Thursday, February 08, 2007

Stuck in the Middle

I’ve been wondering why I’ve been so depressed lately when the obvious answer finally hit me. My mother has been so rude and careless with my feelings this past week that I have cried after every single phone conversation I’ve had with her. It needs to stop. In order to bring you up to speed, I need to go back a bit. Therefore, this will probably span several posts. I’d been trying really hard not to vent about my and H’s family lately, thinking it was unhealthy, but now I think it’s better to just start letting it out. So, here we go.

It all began with baby shower planning two weeks ago. A friend who has wanted to throw me a shower since the day she learned of my pregnancy asked for a list of those I wanted invited a few weeks ago so that she could prepare for an early March shower. Since she has a small place and lives far from me, she suggested that she hold the shower at my house, an ideal situation for me since my mobility is decreasing. At the same time, my MIL asked H if there were any plans for a shower for me, and H told her about this girl’s plan. Although the friend, K, was thinking of having a friends shower assuming one of my relatives would host a family shower, H suggested that his mom get in touch with her and they could jointly do something. This was because MIL only has a few people she would invite, and having a shower out of state where she lives wouldn’t work at this point as I’d be too uncomfortable to make the trip in my third trimester. Well, K was fine collaborating with MIL, but MIL wouldn’t even call her to talk and just asked H that all planning responsibilities and a list of invitees should be transferred to her. Of course, at the same time as she started to try and take this over, she told H that he would be responsible for actually doing everything for the shower since she wouldn’t be able to from out of state. Makes a lot of sense, huh?

So MIL then calls me directly and asks for invitee addresses. She asks whether my family will be planning their own shower or whether I want my mom and her relatives invited to this one. Well, I say I have no idea (after all, isn’t it awkward to ask people whether they intend to throw parties for you?). I suggest that she call my mom directly, which she says she doesn’t want to do and that I should just give her a list of addresses by tomorrow because she really wants to send the invitations as soon as possible. Great. She says it would be good if we had one big shower because then there would be enough for a minimum order of special twin-themed invitations. (We had 15 people on the invite list so far and she said that minimum orders were 30.)

So I call my mom and tell her of MIL’s plans and the date that has been picked, asking her if she is free that day and whether she’d like to give MIL the names of anyone else to be invited or if our side of the family was already being covered. I felt uncomfortable having this conversation, but felt I had no choice.

My mom’s response—(in her nastiest voice), “Honestly, Emmie, I haven’t given the slightest thought about a shower for you. I don’t even have the time to think about that right now. (ironic side note—she’s retired) Isn’t March awful early for a shower?”

I gulp and say “Okay, no problem. No, March isn’t too early for a twin shower, given my premature labor risks... Anyway, I just wanted you to know the date and keep you informed in case you wanted to invite anybody from our side of the family.”

No, she replies. No I don’t think so. She asks where the shower will be held. When I tell her my house, I get the most disapproving grunt you’ve ever heard. (In everything I’ve read, having a shower at the mom-to-be’s house is more and more common, especially when mom is carrying twin whales and can’t be in the car long.)

I quickly get off the phone, very hurt.

My dad calls me not 10 minutes later. He tries to smooth over my mom’s nastiness, explaining that my mom has been talking about planning a surprise shower all week, for March, and just hadn’t gotten around to informing my MIL yet. He also said that he realized it would be better to have it near me or at my house than far away. He said my mom didn’t want to ruin the surprise and that’s why she responded the way she did to me, but I countered that she didn’t have to be so mean about it. He and I had a rational conversation about the shower, in which we decided that there should only be one, at my house, with everyone hosted by my mom, MIL, and K. (I really wanted K to be able to host alone as it would be more appropriate and would get an objective third party involved but MIL and my mom would not hear of that.)

So I sent an e-mail to my mom, MIL, and K thanking them all for wanting to do something so nice for me and the babies and explaining the details K had planned so far—the date, location, etc. I attached a list of all addresses I had. I said I was sorry to ruin any surprises but that given my condition they were really helping me out by giving me advanced notice and letting me stay in my own home. Since everyone lives more than an hour from me, I didn’t think I would be comfortable for a long car ride in March. With that, I said H would be at their disposal to help set things up and pick up whatever they needed, and I would stay uninvolved.

Yeah, right.

A few days later my mom calls my MIL and fills her in on the fact that she had, indeed, been planning a shower but that she’d be willing to combine it. She told my MIL that she had 15 people on her list, making 30 people total. My MIL immediately complains that this is more people than she had counted on hosting a party for and now things like invitations would be awfully expensive. (Huh??? This totally contradicted what she told me.) How do I know this? Because my mom calls me griping about every conversation with MIL even though I’ve asked to stay out of it. So now I’m caught in between MIL and mom, and neither will allow K, who is the only person who genuinely wanted to throw me a shower in the first place, to help out. My mom constantly tells me how expensive everything she has bought for the party is (plates, favors, invites) and she questions how MIL is going to pitch in at all. When I point out that she’s not even giving MIL a chance to do anything, she tells me that the only thing MIL has offered to do is bring a cake. More griping ensues.

Thus concludes part one of why I’m stressed and depressed…To be continued.


Just another Jenny said...

Oh man, getting it from both ends (mom and MIL) is really unfair. My mom is a total pain but not really part of my life so it's easy to ignore her.
You are 100% right about having the shower at your house. I had to convince my SIL that although she is throwing my shower, her house doesn't make sense since it's an hour away from everyone invited. Why do people think it's all about them? It's almost like wedding drama but on a smaller scale. I hope your friend K is understanding, it doesn't sound like you can do much about the situation.

Heather said...

Wow! No wonder you are stressed. It stressed me just reading it.

As hard as it may be, I think you are going to have to draw some boudaries with them. Or, ask K to step up and act as the go-between so not only will she be included but maybe your Mom can vent to her instead of you.

J said...

As a stranger I'm thinking WOW poor you. Yay for K she sounds like a great friend and very practical too.
Ummmm MIL/Mom what is up with that? I see you have had an IVF done and I would think they might be of the sense that hey that is a big deal and shouldn't they be going out of thier way to make things as easy AND stress free as possible for you!
Sorry if I'm being to free speaking on your blog. I hope in you have a wonderful shower for your twins.

GLouise said...

Oh my! I would be irritated too. They should be TRYINg to make this a PLEASANT experience for you.

I agree with what Jenny said, about showers being like a wedding on a smaller scale.

Also they shouldn't be freaking out abt invitations or having too many guests show up. Haven't they heard that not *everyone* is able to accept an invitation?

Argh! Here's hoping that things will improve!

Isabel said...

What a situation. Is it possible to just say: please call K with this, I have to go? I would hate to dump on your friend, but maybe if you have a very frank talk with K this would be a good option. If it will only infuriate your mom, then maybe not though. Or maybe you can have a frank talk w/ MIL about your issues with your mom? I have no real relationship with my mom but it sounds like such a drag for you I wish I had some tested advice!

Hopeful Mother said...

Emmie, you need LESS stress in your "with whales" condition, not MORE. I can't believe they don't understand that. This shower is not for them, it's for you!