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Should she stay or should she go?

(19 Posts)
ShebaShimmyShake Sun 19-Jul-15 19:11:40

Hello all. Here's the situation.

I'm pregnant with my first child and my husband and I are going to visit my mother and other relatives in my home city (Dad's dead) for a family get together. My aunt, Dad's younger sister, and her husband are childless and sadly not by choice. Aunt had numerous mental health issues as a young woman, including bipolar disorder and anorexia, and wasn't really in a fit state to form a stable relationship until relatively late; she was almost 40 when she married and that, combined with fertility issues on her husband's side as well, meant that sadly they never had a child (she briefly conceived and miscarried at 43). Aunt has never made any secret of the fact it broke her heart and she longs for children.

Aunt was happy for me when I told her I was pregnant but said she could not see me when I am showing obviously, or when I have a young baby; she said she could handle it when the baby is a few months old but it is simply too painful to see a bump or a newborn/near newborn. Since I am definitely showing, Aunt has said she can't deal with seeing me and won't be attending the gathering.

Other relatives are very angry about this. They say her conspicuous absence will ruin the gathering and my enjoyment of my pregnancy, that 17 years after a miscarriage she should be able to spend an afternoon with a pregnant family member. A cousin said that if she can deal with the random bumps and babies she sees while out and about, it's wrong that she won't deal with mine.

For a little context, Aunt is well meaning but has been known to cause offence and upset on numerous occasions over the years by being a bit socially clumsy and thoughtless...antsiness over money, not being practically helpful after deaths or illness, expecting teenage relatives to take long journeys on public transport rather than driving to meet them, forgetting kids' birthdays and getting upset if someone forgets hers, thoughtless comments etc. There were a couple of major family rows with Dad and while he resolved them with her, some other relatives do harbour some resentment.

Personally I think it's her heartbreak and she needs to deal with it as she sees fit, but I'll admit I find her very stressful company so I'm kind of glad of the excuse not to see her. (I guess it's a residue of her anorexia, but she is awful at any occasion where there's food - constantly commenting on what people are eating, making a big song and dance about portion sizes and so on. She also likes to talk a lot about weight gain and loss. There'll be food at this event, and as a pregnant woman I'll be hungry and heavier than when she last saw me, so I could really do without it!) I'm not proud of that. At any rate, though, I understand why she doesn't want to come and I'm not hurt. I'm not in any pain, but she is.

I've made it clear to relatives that it doesn't bother me and I'm not going to press the issue with her. A couple of cousins and a sister said they would, I told them not on my account and I'd rather they didn't. They said it's not just me who's affected, the entire do will have an air over it if she refuses to come. I said I think there'll be an air if she's pressured to come and ends up miserable and not wanting to see me, and left it at that.

I'm not really asking for advice because I'm not upset by it and I've taken my course of action, but I am just curious to know what others think. Should Aunt come - does she owe the family that, if not me? If I were upset, would that change things?

Just a talking point, I guess.

BitterAndOnlySlightlyTwisted Sun 19-Jul-15 19:19:55

No, Aunt shouldn't come if she doesn't want to. I think the other family members are being unkind by trying to get involved in her decision. It must be very, very painful for her. She's expressed her feelings and that's that. She "owes" the family nothing especially if they're all that unsympathetic.

minkGrundy Sun 19-Jul-15 19:25:10

For goodness sake 'there will be an air if she doesn't come'. What if she had just been busy or on holiday.
The relatives saying she must be there are just making an mountain out of a molehill.

pocketsaviour Sun 19-Jul-15 19:29:46

If I were you I'd cancel the whole thing because they all sound mental as fuck.

I've made it clear to relatives that it doesn't bother me and I'm not going to press the issue with her. A couple of cousins and a sister said they would

I was going to say, tell them to wind their fucking necks in. However just this week I learned a new phrase which is "Trunky want a bun?" and I think you should use that one.

ShebaShimmyShake Sun 19-Jul-15 19:38:42

"They all sound mental as fuck..."

Yep. Welcome to my family smile

Iamalwayswrong Sun 19-Jul-15 19:41:56

It's nobody's business really although if I were her, I would have just said I had booked a holiday that week.

I can see how it would be difficult and painful for her to be around you.

I cannot see why the other relatives have stuck their beaks in though. I mean, surely it was a discussion between you and her. There is no need for bad mouthing or drama.

I just would ask the other relatives to be kind to her and shut up about it. Especially if they bring it up at the event.

Do you think some can't wait for the opportunity to get stuck in?

NurseNurse Sun 19-Jul-15 20:00:32

Trunky want a bun?

What does this mean?

sensiblesometimes Sun 19-Jul-15 20:16:47

Something to.do with having long nosey necks I think
The woman needs compassion and sympathy and if you agree you need to tell all the heartless relatives that repeatedly until they shut up

pocketsaviour Sun 19-Jul-15 20:26:16

"You have such a long and inquisitive nose that you remind me of an elephant. Perhaps you would like a bun, famously enjoyed by elephants the world over?"

GrumpyOldBiddy2 Sun 19-Jul-15 20:32:47

There is a school of thought which says that psychosis (which bipolar disorder is) is closely linked to stress which is often linked to family communication styles, specifically high expressed emotion. Sounds like they have this in abundance.
If I were you, I'd write to her and say 'please don't feel that you need to come, I totally understand' and then I'd say to the others 'your behaviour isn't helping anyone, back off'

ShebaShimmyShake Sun 19-Jul-15 21:00:29

I've told her I completely understand and that she should do whatever she thinks is necessary to preserve her mental health.

I think the point about wanting to get stuck in may be it...since she has upset people over the years, I think there are some people who will find something wrong in anything she does. And she has been stupid and hurtful at times, but tbh so have most of us...and this is a serious thing to find upsetting.

Actually just had a bloody Facebook discussion about it, with a few relatives being stupid. I haven't got the patience for it. Just said "I am not bothered, but if you keep going on about it I will be. I can't stop you doing anything but I don't want Aunt pressured and I've told her that. This is all I have to say, I'm leaving the conversation now" and did. If they want to make drama, they can do it without me.

RubbishMantra Sun 19-Jul-15 23:13:31

Your family are forgetting that this is also about your visit, and focusing on what they want. It will be horrible for your aunty to be pressured into attending a family gathering she would rather not. Probably none too pleasant for you. If it were me, I wouldn't feel like going myself. They sound like hard work.

newnamesamegame Sun 19-Jul-15 23:21:13

I think the rest of your relatives are being ridiculous, particularly as it sounds like they all bitch about her when she comes to things like this anyway. This is one of the reasons I'm kind of grateful not to have what's euphemistically called a tight-knit family but which I prefer to call a bunch of meddling old stickybeaks.

I would tell your family to mind their own business and get out more....

ScoutRifle Mon 20-Jul-15 06:48:53

How does your auntie cope with seeing pregnant women in general?
The world is full of them.

FolkGirl Mon 20-Jul-15 07:04:23

My exh always said that that an invitation is issued and one is free to accept or decline. Anything else and it becomes a diktat.

I'm inclined to agree. She has been invites, she has declined, she has given her reason, you have accepted.

It's fuck all to do with anyone else or their 'air'.

If her absence is felt that keenly, it will only be because of the drama enthusiasts not letting it go.

ShebaShimmyShake Mon 20-Jul-15 07:06:18

Well, that's the family's point - she somehow copes with seeing total strangers who are pregnant so why won't she do it with me. Maybe it's easier with a stranger you can ignore and walk on past.

I do think she is sometimes a bit precious about certain things but infertility is a very serious thing and I don't feel comfortable telling others how they should feel about it, especially with a baby bump.

Iamalwayswrong Mon 20-Jul-15 08:24:49

Not sure why she has to explain herself to anyone really about not being able to cope with seeing you but managing with strangers.

Maybe she doesn't manage well with strangers? Maybe she scuttles past and gets a bit choked up?

Anyway it's not like she's said you can't go so she can. She's being gracious and staying away knowing she will get upset if she goes. She's avoiding drama. The wider family are generating it.

FolkGirl Mon 20-Jul-15 09:56:22

I think would require someone completely lacking in empathy or compassion to not see the difference between passing a pregnant random strangerin the street and attemding a family gathering with a pregnant family member present.

One you can zone out and doesn't impact on you in any way whatsoever, the other herald's new family member and she would be able to see an hear everything; all the well wishing and hopes for the future.

If you're ok with it, the others aren't even entitled to express their opinions publicly as far as I can see.

Anniegetyourgun Mon 20-Jul-15 10:25:49

I'm beginning to see why your aunt is a bit difficult... Let the poor soul make her own choices fgs! I think you are handling it beautifully, while the rest of them seem to want to drag her along so they can have someone to complain about afterwards. An invitation to a family do is not a three-line whip.

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