My dad's side of the family has a lot of this kind of behavior. My grandmother would be the gatekeeper and wouldn't tell us about parties until after they happened. I think she got some sick sense of happiness by hurting my father (her son). It was impacting my relationship with my aunts and cousins because they thought we didn't want to attend their events. Finally, I decided to find out who the liar was who was withholding information. My grandmother would tell me "I told your dad to invite you." And my dad would say "I didn't know" or "Yes, she told me but it's not my place to pass along the invitation." I finally handed my aunt a piece of paper with my address, phone number and email address on it and said "Here are various ways to contact me. Clearly, I'm not getting the invitations to events. Please, don't rely on grandma or my dad to invite me. If you'd like me there, please, invite me yourself. I would be pleased to come." Aunt invited me to many things after that and I attended. I didn't need to rely on my grandmother or my father to have a relationship with my aunt or cousins after that.
Thanks, Danika. This is exactly what's happening in my situation, and your solution makes a lot of sense.
The situation has affected my rel@tionship with my brother. For some time, he has believed that I don't want to attend events that involve his family. The truth is that I either don't know about the events at all or my mother simply informs me that Niece/Nephew is having X event, and she's going to Brother's City for it. He seems to rely on her to pass information to me and then she doesn't.
Here's an example: About five years ago, my mother e-mailed me to tell me that she wanted to take DS to Nephew's birthday party in Brother's City. I was not aware of Nephew's birthday party. If I had been aware of it, I would have been perfectly happy to take DS myself and to participate in celebrating Nephew's birthday. I replied to my mother's e-mail, told her I didn't know Nephew was having a birthday party, DS had not received an invitation, and as such I could not confirm whether he could go. I didn't know what my brother (or my then-SIL) might have said to my mother about inviting him. It also seemed as if I wasn't invited, and that hurt.
A few days before the party, I got an e-mail from my then-SIL stating that DS was invited, my mother wanted to bring him, and I could come if I wanted to, but they weren't expecting me. Hmm ... Hard to know how to interpret that invitation. DS went with my mother. I stayed home. We got a handful of e-mail "invitations" directly from SIL when she and my brother were married that were phrased similarly: X event was happening, they wanted us to know about it, but they didn't expect us. My brother has never invited us to anything. I can't remember the last time we were invited to an event that involves his kids, and the only time we do know about them is if my mother tells us she's going to Brother's City for the event.
Either they want us there, or they don't care if we're not. I understand now that I have to communicate to my brother that we would be willing to attend events if we knew about them, but the not-knowing-about-them makes it hard for us to be there. There also has to be some communication that our presence is desired. Given my mother's behavior, my ex-SIL's behavior, and the fact that she and my brother are divorced now, the onus is on him now more than ever to communicate invitations directly to us. All I can do is try, and if he doesn't follow through, then that's on him.