Thanks for explaining, TootsNYC. My understanding of your explanation is that if Purple explained her thinking/reasoning to her SMIL (or your kids explained to you) then you'd understand that she wasn't just blowing off the important event willy-nilly but that she had other things going on.
Or depending on whatever that reasoning was, I might assume they were blowing off the event.
Not in the OP's case--given her specifics.
I tend to assume (apparently, wrongly) that other adults in my life know that I'm not the kind of person who blows off important family events willy-nilly. And so I assume that when I say "I cannot make it" that it's automatically known that it's because I have something else planned. I'm a big planner, and my calendar is usually full of things weeks if not months in advance. Generally, things I've RSVPed yes to (that's where I got that sentence from, the one you bolded in my last post). Either I've RSVPed yes to something else like another party, or I've committed to something like volunteering at the library, or getting important errands done (like if my car has to get an emissions test that month, and the emissions center is only open at that time).
So I get upset when someone tells me they were disappointed in me, as if I blew off an important event. Because if they know me even moderately well they'd know that I don't blow off important things. That I know when they're important and that I do try very hard to attend important things, but that my schedule's really packed.
Before your explanation, I would have thought that the person expressing disappointment should know, just by knowing me, that I knew it was important and that I would have come had I not already had other plans.
It sounds like that's not always the case.
I don't think it is always the case. And many people aren't that busy, or don't have plans that are that solid. And I've found that people almost always assume other people are like them.
So, which would you rather--that they make a negative assumption about you, and never tell you? Or that they express their disappointment, thereby giving you the opportunity to provide them evidence that will correct their assumptions?
Or, maybe only giving *you* evidence that they have really erroneous assumptions about you, and now you know that you might need to give more info early on to avoid the whole thing.
or, maybe they give you evidence that they're unrealistic and unfair, and now you know--and can manage your own reputation within the family more effectively, as well as respond to their demands/requests/expectations with whatever grain of salt or more discerning information gathering.
I spoke earlier of the matriarch having the right to set family standards. Of course, the matriarch only get to exercise that right if she's setting standards other people agree to--power flows up from below.
Someone who is unreasonable (like Purple's MIL, apparently, bcs she tends to label a lot of things as "important!!!" and because she announces that something is important 3 days before it happens) is not going to get anybody following her lead. Purple didn't.
That's appropriate. Matriarchs who want influence need to be judicious about their leadership. (Me personally, I try to give explanations for why an event might be important and leave it at that; I figure I'll save the "this is a must-attend event" for something -really- important. My mom did--she never asked for much, so when she said, "You need to be at Christmas for Dad's and my 50th wedding anniversary--I'm not accepting excuses, you have 2 years, and I don't demand much from you," I paid attention. (As it was, Nephew couldn't get military leave, so we missed him--but Mom knew he had genuinely tried.) If any of us had declined to come without explanation, or with a lame explanation, Mom would have been really, really hurt.
Then again, when my cousin that I didn't know that well was marrying in Houston, and I said, "I think I might be able to go, I'm considering it," and my mother said, "This is important--even if it means you have to charge the plane tickets, you need to be there," I rolled my eyes. I went--but not because of what she said.
That's because all the teaching had *already* gone on. The time to teach your kids what truly matters is when they're little. And she had.