Relative Rant

<p>I just need to cry on someone's shoulder for a minute. My son is the youngest of the grandchildren even though I was one of the oldest siblings in my generation. For years, I was the unmarried aunt that went to all of the ball games and dance recitals. Years ago, I flew home with my not-quite-two-year old and all of the baggage that is needed to travel (car seat, stroller, backpack) while my husband waited for the next flight--just so I wouldn't miss my nephew's graduation party. Today I got an rsvp from the mother of that nephew saying that she cannot come to my son's graduation/going away party because she is going to her grandson's birthday party. She lives in the same town as her grandchildren and sees them several times a week. His birthday is not even the same day as my party; they changed the birthday party because the grandson has something else to do on his birthday. My sister was invited to the graduation program where my son gave a valedictory speech. So far, she has not spoken to my son or sent even a card. </p>

<p>I don't want to make a big deal of this because my husband will not forgive her but I am really hurt. I perhaps have not been the best at remembering birthdays for her kids lately but I went to all of their activities when they were in high school. If I complain to anyone else in my family, it will just cause tension, so thanks CC parents for giving me a place to unload.</p>

<p>Sorry about this. Remember, you can not change what other people do but you can change how you react to it. It sounds lame but it works.
Godd luck, don't let them spoil your day</p>

<p>Well... not to be too unsympathetic (I am somewhat), but it does feel to me like you are looking for payback for your "heroic" attendance at her son's party (and maybe all the years of being the doting aunt), and now you are offended that she will not travel for your son's similar event. You don't say how far away she lives, or whether attending your son's event would preclude her from her grandson's event. In my case, I suspect a grandchild's event in my hometown (don't have any yet) also might trump a niece/nephew event in another location.</p>

<p>I agree that if you have remembered her children at graduation events, she should send something for your son. Just asking (and he may very well have), has your son given her written thanks for past gifts? Sometimes this is about the age where relatives get fed up with no "thank yous" and stop gifting. Of course, that may not be the case at all, but I am just bringing it up as a possibility. Or maybe she is jealous that your kid is valedictorian... wouldn't be the first family where that happened! Or maybe birthdays are super important to her, and she is getting back at you for not following up on what she considers her kids' special days...</p>

<p>It seems to me that lots of family disputes are about differing expectations around holiday/celebrations/gift giving. My experience is that you have to really let go of expecting everyone else to behave the same way you would on these topics, and it saves a lot of hurt feelings and grief.</p>

<p>I'm glad that you've had a place to vent here. I hear you and acknowledge your hurt. ;) Hope you feel better! ;)</p>

<p>It does really help to just get it out- even if some of it is " petty" or " controlling" or even heaven forbid IMMATURE!
;)
Cause then after you ***** and moan, you can be polite and charming and be a wonderfui example :)</p>

<p>Plus remember that we can step out of our box to see that life still goes on, even if we are not the center of it.</p>

<p>I hope this doesn't come off as um- smug- but I will say, I have friends for precisely this reason- for instance when none of my daughters grandparents came to her high school graduation ( when they all live in town), two years ago, I called up a friend of mine, whose kid didn't even graduate.
I felt better.</p>

<p>Dear intparent, she lives less than an hour away. If she is too busy to attend an event for my son, she could at least have sent him a card. He has not missed sending thank you notes because she has not given him anything since he has been old enough to write. Her sons are both much older than mine and I did attend events when they were my son's age. I have never mentioned my "heroic" efforts to her, just mentioned them here so that you would understand some of the background and because I sometimes do feel guilty when I forget a card, but with her kids I was physically there. When I wrote this last night, I thought that it would be very easy to reschedule the grandson's birthday dinner since it wasn't on his actual birthday, but maybe that date is the only date that the in-law's family can attend. My nephew and his family were also invited to my son's party/picnic. I can even understand her not attending, but I can't seem to get over her telling me to wish him good luck through FB, not even a card.</p>

<p>Thanks to those of you who said the kind words. I know that I cannot let this continue to bother me. I need to accept the way that she is.</p>

<p>Post a long rant on the "say it here" thread here on CC too. It feels better to do that.</p>

<p>I totally understand about having self-focused relatives, but those of use who are givers rarely ever, and sadly should not expect, to get back what we give. Others do not treat us the way we treat them. I think you should consider letting her know, diplomatically, how you feel. Dont worry about her response-- sadly, she seems too self absorbed to care much. Sorry</p>

<p>I understand how disapointed you feel. My guess is that she is pretty self-absorbed and doesn't realize how much she has hurt you. Some people can only focus on the life stage they are going through and forget how important previous ones were.</p>

<p>Unfortunately, you can't make her change. Sometimes we just have to "take what we get" from the people who let us down, and focus our energy on the people who are there for us. Don't let her spoil this happy occasion. Enjoy it with your son and the peole who come to celebrate wit you.</p>

<p>Ah, you even want her to reschedule... I didn't say you have mentioned your "heroic" efforts to her, but I suspect you have held it in your heart as something she owes you for over the years. Like I said in my initial post, I am not entirely unsympathetic. But it seems like you are letting someone else's priorities for the emphasis placed on different holidays/events really get to you. You really can't change those priorities. Unless, of course, you are willing to say something to her. You could say, "You know, sis, I understand that you have another commitment and can't make it for S's party. We will miss you. S would really appreciate a call or card from you if you have a chance, as he has worked very hard toward this goal." But I would only say this if S really would appreciate it. If he doesn't care, then I would definitely not burn the energy to care in his stead.</p>

<p>Your sister has the right to make her choice of priorities. She has a conflict between a party for her grandchild and one for her nephew. Realize that the party for her grandchild *is a party hosted by her *child. She is putting her child before her nephew. Perhaps the event is of less significance, and certainly it would have been appropriate for her to have sent her nephew a card and/or gift at his graduation. But it did not happen for whatever reason.</p>

<p>We can't live life expecting everything to be even. I hope that in the years you were a devoted aunt you got some enjoyment from the events you attended. It was not a waste even if your family members do not pay you back in kind. Those were the *choices you *made then, whether or not they were fully appreciated. They were not part of a contract such that if you did them others were required to do similarly in the future.</p>

<p>Age may also have something to do with it. Your son is the youngest grandchild, and his aunts and uncles are older and at least some are grandparents now. They may simply not have as much interest in making every event.</p>

<p>This is a good place to vent, but then let it be. Focus on your pride in and enjoyment of your son.</p>

<p>Yes, it is extremely disappointing when one's "close" relatives don't attend our important life cycle events. It hurts that your consideration for their events is not returned.</p>

<p>I have a sister and a SIL that can't be bothered for these things. Something else is always more important. Additionally, my husband's parents weren't always there for the b-day parties of our child (even though they lived close by and this was the only grandchild in the area) if they had something more "important" to do. Not surprisingly, these are the same people who will give us (especially me) a guilt trip if I try to beg off some third cousin twice removed baby shower (if they want to go or need a ride from me). How could I think of missing it to take my child to an athletic tournament or other social engagement??? I no longer go to things that I don't want to attend. I usually just send a preemptive check and a card and no one hassles me.</p>

<p>Sorry about this. Feel hurt, but let it go. Your S doesn't need other's acknowledgement to know what he has accomplished. Congratulations to your S and I hope he enjoys his college years.</p>

<p>We have a large extended family, over 50 in our generation. The ways to avoid feeling being hurt are not to attend or invite those "minor" events such as birthdays, graduations, ball games, anniverseries and such. Concentrate on major events like weddings and funerals.</p>

<p>Just imaging what my life will be if I go around the country for every birthday in the family?</p>

<p>I struggle with this issue all the time. I love the way intparent sees it:
[quote]
It seems to me that lots of family disputes are about differing expectations around holiday/celebrations/gift giving. My experience is that you have to really let go of expecting everyone else to behave the same way you would on these topics, and it saves a lot of hurt feelings and grief.

[/quote]
This put the conflict into perfect focus for me, intparent - I'm going to embroider it on something or tattoo it somewhere (or maybe just memorize it, which would be easier).</p>

<p>lotsofquests, I'm glad you found a place to unload your anger and hurt. As jym626 suggested, you can go to the "Say it here" thread and really vent, if that helps. Maybe my experience can help you see it from the point of view of one of those less giving, less considerate folks - me.</p>

<p>Put bluntly - I need a lot of down time because I'm not nurturing by nature. My kids wouldn't agree with that that, nor my husband (most of the time), nor the seniors I work with. But, especially as I get older, I don't have much left to give at the end of a day full of validating experiences, listening to feelings, meeting needs, and a heavy dose of delayed gratification. :D I love my extended family, but I'm always looking for the line drawn around "bad relative who doesn't extend herself enough for the family" and trying to do the bare minimum necessary to stay on the right side of it. If I were your sister, I think I'd feel worse about missing a grandchild's birthday than a nephew's graduation. People can be pretty irrational about their grandchildren. :) Still, I know I'd send a nice card with a hand-written note to congratulate my nephew on being the valedictorian - that's a great accomplishment and I can understand why you feel your sister should be involved enough with her nephew to recognize him for it.</p>

<p>I will take credit for driving 4 hours one way and back in the same day for my nephew's recent hs grad party. It was a lovely time, but I'll admit I did it because of how guilty I'd have felt if I hadn't. Will also admit that I'd been invited to spend the night - but that would have just been more family contact than I'm comfortable with.</p>

<p>I am in the same boat as you...the oldest in my family with one of the very youngest grandchildren. This happened years ago, Sapling was one or two years old. After I spent years buying Christmas presents for SIL and my brother, and their THREE children...SIL announces "How about we stop buying presents for each other's kids, there's just so many now". Now that I have ONE?</p>

<p>I think Mbapon has excellent advice. I can't say it better.</p>

<p>Though we are dysfuncitional in many ways as a family, we have been fortunate to be on the same wave lengths regarding participation in our lives among my siblings. We don't exchange gifts unless we are physically present. We give things to each other when we see something the other wants or likes. I just recently sent some American Girl stuff that I had been hoarding for years for my little niece who just started wanting those items. I did not send her anything for Christmas or Bday. My brothers did not acknowledge my kids' graduations, birthdays, nothing. However, if I ever really want them for anything, they will drop everything and come, as I would. I'm also fortunate that both SILs like the way we do things and are on board. </p>

<p>My MIL, however, needs every holiday, accomplishment, anything acknowledged or she gets miffed. So I make that a priority item. It's not that I think an instant more about her or her dates than my family's, but I just cater to what she wants. It just isn't so important to me. If either of my brother's wives or brothers themselves wanted to do things this way, I would have done so.'</p>

<p>The thing that puzzles me about your situation is that you can't discuss this with your sister or brother? Again, we are no ideal family, but if we really want our sibling or family here, we make it clear and thrash things out. My one brother and family from the west coast happened to be here one Thanksgiving so I got a table for all of us including my in town brother for an event that really would not have been so important except I would have been sitting alone at a table if they bailed. They almost did. They came up with far more interesting plans for that evening and told me that they did not want to attend. I made it clear to them that they were putting me in a bad spot if they did not and that I really wanted them there. That was the end of that. They came. I so rarely do something like this that when I do, it is considered compulsory. So it would be for me if they came up with such things. </p>

<p>I'm not big on graduations. I don't invite extended family members to them. Not even my own brothers or mother. So I probably would not come to a nephew's graduation unless my brother or SIL made it clear that this was important to them.</p>

<p>cptofthehouse,</p>

<p>your family sounds a whole lot like mine. we also don't bother inviting the out-of-town relatives (i.e. all of them) to things like graduations. Although we did manage to make to my niece's graduation from Oberlin several years ago---because we were a whole lot closer than her parents and we'd been storing her stuff, etc. while she was in college and since her parents were coming, it gave us a chance to catch up with them too.</p>

<p>Yes, we just get together when it all comes together. But no one is upset. In fact both of my SILs like it that way. I specifically asked because I didn't want anyone sulking in silence. In fact, they find a lot of the family protocols on their sides of family very tiresome, and there has been drama when someone hurts someone's feeling. So far, (knock on wood), we have not had that sort of situation. But then my brothers and I are able to talk directly to each other instead of tip toeing around. We may have our disagreements, but we can resolve them among ourselves and we all agree that getting along is the priority. </p>

<p>I had my kids first and they were the only kids in my family until recently when my 50 something year old brother and mid 40 years old SIL had two kids right in a row. The first one planned, the second one a surprise bonus. My brothers were wonderful uncles to my kids and very generous, so I try to do the same with those little ones. My SIL, however, runs a spartan household, so I have to be careful about not loading them up with junk. The kids do not have a lot of toys, but what they have is very nice. They live in a very small house, so there just isn't room for a lot of junk. I just wish I had some more money available, because I'd love to fund music lessons, or something like that, which would be preferred to things, but with my kids on the college train these years, I am not able.</p>

<p>I wrote the original post within minutes of when I first received her response before I really had a chance to think about things. High school graduations are not usually an event that my family attend because usually seating is limited at my relatives' high schools. I probably would not have expected anyone to attend the ceremony except that two sisters called me when they heard that S was valedictorian. I did not expect her to attend the graduation. Graduation parties, on the other hand, have been a cause for celebration; my family does like to eat. As a family, we get together several times a year and for most major holidays, kids' birthday parties and baptisms. The sisters and nieces shop together and try to have a girls' weekend every year. I would expect my sister to put her grandson before my son but I would also expect her to at least send my son a card. As several of you pointed out, I did not attend her sons' events to accumulate points in the favorite aunt game; I did it because I enjoyed being there. I like sports and I like being with my extended family. Coming from a relatively large family but now having a family of only three, I enjoy their company. My husband has no living relatives.</p>

<p>Now, after two days, I am not going to think about it anymore. Life is rarely fair and equal and if you spend all of your time trying to keep score, you probably miss most of the game.</p>

<p>I think Intparent's suggestion is a good one if you and/or your son feel that a card is in order. She definitely should have at very least have sent a card, a note, an acknowledgment, I agree. If it were one of my brothers, I would ask them to please send a card, and they would do it with no feelings bruised at all. Would it cause a problem if you couched the request the way that Intparent suggested?</p>