Last night, we invited Frog’s my extended families over for dinner. My whole family came, but only Frog’s mother and her significant other came. I was sitting next to her at dinner, and she told me that my sister-in-law was very upset with me.
Back story: Said sister-in-law invited everyone to her five-year-old daughter’s dance recital. The tickets, she informed us, were twenty dollars each. Then, we would have a barbecue in her backyard or go out to dinner later to celebrate her and Frog’s brother’s 10th wedding anniversary.
That would have been 80 dollars for us, so Frog and I decided that we weren’t going to go. I did feel slightly guilty about that, because if it were my sister’s kid, we might have decided differently. (When I told my sister that, she said, “If it were my kid, we never would have dreamed of asking you to spend 80 dollars. We would have paid it ourselves.” But the fact is, we have a close relationship with my sister’s family, and we don’t really have any relationship with Frog’s brother’s family.)
So I responded to this email saying, “Oh, I’m so sorry. We won’t be able to come to the recital. But we would love to celebrate your anniversary after, if you tell us what time to join you.” I was very surprised when she replied back, “[her daughter] will be very disappointed. What are you doing that day?”
I couldn’t believe that she responded like that, so I told Frog that I was not going to make an excuse. I don’t like to lie, I’m not good at it, and I felt no reason for it. With Frog’s permission, I was just going to say straight out that we couldn’t afford to go. He wasn’t thrilled about it, but agreed that I could do that.
I never got the chance to respond to her before my mother-in-law called me and asked me if I had told my sister-in-law if we were going or not to the recital. (I knew that my sister-in-law had “told on” me, and I was very annoyed at this and at my mother-in-law for playing this stupid game.) I told her that yes, I had told her that we couldn’t come, but we would join them afterward to celebrate the anniversary. She asked me if it was about the money. I said yes, it was. Then I asked if it was important to her that I went. She said no. As far as I was concerned, case closed. Also, since I knew this conversation would be reported to my sister-in-law, I didn’t bother to discuss anything further with her.
A week or so ago, Frog called his brother to invite him to dinner at our house, and asked if there was still going to be a barbecue for their anniversary or if people were going out to dinner so we could join them. His brother said no to dinner, as he and his wife were going out for the night, and he didn’t know about the barbecue.
Now, at the table, Frog asked his mom whether she knew if there was still a barbecue on -it was supposed to be the next day, and she said no, that she would explain to me and I would tell him later. (I was sitting next to her, Frog was at the other end of a big, noisy table.) She told me that sister-in-law was very upset that we and Frog’s other brother and family weren’t coming to the recital, so she wasn’t going to celebrate her anniversary with us. We were not invited to the barbeque.
My mother-in-law then proceeded to tell me that sister-in-law was spoiled and got upset when things didn’t go exactly her way,, she had a temper, etc. I kept thinking as she was talking, hm- what does this woman say about ME to other people if she’s going to say this, and the way my mother-in-law was badmouthing her, although accurate, actually made me feel sorry for sister-in-law. So I told my mother-in-law that I would try to make nice with sister-in-law, to which my mother-in-law was very grateful. I told her that it was no problem, that life was too short, etc.
Then, my mother-in-law says, “I told her that it was expensive and that recitals weren’t exactly your thing…” and I interrupted her and said, “Mom, why would you say recitals aren’t our thing? I really wish you hadn’t said that.” So she started saying how she knew I hated how the kids put on makeup and how everything was so sexist, blah blah blah…
I could not believe it. This woman is absolutely unbelievable- taking a bad situation and making it worse with her stupid comments. Saying that recitals aren’t our thing isn’t only thoughtless, it was like pouring gasoline on the fire. This is not the first time she’s said something so dumb, either. Knowing that she said that makes me even more willing to extend the olive branch to sister-in-law. Yes, sister-in-law was wrong and obnoxious, but the whole atmosphere is so tainted. The way my mother-in-law relished badmouthing her was just sad.
Unfortunately, I don’t think any peace overtures I make will be gracefully accepted. But I’ll give it a shot. However, I am even more determined now to be assertive and stop worrying about what these people think of me.