My mother got sick last year and was given six months to live. My SIL never reached out once. My mother passed away, my SIL showed up briefly to her wake, she was late, she sat in the foyer the whole time, and she left early. She did not attend her funeral. It’s been six months since her passing and she has continued to ignore me as well as her nieces and nephews. I find this extremely hurtful, especially over social media (?!).
My husband feels I have to invite her and his brother, but I feel justified in not doing so.
Can you offer any advice or insight? Anything would be extremely appreciated. — Annoyed SIL
She sounds like an awful person, and I don’t blame you for keeping your distance and not liking her. But I think NOT inviting her to your daughter’s Confirmation, especially when that means not inviting your husband’s brother, is actually going to take up so much more psychic space and create so much more drama in your life with her at the center of it, than just inviting her and ignoring her while she’s there.
I get that you want to hurt her in the way she’s hurt you, but there’s no point. It’s not like she’s going to equate her exclusion to your daughter’s Confirmation to her blowing off your mother’s death and feeling bad about not being more comforting to you. No, she’s just going to think you’re a bitch and she’ll probably spread that all over social media and through your family grapevine. Then you’ll have some dramatic family war on your hands, and I can’t imagine you want that, right? After twenty years of sucking it up and keeping the peace with her for your husband’s benefit?
I say continue sucking it up. Invite her to the Confirmation and don’t waste anymore of your energy thinking about it.
It’s now a year later and I’m getting married to my boyfriend of seven years. We have a 1-year-old, and my mother is supposed to watch him at the wedding, but all she’s talked about is how wedding-planning is making her sad. I really just want to uninvite her or tell her to suck it up. I know these are bad options, so tell me what should I do. She called me this morning telling she might have to be airlifted off the boat we’re getting married on because of anxiety!!!! I now don’t trust her to watch my son and am cancelling my honeymoon. — Can’t Trust Mom
Look, your mom was a terrible mother to you, right? She stopped parenting you when you were 11; it took her years to break up with her boyfriend who abused you. Even years later, since you’ve reconnected, she continues to make life choices that reveal questionable judgment (marrying a sick alcoholic after a 3-month relationship with him, for example). Why on earth would you trust her with your 1-year-old while you go on vacation?
I’ve known people like you before who sort of forget all the reasons someone shouldn’t be left in charge of their babies/young children because it simply isn’t convenient to remember those reasons. Childcare can cost a fortune. You really want to go on a honeymoon. Here’s your mom you’re reconnected with and she’s a preschool teacher, so she could watch your child – her grand baby — while you go away! Except, oh yeah, she was a terrible parent to you and continues to make questionable life choices that reflect bad judgment. So, no, she is not a good choice for a caregiver in your absence. In fact, you should never, ever leave your child alone with her.
Is there another family member or close friend who can watch your child at your wedding? Someone on your boyfriend’s side if not yours? If there isn’t, hire a babysitter. If there isn’t anyone you trust to leave your child with while you go on a honeymoon (not your mother!!), don’t go on one. Or bring your child with you. Once you have kids, your travel life changes. My husband and I used to go places all the time before we had children. Now, twelve later, I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve gotten away without kids, and when we did, we paid a fortune for a babysitter to watch them for a night or two because we don’t have family members who live close enough by to watch them for us. Them’s the breaks. You sacrifice things when you have kids. A traditional honeymoon is one of those potential things if you have a kid before you get married (which isn’t exactly traditional, itself).
As for uninviting your mother to your wedding, if you do that, you will again be estranged. Do you want that? Or would you prefer to have her in your life at arm’s length (I would not advise getting closer than arm’s length; she is still the same person who stopped parenting you at 11, after all)? If you don’t mind being estranged from her again, then, yes, tell her you don’t want her at your wedding, that her constant focus on herself and her sadness and her anxiety is not something you want ruining your wedding or the planning of it.
If you would like to keep her in your life – and it’s really OK and understandable if you don’t – tell her that you want her at your wedding, but from here on out you won’t be sharing the planning process with her and you’ve found someone else to watch your child so that, if she needs to be airlifted off the boat, you’ve still got childcare coverage.