Monday, October 22, 2007

Bugging me

I don't generally like to discuss N's family on this, but something has really bugged me recently. Actually, it seems to be an ongoing problem but its reached a head recently. Let me know if you think I'm being unreasonable.

-N's sister is pregnant and expecting her first child around Christmas. Exciting news, no? N and I wanted to send a present for the newborn baby and asked what can we get you guys? N's sister L, quickly says 'oh, don't bother, we have everything we need' We insist, really. 'I can't think of anything, but I'll let you know' SIGH. Finally, she gets back to us and says 'oh maybe just some vouchers' No, but really we'd like to buy SOMETHING for the child, vouchers seem a bit impersonal. She gets all snippy with us and explains in a bullet-pointed email how vouchers are the only possible choice because of delivery charges (N and I aren't so cheap that we're going to quibble over £5 here or there on delivery charges for our niece of nephew), how her and her husband both work and the inconvenience it would cause as they would have to pick up whatever item from the postoffice (she'll be on maternity leave in November, he's on holiday all of December and anyway, they're both home for dinner every single evening. Even when N was working ridiculously long hours he still managed somehow and like they aren't going to recieve gifts in the post from other relatives anyway), and how if it was something large her husband would be the only person able to collect the parcel, blah, blah, blah. She was incredibly ungracious about this whole gift and whatever her reasons, her attitude stunk.

-Maybe I'd feel different about the whole thing if when N and I told her that I was expecting our second child she hadn't responded with 'Oh, I thought Michelle might be' in the most bored-sounding voice in the whole world. It took her a full five minutes before she offered her congratulations. I pretended that the phone call wasn't on speaker phone and have been seething ever since. We'd even waited before telling our friends and family our news out of respect for her because we didn't want to steal her thunder, it being her first child and all.

-Here's where I could possibly be out of line. I'm not sure. N's sister and her husband are the godparents to Elliot. When I think of godparents, I think of someone who dotes on the child, spoils him maybe, and are generally quite close to their godchild. Here's my problem - L and her husband only ever buy Elliot clothes for his birthday or Christmas (and she even told me she just waits for the sales to buy stuff for him) and I just grew up believing that you don't give a child clothes for his birthday. It was a rule. I send photos of Elliot every week to L and her husband, and never hear anything back. The only time L ever speaks to Elliot on the phone is on Wednesdays when Elliot is at his grandma's house. Am I just being petty? I don't know.

-What also upsets me is that L has refused her mother's offer to come up and help her after her baby is born. Instead she said 'oh my friend has already offered' and really hurt her mother's feelings. She'd rather have her friend over than her own mother. L said 'she just wants to spend the time with her new baby and can't be bothered with the hassle' of having her mother there. Also, L has said she's too busy and doesn't have the time or interest to send her mother a photo of her with her pregnant belly. L lives hundreds of miles away and won't even send a photo using her digital camera.

What annoys me most, I think is that L seems to want what I had - a broken, uncommunicative family. A family so dysfunctional that we didn't speak to each other and know what was going on in each other's life. A family where we all struggled with our demons silently and privately without the support and help of a family. Whereas I always wanted what L had - a loving, caring family who speak to each other and help each other out. But soon, and very soon by the looks of things I'm sure L will get what she wants in the end. She seems to be quickly burning all of her own bridges, and at the moment I don't feel at all sorry for her.


  1. Hi Michelle. I'm here via NaBloPoMo.

    I just wanted to say your irritation with your sister-in-law is justifiable - you want a close-knit family and she wants admirers. You'll probably find that she'll want her family's love, help and attention once her baby's born and she discovers that it's a little harder than having a pet.

    I've also regretted some godparent decisions I've made (I have three kids) but unfortunately there's nothing we can do about it. We have to accept whatever attentions/gifts they decide to give our kids and make sure we are EXCELLENT godparents to our own godkids. One friend of mine is sending out a "Manifesto to Godparents" stating what she clearly wants from them in terms of moral guidance for her children (she's not religious). I thought that was a great idea.

  2. You are NOT being unreasonable.

    Some people do not realize that a pregnancy is also a joy to the relatives around. A new baby is a joy for the whole family to celebrate and enjoy.
    What's she's doing sounds selfish and just plain rude.

    As far as the godparent thing, I too have made wrong decisions on that. It's one of those things we have to take a leap of faith on and oft times it's wrong. I like the manifesto idea.

    Don't worry about her, once she has her baby she will realize the world does not revolve around her and realize it's best to have a supportive family instead of pushing ppl away.

    I grew up in a horrible family. It always strikes a nerve with me to see people who have a great family not appreciate it.
    and I see it all the time.

    Good luck sweetie, and don't stress.

  3. you are not being unreasonable. how horrible. perhaps, once she is a mother she will realize not only the importance of her family in her life, but perhaps even see how cold she has been. At any rate, in a tactful way you should be honest with her about your perspective and the pain she is causing...

  4. Can it be pinned down to out of control pregnancy hormones?

  5. I'd be pretty upset too. It doesn't hurt to be nice and its even worse that she is close family.
    I suppose some people don't appreciate what they have - maybe when her child is older and wanting more family she'll realise that alienating you isn't the best thing


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