Question: Dear Luise: I have known my mother in law for a very long time, even though my husband and I have only been married a few years. Generally she and I get along very well even though I’m sure we don’t agree on everything. My husband is approaching a milestone birthday and I was excited at the prospect of throwing him a party. His mother took over the party planning, picked the location, sent out invitations (which read my baby is turning 40) and planned the menu. I have asked more than once to be included in the party planning process and she always says of course, but turns around and does what she wants anyway. Finally she agreed to let me take care of the food for the party. Come to find out, she went behind my back and took care of that too. When speaking to my family about it, my sister advises that I should just hold my tongue and let her do it, so that is what I’m doing, even though inside it is tearing me up that I have been completely left out of my husband’s 40th birthday plans and feel that now I have nothing special to offer him for this big day. Am I just supposed to sit quietly and wait for ten years and hope that I get to do something special for his 50th or do I make my feelings known? J.
Answer: Dear J.: I’m in agreement with your sister and am impressed that you are listening to her and following her advice. Your feelings seem well founded to me. Your mother-in-law is being overbearing and dishonest…and she is making this all about her. (The “My baby” on the invitation is the clue.)
She may be trying to create temporary visibility for herself by making a bid for accolades for days gone by. Who knows? It looks to me like the lady may not know what is driving her. Maybe she is sad that you are the center of her son’s world. She once held that title, you know…for a long, long time. Some women don’t know how to make a healthy transition out of active motherhood. They have no idea where to go from there.
Show everyone what you are made of and fade into the background. Let the woman have her day. You know as well as I do that you don’t have to wait ten years to honor the guy yourself. Invent a big day and give him something grand like a mini-vacation. My son and his wife celebrate their “Kissaversary” in a big way. It’s like a national holiday to them. They invite our whole clan to celebrate it with them. LOL! I also have a friend who throws a gigantic “St. Smithin’s Day” Party every year for no reason at all. Be whimsical, throw an “Our Secret” Party and have everyone guess what it is. Obviously the sky’s the limit regarding what you can come up with that will center around the present instead of the past.
Know that there are probably many people who thought the invitation was pathetic. Don’t talk behind your mother-in-law’s back. Just know that the higher you hold your head the better you will look. Others will notice that and admire you. Let them see at least one class act. Blessings, Luise