Come on, you don’t have “the child’s” best interest in mind. His mother died a day ago – a DAY AGO — and you’re upset that your boyfriend is expressing some feelings about it? How much could his “constant posting to social media” about it actually be if it’s only been less than 24 hours?! Get a fucking grip. A young child just lost his mother!! Your fiancé has lost a co-parent and now must help his son grieve for one of the most important persons—if not THE most important person—-in his whole life and face growing up without his mother. It is an excruciating prospect – for both of them. And you’re upset about some stupid Facebook posts?! You’re jealous of a woman who just died?! You want to know if you’re over-reacting? I could fill this whole screen with caplock yes’s and it still would not convey the level of confirmation to that question.
There’s a phrase I sometimes tell my daughter when she starts whining about not getting her way or having to do something that isn’t exactly what she wants to do that second: “Not everything is about you.” She just turned four yesterday; it’s typical of someone her age to think the world revolves around her, and as her mom, it’s my job to teach her that it doesn’t. Maybe you didn’t learn that message when you were young. Maybe you didn’t learn that not everything is about you – sometimes things are actually nothing about you. Maybe you didn’t learn that when someone you love is hurting, you have an opportunity and an obligation to put aside your own needs for two seconds and be supportive.
Your fiancé is hurting – not because the love of his life died, but because his son just lost his mother and your fiancé lost someone he cared about. The care and even the love he might have had for her doesn’t take away from the love he has for you; there are different kinds of love. And you can love the other parent of your child in a way that isn’t romantic at all even if it’s deep and respectful and maybe even platonic. We are not limited in our capacity for love or the different kinds of love we can have for people. Maybe you never learned that either.
It’s not too late to grow up and cultivate these basic adult qualities. You can start by asking your fiancé how you can best support him through this very challenging time and by prioritizing his needs over your own, at least for a few days while the dust of this shock settles. (I’d also recommend reading this book, which has helped millions become better people, and to learnt the difference between love and dependency).
First of all, thinking that your boyfriend will get mad about something you want to express isn’t reason to withhold expressing it. It’s called communication and it sounds like you and he could use some professional help addressing your problem with it. The way it works in a healthy, functional, grown-up relationship is that when you have an issue or concern, you bring it up with your partner. Maybe your partner doesn’t understand or gets upset — the things you think will happen in your case — and then you explain your side and he explains his side, and maybe you still don’t understand each other’s perspective or you’re still upset and so you talk some more or you decide to agree to disagree, but maybe you compromise a little or a lot. Or you say, “You know, this isn’t what I want, but I can see it’s really important to you so let’s do it the way you want this time and next time when something is really important to me, I hope you will let me have it my way then.” This is how a healthy, functional, grown-up relationship works. If your relationship is not working that way – and it sounds like it is not, look into getting a few sessions with a couples counselor to learn how to communicate in a productive way.
As for your daughter’s birthday: She’s a baby who isn’t going to remember jack shit about the day, so don’t stress about it. Your boyfriend’s family clearly doesn’t like you and they don’t want to be around you, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love their granddaughter and deserve some time with her. I can’t believe you would deny them seeing their granddaughter because they didn’t come to a party at your house a year ago. Grow up. Tell your boyfriend it’s fine if he wants to take your daughter to their house. Since you don’t want to go, don’t! Go have some me time. As a mother of an almost 2-year-old, you could probably use some of that, I’m sure. See a movie, get your hair done, take a yoga class, take a nap! Then celebrate your daughter’s birthday at home that evening, or the next day, or on Saturday, or whenever. She’s two – she won’t know the difference!
Bottom line: You have a history of not getting along with your boyfriend’s family and that isn’t likely to get better if you continue holding a grudge and withholding your daughter from them. Eventually, your daughter is going to resent this, too. If you can’t stand being around them (and vice versa), you don’t have to be. But don’t make your daughter – or anyone else — pay for what sounds like major communication issues between and among the adults in this scenario.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.