It’s Wedding Week on Dear Wendy! This week will be chock-full of wedding columns, gift guides, dollar dances and an open bar. If you love wedding content, this is your lucky week. If you hate wedding content, this is your lucky week because–-open bar! But just kidding about the open bar.
I’m currently nine months pregnant, and I have a three-year-old. My sister planned the wedding for early September, so my son will be about 3.5 years old then, and the baby will be just over three months old. Additionally, my husband and I are both professors and our semesters begin the week before her wedding. Missing classes during the first week is hard and frowned upon at both our institutions. We don’t have vacation time because we have the summers off, and we have several weeks off during the winter as well. When my sister announced her plans, I begged her to postpone the wedding to a later date when my husband and I would have time off, but she didn’t want to.
Complicating all this is that my sister has been very unsupportive of me during my pregnancy. She rarely ever visits us even though we live in the same city, and she hasn’t offered to help us at a time when we could really use the help. She’s my only family member in this city, and it’s been challenging to have a toddler, be very pregnant, and work full time.
So my question is this: Should I go to her wedding? I would feel awful missing it, but at the same time, she’s not making it easy for us to attend. And she’s not been very generous or accommodating when it comes to helping us out. — Thinking About Skipping Sister’s Wedding
If your sister really cared about your being at her wedding, she could have planned it at a more convenient time for you, even just a couple weeks earlier. Or, she could have planned her wedding in her own city, where you live, and where it would be much easier for you to attend with your young children. (I think it’s pretty common for people planning weddings to run potential dates by close family and friends to rule out conflicts). Or, she could have planned even a reception or second/smaller wedding in your city for you and anyone else unable to make the long journey across the world for her nuptials. But she didn’t, so you have to assume your presence at her wedding isn’t a top priority for her. But that doesn’t mean that YOU don’t care to be there, of course, and it doesn’t mean that there won’t potentially be serious and long-term repercussions to your skipping your sister’s wedding. You have to consider that possibility, weigh it against the the cons/challenging logistics of attending the wedding, and decide for yourself whether the risk of hurting your sister’s feelings and damaging your relationship with her is worth skipping it.
One thing I will caution against though is factoring your sister’s lack of support during your pregnancy into your decision to attend her wedding or not. Honestly, that just seems really petty, especially considering the relationship drama it sounds like she’s been contending with (on top of all the other life stuff any adult has to deal with). Just because she doesn’t have children or isn’t pregnant herself doesn’t mean she isn’t incredibly busy, tired, overwhelmed, etc. (I mean, she’s planning a wedding in another country!). Believe me, I understand the demands and fatigue of raising a 3-year-old while being pregnant (I really, really get it, I do). It would be wonderful to have help, sure. But what is it you wanted or expected your sister to do (what do you mean by “very generous and accommodating when it comes to helping us out”)? Beyond some occasional babysitting and maybe a meal or two, I myself would feel sort of awkward accepting any additional help from people (people I’m not paying to help me, anyway) — even close family members — simply because I have a kid and I’m pregnant and I work. Unless you (or your husband or 3-year-old) have been crazy sick or in the hospital or something (which I hope is not the case!), I guess I fail to see why you really need or would expect help just living your regular day-to-day life over the course of your pregnancy.
I do understand your feelings being hurt that your sister doesn’t even come visit you and your family despite living in the same city, but, again, I think it’s unfair to expect HER to maintain your relationship (as opposed to, you know, going to visit her sometimes) just because you think she has more free time or fewer responsibilities or whatever, and I definitely think it’s unfair to factor this seeming lack of support into your decision to attend her wedding or not.
All that said, if I were in your shoes, I’d skip dragging the whole family across the world to the wedding. Traveling long distances like that with a 3-year-old is a nightmare on its own. Throw in a newborn baby, and the logistical challenge of taking off from work just days after a new semester has begun, and it seems borderline absurd to attempt. I might think about going alone with just the baby and leaving my husband and 3-year-old at home. You’d save a buttload of money buying just one ticket (if you’re comfortable holding the baby on your lap) as opposed to two additional ones, and at least your husband wouldn’t have to miss work, too. But then you’d be in a foreign country with a newborn and no help (unless you have extended family who will be there that you can depend on), which isn’t ideal either.
Anyway, if you decide to stay home, which is probably what I would do, you could certainly offer to organize/host a small local reception for your sister and her new husband upon their return from their wedding (or honeymoon). It wouldn’t need to be elaborate, but you could take some of the money you would have spent on airfare and put it toward a party for 15-20 people or so where your sister could share photos of her wedding and you could feel at least somewhat part of the celebration. Alternatively, you could also offer to host a bridal shower or a bachelorette party to show your support.
jlyfsh May 7, 2015, 8:17 am
I’m with Wendy in that if your sister wanted you to be there she would have been a bit more accommodating. I know you can’t make everyone happy, but I would think close family (who you are actually close to) would make the list of people you work around.
I also think like Wendy said you have to separate the help during pregnancy from the decision. Talk to your husband and together decide what is best for your family. It might be that just you and the 3 month old going is an option, although I’m sure traveling alone with a 3 month old on a 12 hour flight isn’t something you necessarily want to sign up for!
I also like the idea of having a party in your hometown for her. There have to be other people, friends and family, who won’t be able to make the trek to the wedding. It would be a perfect time to celebrate her.
Deciding not to go to a wedding with extensive travel of someone you’re really close to is hard. You know you’re missing out on the chance to support them, the fun, etc. But, at the end of the day it’s not always feasible for everyone to make it. Hopefully she took that in to consideration when deciding to have the wedding far away from her family and friends and isn’t hurt by the people who choose not to attend.
niki May 7, 2015, 8:20 am
LW it sounds like the FI has a large family and that they are paying for the wedding. That is probably the reason they are having the wedding in his hometown. I wouldn’t take this personally. Sure, they could have set the date at a more convenient time for you, but I imagine they are trying to accommodate many, many schedules and there is no way to please everyone. If you can swing it, then I think you should go. (Mostly because I think you are planning to not go out of spite which is petty) However, if it would truly be a hardship, then talk to your sister, give her sincere warm wishes, and let her know how sorry you are that you can’t be there for this huge moment. Perhaps offer to help with a shower in your hometown if you are feeling generous.
SpaceySteph May 7, 2015, 8:44 am
What niki said! If you want to not go just to spite her, then you should go. If you really can’t afford to go or the logistics are too crazy, then don’t go. I do think that people can usually tell when you have a fake reason or a real one– if you use the logistics as an excuse to be petty over the perceived slight, then she’ll probably be able to tell. If the logistics really are the reason and you are sincere in your desire to go and inability to make it work, she will probably sense that, too, and be more gracious.
ktfran May 7, 2015, 8:24 am
WWS! All the way.
To offer another alternative, and I’ll probably get blasted but whatever…. LW, you could attend the wedding sans two children and husband. Wendy suggested you take the baby along, but I don’t think that’s entirely necessary. Do you have in-laws? They could even come and stay with your husband and two children to help him out a little bit in your absence. Most grandparents would do this for their grandchildren, if they are physically on monetarily able.
I had an older sister. She was born with a rare liver disease and passed away when I was three weeks old. A couple months later, my uncle took my mom on a long weekend trip just so she could get away and relax and recoup. My dad and me (who was two or three months at the time) survived without my mom for a few days. Anyway, I offer my story as a way of saying it’s ok and doesn’t make you a bad parent.
However, with that being said, I do think it’s shitty your sister didn’t consult you about the dates, especially knowing you’re a professor and this is right at the beginning of the school year. I would be really upset about that. BUT, if I wanted to still try and make a relationship work with my sister, I would probably try to go to the wedding with either baby in tow or sans family entirely.
RedRoverRedRover May 7, 2015, 10:12 am
I would agree with you, but it also depends if she’s breastfeeding or not. Honestly pumping is a huge pain, and sometimes the babies do reject the breast after you’ve given them a bottle. Not to mention if she’s against the idea of formula while she’s gone, she’ll have to do a lot of pumping to build up a supply before she goes. I couldn’t have pumped a week’s worth by 3 months; my baby fed too often and too much. I was lucky to pump enough extra to be able to go out to dinner without the baby. Anyway, if she’s formula feeding then your suggestion could work (although her husband will probably need help at home, maybe from his parents). But if breastfeeding it would be tough. I wouldn’t do it, personally.
ktfran May 7, 2015, 10:39 am
I agree about the breastfeeding. I didn’t factor that into my response. So… if the baby isn’t breastfeeding, I think going alone is a viable option. If the baby is, I think taking the baby without dad and sibling is a viable option.
ktfran May 7, 2015, 10:42 am
My mom actually chose not to breastfeed me because she knew my older sister’s time was probably limited and didn’t want her to have any feelings of jealousy. Also… I was unplanned… defective or wrong use of birth control… so before people think why parents would have another child while going through so much, that is why.
RedRoverRedRover May 7, 2015, 10:50 am
I’d only take the baby on my own if I could travel with my parents or someone else going to the wedding. There’s so much gear! My baby was a tubby one too. I could barely carry him in his carseat, let alone all the other stuff I’d have to lug along for him. But yeah, if travelling with the parents or a close family friend or something is an option, then I’d probably do that rather than skip the wedding altogether.
And actually now that I reread it, I don’t think she’d have to be gone for a week. I don’t know why I had that impression at first. But if the wedding’s on a Saturday, she could leave Friday and come home Sunday. Or even if it is a week-long thing (some cultures do at least a few days, for sure), just skip some of it and go to the ceremony. If she could just go for a day or two, the breastfeeing issue wouldn’t be so bad.
niki May 7, 2015, 8:25 am
Also, this may seem like semantics but it’s a bit of a pet peeve, this is not a destination wedding. The wedding is in FI’s hometown where his family lives. Just because you have to travel doesn’t make this a “destination wedding.” If the bride were having the wedding in her hometown I doubt anyone would consider this a destination wedding, even though the groom’s family would all have to travel.
mylaray May 7, 2015, 8:33 am
Yeah, it would only be a destination wedding if neither person had no connection to the place. I think LW can feel frustrated by not being asked about dates, but I think she is nitpicking about a lot of the details.
SpaceySteph May 7, 2015, 8:55 am
Totally agree. I don’t personally have any beef with destination weddings, but I know that they carry a certain air of selfishness. Like “we wanted a vacation, and now you have to come on it, too, even if you didn’t want to go to Tahiti right now.” So the LW portraying this as a destination wedding is at least in her mind saying “look at my selfish sister who is getting married so far away.”
While it’s long been customary to get married in the brides hometown, this is a guideline not a rule, especially when the related “tradition” that the bride’s family pays is not followed. The sister is getting married in the fiance’s hometown, and his parents are paying… so this doesn’t really seem that inappropriate. And let’s not forget all the discussions recently in the forums and posts about how money often comes with strings… you don’t know how much control his parents are exerting over this circumstance in exchange for their monetary contribution.
something random May 7, 2015, 8:54 am
I’m not sure the letter writer actually called it a “destination wedding”, I think that’s just the title.
SpaceySteph May 7, 2015, 9:06 am
Oh good point. But she does call it “faraway location” which still makes it seem like she’s feeling slighted by the venue choice. But its not a random map dot, it’s the groom’s hometown.
something random May 7, 2015, 9:31 am
I agree that she sounds really put out by the 12 hour distance. Does it seem kind of weird to anyone else to have a 250 person wedding planned with only four months notice? Is that normal?
jlyfsh May 7, 2015, 9:36 am
I don’t think it’s ‘abnormal’ but I think giving people short notice makes it less likely for them to be able to make the trip.
SpaceySteph May 7, 2015, 9:39 am
This is a really good point. 4 months is really short for a wedding of that size. My sister actually briefly tried to plan her large wedding in 5 months (in October for March), but then realized the venues she wanted were already booked. My husband and I had 9 months (May to Feb) which I thought would be plenty of time, but as I said below, when we picked a venue our first choice weekend in Feb was already booked and we had to go one weekend earlier.
I don’t know what the LW’s sister’s reasoning is for trying to get married in a short timeframe, but it’s possible that the weekend she picked was the one that was available.
kare May 7, 2015, 9:41 am
It might be the norm in the fiancé’s home country. Although other countries do have huge weddings, I feel a lot of them follow their own traditions that wouldn’t adhere to the wedding industry norms developed in the US (like it being almost impossible to book a venue in six months).
SpaceySteph May 7, 2015, 9:20 am
I am torn on the “if she wanted me there, she would have been more accommodating” thought that has been expressed both here and in the discussion regarding kids at the wedding.
On the one hand, I think that when you pick a location, you are accepting that people who do not live there may not make it. And when you pick a date, you are accepting that it won’t work for some people. So by picking the fiance’s hometown and a week during school, the sister should do that with the understanding that there will be people from her family that cannot attend because it is too far and the dates don’t match up with their schedule.
FWIW, when I got married we told our parents, grandparents, and siblings that it would be in Houston where we live (in that group we had family in: Virginia, Florida, Colorado, and Louisiana) and made sure they were willing/able to travel. Then when we found a venue and found out what dates were available, our first choice was booked, so we again called our parents, grandparents, siblings and verified the new date. I also called my best friend, who was getting married 3 weeks earlier, to make sure it was ok and fit in with their honeymoon plans. I wanted those people there so I made sure to check it with them first.
On the other hand, I know that it’s impossible to accommodate every schedule conflict and that at the end of the day you have to pick something and hope that the people who really matter in your life will go through hell and high water to get there. I don’;t know what I would have done if one of the people I checked the date with really really couldn’t make it. Find another venue, I guess? I’m glad it didn’t come to that, those are tough choices.
We don’t know (and the LW doesn’t give any indication of knowing) what external pressures there were on the sister (especially from the people paying for the wedding) that could have forced her hand on date and location. Only the LW can decide if the logistics of traveling are too much for her to handle… and maybe they are, and that’s the risk the sister took. But to feel slighted by the sister’s choice of venue and date (which maybe weren’t even her choice) is a bad reason to skip the wedding.
SpaceySteph May 7, 2015, 9:21 am
Whoops, this was supposed to be a standalone comment. Accidentally got threaded…
pebblesntrix May 7, 2015, 11:05 am
WWS + this
simonthegrey May 7, 2015, 11:47 am
When we picked our location, a popular outdoor venue that is really reasonably priced and pretty with a garden, there were exactly two days we could use: a family member’s birthday, or a weekend in the fall when my small business was already committed to a convention. The fall weekend would have meant that my maid of honor/business partner would not be at the wedding. Luckily mom was ok with having my wedding on her birthday, but we had absolutely no flexibility (and we then had to plan everything in five months). Luckily we went very low budget and it all worked out perfectly, but if the future in-laws had a specific church/house of worship/mosque/temple that they wanted used and that place only had certain weekends…that could completely dictate when the wedding is.
juliecatharine May 7, 2015, 8:26 am
Agreed, this is a tough one but your sister knew that she would be taking a risk when she chose a destination wedding on that date. Asking people to walk through fire to get to your wedding is ok only if you’re not going to get pissy when they decline. LW, weigh the option of going solo with your baby but don’t feel badly if you just can’t rally to do it. Your sister should understand.
tbrucemom May 7, 2015, 8:27 am
To answer the LW’s question, no I wouldn’t go to the wedding. The sister should have considered her sister’s situation if she really wanted her to be at her wedding (along with other family members). When I got remarried last December (first wedding for my husband), we literally planned our date around hunting season and FSU football season! The determining factor was having it while my college aged daughter (who was my MOH) home for Christmas break. Obviously you can’t make everyone happy but like Wendy said you should consult very close family members to see if there are dates that are more convienent than others. However,for some reason I get the feeling that the help she wants from her sister is more financial than something like babysitting. Maybe I interpreted it wrong, but when she said “very generous” that just sounds like money to me.
muchachaenlaventana May 7, 2015, 8:30 am
I actually don’t know if I agree with the fact the sister doesn’t care about having you there, LW. If her fiance’s family is the main funding for the wedding (and it seems like they are) and most of their family lives in one place, it makes sense that is where the wedding would be. My boyfriend’s brother had his wedding at his wife’s family house in Michigan, over a really popular holiday weekend, which was convenient for none of his family–did he desperately want all of his family there-yes more than I can express, but he had little to no say in the matter, and when 80% of the guests live closer to one area/location it just makes logistical sense to have it there. All of his immediate family though, cared about going so made the trip even though it was a bit of a pain. As for the timing, maybe she did ask but there were other conflicts to take in to account or any number of other reasons they planned it that weekend. I just think a person not planning their wedding around other people doesn’t mean they don’t care for the other person/people to be there. It seems to me the LW is looking for reasons not to attend by taking all of this kind of personal and imbibing it with a lot of other baggage and making it about things that aren’t the wedding as an excuse to justify not going. Honestly–if you don’t want/can’t go just own that and move on with it-like Wendy said offer to throw a smaller reception or have a surprise dinner for when they get back, if you want to. I know you will have a newborn baby at that time, but would it be possible for you and the baby to go and your husband to stay home with the three year old? Yeah that would be A LOT but you will have some help there I imagine with your parents/other family members and honestly I think you will regret not going to your sister’s wedding and it may not be something she gets over for a long time.
RedRoverRedRover May 7, 2015, 10:17 am
I agree she’s putting a lot of personal baggage on this. Bringing up issues in her sister’s relationship, plus being upset that the sister isn’t “supporting” her in her pregnancy, makes me think she just doesn’t want to go. Otherwise why include those details? If she’s trying to punish her sister by not going, then I think she should suck it up and try to go. If it’s purely about logistics, then ok don’t go, but don’t make it about the other issues she might have with her sister.
Sunshine Brite May 7, 2015, 8:33 am
This seems to be tied up as well in your pregnancy and how their relationship has gone so far. I know you’re trying to set aside how you feel about that, but it’s hard to discount that history. It sounds like your sister is busy planning a large event at a long distance plus is likely busy with other things. What sort of assistance are you looking for? Could you hire some of it out in the meantime?
It sounds like the wedding was going to be a long haul for one side or the other and it sounds like his side is paying for it so they may have set the terms. Why did she not want to switch the date? I know in some places there are only so many places that would fit that many people and it wouldn’t be available or weather is horridly unstable even a few weeks off in any direction.
coconot May 7, 2015, 8:39 am
I think you should go to the wedding. If it was a friend, I’d say skip it and do the party in your home town, but this is your sister. Especially with the rocky relationship your sister has she may need your support in the future and you don’t want to alienate her by not attending one of the most important events of her life. As a couple of people mentioned, she may not have had a lot of choice in the location or timing if the wedding is bank-rolled by the boyfriend’s family, so I wouldn’t hold it too strongly against her.
I also think it’s a great idea to leave one or both of the children at home with your husband to save money and stress. If you do bring your baby, recruit a relative (your parents?) to help you out at the wedding should you need it.
Bcamber May 7, 2015, 8:39 am
Just because YOUR have to travel to this wedding does not make it a “destination wedding”. It makes sense for the wedding to be close to the fiance’s family if they are the ones paying for it. It sounds like there were probably a lot of conflicting accommodations so I wouldn’t take it personally. Also, if you are really trying to look past their relationship history, why was it the first thing you mentioned? If you don’t want to go, don’t go.
something random May 7, 2015, 8:46 am
I think the letter writer already feels like she puts in more effort with her sister than is generally reciprocated. She said that sis came to stay for several days following a break up just a few months ago. She follows it up by saying that sis has not been supportive during her pregnancy.
And really if the letter writer is about to give birth and sister just got engaged and chose a date and location that completely ignores her sister’s schedule, of course the letter writer feels hurt (even if the bride’s reasons are completely sound).
To me the letter writer is concerned about her own motives and is uncomfortable with the personal satisfaction (from all the built up resentment) she would feel from declining the event.
I think Wendy was right that those feelings are a separate issue from the decision to attend. The letter writer sounds like maybe is used to giving more than she really wants to because of the value she places on her relationship with her sister. Instead of following this trend, I think she should give herself permission to do what’s best for her own personal family. Sometimes we push ourselves past our comfort levels because we are invested in supporting someone we care about. But as Wendy advised, there are other ways to offer support that won’t leave the letter writer feeling resentful.
jlyfsh May 7, 2015, 8:49 am
I agree and unfortunately not everyone can afford/has the time to take off/etc to attend weddings that are that far away. Surely the sister took that in to account and realizes that not all of her friends and family where she lives will be able to attend. I don’t think she should force herself to go if it really doesn’t work with her work schedule, family schedule, etc.
LW May 7, 2015, 3:08 pm
LW again. I’m not sure whether it’s standard protocol for the LW to respond to so many comments, but I appreciate them! Something Random, you really pinpointed how I feel. As I said in an earlier comment, I agree that I should set aside any unrelated resentment about my sister when I consider whether to attend her wedding. I do want to clarify, however, that when I wrote that my sister wasn’t very generous or accommodating with her time, I didn’t mean that I expect her to babysit on a regular basis. Our three year old is in preschool, and we have a babysitter. But it would be nice if my sister occasionally made an effort to visit us– maybe once a month?– to spend a few hours with my son, who she says she adores. Instead, she regularly expects us to visit her, which we usually do. But that’s become harder as I’ve become more pregnant, especially because we usually take public transit to visit her. (Parking in her neighborhood is a pain.)
something random May 7, 2015, 8:13 pm
I just saw this update. Thanks for the response. Protocol or not, its nice to have a more detailed picture.
SasLinna May 7, 2015, 8:54 am
I would love to know how the sister reacted when LW “begged” her to move the date of the wedding. Did she just say, “sorry, I won’t” or did she explain why she couldn’t change the date and express her hopes that LW could still make it? Personally, if my sister had expressed a desire for me to be there then I would probably go even if it were inconvenient. If the sister was kind of blasé about the whole thing, on the other hand, then I probably would not take it upon myself to make the trip.
Dear Wendy May 7, 2015, 9:14 am
I’m with you. I’d love to know more about the discussion/ attitude around LW begging her sister to move the wedding date.
LW May 7, 2015, 2:59 pm
This is the LW again. Thanks for all the feedback. I agree with everyone that I should separate any resentment I feel toward my sister about other things from my decision about whether to attend her wedding. So thanks for that reminder. My sister is planning her wedding in a very short time span, but apparently that’s not that abnormal for the country where the wedding is happening. She also has a wedding planner, and her fiancé’s mother is doing a lot of the organizing for them, so while she has been absorbed with wedding planning she also has a lot of help. When my sister initially told me when she was planning to have the wedding, I explained to her how hard it would be for us to attend at that particular date because our classes would have just begun. Plus traveling such a long distance with two small children for a short trip–and having to contend with jet lag– seemed overwhelming. But she refused to change the date because she wants to get married as soon as possible. She doesn’t have a compelling reason besides not wanting a winter wedding (even though the location of the wedding has very mild winters) and not wanting to wait until next year because it’s too far away. The date is actually not great for her fiancé’s brother either because his best friend is getting married the day before, but they’re sticking to it.
something random May 7, 2015, 9:42 am
With such a large wedding, I’m not sure how one could prioritize the attendance of one guest. I’m sure trying to find a venue to accommodate 250 guests in a four month time period doesn’t leave a ton of flexibility.
My bet is the sister is super preoccupied and isn’t spending a lot of energy worried about other people’s schedules (except for those paying for the affair). I do think the sister’s attitude would make a difference because I would factor it in as how much she would be affected by my attendance or lack thereof. But I still wouldn’t mess up my entire semester and put myself and my three-month-old through the hell and expense of two twelve hour flights if it just didn’t work for me. I would do what I reasonably could do be loving, kind, and supportive surrounding the wedding and life afterwards. My sister would have to decide for herself how much to value that support. I wouldn’t put myself in charge of more than that. My sister would just have to work though her feelings about it.
haggith May 8, 2015, 1:34 am
“But I still wouldn’t mess up my entire semester and put myself and my three-month-old through the hell and expense of two twelve hour flights if it just didn’t work for me. I would do what I reasonably could do be loving, kind, and supportive surrounding the wedding and life afterwards. My sister would have to decide for herself how much to value that support. I wouldn’t put myself in charge of more than that. My sister would just have to work though her feelings about it”
Something Random, are you the LW?
becboo84 May 7, 2015, 9:04 am
I’d like to point out a few things:
1.) I don’t necessarily think this wedding is taking place out of the country. It sounded to me like it was taking place in a different part of the country from where the LW and her sister live.
2.) As others have said, this is NOT a destination wedding.
3.) I have known several college professors, and while I’m sure there is variation across institutions, they don’t really have vacation/sick days like a typical job has. They are allowed to cancel class when it’s necessary, but it is frowned upon to cancel too many days. Also, depending on the university, it might be possible to have a GA fill in.
4.) While I agree that it would have been nice if your sister ran some dates by you, I’m not sure that would have made much of a difference if eight months of the year (when school’s in session) don’t work for you.
LW, it is obviously your decision on whether or not to go, but my guess is that you will severely compromise your relationship with your sister, and potentially other family members, if you decide against it.
Wendy's Sister May 7, 2015, 9:32 am
When my sister got married in the city where she and her now-husband lived, I was living in Austin, TX at the time, but I was able to go to the wedding, and I was so grateful for that. However, our family back in St. Louis threw her and her husband a wedding reception a few weeks later, and I couldn’t afford to take time off work to go. I really felt like I was missing out, especially when I saw the photos. On the other side of the coin, my sister and I always got along, and she and her then-fiancé had a great relationship, so it was really important for me to be at the wedding. I think that, if I hadn’t been able to make it to the wedding, and especially if I lived in the same city, I’d definitely want to let her know that I loved her by throwing her some sort of party in advance or after the wedding. Even if you don’t like your sister’s and her fiancé’s history, if you still want your sister in your life, you are going to have to show her that you support her.
Clementine May 7, 2015, 9:55 am
For the sake of all Petes, go to the damn wedding.
The only legitimate reasons to consider skipping this wedding are your work commitments and travel logistics. All your other issues–the missing “support” during your second pregnancy, your general disapproval of your sister’s relationship, and not getting a say in where or when HER wedding takes place–are petty. It’s not about you. It’s your sister. She’s getting married. Go. Find a way. You will not regret going, but you WILL regret not making a good faith effort to be there.
Do you want to be the sister that alienated your younger–and probably less mature–sibling when it all crashes and burns? How satisfied will you be that you can sit back and say, “I told you so?” How great will you feel when you’re proved right–her wedding would have been a waste of time and effort? You’re putting a lot of value on her being there for you, but you’re not willing to share her joy.
SpaceySteph May 7, 2015, 10:02 am
There is so much vagueness that it’s really hard to figure out if the LW is actually worried about logistics or is just looking for excuses. She says 12 hour “commute” which others are assuming is “flight.” But it could be a 12 hour drive, or a 4 hour flight and then a long drive (I know someone who got married in the middle of nowhere NM, where everyone had to fly to El Paso or Albuquerque and then rend a car and drive several hours) or maybe its a 12 hour train ride. I don’t know, I love to drive, so I’d much more happily sign up for a 12 hour drive than a 12 hour flight… especially when traveling with the family, because there’s so much STUFF to pack and you can just toss it in the car and go.
Also can’t figure out if this like contiguous US and Hawaii, or US and another country, or all in Europe. Very confused.
Dear Wendy May 7, 2015, 10:12 am
Aw, good point. I had it in my head it was a 12-hour flight for some reason, but you’re right; a 12-hour commute doesn’t really give much indication of how far the event really is.
SpaceySteph May 7, 2015, 10:31 am
A 12 hour drive is probably a less than 3 hour flight. So maybe she’s saying 12 hour commute because she doesn’t want to fly with the whole family and plans to drive (which I totally get, the idea of paying full airfare for a 3 year old makes my brain hurt and I don’t even have kids). But then that makes your suggestion to go alone with the infant even better. A 12 hour flight alone with a baby would be awful, but a 3 hour flight might be do-able and it would just cost one plane ticket.
RedRoverRedRover May 7, 2015, 11:10 am
If it’s a 12-hour drive, that probably includes at least a few hours worth of stopping. Because there’s no way you’re strapping a 3-year-old into a car for 12 hours and just booting it. So it’s probably more like a 7-8 hour drive which is ballooning into 12 hours for this particular LW. If that’s the case, I doubt the sister even realized it would take so long with kids.
Ika May 7, 2015, 11:56 am
When my eldest was 3 we did just that! Coming back from a vacation in the mountains we drove nonstop for 12 hs. I think there was one 5 min pit stop. She was soooo good. I would NEVER attempt it with my youngest though haha
RedRoverRedRover May 7, 2015, 2:35 pm
Holy crap! My little guy’s only 2 but I can’t even imagine him being able to do that! He gets antsy after 1/2 hour. Every kid’s different though, I suppose. 🙂
LW May 7, 2015, 2:49 pm
This is the LW. It’s definitely a 12-hour (plus) flight to another country with a 7-hour time difference. My original letter actually specified that, and for some reason “flight” was changed to “commute” in the editing process, but it’s probably why Wendy knew it was a flight.
chief10 May 7, 2015, 11:15 am
Your sister has set you up with a zillion reasons to not go. As some of said (and they are right) some of those reasons are petty. But with the kids, the distance, and the dicey time to be away at your job, I’d say regrettably decline the invitation. Definitely do something for them when the return home or maybe before they leave.
Laura Hope May 7, 2015, 12:00 pm
My doctor told me that it is not safe for babies under 6 months to fly because their immune systems are not strong enough to handle the recycled germs on the plane and ear pressure or popping could be extremely uncomfortable for infants.So if you’re looking for an excuse, there you go.
becboo84 May 7, 2015, 12:46 pm
Did your ped give the basis/research for that recommendation? I have never heard that before, and most of what I’m finding online says they’re fine between the ages of two and three months (the first round of vaccines is at 2 months).
Not trying to be argumentative… just generally curious!
Dear Wendy May 7, 2015, 2:04 pm
Ditto. I’ve never heard six months before. Our pediatrician said after first round of vaccines at two months and that it also what I have found confirmed online and elsewhere.
Pamplemousse Rose May 7, 2015, 4:16 pm
We were told we could fly with a baby after one week (assuming a healthy, full term birth)
Laura Hope May 7, 2015, 1:35 pm
It was too long ago for me to remember the details but if you think about it, it does make sense. If anyone on the plane is sick, you tend to get it. Who would want to put a small baby in harm’s way? Even if it’s something we don’t get vaccinated for like a stomach virus or the flu…I had actually booked a flight and cancelled it.
sarolabelle May 7, 2015, 4:10 pm
I honestly think the LW means 12 hours by CAR. Which results in about a 2 hour flight. I would leave early on Saturday morning and fly back on Sunday with the 3 month old. Babies that young are much easier to travel with than older babies! This is your one and only sister. She didn’t plan her wedding around you because it isn’t your wedding. I hope you go to the wedding.
sarolabelle May 7, 2015, 4:13 pm
but honestly, no reason why the hubby can’t take care of both baby and kid at the same time for one night if baby takes bottles.
Dear Wendy May 7, 2015, 5:44 pm
No, she confirmed that she means 12 hours on a plane.
PumpkinLatte May 7, 2015, 4:34 pm
That your sister hasn’t offered to help you during your pregnancy isn’t really a complication. You feel resentful over that and it’s coming through in your letter. You say she hasn’t offered to help – have you actually asked her for help when you need it? Or have you just quietly stewed and resented that she hasn’t read your mind? To be clear, I don’t actually think that your sister should feel obligated to help you. As Wendy said, she has other things to do. Also, you made your choice to have kids and to have a full time job. If you’re overwhelmed, it’s time to get your husband more involved or reprioritize.
bittergaymark May 7, 2015, 5:49 pm
NEWSFLASH: If one even VAGUELY values a relationship with their sibling, they might wanna actually do all they can to attend that sibling’s wedding. And what exactly does one do to be “supportive” during a pregnancy? Eh, this LW comes across as whiney and hilariously self centered. Yeah, sorry, but I simply can’t even begin to imagine thinking that my sibling should plan HER wedding around MY schedule… But hey — I guess that’s the new norm now in the world where everybody only gives a fucking damn about themselves.
something random May 7, 2015, 7:59 pm
bittergaymark May 10, 2015, 8:05 pm
LW May 7, 2015, 9:37 pm
Wow. I’m amazed at how harsh some of these responses are. I think what some people are overlooking in my original letter is that I can’t cancel classes during the first week of the semester to attend the wedding (or at most, maybe I’ll be able to cancel one). Cancelling a full week of classes just as the semester begins would be incredibly disruptive to the pace of my semester, and my department would not view it well (especially since I’m about to go up for tenure). This was actually my #1 biggest issue with the date of the wedding. So if I do attend the wedding, I will have to leave on a Thursday morning, arrive to the country 12+ hours later (if I take the more expensive nonstop flight), rent a car at the airport, drive to the wedding’s location, and then return Monday morning. The wedding, by the way, is happening on Friday, which is why the schedule is so tight. And I would have to do all of this while dealing with jet lag– and worse, my children’s jet lag– because of the 7-hour time difference. Even if my husband and toddler don’t come, I’ll have to do all of this with my 3.5 month old in tow because I’ll be breastfeeding. My husband is a wonderful co-parent, but even if I wasn’t breastfeeding, it would be incredibly stressful to leave him with a tiny baby and a toddler for four days. And I doubt I’d be able to pump enough milk before I leave to supply the baby with sufficient food. So yeah, it does seem to me like my sister is asking a lot of me and my family, and I’m still considering going despite that, and despite that since she started dating her now fiancé she makes very little effort to have a good relationship with me. I have visited her far more often than she visits me, but in the last few months it’s been harder for me to take public transit with my son because of my pregnancy (the trip is just exhausting) so the visits have decreased in frequency. And while I’ve invited her to come over several times, she declines because she says she doesn’t have time. (She has also admitted that her fiancé doesn’t like coming to my uncool– in his opinion– part of the city.)
Dear Wendy May 8, 2015, 1:44 am
I’m with you, LW. I think some of these responses are naive and harsh.
SasLinna May 8, 2015, 3:02 am
You really shouldn’t feel bad about not going.
jlyfsh May 8, 2015, 5:08 am
hopefully this is something your sister and fiance were prepared for. Either way someone is a 12 hr flight away and not everyone can do that with less than 6 mths notice. Not everyone can do it with a year notice! I don’t think I could handle a flight with a 3 1/2 month old who needed to breast feed. That’s a lot. It’s a lot for an adult by themselves. I would personally still feel awful when deciding not to go, but I would know that it just wasn’t possible for my family and I. Good luck deciding and hopefully she takes it ok.
Sunshine Brite May 8, 2015, 6:26 am
It doesn’t even sound like you want to go, don’t go then.
One thing I didn’t see was any sort of online component for the class. I feel like all of my professors had some sort of reflection paper or online interactive course ready for the weeks that they were gone including early in the term to maintain flow and discussion.
SpaceySteph May 8, 2015, 8:13 am
I think that given the fact that it is 12 hours by PLANE with a breastfeeding infant to another country, that right there is your reason not to go.
I think folks were harsh on you because your letter focuses more on both your negative opinion of your sister’s relationship and also on your feelings of slight that she hasn’t done as much to support your pregnancy. These are still bad reasons to skip a wedding and you should not bring them up when you tell your sister you won’t be able to make it.
Honestly, if you had said what you said in your clarification post even if you and your sister had a good relationship I’d say don’t go. It’s too far, too stressful, too bad of timing.
ktfran May 8, 2015, 8:25 am
Agreed! For work-related reasons alone, even taking the children out of the scenario, I say don’t go. And don’t feel bad about it. Just focus on that when you tell her. Any reasonable person would understand that you have a obligation to the people in your class.
And I realize that some people on here are ok with weddings being planned without a second thought to others schedule…. but seriously…. if I truly wanted someone to attend an event, like my siblings and parents, I would at least throw around a few dates.
Dear Wendy May 8, 2015, 8:42 am
I mean, seriously. For the people (ahem, BGM,) insinuating that the LW is whiney and self-centered, I wonder if you have any idea the kind of stress and potential repercussions involved in: a) taking off from your job as a professor a week after classes have started; and b) traveling across the world with a newborn and 3-year-old (or even just the newborn, alone, to a foreign country where you have to get yourselves around without any help); c) leaving your breastfeeding baby and preschooler at home for several days with your husband who works full-time. It’s not self-centered to decide it’s just too impractical to try to make this wedding. If anyone is self-centered, it’s the sister for putting the LW in the awkward and difficult position of having to make this decision. If it were me, I would not go. I’d feel sad about it, but I certainly wouldn’t feel self-centered and whiney. I’d feel like, as a mom and a professional, I was making the best decision for my family.
Addie Pray May 8, 2015, 9:09 am
I couldn’t agree more. If I were getting married and my sister was in that situation (and let’s say for valid reasons I couldn’t change my wedding date), I would absolutely understand that she couldn’t make it; and in fact if she did ditch class right after classes had begun and left her babies at home and traveled all that way, and spent all that money, just to be at the party and then not even be able to enjoy the trip because she would have to turn around the next day, i’d feel HORRIBLE – and I’d be mad at her for making such an irrational, impractical, irresponsible, and not-at-all-necessary decision.
Portia May 8, 2015, 9:39 am
This. This exactly. Bassanio’s sister got pregnant after we set the date and called around to everyone (including her). The baby’s due like a week before the wedding and she’s in a foreign country and has other small children. We’ve basically had to tell her not to come on every phone call since she found out, that our present will be a healthy niece/nephew, and that we’ll find another time to get together. Shit happens.
Plus if this LW’s sister is having such a big wedding, the sisters probably won’t be able to spend that much time together anyway.
jlyfsh May 8, 2015, 9:25 am
I definitely agree
SpaceySteph May 8, 2015, 10:08 am
On my honeymoon in Rome I came down with a terrible cold on the last day. We traipsed all over that city looking for a damn pharmacy where I could buy some tissues and sudafed… and chapstick. You know how chapstick always disappears randomly? Well I’d lost mine already and now I have a cold so my nose is chapped raw from using cheap hotel toilet paper (because again no tissues) to wipe my nose and my lips are chapped from breathing with my mouth open because I can’t breathe through my nose. And we never did find any of it. I finally got some when we changed planes in DC on our way home and thank god for that chapstick which I slathered all over my damn face.
My point is, that was just me and my husband.. 2 grown adults and a stupid cold in a foreign city. I can’t even imagine dealing with a 3 month old alone in a foreign city. What if the baby needs something… or gets sick? What do you even do?
bittergaymark May 10, 2015, 7:57 pm
Eh, to me, it’s VERY clear that the LW has no desire to go anyway. So, fine. Don’t go. But don’t be surprised if relations don’t improve with your sister… And I can’t tell you many times I had to deal with clueless TAs teaching classes back when I was in college, so I can’t imagine anybody would be THAT shocked… And if her husband is truly such a tool that he can’t handle the kids on his own for even a few days… well, then… sheeesh, she sure should have picked better. 😉
Dear Wendy May 11, 2015, 5:33 am
I do sort of agree on the husband being/ not being able to handle the two kids for a few days. Presumably, there’s help already in place (preschool, nanny or daycare) while the parents are at work anyway, which could potentially be extended for a few hours. A babysitter could be hired for a few hours on the weekend if the husband needed help or relief. I don’t say this to convince the LW to go to the wedding — I still think there are enough reasons for her not to — but to point out if there’s any other time she has to or wants to be away from her family for a few days (for work, for her health, for her mental well-being/personal enjoyment), her husband should really be able to handle the kids. If a parent really can’t handle both/all the kids he or she has without the help of a partner for a few days, then something is kind of wrong.
Addie Pray May 8, 2015, 9:05 am
Oh wow, I’m with you, too, LW. Your sister didn’t consider you at all. Now, maybe she had other considerations and ultimately had to make a choice that can’t please everyone, and that’s fine. But if I were, I wouldn’t go. I think it would be really irresponsible to go – considering your classes, the baby, etc. You can always do something nice for her later. It’s just a party you’re missing. Sure, you would like to be there, but that’s life.
becboo84 May 8, 2015, 11:18 am
Alrighty, LW, your comments do provide some additional insight that makes it more understandable why you’re considering not going. The only thing I’m confused about though is why your husband wouldn’t be able to handle the 2 kiddos for 4 days while you’re gone? I understand if you wouldn’t want to be away from the baby, but I think/hope you’re underestimating his capabilities as a parent if you really think it would be overwhelming for him. Also, as a side note, assuming you have at least average milk production and are fully committed to pumping whenever you get the chance, you shouldn’t have a problem getting enough milk stored prior to the trip.
Kaluu May 7, 2015, 11:32 pm
Hmm if there’s an illness risk for the baby (on the plane and/or in the foreign country due to being too young for vaccines) plus you’re missing at least one day of work I think you can justify not going. But if the baby can stay (bottle feeding) and you can go and it’s only 1 day of work then that wouldn’t be a great excuse. I wouldn’t ever bring up anything other than solid issues like work and safety of your kids when explaining your choices (Resentments/unfairness/ doubts about their relationship). Since the relationship is not perfect maybe she just can’t get him to agree to a date that would work for your family. Doesn’t bode well for their marriage if that’s the case but no need to really blame her.
Skyblossom May 8, 2015, 7:37 am
I wouldn’t go. It’s too far with too little notice and way too difficult with a breastfeeding baby. People seem to think you can just pump some milk and easily leave the baby. They don’t get that it is a supply and demand type thing. When you are feeding the baby and pumping you are producing more than you need for the baby. Then when you travel and leave the baby behind you are still producing loads of milk that you will constantly be needing to pump. Trying to pump, probably as frequently as every three to four hours while traveling, with strangers right beside you isn’t easy. Being engorged can quickly go from uncomfortable to horribly painful. Add to that your need to be at work during that time and making tenure is important to your career and your ability to financially support your family. I think there is also the possibility that the groom thinks you aren’t good enough to be around. He doesn’t like to come to your area of the city for that reason and he may have pushed for a date that would mean you can’t go to the wedding. Maybe he will feel embarrassed by you being there with, by his standards, inferior clothes or manner or whatever he deems not good enough.
Tanya May 12, 2015, 8:44 am
Wow I’m amazed at some of the responses. Some people sound like they don’t have kids. I have taken a 3 hour flight across Europe with a 2-month old AND my husband (no other kids), the whole trip took 12 hours door to door. You have no idea what a trip like this entails until you have done it. I’m quite a capable person, but I would not have been able to do it by myself and I can only imagine what it would be like to throw jetlag in the picture. This trip would be not only exhausting, it would be unfair to the infant whose needs should take priority at this time.