Taken for granted at Christmas

My son and his fiancée didn’t give me any notice about coming to stay over the holidays. Should I tell them not to come?

It’s not fair, says our elder, but your best strategy is to suck it up and keep one eye on the future.

Dear EWC

I have been asking my son if he and his fiancée would be coming for Christmas for two months (they live several states away). Less than two weeks before Christmas he tells me that he will be here from the 26th until early on the 29th. He has tickets for us all to a football game on the 28th. He will be spending the holiday with my ex husband and in-laws. What upsets me is the lack of notice and the assumption that good ole Mom is always just sitting here waiting for him. I am hurt and feel taken for granted and disrespected. His fiancée has been making me very uncomfortable lately and whenever she is with my ex husband and my other son’s wife (which she will be over the holiday), she is downright rude to me. If he wasn’t going to the football game — a big bowl game with his college team — I would just tell him to finish out the vacation with the exes. I would miss him but I am dreading the visit. What should I do?

Hedwig replies

What you should do depends absolutely on what kind of relationship you want in the future. Yes, you are being taken for granted. I think that is one of the realities of motherhood. We will always want to be with our children more than they want to be with us. Then they will have their own children and face the same reality.

It is rather flattering to think that he believes you love him so unconditionally that you would be sitting around waiting for him. That is also part of the parental role.

In addition, think about it, did you feel the same way about being with your own parents as you did with being with your kids? Given a choice, whom would you rather have spent time with?

Having said this, here is my advice (purely personal and not necessarily wise). I do a great deal to keep up the relationships with my daughters. I give far more than I get — and sometimes do resent it. However, this is my priority and I will put up with a lot of guff to maintain it.

I would smile, go to the game, appear to be having a great time (even if it choked me), and hope that I was banking this behavior to stand me in good stead in the future. I see no positive spin on making a fuss, letting them know you are disappointed, or in backing out. Any of these will create friction and leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

I would smile and bear it all, making them think I am a great gal, fun to be with, flexible, and worthy of spending more enjoyable time in the future — much more fun than the other relatives!
If you can do this, I think it will give you the greatest returns on your investment. Life is not fair. Relationships are not equal. We can’t pick our relatives. We cannot control anyone but ourselves. Look at the big picture and take it one day at a time. You will not be happier sitting home thinking of them all at the game without you. Roll with the punches and — mixing my metaphors — root for the winning team (it will be yours)!

Letter #: 452266
Category: Children

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