Graciously Gritting One’s Teeth When The Shower Theme Is Not To One’s Liking

by admin on February 2, 2012

This is a situation that’s occurring right now.  My mother decided that she wants to throw a baby shower for me and asked me what I would like. I told her that I want something small and simple, since I have not had an easy pregnancy to date and do not want something complicated. I told her that I would love a tea party themed shower. Now, she then called my best friend up to ask for her input. My best friend also told her the above. I received a call from my mother, who had already booked a fairly upscale restaurant for an elaborate party. My mother spoke with my husband, telling him what she had planned to see if I would like it. DH explained to her that it was not a good idea, that a simple tea party would be best. She then decides to guilt trip both my husband and myself because she had already spent the money on this party, which I would rather she not do at all. She has decided to do what she wants, regardless of what we want. It has become a competition to her to upstage my SIL’s mother for what she had done for my SIL’s baby shower. Is there anyway to either get her to drop this elaborate party or drop hosting duty? Thanks for any input. 0201-12

Showers, whether they be for a wedding or a baby, are not supposed to be hosted by immediate family members. The reasoning for this is that it has the appearance of the family colluding to prevail upon others to provide the necessary items to either set up a house or equip a nursery they themselves are not willing to purchase.    Generosity begins at home, as they say, and the family should be the primary resource for acquiring these things.   Yes, I know there will be the usual dissenters who insist that a shower is to celebrate the birth of a baby but please, don’t go there.  If you want to celebrate a birth in the family, call it anything else except a “shower”, which the very name  carries a very implicit expectation that gifts are expected.

So, you’ve agreed to your mother hosting you a baby shower.  Having stepped onto the slippery slope of etiquette by condoning her inappropriate hosting of a shower, you are on there for the whole ride down, I’m afraid.  At this point, it would be very distasteful and rude to decline the shower on the grounds that the theme and location is not to your liking.   Hostesses can solicit ideas and preferences from the guest of honor but they are not bound to follow them.   Guests of honor must hope their friends and family will host something in keeping with their personal tastes but if that does not happen, the only alternative is to buck up, grit your teeth graciously and enjoy the shower.

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Just Laura February 2, 2012 at 10:38 am

I was married less than a year ago, and when my mother asked to throw me a shower out-of-state, I declined for the reasons stated above. She was certainly unhappy about it, and tried to lay a bit of a guilt-trip, but too bad.

OP, I’m sorry that your mother seems to want to make this about her rather than you or your baby, but you could have said ‘no.’ You accepted, knowing that you have had a difficult pregnancy. There’s no one to blame but yourself.

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Powers February 2, 2012 at 10:38 am

After all that, you still think she “agreed” to her mother hosting? I doubt she had much choice in that matter, either.

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Wink-n-Smile February 2, 2012 at 10:52 am

What if the hostess decides to have it in the dead of night, under a full moon, in front of a graveyard, and have black hair and purple clothes? And all the music played in a minor key? And a buffet that includes both hot and cold items? What if the guests give gifts that have dragons and skulls on them?

Are you sure it wouldn’t be incumbent on the guest of honor to write the hostess a nasty note about how she’s making a mockery of the fine tradition of showers, and then crawl out the bathroom window?

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Enna February 2, 2012 at 11:02 am

I do see were Admin is coming from but I do see that is very unfair on the OP for her mother to completely ignore what she has requested. Chalk it down to experince: if there is anyway you can “reign in” your mother for taking it even further do but in future I would not let her host things if she is going to ignore your feelings completely.

OP you have mentioned that your pregnancy has not been easy: you must always put your health and your baby’s health first. If mother gets upset because you feel too unwell to go or have to leave early she should have listened to your preferences first as they would have been less stressful and more praticial. E.g. if you get caught short at a restruant it’s not as easy as it is at home – you can take a little nap if you are home / close firend’s / close family member’s house and wake up 5 mins before the tea party starts – you can’t do that at a restruant.

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Anonymous February 2, 2012 at 11:02 am

I think this is one of those situations where “etiquette” and “relationships” collide. The OP probably didn’t feel that she could decline her mother hosting the shower, for fear of hurting her feelings, or making her mother angry. The way I see it, the mother was much more enthusiastic about the idea than the OP was, the mother called up out of the blue all excited about the idea, and the OP reluctantly went along with it, stipulating that she wanted something small and simple……..and then the mother cheerfully disregarded that and planned something big, expensive, and complicated. This is basically the plot of many, many episodes of Party Mamas–mom gets carried away planning something huge, Party Kid wants something less over-the-top, Mom gets overcome with stress, and yells at the vendors, her husband, and of course, the kid, for being “ungrateful.” The situation in the OP sounds similar, except the Party Mama and the Party Daughter are a bit older. Anyway, if we were to strictly adhere to the rule that the host makes all the decisions for the party, and the guests (even the guest of honour) ultimately have no say, then that would mean it’d be polite for all those Party Mamas out there to bulldoze their kids’ wishes for a simple birthday party/Bat Mitzvah/graduation/whatever, and rude of the kids to speak up and say they’d prefer to have just a few friends over for pizza and cake. But, usually, when I’ve watched that show, most of the Party Kids are much politer than their Party Mamas. So, I think I’d like to file a motion for a “Party Mamas Clause” in the “Host(ess) Has Absolute Power” rule, because otherwise, that rule can be taken to pretty ridiculous heights.

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CaffeineKatie February 2, 2012 at 11:10 am

Or tell her your health won’t permit you to attend, and let her deal with it by herself.

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Jan74 February 2, 2012 at 11:10 am

Agree 100% with a shower is not a celebration of the birth of a baby. First of all, if it were a celebration, it would happen after the birth, not before so that people can buy things.

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Wendy February 2, 2012 at 11:11 am

This is why I detest showers.

OP, I’d go, say thank you, gush about how much you appreciate what your mom did, and then go home and grumble. At this point she’s put quite a bit of money into it, so it would be additionally rude to make her stop. Let her have her fun.

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--Lia February 2, 2012 at 11:13 am

I’m interested in what “guilt trip both my husband and myself” consists of. Your mother can make some comments, but the choice to feel guilty is yours. What does she say? What does she do? The better you get at letting her comments roll off you, the faster she’ll get at realizing her tactics don’t work and stop doing them.

As for what you can do now. First, I’d recommend appealing again to your mother. I wouldn’t recommend this for any other relationship, but for a mother, I like to recommend trying again and again. Next, talk to the guests. You know them all so you can be honest. “I’d have preferred something much simpler, but you know Mother. This pregnancy has been a difficult one. I’m not sure I’m up to a big celebration, but I’ll try to put in an appearance, though I’m sure I won’t be able to stay long.” Then do what you’ve said. Show up for a short time, make your apologies about not feeling up to staying longer, and exit. There’s a reasonable chance your mother will be spitting mad, but the communication will be much better the next time. She’ll understand that you mean what you say and that the last time to pressure someone into doing something she doesn’t have the strength for is when she’s pregnant.

I’m wondering what the etiquette advice is for any other unwilling guest of honor at an event. What does the shy retiring man do when he’s supposed to be honoree at a party celebrating his 50 years of service? How does he say he doesn’t want it?

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PurplPngn February 2, 2012 at 11:57 am

“She has decided to do what she wants, regardless of what we want. It has become a competition to her to upstage my SIL’s mother for what she had done for my SIL’s baby shower.”

Based on the OP’s description of her mother, this shower was going to happen whether the daughter approved/agreed/condoned or not.

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OP February 2, 2012 at 11:59 am

A side note that I forgot to mention when I was writing this. I did not agree to my mother hosting the shower-my best friend wanted to do this, but then received a phone call from my mother, stating that she was going to do it. Thank you for your input admin.

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Kate February 2, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Wait what? You agreed to allow her to host a small tea party, so now you’re stuck with a large restaurant? Tell your mother you are thrilled that’s she’s excited to celebrate, but as you told her before, you have had a difficult pregnancy, are uncomfortable with a large fete, and will not be attending.

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Calli Arcale February 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I have to agree that I don’t see any gracious way out of the shower at this point. Your mom asked you for input, ignored the input, and is now upset that you’re offended that she didn’t listen to you. This isn’t going to end well if you both stand your ground. Best course is to rest well before the shower, put on your best face, attend as graciously as you can, and try to ignore the money spent and the one-upping and all that. Thank your mother politely for it afterwards, and then get on with life. Take it as a lesson learned that your mother may have difficulties settling into the “grandma” role with appropriate boundaries, and be ready to take charge once the little one has arrived so that this isn’t repeated with, say, a baptism party or the first birthday or whatnot.

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Amber February 2, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Eesh. “But I don’t LIKE the party that’s being planned for me at another’s expense, even though I said I’d willingly attend!”

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Ashley February 2, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Call me crass, but I’ve never seen the problem of family hosting a shower for you. Most showers I’ve been too have been hosted by a cousin or a sister with support of the mother of the bride/new mommy. Also, I’ve never have nor have met people have do, have issues with mothers having a shower for every child born. As long as it is a fun filled day with laughter, then what’s the issue.

That being said, daugter’s wishes should have been respected. Daughter should let her mother know how this is not what she wanted but attept to enjoy the day.

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Gloria Shiner February 2, 2012 at 1:48 pm

The OP does mention trying to get her mother to give up hosting. Maybe that’s the way to go. If it’s a difficult pregnancy and going through with this elaborate party is too taxing, that’s a perfect excuse:

“I’m sorry, you asked me what I want, and I just can’t do that. My doctor says it would be too stressing. Maybe we could have lunch there after the baby is born.”

After all, Mom did ask.

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Chrysla February 2, 2012 at 2:01 pm

While it is unbelievable to me that Mom would ask about OP’s wishes and get not one but two answers reinforcing an easy going party, then ignore that completely, I know it does happen. I would express my disappointment to Mom for ignoring my wishes when I was expressly asked but thank her for throwing the party. I would then make it clear that I would try to attend, but may leave early due to fatigue from the over-the-top event.

I am currently eight months pregnant and completely understand, I am exhausted and in constant pain during this pregnancy and really do not want to attend a party at all. My friends and family completely understood and have done something wonderful for me. Because I had complications early on, they organized a schedule where one or two people would stop by each week, bring me their shower gift and then help me with household chores, cleaning, cooking, etc… I got to have a relaxing and meaningful encounter with each person and much needed help. My friends and family are the best, I have cried (with joy!) thinking about their generosity and kindness.

I hope the OP can get the benefit of friends helping her this way, and help take off the burden of overbearing Mom.

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AriaDream February 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm

*slow blink* This is really weird. I mean, tea parties can be SO refined and beautiful! The mother could have asked an expensive restaurant if they’d be willing to do a high tea, if she wanted to waste her money that way. I’m not sure why she’s going so far out of her way to disregard the mom to be’s wishes.

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Dear! February 2, 2012 at 3:00 pm

OP, I understand you may not have wanted what she has planned, but this is a gift. You agreed to it. She has spent money and time getting it together. To now refuse would be rather ungrateful. In her mind I’m sure she just wants to give you something very nice, so suck it up and enjoy your evening at the fancy restaruant where people will shower you with gifts.

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MidoriBird February 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm

My thoughts are in slight disagreement. OP has not had an easy pregnancy and my concerns are not putting undue stress on an already difficult situation. If things were easier it might have been easier to graciously go with the flow, but this demonstrates a marked disrespect for the wishes of others, and smacks of a conniving guilt-tripper who lays on the heavy emotions when she doesn’t get her way. This is just asking for a tense affair made worse because everyone knew they advised the party-giver to do the exact opposite of what she’s just done, and a woman with a difficult pregnancy struggling to put this one, down, too, and knowing her mother had absolutely not considered her daughter’s feelings in the matter or the health of her unborn child’s.

This said, I too cannot think of a gracious way to handle this situation except grin, bear it, and try not to get so stressed that the OP puts herself, or her unborn child, in a situation they’d rather not end up finding themselves in. Admin does have a point about where politeness faces. :/

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Lisa Marie February 2, 2012 at 3:46 pm

My one and only baby shower many years ago was held totally against my will. I too wanted a simple shower with a few people there. Instead my mother got the bit in her teeth with my aunts and held it at a person’s house (she was seeing my uncle and I detested her children). Not only that, the men folks were also invited and it turned into another beer drinking festival. I gritted my teeth and was gracious to everyone, passed the baby etc. But my husband and I left ASAP.

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Angela February 2, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Some mothers (and other family members) don’t take no for an answer, at least without a big ugly scene that a woman carrying a difficult pregnancy might not want to deal with. I know if I had declined my stepmother’s shower, she would have been very hurt. Is the rule so important that it’s worth insulting or greatly disappointing someone who had really looked forward to helping you celebrate a new baby?

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Sarah Jane February 2, 2012 at 5:11 pm

I agree with Jan74 and wish to add that a baby shower is not for the BABY, it is for the PARENTS.

Wink-n-smile, your post made me laugh out loud for real.

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MellowedOne February 2, 2012 at 5:21 pm

” She then decides to guilt trip both my husband and myself because she had already spent the money on this party, which I would rather she not do at all. ”

OP, if either you or your husband in any way gave the go-ahead..even if it was very reluctantly and because of being guilted..then you have committed yourself to attending.

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OP February 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Thank you guys for your input. As for what guilt tripping us consists of, have any of you encountered the patented Jewish guilt? It is an experience all of it’s own. My major concern is that I will be nine months pregnant when this shower occurs and my health has not endured well for it. This is the reason why I wanted something small, simple, and uncomplicated. There was no option of saying no-I only found out after the fact that my mother would be the one organizing the shower. My best friend had wanted to do it and then my mother overrode her on it. Wink-n-Smile, if I was feeling up to it, I would’ve loved a shower like that.

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Lisa February 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm

I’m glad I am not the only person who has had a shower “against my will,” so to speak. When I got married, my mom told me that she wanted to throw me a shower. I thanked her but was politely clear that I was not interested in having one. Lo and behold, invitations went out (I found out after the fact.) To make things even more interesting, 90% of the people invited to the shower weren’t invited to the wedding! When she told me all this (at T-2 days), she added, “I knew you would be upset about this. But don’t worry – I put on the invitations that you didn’t want any gifts.” Holy guacamole, I wish I was making this up. That was a bad day for me, I felt like everyone was judging me. I found out later that most people didn’t even realize that there was anything to feel slighted about (my family and mom’s friends are pretty honest when it comes to feeling slighted, lol). A couple of family members who were a bit hurt at not being invited to the wedding were very understanding when I finally cleared the air with them.

To the poster – save yourself if you can. Sometimes it’s less stressful to be rude to one person (your mom) than a whole slew of friends and family. If you can’t get out of it, just grin and bear it. I have a feeling that, like my situation, the outcome won’t be nearly as bad as it is in your head!

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wyntershere February 2, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I am going to go out on my own limb here and say we should be flattered, honored, and thrilled that ANYBODY wants to honor us at certain times in our lives (birthday/wedding/anniversary/retirement, etc.) I don’t think we should put stipulations on what showers/parties/celebrations are suppose to be when we are the honoree. If someone wants to throw us a party, whether they tell us or it’s a surprise, we just accept their offering–just like a gift at Christmas. You politely said “thank you, you were so sweet to think of me” and then do with it what you will AFTERWARDS. If it truly is a gag-fest, you still got to suck it up, be as sweet as can be, and high tail it as soon as you can.

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Michele February 2, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I’ve never been pregnant, but perhaps those of you who have been can explain to me why, during a difficult pregnancy, a tea party is handleable, but a lunch at nice restaurant is not. Is the tea party at a cafe/hall?

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ES February 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Etiquette says if someone throws you a party, you smile and say “thank you”. If you are ill, you leave, and no one is allowed to be mad about it.

But this is, as pp pointed out, a relational problem, not a social problem. Yes, it was thoughtless and overbearing of the mom to feign interest in the daughter’s wishes and then force a situation where she feels uncomfortable. It was unkind and manipulative to try to “guilt” the daughter into liking the party of mom’s choice. It sounds like there are some underlying problems here on communication and boundaries. Mom can’t “make” the daughter be pleased, and daughter can’t “make” mom behave sensitively or considerately. Taking other people’s opinions personally is a sure road to misery for everyone.

And if Mom is going to continue being thoughtless and overbearing, OP, you should consider how you will deal with that when she is Grandma. What are you going to let slide and what are you going to not allow? I believe it is worth a lot of leeway to let grandparents enjoy their grandbabies, but sometimes they will throw common sense out the window and the parents have to pick up the pieces later. Think about ways you can draw a line and stick with it when need be.

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kudeebee February 2, 2012 at 7:03 pm

OP–I am sorry that this event has turned out the way it has.

I would tell your mother that you appreciate her hosting the shower and the work that she is doing though you wish she would have stayed with a smaller, more informal affair. Tell her that you are not sure if you will be able to handle the big event and that she needs to be prepared that you might not be able to attend or if you can attend, that you might not be able to stay the whole time as the doctor does not want you to get worn out or stressed. You can do some damage control ahead of time if you are talking to someone and they mention the party. “Yes, I am looing forward to it, not sure how long I will be able to stay as I get tired so easily and doctor doesn’t want me to get overly tired or put any stress on the baby.”

Have your dh and bf take you to the event and have dh stay nearby. As soon as you feel tired or stressed, call him to come get you. BF can run interference and make your apology as you leave. “OP wants to thank all of you for coming. Unfortunately, she is feeling very tired and needs to leave the event early. I know you will all understand as we don’t want to put any unnecessary pressure or stress on OP and the baby.”

At this point, let mother do what she wants and don’t worry about it–won’t do any good or change a things. Keep yourself calm and relaxed. Grumble to dh and bf. She can’t make you feel guilty, she can try all she wants, but as a pp said, you control your reactions.

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Ally L February 2, 2012 at 7:28 pm

I respectfully disagree on this one. The OP cites health reasons for not wanting something complicated and fussy, and I’m going to assume that she also does not want to go ~out~ during her pregnancy. A simple tea party means that she would be able to celebrate comfortably, perhaps even at her own house. OP, I would thank your mom graciously, but say that due to your health, you can’t attend the shower she wants to throw. She’s your mother, she shouldn’t want to jeopardize her grandchild just to throw a party. I would also want to establish some boundaries and have her follow them, otherwise she could be so enthusiastic with the arrival of the baby that she once again ignores your wishes to do what she wants to do.

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Pixie February 2, 2012 at 8:15 pm

So, your friend wanted to host and your mom took over? I think at that point it is ok to speak up. Explain how tacky it is for Granny-to-be to host, and so you must decline.

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MeganAmy February 2, 2012 at 8:37 pm

I have a mother who sounds a lot like the OP’s. I have learned that a gift is not a “gift” when it is unwanted and forced upon you.

OP’s best friend should not have acquiesced to the mother when the mother said “I’m throwing the shower. Not you.” And now that I have children, I warn you, OP, if your mother is a selfish boundary stomper now, it will get far worse when your child(ren) is (are) born.

You have to look out for your health and the health of your child now. If you think you can endure the party, consider it. But personally, I would put a stop to the boundary stomping right now. I’d call mom and say “Thanks so much for your kind intentions, but I cannot manage to attend a party that large, that far of a drive away, that long, that fancy” whatever words work. I’d call the best friend and see if she still wanted to throw a small, calm, tea party shower. And then I’d tell mom “As was originally planned, best friend is throwing my shower. Thanks for your good intentions anyway.” And I would warn best friend not to let mom help with invitations or any preparations for the shower. OP’s mom sounds pushy and narcissistic, not well-intentioned. The shower is for OP and the baby, not the mom’s glory.

In all likelihood, the mother did not put a lot of money down, and will be able to get some or all back. However, that’s not OP’s concern. OP was guilted into attending something because she didn’t want her mother to waste money that she already spent without the OP’s ok. The mother sounds very manipulative. I wouldn’t reward that behavior the name of “being polite.” It wasn’t polite to railroad you into doing something you were clear you did not want. And it certainly will not be good for your difficult pregnancy to go along with it.

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badkitty February 2, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Simple rule: a gift is not a gift if there is zero consideration for the “recipient” behind it – otherwise I could simply deliver my trash to my neighbors instead of taking it out to the curb and make them thank me every week. Likewise, you are not the honored guest at a party that seeks to honor and glorify the hostess rather than meet ANY of your needs. Yes, she’ll trot out some guilt (and I do know all about being dangerously ill and still blamed for “making Mother sick with my ingratitude and spitefulness”) so just be ready to gasp and grab your belly – that will be your signal for hubby to step in and send you to bed to rest – as soon as she starts in. She can’t guilt you if you’re not in the room! Let your friend pass the word around to the rest of the guest list that you will not be attending this little fête, and their absence will be understood as well.

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Bint February 3, 2012 at 8:57 am

“Call me crass, but I’ve never seen the problem of family hosting a shower for you…Also, I’ve never have nor have met people have do, have issues with mothers having a shower for every child born. As long as it is a fun filled day with laughter, then what’s the issue.”

Because to quite a lot of people, your family organising a gift-giving event for you looks a bit greedy. If all you wanted was the “fun filled day with laughter” then you wouldn’t need a shower. The word ‘shower’ puts the emphasis on the presents aspect. And to have one for every kid born might suggest to some people a level of entitlement. Just have the fun filled day! Why the need to formalise people’s generosity with a baby? I don’t understand it. It’s not like worrying you’ll get six toasters!

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MellowedOne February 3, 2012 at 9:06 am

OP, I’d like to revise my prior statement if I may.

Since this is a matter of your health and not just a “I don’t care for that type of party” issue, I would suggest addressing your mother directly with a decision that allows no room for compromise. Something to the effect of, “I appreciate you wanting to host such a nice shower for me, but my pregnancy is not going well and I will not be able to handle that type of shower. The only thing I will be able to manage is X” Be prepared for the guilting and whining to follow, and be resolved to stick to your guns.

It’s difficult to have pushy relatives (especially immediate family). That said, you and your husband, although recognizing your mother’s nature, have not trained yourself to deal with her properly. You both need to be unified and resolved to stand your ground when she oversteps her bounds. There are many, many stories on here of individuals experiencing serious anxiety over issues from allowing someone to bulldoze them into things they didn’t like.

Reminds me of an expression: “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything”.

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Wink-n-Smile February 3, 2012 at 9:36 am

OP – #11 – Oh, my goodness! Your mother STOLE the shower?!

OK, that is definitely an etiquette hell-worthy stunt. Good grief!

You take care of yourself, first. Go to the party, but as others have said, make it brief and then go home to rest.
And, if you feel yourself getting faint or woozy ath the party, don’t bother to fight it, as I’m sure you normally would. Go ahead and give into it. Pass out. Seriously. Do it. But only if it’s real. Don’t fake a faint, just to make a point to your mother.

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Wink-n-Smile February 3, 2012 at 9:53 am

MeganAmy – 33 – I read that, and though it was a great idea. Then, I got this sinking feeling. What if she tells her mother that BF is throwing the shower, and Mom pretends to agree, only to find out when and where BF is throwing her shower, and then Mom goes all out on her own shower again, and schedules it FOR THE SAME TIME! Then makes the daughter choose.

Far-fetched? Yes. But not unheard of, nope, not at all. It’s been done. I think I read about it here. Or maybe at another site. But I know I’ve heard of the competing parties.

OP, the other posters are right. You’re going to have to decide very soon just what your boundaries with the child will be, and how you’re going to deal with the “boundary-stomper” mother. Remember – YOU are your child’s mother, and YOU have final say over how that child will be raise, and how much time he/she spends with Granny. You CAN curtail her visitation with the child, if needed. Let her know that, and be in control from the beginning.

Do you have any big, burly friends who might be willing to “stand guard” for the first week or two, to enforce your visitation schedule? Just long enough so Mom gets the point?

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Cat February 3, 2012 at 11:36 am

Agreed!

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Maire February 3, 2012 at 11:55 am

I don’t see the huge gap between the ‘tea-party’ themed shower and the meal at a nice restaurant that would so greatly impact the OP’s health, unless she’s so emotionally upset by the lack of a particular theme that she’s stressing herself out over it, which is ridiculous. The best route is to be gracious, go, take a seat and try to enjoy it. No need to meet thoughtlessness with outright rudeness.

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Kendra February 3, 2012 at 12:28 pm

OP, you cannot stop your mother from throwing her party, but you can decline to participate. It is etiquette approved to decline inappropriate “gifts”, like expensive gifts from a gentleman caller or parties where gifts are traditionally expected thrown by family members. I don’t know “Jewish guilt” but I do know “Catholic guilt”, and I can say that one of the most freeing experiences for me is when I realized that I’m not responsible for another person’s choices. Your mother’s choices are hers and hers alone, and are not your responsibility nor your fault. I love how people will do over the top things, then when the “honoree” balks, say “but I did it all for yyyyyooooouuuuu, do you want it all to go to waste?” and we feel guilty and do whatever even though there are several scenes from a Steven King novel we would rather reenact than do whatever. On the other hand, when someone pulls that kind of guilt trip, we could say “I didn’t ask you to, I didn’t want you to, you chose to do it, but I don’t want to, so I’m not going to. Have fun with whatever.” Give her ownership of her choices instead of letting her put that on you. She can’t guilt you without your consent. There are several good books and websites out there about “letting go with love” on how to not let others manipulate you that might be helpful to you in this situation. I know it is very hard to say “no” to mom, especially since this is probably a pattern you have had with her your whole life, but you will become a mom soon, yourself, and learning to say “no” now, will serve you well into the future. Hope this helps.

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chechina February 3, 2012 at 6:12 pm

I don’t agree that people should be always be grateful when somebody gives them something they specifically said they didn’t want. The term “white elephant” comes to mind. Clearly, OP’s mom is throwing this for her own benefit, not her family’s.

However, if people are showing up for this party, OP has no choice really but to find a nice place to sit for the duration and smile politely. I would engage the best friend and the husband to help out with any gift-opening (friend) and guest-thanking (husband) duties. And leave after a few hours.

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Cat Whisperer February 3, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Reading this situation made me think of a quote: “Insanity is relative. You get it from your relatives.”

The most crazy-making people in our lives unfortuanately tend to be relatives, either by blood or by marriage. The reason they make us crazy? We can’t (usually) dump them and disappear them from our lives, the way we can dump non-relatives who do things that have us tearing our hair and grinding our teeth in frustration or irritation. We’re stuck with them, and on top of everything, we’re loaded down with the societal expectation that our relatives are nearest and dearest to us, so we get guilted if we feel that the reality is that we’d trade some of our relatives in on a cage full of baboons and come out ahead on that trade.

That said, here’s something I can say to OP that might help her to put things in a different light. My mom died two years before my daughter, her only grandchild, was born. While I know that if she had lived to see my daughter, there are a lot of things she would have done and said that would have made me crazy, there is literally not a day that goes by that I don’t think how happy my mom would have been to do all the grandmother stuff. And it’s been 22 years since she passed away.

Yes, OP, your mom can, and apparently has, made your life more difficult. But she’s there with you to share the experiences of your pregnancy and forthcoming parenthood. She obviously is blissfully and unfortunately blindly happy-joyed over your pregnancy. Please focus on the joy, and try to push the irritation aside and enjoy the shower she’s throwing for you. Whatever her faults and flaws are, and I’m sure that like all of us she’s an imperfect human being, she’s THERE and she’s ALIVE. Think about what you would be feeling if she wasn’t there and wasn’t alive, because it can happen literally in minutes that she’s gone forever.

Congratulations on your expectations, and try to enjoy the experiences. It’s all memory gold when you look back on it.

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jess February 4, 2012 at 3:12 am

Please be grateful. I have never had anyone throw me any type of shower, I diddnt even get an engagement party or hens night and barely got a congratulations when I finally got into Law School after years of studying with two young kids; my nan sent me a congratulations card which means more to me than anything I own. It isnt like I wanted them for the gifts, that doesnt matter to me a bit. I am just hurt that no one even thought I was worth the effort of planning anything. Like the saying ‘its the thought that counts’ and no one thought…….

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badkitty February 4, 2012 at 10:45 am

I’m also concerned by the number of commenters who don’t see the difference between a relaxed tea party at someone’s house and a prolonged fancy dinner for a sick pregnant woman. I can only hope that all of these are people who have never been pregnant, or spent much time with someone who was expecting… if she’s on even partial bed-rest, sitting upright for hours at a time is right out, and driving all the way to a restaurant only to stand or sit around is just asking for a medical emergency. A tea party, on the other hand, can be hosted in someone’s home; OP can arrive early and nap or rest up and get herself “into position” before the guests arrive. She can also easily move to more comfortable seating or even go and have a bit of a lie-down if needed – something a restaurant is just not equipped to accommodate. I have to wonder if all those who say “suck it up and go” would feel the same way if it was some other physical disability that kept her from being comfortable with the setting?

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Katie February 4, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I think that the OP’s health and wellbeing is far more important than normal ‘politeness’ here, particularly as she hasn’t had an easy pregnancy. Nothing in her post suggests that she agreed to this party, either!

Can you tell your mother that you this party really, really isn’t what you want, and the thought of it is starting to upset you? Would she listen? If she’s mentioning money, could you perhaps ring the restaurant to see if there is any possibility of cancelling (I’m assuming that what she meant was having paid a deposit). If you explain that you’re pregnant and aren’t going to be up to attending, they *may* give the deposit back as a good-will gesture…

For what it’s worth, I think that you’ve been put in a very difficult position. I hope you can work it out. xx

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Enna February 5, 2012 at 11:25 am

@ Just Laura – I don’t think the OP is to blame – she didn’t know that her Mum was going to go off and do something that the OP didn’t want, otherwise I think OP would have said no. She also mentions how her Mum is trying to point score with her SIL. @ Amber: maybe the OP agreed to keep the peace.

The OP mentions later on that she forgot to add that her firend was orginally going to do it and the mother changed it behind OP’s back. Op also mentions that she will be 9 months pregnant at the time of the meal. To me this could be pushing things to the line a bit. Since the OP has forgotten to mention some bits to it shows due to pregnanacy she is a little bit scatty and wants to agree in order to avoid any argurmenents.

OP just put yourself and your baby first. If you don’t feel well enough to go and your mum knows you have had problems then it is her look-out. If you go don’t feel pressuerd in staying any longer then you want to. Be strict with you mum in future and don’t let her host anything – or give her one more chance. Explain why you don’t want her hosting because of the baby shower but if she messes up her second chance then use that as well as the shower to say you don’t want her hosting things when she asks next time.

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Ashley February 5, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Because to quite a lot of people, your family organising a gift-giving event for you looks a bit greedy

I can honestly say I’ve never heard anyone complain about this. Maybe this is why it is not so strange to me. Where I’m from, SE Virginia middle class African Americans church goers, cousins, sisters, or mothers normally co-host a shower for you. Also, we bring gifts for the shower and the wedding. Maybe it is a regional cultural thing. Here, we don’t think that way. In our social circles, which are huge (Southern families and all) we do that. You get a shower for each baby and a family member hosts for you.

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VltGrantham February 6, 2012 at 1:13 pm

“I can honestly say I’ve never heard anyone complain about this.”

Because to do so is undoubtedly rude, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t thinking it. I too live in SE Virginia. Most of my relatives would never, ever, allow their Mom or MIL to host a shower for them. It comes from a friend or distant relative or it doesn’t come at all. Multiple showers (i.e., for the birth of additional children) are also a no-no.

No one has ever died from not having one.

And even though we don’t hold showers, it doesn’t mean we withold gifts for them or their parents or more importantly, our love, support, and affection.

Honestly, I feel for the OP though and she needs to get a spine and quick. It’s hard and I’m sure harder still if she is going through a difficult pregnancy to stand up to an overbearing parent, but if she’s of an age to be married and pregnant, it’s time she grew one. She’s going to need it in the coming years ahead.

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Jessica February 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm

jess, that you would have liked something doesn’t mean everyone loves the same thing. Some people are not comfortable being forced into the center of attention. I’m sorry you didn’t get what you wanted but having something you are not comfortable with foisted upon you is potentially worse, because that is a boundary violation.

I dropped a friendship with someone who didn’t respect my wish to not be subjected to a hen night and I would do the same again. Anyone who knows me that well and goes against my clearly stated wishes is not a friend and I have no obligation to be thrilled she decided to step all over my boundaries.

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