Post # 1
Hello bees, I need your advice for my situation.
My mother and I have been estranged for nearly 10 years (physically/emotionally abusive growing up). The last time I had her at a personal event was for my college graduation (at my father’s request), and it was excrutiating for me constantly worrying about the things she would do or say to sabotauge mine and my dad’s day. My dad put me and my 3 siblings through school and supported me entirely; she didn’t contribute a dime emotionally or financially and owes him thousands in child support, and not only had the nerve to pretend like she was there every step of the way, she was STILL taking digs at my father in public! I know I made everything more awkward by not “putting up and shutting up” the way that my sister does, but I absolutely can’t pretend like everything is okay either when no apology has been offered for any of her past actions.
Now that getting engaged is on the horizon, my father (and the “put up & shut up” side of the family) thinks she should be involved in the wedding because “it’s the right thing to do” and “she’s your mother”. Additionally, my Future Mother-In-Law thinks I should “get over it” because she also grew up with an abusive mother and she “got over it” too so according to her I’m just being spoiled/rude/living in the past. My future fiance says it’s my decision and he supports whatever I choose.
Because having family support is very important to me, I have decided to make a concession to invite her as a guest to the wedding, but I am putting my foot down on involving her in the ceremony (I’m sure to the great disapproval of my Future Mother-In-Law once she finds out). On top of that, I want some way to recognize my Aunt (dad’s sister) in the ceremony because she will be basically taking on the MOB role through all of this and has helped raise me since my late teens, but there is some talk about how that will be too awkward/inappropriate with my mom being alive and in attendance.
What do I do for invitations? He has a good relationship with both parents and I have a good relationship with my dad. I’m not putting “with parents” because I don’t want any illusion that she is presenting me, but is it in poor taste to list his parents and my dad without her if she’s there?
I need advice other than “It’s YOUR wedding, TO HELL WITH WHAT YOUR FAMILY THINKS!” because in my culture the wedding IS a family affair and their opinion matters. I am already taking a huge stand by not including her in the ceremony, but I’m stressing out about her behavior there. She loves the spotlight and will do/say strange things to illicit a response if she thinks she’s being ignored (on my graduation she ran off with a random family she just met an hour before and sat with them the whole time and cheered THEIR kid on). She will definately expect to be included in the wedding (yeah not quite on the same planet as the rest of us) and I’m afraid of day-of backlash.
Sorry to be long winded, but I have been stressing so much lately on how to handle this.
Post # 3
@Miss Carmine: I need advice other than “It’s YOUR wedding, TO HELL WITH WHAT YOUR FAMILY THINKS!”
That makes it hard, because that is really what I want to tell you!! I’m sorry you have to deal with her negativity and drama on your wedding day. I understand it’s a cultural thing, but they can’t really disapprove if your mother chooses not to come, right? Maybe if you call your mom and basically call her out on all the bs that happened at your graduation and say you’re worried about even inviting her to your wedding, list the reasons why, and let her know that you won’t be putting up with any of her crap at the wedding, maybe she’ll get mad and say she doesn’t want to come. Then you would have an out because it would of been her decision. Even if she doesn’t and still comes, it sounds like she needs to get called out on her behavior. If she’s already acting so badly it doesn’t seem like trying that could make anything worse.
Post # 4
EEEEEEKKKKK i think your in a tough spot here… due to everyone close to you wanting you to give in. 🙁 Honestly, what do you want for your future and for your kids? do you want her to be apart of your lives and theres? I think if you plan to shut her out to make sure you know it may be for the long run and people can really get hurt by our decisions.
Post # 5
@Wonderstruck: Thanks for the kind support anyway, I know that’s what I feel like saying myself sometimes! 🙂 I totally get what you’re saying about not coming if it’s her decision, and you’re right, no one would fault me if she chooses not to show. However, explaining to her my decision = baiting her and riling her up. She would absolutely tell me she’s not coming and then wedding crash the day of (she did that for my senior prom–surprise chaperoned–talk about a nightmare) if she even knew an invite was on the table. I need to either tell her she isn’t invited or send her an invite–I cannot give her a gray area of flexibility.
@live laugh love: “I think if you plan to shut her out to make sure you know it may be for the long run and people can really get hurt by our decisions.”
I think this is the wisdom my family is trying to err on. They want me to be very careful about shutting out a parent like this, and I do respect how they are trying to to right by me in a way, but is it really different than her already non-existent involvement in my life? I do see her at major family functions of my siblings, but that’s it. As far as her involvement with any future kids I may have, it will be limited to pretty formal occasions (if my family continues to invite her to their big events), definately no dropping the kids off at grandma’s. Any relationship she has with them will be superficial and always supervised.
What do you guys think I can do/the appropriateness of honoring my Aunt in the wedding?
Post # 6
Dang, too bad that won’t work. I kind of see where your family is coming from about shutting her out, but if she has been so abusive and hurtful, I really just don’t see the point of keeping someone in your life who only hurts you – even if it is your mother.
The aunt thing is really hard, I can’t think of any way to honor her without it being super awkward since your mom will be there. I would try having another conversation with your father or siblings about your feelings, because your event (and life, from the sounds of it) would be so much happier and worry-free without her in attendance. As far as your Future Mother-In-Law goes, it’s really none of her business and your Fiance definitely needs to tell her to back off on that one, and that your aunt is the one who was a mother to you.
Could you have your aunt do a reading? You could give her a corsage, or have her be seated at the beginning like grandparents and such typically are.
Post # 7
I’m sorry that things are so difficult for you right now. It really sucks.
That said, you are under no obligation to invite someone who has been so terrible/toxic your entire life. It takes more then blood to earn my respect.
I would politely let your family and FIL’s that you will not be inviting her, and that the subject is closed to discussion. You are under no obligation to discuss this with them. It is solely your decision to make, and you want to surround yourself with people who have given you unconditional love. Any time they bring up anything to do with your “mom” disengage from the conversation. It may take time, but eventually people will stop bringing it up, if you simply always (always is the key, if you slip even once, they will know you are open to discussing it, they just have to bug you more and more.) refuse to discuss it.
As for honouring your Aunt. Maybe give her a nice corsage (skip giving one to your “mom”, if you invite her) and maybe a shout out in the speeches, seat her with your father and maybe his family at a “parents” table.
Post # 8
@Miss Carmine: *HUGS*
I am sorry you’ve had to deal with a toxic mother your life.
Being family is an earned position, not automatic. I think you owe no one an explanation of why you choose to handle her the way you do.
Invite her to the wedding and maybe give her a small corsage but I would give your aunt a bigger one and have her help you dress that day. It may sound mean but tell her mom you’re getting dressed at 1pm when you were really at the venue at 11am with your aunt and bridal party.
Have your aunt sit in the front row with your father. Do you have a family member who can ‘babysit’ your mother?
Post # 9
@Miss Carmine: There are ways for you to write your invites. Keep it like “On this day our forever begins/A fall evening has been chosen as their first day of forever/something else cheesy you found on google…You are cordially invited to the wedding of Carmine and Mr. Right at xyz location at 12:00pm”
If she asks to help you with something say “oh I have already taken care of that”. There a ‘subtle’ ways to exclude her without it being blatenly obvious. You do not have to take her calls. They day of the wedding you can tell her to come to the church after you are dresses so you can have private time with your aunt. Seat your aunt and dad at the family table and her as well.
When it is time for photos, take only one or two with her and the rest with your beloved aunt. Keep a smile on your face.
It will all work out! We here at the Bee will help you!
Post # 10
I’m really sorry you have to deal with this. I have a somewhat similar situation with my dad, and it was a struggle deciding to invite him. I too very much care about what my family thinks and feels, and for me, culturally, a wedding is about two communities coming together, it is NOT about just the bride and groom. That being said, if it were me, and from the tone of the things you wrote in your original post, i would actually not invite her. Your future mother in law has a point about not living in the past, but here is where I think she’s wrong – it seems like you have two concerns going on here. 1. How you feel about your mother’s past behavior and her absence from your life. 2. How she will behave the DAY OF your wedding. I think that what your Future Mother-In-Law has said only responds to issue number one. It’s one thing to forgive and forget for things that have passed, to rise above issues that still sadden you but are no longer happening. It’s another issue entirely when the person’s behavior is an ongoing issue. If you think there is a significant risk that she will say rude things, do rude things, cause a scene, make disparaging comments about others who are close to you, and make you feel uncomfortable, then I’m not sure why she deserves the concern of you doing things that make you happy (such as recognizing your aunt) that will be awakward for your mother. What about you and the rest of your extended family who will feel awkard? While it is a very good point to address the fact that “well she is your mother” and the “right thing to do” is to include her, it’s not as if you’re taking a purely selfish stance. It’s not just that the sight of your mother will dig up past emotions, it’s that her presence will pose a significant risk of unhappiness to OTHERS who are also important to you on a day that is meant to be a celebration.
A second point is that if you do choose to have her, you may have to shift your decision making away from “what do I want to do” towards “what is the most practical route in avoiding problems”. You may not want to list your mother’s name on the invitation, but if you don’t will it become more likely that your mother will act out? You may want to recognize your aunt, but if you do, will it become more likely that your mother will make a scene? Making the concession to invite her may mean that you have to make many more concessions in order to counteract the practical (and unfortunate) realities of what inviting her entails. Best of luck to you!
Post # 11
I personally do not think you should invite her. That being said, can you honestly imagine bringing your children around this woman? Will she be happy for you? Can you think of any reason other than she gave birth to you and “it would be the right thing to do?” to invite her??
If the answer to all of these questions is No,then you have your answer.
Don’t justify, or explain yourself. If Fam. cause drama on this, tell them ” thank you for your concern/advice but this is my desision and i will have to live with the concequences.” good luck!
Post # 12
You must be a bigger person than I am! My parents went through a nasty divorce when I was a young teen and there was no way my sperm donor/father would have been allowed anywhere near my wedding. I almost hired security for the gate just in case he decided to show up and cause trouble. My family never would have suggested I invite him and all of them respected my wishes to not mention anything about it to him. It wasn’t about holding a grudge or living in the past for me, it was about growing up and recognizing that I don’t want toxic people involved in my life and I’m okay with that even if not everyone likes it. My father will never be a part of my life or that of my future children. If your mother was emotionally and physically abusive with you, would you really trust her with your children when you have them?
Involving your mother isn’t “the right thing to do”, it’s a privilege she hasn’t earned and it will only make you uncomfortable on a day when you should be happy. Honestly, I wouldn’t invite your mom if her presence is going to make you uncomfortable. If you were super uncomfortable at your graduation, I can’t imagine it would be different at your wedding. It might also make your guests uncomfortable since I know several of my friends would have been extremely uncomfortable had my father been there.
I would not include your mother’s name anywhere on the invite, that is an honor that has to be earned, not a right, and I wouldn’t lose one ounce of sleep over it. Our invite was vague because DH’s father hasn’t been a big part of his life either lol. Just put your dad and your FI’s parents. Honor the people who deserve it during your ceremony, including your aunt and don’t worry. My Darling Husband and I had a Jewish wedding that involved several people, family friends, cousins, a faux aunt, friends etc. All people who were important to us, and they made the ceremony so much more meaningful 🙂 I’m sure there’s an equivalent in every religion/ceremony type.