The Vine: July 31, 2013
I need the TN readership to tell me if I'm justified or acting like one of those mothers I swore I'd never be.
My son will be turning one next month. His baptism was more stressful than I would have liked — both my extended family and my husband's extended family are rather big, so we had a large number of guests. So for his first birthday party, we wanted to keep it to immediate family only.
The problem — my sister-in-law is extremely close with her best friend. The two of them have been close for many years, but their relationship has reached "attached at the hip" status over the last year. I like Friend — she is a good fun person who has helped my SIL through some difficult times. However, she has been at just about every family event for the last year and it's often assumed that she's coming without my SIL necessarily clearing it with people. In fact, this happened with my son's baptism, but I didn't make a stink about it because: (1) there were already so many people that one more person didn't make a difference and (2) my SIL was going through the peak of the above-mentioned difficult times, so I didn't want to push any buttons.
I would really prefer if the birthday party is family only. I am not planning on sending invitations, so we'll probably just be inviting people by phone. So if we do not want Friend to attend party, we're probably going to have to explicitly say it to my SIL. I think the main reason for not wanting Friend to attend party is because we can't invite so many people who are directly related to us.
Three potential things that give me pause:
1. My sister and my brother-in-law will both probably want to bring their significant others (my other brother-in-law is married, so his wife is assumed). Both my sister and my brother-in-law are living with their significant others, so these are both serious relationships. I have a feeling my SIL will argue that if they are invited, Friend should be too. And no, SIL and Friend are not lesbians. Really, I'm sure.
2. My SIL is easily upset about things and may see this as an attack against her.
3. My SIL watches my son a few hours each week and Friend often keeps her company while she does so. Friend is not paid for this because she's just coming to hang out with SIL (who is being paid).
Am I out of line for not wanting Friend to be there?
For not wanting Friend to be there? Not particularly. You can want whatever you want. Reasonably expecting that you can explicitly not invite Friend under these circumstances and it won't cause A Whole Thing? Good…luck with that?
This isn't really about Friend per se, or about SIL, either. This is about your not wanting another event surrounding your son, who will not even remember it (or the previous one, or the next couple of battleground winter holidays before he turns three), into yet another goddamn troop movement that you have to plan and preside over while picking Cheerios out of your hair and trying to ignore the grandmas bickering over who gets to see him more. It's tiring pulling things like this together, especially with a big family; you're not tired of Friend specifically, really, and it would be okay if you were, but mostly, you're just tired.
Give yourself permission to not necessarily want to deal with a first birthday party at all, or at least to not want to factor in familial politics all the damn time. It's completely normal. Weddings, baptisms, first Chanukahs…there's always someone you'd just, you know, rather not. And you have to. And it's fucking annoying. You're not a bad person.
That said, it's more trouble than it's worth to hold the line this time, and the baby does know Friend, at least somewhat, and it's one more person. I get it, I do, but setting this boundary now is going to seem arbitrary. Feel how you feel, but don't enforce it.
Tags: etiquette the fam