Nice way to decline sister's baby shower?
May 8, 2013 1:30 PM   Subscribe

My sister with whom I have a strained relationship is having her baby shower on Sunday (yes, Mother's Day) for her baby due in July. I was not super-excited about going, and then my other sister called to say she's not going, and did I want to get together & do something. I do, but I don't know how to decline the invite from the other sister.

I'm the oldest of three. My next younger sister (R, age 35) lives in the same town, but we don't see either other very often. She is expecting her first child in July. My youngest sister (A, 32) lives a couple of hours away with Mom. R does not speak to A because of stuff that happened when they were teenagers. I only enjoy R's company in small doses, and I don't really know her friends or her boyfriend's family. (Her mother-in-law strikes me as quite strange.)

I've been hemming & hawing about going to this shower, especially since I haven't made any gifts yet, but I had mostly resigned myself to it.

Then A called to say that she wasn't going, but that since Mom will be, maybe she'd come up and hang out with me for the afternoon. Which sounds significantly more enjoyable. I don't often get a chance to hang out with A, and I generally enjoy her company. Also, mr. epersonae will not be going; even if he doesn't make plans with his mom, he dislikes R.

How do I tell R that I'm not going? There's a pent-up rant in me that I'm really trying to keep under control; R is on disability for a variety of mental & physical health issues, she & her boyfriend live in a small apartment which is crowded with all of R's hoarding, I'm really annoyed that she can't get it together to forgive A now that we're all adults, having a shower this early (it seems early to me) on a day that maybe her friends want to spend with their own moms seems really inconsiderate, etc., etc. What can I possibly say that doesn't accidentally drop me into that rant?

...or should I just bite the bullet & go to my sister's baby shower?
posted by epersonae to Human Relations (54 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
...or should I just bite the bullet & go to my sister's baby shower?

This, sorry. You should not get in the middle of a fight your two sisters had two decades ago, and punish your sister who, while she may not be your favorite person, is having her first child and would probably like to see you.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:32 PM on May 8, 2013 [78 favorites]

Bite the bullet and go.

You can always pop in 'on your way to destination X', and 'only have a few minutes'. You've made your appearance, kept things nice and light, and not added to anyone's list of grievances to be recited in the future.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:34 PM on May 8, 2013 [18 favorites]

You should bite the bullet and go to your sister's baby shower. I say this as someone with an utterly strict No Baby Showers policy, who amended it for my sister because you're sisters and that's what you do.

Having said that, what I would actually do is say "Hey, I have a present for you and I can come by for an hour but we have Mother's Day Plans with Mr Epersonae's mom that I can't get out of so tragically I am going to have to duck out early."

Then bail and go hang with your other sister.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:35 PM on May 8, 2013 [24 favorites]

Yeah. Sorry, it's your sister and you should go to her shower.
posted by saradarlin at 1:35 PM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

Blowing off your sister's baby shower to do something that "sounds like more fun" is really not cool. Your other sister trying to induce you to not go is extra aggressive not cool. Just go to the baby shower, it's not about you and not about fun.
posted by Andrhia at 1:36 PM on May 8, 2013 [36 favorites]

Also, the fact that it's Mother's Day, and your mother is going... you need to spend the day there.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:37 PM on May 8, 2013 [19 favorites]

Ugh, tough. It's kind of shitty of A to even put you in that position. Like she's intentionally asking you to choose favourites.

On the other hand, it was shitty of R to host a baby shower on mother's day. Go for an hour, bring something nice, tell her you love her. Then go hang out with A. Don't get involved in the nasty drama.
posted by AmandaA at 1:37 PM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

You need to put in an appearance. Show up with something, have a cup of punch, smile and nod, and then beg off, citing prior plans. Hang with your Mom, see your other sister later for dinner or something.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:37 PM on May 8, 2013

Hang with your Mom, see your other sister later for dinner or something.

... the mother is going to the shower.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:38 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Go to the shower. It's easier than dealing with the inevitable fallout from this.
posted by futureisunwritten at 1:38 PM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

I think you should go. Leave as soon as you can. Seems like there will be less drama for you if you just suffer for a bit. Also there will be others there to distract your sister. You probably won't spend much time with her.

I don't think it's early for the shower. My cousin had hers last weekend for a July due date. My shower was about 2 months before my due date.
posted by Swisstine at 1:38 PM on May 8, 2013

Nothing about R's relationship with A, her weird mother in law, your preparedness with gifts, your partner's attendance ... none of those things matter.

This is your sister and it's her first baby. It was crazy-rude to schedule a shower on Mother's Day but there it is.

Either you go to this shower or you don't. But this pending child has NOTHING to do with your history with your sister. This pending child will be your niece/nephew and you have a responsibility to it.

My family of origin is one of those that has let sibling squabbles from one generation poison the well for their kids. It's sad and unnecessary and shameful. This is your first opportunity to create an adult relationship with the mother of your niece/nephew. Take that opportunity or don't, but don't blame your decision on weird in-laws.
posted by headnsouth at 1:38 PM on May 8, 2013 [6 favorites]

If it were me, I'd go to the shower. I think it is sort of sweet to have it on Mother's day, and your own Mom will be there. Two months ahead is also not too early -- she could go into labor in mid-June, for all anyone knows. Waiting until the last minute for a shower can be fraught with health complications. Also, I think it is kind of drama-rama for your other sister to invite you to hang out when she knows you have this obligation. It seems to play into their unhealthy dynamic. Avoid.
posted by Malla at 1:39 PM on May 8, 2013 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: ::shakes tiny fist at the internet::

::hangs head in shame::

Y'all are right, although I had not thought about the option of "just dropping in."
posted by epersonae at 1:39 PM on May 8, 2013 [26 favorites]

I'll let others weigh in on whether you should go. (On preview, sorry, looks like there's a strong consensus to go.) But if you decide not to go...

How do I tell R that I'm not going? ... What can I possibly say that doesn't accidentally drop me into that rant?

"I'm sorry, I won't be able to attend."

In general, you don't have to give a reason for declining an invitation. Not giving a reason (and declining to be drawn into such a conversation, if pressed for one) is the best way of avoiding a rant. Heck, I have a pretty good relationship with my parents and I sometimes decline their invitations without giving a reason.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:40 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

...or should I just bite the bullet & go to my sister's baby shower?

Yes, this is the right thing to do. It doesn't matter if you think your pregnant sister is inconsiderate. The people who are invited get to make up their minds if they want to spend Mother's Day at a baby shower, or whether or not it's considerate.

This is a major family event. A big deal. This is your sister. Not showing up would be rude in my opinion. I think when it's over, you will be glad you went.
posted by Fairchild at 1:40 PM on May 8, 2013

If you're looking for a way to decline at the last minute without hurting R's feelings, there isn't one. But that may be the right outcome for you anyway. You don't want to spend time with her, and you're really annoyed with her, so why not hurt her feelings?

But if you go to the shower, be nice. Don't go from asking how to decline nicely to attending in a snit. If you thought she should do it on a different day, now is not the time to have said it. If you don't like her home, offer up yours, but at least give her credit for not planning it elsewhere since she evidently can't afford it. And if you are really irritated with her for not forgiving A, have you brought it up or are you just seething quietly, which sounds kind of like what you're irritated with R for doing.

All of this says to me that maybe throwing in the towel on this relationship is appropriate for you now.
posted by janey47 at 1:40 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is really not too early for a shower, but that really has no bearing on if you should attend.

Have you not responded at all yet to the invitation? You can't rescind if you've already said you'd attend.

You don't have to do anything that you don't want to do, but I would be pretty hurt and offended if I were in your sister shoes.
posted by waterisfinite at 1:40 PM on May 8, 2013

Yeah... unless you flat out dislike your baby shower sister, I'd go along with those that are saying go. go for a bit, and hour or so, cite former plans at the outset. Be nice be supportive then go get drunk if need be afterwards.
posted by edgeways at 1:45 PM on May 8, 2013

I think it's a new thing to host showers and weddings on/around holidays - aka days your guests usually have other plans. In the past few years I've been invited to bridal showers on St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, and the day before Easter, and weddings on black Friday and the Friday before Memorial Day. And yes, a baby shower on Mother's Day. I know there are probably valid economical reasons but it bugs me to death.

All my grousing aside, you should really go if just for a little bit to 1) be the bigger person and 2) see your Mom on Mother's Day.
posted by kimberussell at 1:47 PM on May 8, 2013

Response by poster: I haven't responded to the invitation. (O HAI PROCRASTINATION.)

I have brought up with R how she treats A. I get the rant of "YOU CAN'T POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND." I have even a few times talked about how we shouldn't be like some of the older generation who could barely speak with each other on their deathbeds.

The shower is not actually in her apartment, but at her mother-in-law's house, so that at least is one thing.

Also, it's good to know that it's not too early. I don't have kids, nor do I have a lot of close friends with kids. So I can at least not be annoyed with one thing.

And I can in fact be gracious while I'm there...R & I took a train trip together to visit Mom at Christmas and it wasn't totally painful.

On preview: Be nice be supportive then go get drunk if need be afterwards. Sounds like R's college graduation!
posted by epersonae at 1:47 PM on May 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

...or should I just bite the bullet & go to my sister's baby shower?

One way to think of this that might help ease the tension is that you're going to a party to celebrate the baby. The baby hasn't done anything to you or your other sister yet, it's not involved. So I say go to the party, be nice, smile, and remember that you're getting a better chance at helping another human being live a happy healthy life if you go to the party then if you don't.

That said, I'd definitely encourage your husband to make plans with his mother that would let you leave early.
posted by Gygesringtone at 1:47 PM on May 8, 2013 [7 favorites]

Yeah, there are things that it's just a good idea to do, even if they're not your first choice for that day. I think your sister's baby shower is one of them. Having the shower on Mother's Day isn't awesome, but it's not conscience-shocking to me, either. The sister you enjoy in small doses could easily become the sister you can't get along with at all if she knows you're blowing off her baby shower to hang out with your other sister who she doesn't get along with, you know?

I agree with you entirely that all this drama between them is most unfortunate, but it sounds like R has a lot going on, and like what feels to you like a small decision might become unexpectedly earth-shattering just because of all her various circumstances and might be hard to come back from. So grit your teeth, remember that you don't have to stay too long, and know that you're doing a good thing for the long-term hope that things will thaw between all of you -- which, if it happens, will be worth the afternoon you gave up. Good luck, and hang in.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:52 PM on May 8, 2013

on a day that maybe her friends want to spend with their own moms seems really inconsiderate

This is not really relevant to you. If her friends are unhappy, they can choose not to go. But your mom will be there, and you should be there to celebrate her (and her first grandchild? It's not clear).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:55 PM on May 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

having a shower this early (it seems early to me) on a day that maybe her friends want to spend with their own moms seems really inconsiderate, etc., etc.

You can't really justify skipping your sister's shower with an argument in favor of prioritizing family duties.

I know you don't want to go. Nobody ever wants to go to baby showers, even of people they like. It's a huge drag. But you have to go to your sister's first baby shower! And A is being an enormous tool by trying to undermine your already tenuous relationship with R. Do you want to also not be on speaking terms with your own sister? That's what A seems to be trying to engineer here.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:12 PM on May 8, 2013 [6 favorites]

Ditching your sister's shower to hang out with your other sister is a hugely passive-aggressive dramatastic move. Be classy and go. Don't show up for thirty minutes and then scram, either, because that sends an obvious "I didn't really want to be here in the first place" message. Stay for at least an hour and a half, if not the duration.

Hang out with A some other time, and don't let yourself get entangled in her beef with R.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:19 PM on May 8, 2013 [5 favorites]

You should go to the shower and you should make your other sister grow the fuck up and go too. None of you are teenagers any more.
posted by w0mbat at 2:22 PM on May 8, 2013 [26 favorites]

I think you should go. And I agree you should try to convince your other sister to go.

A may not be interested in R, but if she's also not interested in her niece or nephew, that'd be on the extreme side of estrangement for something that happened between them as teenagers.

I mean, it's been at least 10-20 years since whatever happened happened, right? Unless it was something akin to murder, there are very few things that I could imagine happening as a teenager that would produce this long of an estrangement between siblings.
posted by zizzle at 2:30 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I actually would advise not to try and make A got to the shower, just from the don't get in the middle of it if it hasn't worked before. You obviously can't force her to go and trying to could well make a delicate situation worse. Yes, A should go. But at the end of the day it's her decision.

None of you are teenagers any more.

That is true but almost irrelevant, teenagers do not hold a monopoly of poor behavior. Nor are we in a position to judge the severity of what has gone before. There has been A LOT of advice given on Askme to not interfere in other adult's (family or not) problems. I think this applies here as well.
posted by edgeways at 2:38 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think when the OP says that A isn't going, she means that A is not invited.

It sounds like R is the one who is set on not speaking to A and not interacting with her, rather than the other way around.

My opinion is with the rest - that you should go and try to hold back your annoyance. Staying on good terms with R is the best way to ensure a good relationship with your soon-to-be niece or nephew and hopefully be a good influence in their lives. Perhaps having a child will make R realize more the value of family, the ephemeral nature of life, etc and that she will finally get over this grudge against A. Maybe having you be a great support to her during the rest of her pregnancy and new mom-hood will also show her how nice it is to have a sister who cares about you and inspire her to get on better terms with A as well. I know that having a baby has made me far more grateful for my family and certainly has brought with it the onset of thoughts about how 'life goes by so fast'...
posted by treehorn+bunny at 3:01 PM on May 8, 2013

I'm actually going to go against popular opinion and say that if you don't want to go you shouldn't. R lives in the same city as you so you can see her another time whereas A lives further away and you very rarely get to see her.

I would explain to R that you'd rather help her celebrate her her impending child in a more intimate way by going for a meal together a few days after the shower. This way she gets to have two celebrations. You also get to see your sister that you rarely see. I don't think it's rude of A to ask you if you want to do something else on that day.

Everyone is saying that you should be an adult and go anyway. However I thought that being an adult meant that you could chose not to do something you didn't want to. Also it sounds like if R was more adult then A would be going to the baby shower as well.

Plus if you're annoyed with her or worried you might go into a rant then it's even more reason to not go to the shower. Imagine if something happened to trigger a rant and you ended up ranting during the shower ruining the day for R. Better for you to go and have a fun time with A to chill you out then meet R the next day when you're in a good frame of mind for a sister to sister celebration.
posted by Ranting Prophet of DOOM! at 3:14 PM on May 8, 2013

My sister recently had a baby, and I don't get along with her that well either (also due to our terrible relationship when we were younger- sometimes these things don't really improve.)*

This is how I thought of the whole thing, though: the baby is my relative, and he deserves a clean slate and my love. It's clear to me in my own family that I have much more in common with many aunts and uncles than my own parents. It's just as likely that I'll get along great with my nephew and he will be nothing like his mom. Of course, I'm probably influenced by the fact that I probably won't have my own kids anytime soon, if ever, so this might be my best chance at a meaningful relationship with a kid I'm related to.

It's been hard, but worth it. I've seriously considered just giving up completely on my relationship with sis, but I love my nephew and want a relationship with him. So I make nice with my sister and see her when I have to. When we all do something together, I think of it as 'I'm going for the baby.' Not her. Starting with the shower. You might even suggest the same to your other sister, although believe me, I sympathize with how she feels. But the baby is their own person and you both deserve the chance to build a great relationship. So go. For the baby.

* Sometimes the conflicts from the teenage years never really resolve. Although my sister and I put on a good show of sisterly love 90% of the time now, in our thirties, it feels a little forced. And invariably, if we spend too long hanging out together it's like traveling backwards in time. The judgment, condescension, etc . . . So I don't buy the whole 'they're not teenagers anymore argument.' People don't necessarily change that much as they get older, and sometimes two people just aren't going to get along. And sometimes it happens that you're in the same family. Work around it, yes, but don't feel guilty over it.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 3:15 PM on May 8, 2013 [5 favorites]

I think that you have to consider where you want this relationship to go in the future. If you are fine with it becoming even more tenuous, then don't go. But if you'd like to at least leave the option of having a stronger relationship with your sister (and niece or nephew) then I would go to the shower.
posted by fuzzywuzzysock at 4:07 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'll go against the consensus too and say that if you don't want to go you shouldn't. It sounds like you have issues with R, aside from the issues A has with her. You're not buggering off on the event just because one sister has asked you to, you're bailing out (of something you haven't even yet said you'd attend) because you simply don't want to go.

You are a grown up. You get to make decisions about how much interaction you want to have with other grown ups, related or otherwise. I don't think it's the shittiest thing in the world to skip this and I don't think you're a horrible person for wanting to.

Here's a weird little thing about small towns that might apply (even though it doesn't necessarily involve family): Where I live, if you're invited to a social function like this, you're pretty much obligated to go. This includes the wedding shower of my best friend from high school or the baby shower of my BFF in grade school. But here's the thing: I'm a different person now and so are they and frankly, I don't like them anymore. Everyone in town talks if you don't go but still, I don't go. I honor the fact that we are all different people now by not pretending that we aren't. Obviously the situation with your sister is very different from that but I don't think it's wrong to extricate yourself from a situation which makes you uncomfortable and in which you might slip the tongue and say something untoward. Invite her to a more intimate dinner, give her gifts there, show her you're happy for her then, as suggested above. That seems a better idea to me, given the drama that seems to surround this whole situation. Don't take a side between your sisters but don't enmesh yourself in a situation you don't want to be enmeshed in.

As for all the arguments that this is something you can do to support your future niece / nephew -- yeah, I guess if showing up and holding your tongue just to appease his / her mother is supportive, then that's true. But this kid is still in utero, man. I'd save any and all positive energy and thoughts you have toward your sister for a time when there's an actual baby present, like the birth.
posted by youandiandaflame at 4:10 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm really annoyed that she can't get it together to forgive A now that we're all adults

You do realize that, if you didn't go, you would be perpetuating a similar dynamic here, right? You'd be the person who wouldn't be able to forgive R for not forgiving A, and would be effectively retaliating..

Not to be harsh, but I think you should be the better person and just go.
posted by suedehead at 4:56 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm really annoyed that she can't get it together to forgive A now that we're all adults

If she finds out that you skipped her baby shower to go hang out with A instead, it's probably not going to do wonders for the whole "getting it together to forgive" thing.

You don't have to go, but I'd definitely consider rescheduling your plans with A. If you do decide to grit your teeth and go, reward yourself afterward with something you enjoy.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 5:02 PM on May 8, 2013

Don't go. Whatever you have against your sister, she is pregnant and deserves to have a happy day, surrounded by people who want her to be happy. Send a nice gift with mom and then stay away. She doesn't need to hear your judgements or views on her lifestyle. Pretty much, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it. Don't make this special time in her life be about you and your drama.
posted by myselfasme at 5:03 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

You can go (for an hour or two), or you can not go and make your relationship with R poorer and destroy your relationship with her entirely when it comes out (as it almost certainly will) that you skipped her baby shower to see A instead.

However I thought that being an adult meant that you could chose not to do something you didn't want to.

Being an adult does mean getting to do what you want to a certain extent, but also living with the consequences of those choices, and the option "skip the shower, hang out with A, continue to have a fine relationship with R and her baby" isn't on the table.
posted by jeather at 5:23 PM on May 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

Missing your sister's baby shower would be majorly blowing 'it'. And by 'it' I mean life. Barring you two being permanently estranged, you being called out of town for an emergency, or in the hospital, you have an obligation to attend.

A couple of weeks ago my sister pulled a move such as what you were considering. She decided not to attend the funeral of my uncle, because she had been to the viewing the night before. Fair enough. Funerals can be about as painful as a baby shower. But she lives less than ten mins. away from the church, and a large number of relatives, from in town and out of town had made the effort to go. All through the event the rest of the family had to field questions about why she wasn't there with vague sorts of excuses. What a few hundred people will remember is that she didn't attend her uncle's funeral.
posted by nanook at 5:35 PM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

Baby showers aren't all day events are they? So I'm not getting the 'why mother's day' or 'stopping people having time with their own mothers' thing - go, it's a few hours, catch up with Ma/sister afterwards. A is being disruptive by suggesting you pull out of the event to hang with her when you could just do it afterwards.

And here's the thing - your R will remember what you have chosen and it will affect how she sees your relationship with the child. I remember how much whining my siblings/parents have done when it comes to seeing my daughter and it makes me much less likely to go to them or to make an effort to see them, since I'm such a burden. My in-laws have done no whining and I am much more comfortable asking them to look after her and much more likely to go see them. If you skip out on a baby shower because you won't have as much fun as you would with A it will affect how R sees your relationship with proto-child - you can't make the effort for a few hours now, so why would you in the future? My family has realised the effects of their whining and are trying to amend it but it is still an issue.

If you honestly don't care, then skip it. But there will be consequences for that.
posted by geek anachronism at 5:45 PM on May 8, 2013

You said in your OP that one of the main reasons you were waffling about going is that you haven't "made" any gifts. Is this some sort of tradition in your family or subculture?

I think you should go to a bookstore and pick up a couple of little baby books and show up for a short period of time (your mother will be there, after all) near the end (e.g. the last hour of the thing) and then meet your sister afterward if you like. Bring a camera and take pictures to pass the time.

Unless you really don't want to keep up any significant relationship with your sister, that is.
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:46 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm really annoyed that she can't get it together to forgive A now that we're all adults

Well, it doesn't sound like A is guiltless in perpetuating this if she's trying to get you to skip the shower.
posted by geegollygosh at 6:01 PM on May 8, 2013 [5 favorites]

Literally anything could happen in the life of my sister and I wouldn't stir an inch to be present. But I also accept that people who don't know the truth about our relationship would judge me and think I was a terrible person for not 'caring about family'. I don't care, because she is a horrible human being and I'd rather have people think I am a cold inhuman beast than have to interact with her.

So if you are okay with people judging you, don't attend the shower. Otherwise, you have to at least show up.
posted by winna at 6:28 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Your sister's going to be a mother; thus, her shower's on Mother's Day - what's hard to understand about that? It's not like the shower's 12 hours long, is it? Surely there's plenty of time for those who attend the shower to also spend time with their mothers on that day.

I find Sister A annoying for her attempted manipulation to keep you from your other sister's baby shower and I certainly wouldn't try to convince her to attend. For that matter, is she even invited?

Go to the shower, stay for at least an hour (just breezing in and out is more rude than not attending in the first place) and make a fuss over your sister and the coming baby - in the long run, you'll be glad you did. And I'd make an effort to stay out of the original argument any way you can; take a cue from your mother and let the two of them resolve it or not.
posted by aryma at 6:41 PM on May 8, 2013

For what it's worth, if the mother-in-law is the one hosting the shower, it's possible it wasn't R's idea to have it on Mother's Day. But with it being on Mother's Day, I suspect a lot of potential attendees will have at least some conflict with plans with their own mothers, which, should you choose not to go, may make your absence more noticeable. Especially if your mom is going to be there - I would think she'd notice your absence for certain, even if no one else did.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 7:02 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I hate showers. I didn't even want to go to my own baby shower. But if it's your sister's and you're in the same town, you really do have to go. Sorry. But on the bright side: the food is usually pretty good.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:43 PM on May 8, 2013

Best answer: What? Go? No!

You know who your sister R has the right to invite? Anyone she wants to. You know what she doesn't have to do? Invite people she doesn't want there. Say what you will about your sister R, but she made her choices authentically. She wanted to invite you, so she did. She didn't want to invite A, so she didn't. She didn't hem and haw over some - oh well A's feelings will be hurt! Or, oh won't that be awkward for our other sister? She did what she honestly wanted to do.

And as for A - you know what she did? She respected R's wishes. She's not going to crash R's shower. She also did what she wanted to do, which was see you, so she asked.

And you mom? Doing what she wants - going. And your husband - doing what he wants - not going. You know the only one not doing what they want, bending to whatever 'but think of the family/children!' arguments on this thread and in your own mind? You. You're the only one not doing what you want to do. Why exactly is that?

Look - regardless of A's reasons for asking you (drama or not), everyone in your family seems to be taking care of themselves, and they seem to be okay with their choices, and the consequences of them. Even if you don't spend time with A - if you don't want to spend time with R, you don't have to. That doesn't mean you can't celebrate her or her baby - perhaps actually when the little one actually arrives. Your sister A is going to be celebrated, by people who actually want to be there. And it's okay if you're not one of those people. You aren't some 'bad sister' for not going any more than you are some 'good sister' for not wanting to go and going anyway.

It isn't like there is a point system in life, where you collect gold coins for spending time with people you truly don't care for (How wonderful she is! See how she sucks up how much she dislikes her sister? It's so flawless it's like her sister doesn't even notice!) That's just some inauthentic bullshit right there, and life would be a lot less drama filled if people just honestly accepted what was in their hearts rather than trying to hide it under social niceties - many of which are gender based. For example, if you were a guy, would there be all of this prodding about attending a baby shower? I find that hard to believe. I would also find it surprising if any of the folks in the thread suggesting you go would want a relative to attend their event knowing that phrases like 'suck it up', 'it's just what I do', and 'it's not like I have to stay all day', and 'nobody likes to go to these things' was running through their minds.

Seriously. Your sister R made her choice. No forgiving sister A. Part of the consequence with that is that her other sister (you) finds that choice really immature, and doesn't attend family gathering where one sister or the other is purposefully excluded. Perhaps you just attend events where everyone is welcome - like the holidays at your mom's or whatever. Your sister R is resilient enough to live with the consequences of her decision, I suspect. Or to live with the fact that sometimes you will want to attend an event of hers, and sometimes you just won't. But you might need to consider what it would take for you to honor what you're feeling, rather than somehow talk yourself out of feeling that way, or somehow squashing it down long enough to smile tight lipped and think that your sister A ought to be giving you sister points for attending her event. She's not going to.

So follow your family's lead. Everyone else has made a decision based on their wants and desires. You have that right too. And if the fact is that you'd be happier seeing A, then do that. And try to be okay with the fact that if R wants to be upset she will be - even if you go, perhaps because you 'didn't stay long enough', or 'didn't give a great gift' or whatever. You can't control that. You can just talk to her about it and respect that she drew up her shower list based on what would make her happy, and you made a decision to spend time with A based on what would make you happy, and ask her to respect that as well....and ask her when you guys can get together, in a venue and place and time that works for both of you, not just her.

It would be wonderful if we could let our thoughts and our feelings and our actions always be in such alignment. It may feel uncomfortable, but it is still better than the alternative - living inauthentically, and then being resentful at others for not 'appreciating the sacrifices we made for them' enough. Because they won't. You can still build a relationship with your sister R and the baby without attending the shower. This isn't about the baby - the baby is a straw man. This is about you not wanting to go, that being okay, and you needing to be okay with the fact that your sister R may not be happy with that, but that's okay too.
posted by anitanita at 7:52 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Don't go if you don't want to. But do NOT meet with the other sister. This would seem like a boycott and is super unclassy.
posted by shazzam! at 8:11 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

whoopsie, saw i sometimes got sister R and A confused. Hopefully it still makes sense.
posted by anitanita at 8:12 PM on May 8, 2013

Hmph. I think you're all kind of acting like dicks. I think you should go. There aren't a lot of opportunities to share in family moments. A baby shower is one of them and there's nothing like a new baby to give families an opportunity to bury the hatchet. I think you should go and stay for an hour and then go do something else. How would you feel if you were the sister left out? The one who was having a baby shower and her two sisters went off and did their own thing? I'm guessing you'd feel pretty shitty about it. You might feel shitty enough to just cut those bitches out of your life forever. Maybe that's a fine solution to you but I get the sense that it's not.

Also, some people do like baby showers. There's something about an old fashioned celebration of a new life coming into this world and big changes for the mama that is really endearing. I mean, some people can really make a baby shower suck but for the most part I've found them more charming and affirming than not when I've gone. Maybe you will, too.
posted by amanda at 8:15 PM on May 8, 2013

The baby is due in July. It sounds like your sister is either at the end of the second trimester or the beginning of the third. That's not early.

The only option is to buy a nice present, go, and be nice. It's a few hours out of your life. Your sister will appreciate it.
posted by nerdfish at 12:48 AM on May 9, 2013

Hey, let's look at this from a positive perspective.
R, who you rarely see, whose company you enjoy in small doses, is going to be hosting an event that is (a) short, scheduled, and fairly choreographed (b) outside of her scary hoardy apartment (c) attended by your mother.
Your mother is coming from out of town, into your town, on Mother's Day. With A.
A is visiting from out of town, and you'll at least have time for a coffee.

Perhaps you can convince them to join you for brunch, and you can have a good time with the two of them. Then you can drop A off at the zoo (or someplace that accepts hooligans who expect their oldest sister to participate in abandoning their mother to family drama) and go with your mother to the shower. Discuss with your mother - does she want to stay to the bitter end? Would she like to escape early with you? Would it be helpful to her if you stayed there and gave her someone to talk to besides R and R's in-laws?

If A & Mom aren't able to arrive early or stay late to spend some of the day befor eor after the shower with you, then you can still see A. If A drops Mom off at the shower, spend the first little while there, then leave early to meet A at a coffeeshop not far from the shower, until Mom calls to be picked up. If A complains that she'll be all alone while you're at the shower, tell her to suck a lemon. (Or something comparable).
posted by aimedwander at 8:03 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Go to the shower, take a nice, useful gift (I recommend size 6 mos & 12 mos onesies, for when the baby outgrows all the adorable tiny stuff from the shower). Leave as early as politely possible, visit with A, and maybe arrange some time with Mom outside the shower.

Try to stay out of the rift between your sisters, and try to understand your sister's mental illness, without enabling it. You'll feel better for being a good sister, and won't have to see any of them for a while afterwards; whew.
posted by theora55 at 4:59 PM on May 9, 2013

Response by poster: So...I went with A & Mom, we stayed for the whole thing, although with some surreptitious texting, and it wasn't terrible.

The most hilarious part, from my POV, was one of the "quizzes." (The games, FWIW, were not especially obnoxious, and there were some charming activities.) It was guessing the names of fairy tales based on really obscure clues written by R. A won, which I think means they are closer than either of them realized. :)

Thanks, everybody; it was helpful to get some additional perspectives. And I marked anitanita's answer as "best" because it helped me think through what I really wanted. (Aside from being an only child...I was briefly really jealous of mr. epersonae, who doesn't have any siblings.) What that turned out to be was to get off on the right foot with R's baby, which I realized starts now, and to be less sucky than some of our elders.

Asking myself: what would (horrid) Aunt J have done? And then doing the opposite of that, basically. I'm guessing that may have also been A's motivation in coming with.
posted by epersonae at 8:48 AM on May 13, 2013 [8 favorites]

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