maintaining a good relationship for your husband’s sake,” but also maintaining a good relationship for your extended family’s sake.
Your husband is going to be an uncle. You’re going to be an aunt. This baby is going to be your son’s cousin. What’s a few hours of your time to help maintain strong bonds among all those relationships?
Then again, if you’re just going to feel super resentful with every pink or blue streamer you hang, don’t offer to co-host a baby shower. But accept that in doing so without having a better excuse than you’re just busy — honey, we’re ALL busy — you look like kind of an asshole. If you’re OK with that, go for it.