A few readers asked for an update on what happened with the graduation ceremony for my son. Read the original story. Here it is:
On my last comment to the original submission, I let readers know that I had decided to call “Missy” directly about the graduation and space limits. She asked for info and told me she would let me know. I tried to be very pointed about the space limits and she seemed to understand. That was on Saturday.
The following Wednesday, Missy called to say they would come to the graduation, as it was on the way to Florida where they would be vacationing the week of Memorial Day. They would be arriving Thursday afternoon, stay through Saturday evening and leave for their vacation on Sunday morning. Missy said they had booked a hotel because she would be more comfortable that way and Madison wanted to stay with me. That was fine and I actually understand the comfort situation, as I have always opted for a hotel when I am visiting family, as it gives me time to decompress and I don’t feel like I have to be “on” all the time.
I told Missy that we would like to treat them to dinner on Thursday and Friday, if that was ok with them, and my mother, sister and nephew would want to join us so they could visit and catch up. She said that was fine and she was looking forward to it.
I called them early Thursday afternoon to ask what they liked, as we were going to grill that evening. I also asked where they were and she said South Carolina. (They live in North Carolina and we live in Georgia) I figured that was far enough that they would not turn around to get her family, so I told her about the block party. I told her that it turned out we had multiple graduates from our neighborhood, so we decided to have a neighborhood block party instead of several small parties. She seemed enthusiastic about it, so I thought great, we’re good.
They arrived, ate very little and left fairly early to go back to the hotel. I thought it was fatigue from the trip, as it is a long drive, and saw them off.
Graduation day rolls around and everything is running smoothly. No “extras” showed up for graduation and everyone seemed to be in good spirits, getting along and having a good time. Missy talked to us more than ever and posed for pictures, even acting a little silly and goofy with all of us. I thought maybe she was feeling more comfortable around us.
The plan was to take the cars to my house, let the kids change into their swimsuits and walk up to the community center/pool area. We pull into the driveway and there they sat- Missy’s family: adult daughter, daughter’s new husband, grandson, her adult son, niece, cousin and cousin’s husband.
I was livid. I got out and told the kids to change and head up to the party and we would be there shortly. Missy told the niece to “go with Madison and put on your suit”. I said no, not happening. I told her that Madison was a guest in my home and she’s not babysitting a child that is not even supposed to be here. Missy’s face hardened, that “look” came in her eyes and I knew the politeness and happiness we had been enjoying all day was going to evaporate.
When the kids went in, the walls came down. Missy started to argue and I held up my hand and told her, “No, I’m going to have my say this time, so you can either listen or hit the road”. She stayed so I said, “I called you and specifically told you that only you, Steve and Madison were invited. When you showed up without your family in tow, I thought you finally understood that when you get invited somewhere that does not mean you can bring extra people. We had been having such a good time today and now you spring 7 extra people on us. Seven people that were not invited, were not planned for and absolutely are not going. You and Steve are welcome to stay, but under no circumstances is your family crashing this party”. Missy’s daughter yelled at me, “Don’t talk to my mama like that!” I replied, “The best thing for you to do is get back in the car and go back to wherever it is you have been hiding for the last 2 days because you are standing in my yard, not by invitation, and I am not going to let your family ruin this party or my son’s graduation day”. I raised my voice but never yelled at them. Missy just stared at me, but did not say anything.
Next, I got Steve. I said, “ I cannot believe you thought I was going to be ok with this. She is your wife, you love her and want to make her happy, but does that mean hauling her family to every event you get invited to? What’ s the point? To let us know that she ‘owns’ you or something? We get it. You and Missy are married and you are her family now, too. Does that mean you have to forsake us?” He opened his mouth like he was going to say something but then he closed it. I grabbed him by the arms and gave him a little shake and said, “What is wrong with you? Are you not allowed to talk?” He said, “ I don’t want to fight about it. They are always around. It doesn’t bother me and it shouldn’t bother anybody else.” I just shook my head and said, “What has happened to you? You used to be the toughest person I know. Hard-headed Marine through and through, nice but didn’t let anyone walk all over you and now it’s like you are defeated. Well, since you don’t want to fight about it, let’s do this- let Madison stay with us tonight and tomorrow because she is having a good time and there is no point in punishing her and you come by and pick her up on Sunday”. Missy decided to chime in and say, “Hell no! She’s coming with us. If my family is not welcome, then Madison can’t stay. There are hundreds of people up there; they wouldn’t notice a few more!” They turned to leave and then Steve turned back and said, “No, Madison can stay. We’ll pick her up Sunday.” Missy immediately started protesting and saying “nobody is going to disrespect my family and talk to me like that”, but Steve told her to get in truck, they were going back to the hotel and he told cousin’s husband to follow them. (There were not “hundreds” of people at the party, maybe 100, tops.)
We (me, husband, mom, sister) all took a few minutes to calm down and compose ourselves. We had all gone into the fight or flight mode. When we got right, we joined the kids at the party and proceeded to have a fabulous time, despite the scene in my yard. A few of the other moms knew about the Missy situation and one of the kids told them about the family showing up, so they were keeping an eye on the kids until we got there. Madison came up to me later that night and apologized for not telling me that they were at the hotel. She said Missy told her not to say anything about it because it wasn’t any of my business and she didn’t want to make her angry and have a horrible time in Florida. I told her not to worry; I wasn’t upset at her at all because it was Missy and Steve’s issue to deal with.
Steve came alone to pick up Madison on Sunday morning. He came in and sat down in the kitchen while Madison was making sure she packed all of her belongings. I said I knew he didn’t want to talk about it, but could he please tell me why Missy always brought her family everywhere she went? He said it had always been that way, they were at their house almost every day and spent a lot of nights there, too, and it wasn’t worth fighting about because it wouldn’t change. I told him that I felt sad for him because every couple needs to spend a little time alone and he didn’t seem very happy. I asked him if knew what Missy had told Madison about not telling me about her family. He said that Missy told her not to mention it because I would get upset. I asked if he missed the “not my business” part. He said he didn’t hear it, but it was too late to do anything about it and he wasn’t going to start an argument about it. I told him if he wouldn’t stand up for himself, he needed, at the very least, to stand up for his daughter and quit letting his wife basically threaten her and make her a babysitter every time she was supposed to be spending time with him. Madison walked in so I let it drop. I hugged them goodbye and told them that Madison was welcome to come stay with us anytime. I think I’m going to reach out to Madison’s mom and make that offer as well.
For a long time, I have had this feeling that something is just not right with that situation and since this incident, it has just gotten stronger. Steve is an adult and he is choosing let things stand as they are and I can’t do anything about it. I just hope he doesn’t let Missy put a wedge between him and Madison or let Missy be mean/hateful/cruel to her because she is angry at me.
Family. The best and worst parts of life. 0529-15
A definite mistake to presume Missy would go on vacation in Florida without her family. For future reference, there is no need to keep guests updated on party plans unless the time, date or location changes. Missy and Steve could have been informed of the change in plans when they arrived at your home after the graduation ceremony thus leaving Missy’s extended family at the hotel for the afternoon. And what her family does while away from your home isn’t your business so why Missy has to be so secretive about their presence on the trip is odd. By all means extend the invitation to Madison’s mom that Madison would be welcome to spend a week with you.
We had a somewhat similar situation wherein one invited family decided my child’s wedding was a perfect opportunity for their family reunion. We did not care one whit what travel arrangements they made or who shared what hotel rooms or what they did together outside of the wedding festivities but when we were asked to include these family members at the rehearsal dinner and the small wedding and reception, we put our foot down and refused. You would have thought we had committed the most heinous offense known to man. It caused some stress on the day of the wedding.