A not-so-jolly holiday

Her son’s last-minute plans have her feeling taken for granted.

That’s part of being a parent, says our elder. Here’s how to avoid a blue Christmas and be the fun mom!

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). Now he tells me that he will be here from the 26th until early on the 29. 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 fiancee 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. Should I 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, who 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 I do resent it. However, this is my priority and I will put up with a lot of guff to maintain it. I see no positive spin on making a fuss, letting them know you are disappointed, or in backing out. Any of these will create fiction 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 cannot pick our relatives. We cannot control anyone but ourselves.

Look at the big picture and take it one day at a time. Roll with the punches and—mixing my metaphors—root for the winning team (it will be yours)!


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