Help Me Un-Invite My MIL to a Race
January 5, 2017 8:53 PM   Subscribe

My mother-in-law has invited herself to my upcoming marathon. I would prefer to not have the stress of her visiting on a already stressful day. Please help me un-invite her.

I am traveling from the midwest to the east coast for a marathon in a few weeks. It's an important goal race for me and my parents and husband will be joining me for a mini-vacation before and after the run.

My mother-in-law found out that she will be in the same city on a business trip and has invited herself to meet me at the finish line and presumably hang out afterward. I do not want her there. I see my MIL once a week and see my parents twice a year. My parents are both avid runners and understand what finishing a long race is about. She...has no idea. Her presence is otherwise a source of great stress for me and I do not enjoy spending time with her.

How can I explain to my MIL that she is not welcome at my race? Should I do it or have my husband broach the subject? What can either of us say?
posted by thewestinggame to Human Relations (16 answers total)
"Hey! I know that you wanted me to meet up with you at the finish line, but unfortunately that won't be possible. Looking forward to seeing you the following week!"
posted by Jairus at 9:00 PM on January 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

Can your husband suggest an alternative, in order to soften the potential offence? Perhaps he could also mention that you are in no condition to socialise/be seen after a race (or whatever the problem is- I don't know anything either!) and suggest lunch with him instead?
posted by jojobobo at 9:02 PM on January 5, 2017 [12 favorites]

Fwiw I would imagine that 'that won't be possible' would be effective in getting my own mil not to attend but not so effective at not causing offence/ruffling some serious feathers.
posted by jojobobo at 9:03 PM on January 5, 2017 [17 favorites]

Best answer: I would definitely have your husband broach the topic. Does she know (and respect) that you only see your parents a couple of times a year? Could he say, "westinggame only sees her parents a couple times a year and she really wants to focus on time with them"? If she has even a modicum of grace that should make her back off. Even if she doesn't, if she's competitive about it, he can even do it in a way that reminds her that she sees you way more often so being magnanimous about "letting" you have time with your parents is still a way of "winning."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:13 PM on January 5, 2017 [49 favorites]

Your husband should handle this. Have him call (or respond through whatever medium her suggestion to join you came) and say "that's such a nice offer! thewestinggame really appreciates your support. After the race actually isn't a good time to get together, as runners are in no condition for visiting, but we'd love to see you when twg is recovered. If you're still in town the following day maybe we can grab breakfast together? If not, we'll see you when we get back." Be extremely firm about "no condition for visiting" and don't bring up that your parents will be there. If she tries to make it an issue he can always lie and say he doesn't know about their plans.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:16 PM on January 5, 2017 [22 favorites]

nth: Your husband needs to handle this. Honestly.

That is always the answer for in-law questions.
posted by mochapickle at 9:27 PM on January 5, 2017 [23 favorites]

Best answer: Your best outcome is one where she feels like she got points for suggesting to come see you, without having to actually hang out with her. from her perspective, you're doing something huge, she wants to show her support for you, and also is alone in that city, what a fine two-birds-with-one-stone moment. So any conversation (hopefully led by your partner, but if you see her alllll the time it might be one you could have) could be "that is SO sweet of you, and what a generous idea! to be honest, my parents are only here for a little time and they were hoping to do some real special bonding with me over this because marathons are so special to them (NOTE you are blaming your parents; an excellent strategy!) so they were hoping we do something just the few of us. It's really so very sweet of you to think of me though, I really appreciate it. Let's have a celebratory dinner when I get back kthxbai"
posted by andreapandrea at 9:33 PM on January 5, 2017 [25 favorites]

I think it's important to acknowledge that, on its face anyways, this is a sweet gesture on your MIL's part, and your husband will know best what points will resonate the most with her and the most tactful way to say them. So, have him handle this and begin with something like, "Wife is so touched that you want to support her at the finish line, but" and then make one or more of the following points:

1. You see your parents only a couple of times a year but see MIL weekly
2. After the race, you won't be up to socializing with so many people
3. You are stressed about the race as is and the idea of getting quality time in with your parents *AND* MIL is stressing you out further

If there are additional or more relevant points use those instead. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 9:34 PM on January 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

Try to figure out if there's some way you can arrange a lunch/dinner the next day with everybody - hubby, your parents, and MIL. Even if you see your MIL every week it's nice to strengthen cross-family bonds when possible and I think that's what your MIL is trying to do here. (I don't know your MIL of course but that's what I would assume if this came up among people I knew.)
posted by bleep at 10:01 PM on January 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

Try to figure out if there's some way you can arrange a lunch/dinner the next day with everybody - hubby, your parents, and MIL.

Yeah, get your husband to explain that post-marathon, you will be knackered and not in the mood for socialising. Have him explain how post-race, you need to (I don't actually know what you do after a marathon, or what you do after a marathon)... like, go home and have a long bath? Do your special post-race ritual of watching Chariots of Fire? Go have a sports massage? Make up something or massage the truth to explain why it's just not possible to meet MIL right after the race, but of course we'd love to have dinner that evening, or lunch the next day, or I can't wait to see you next week! etc.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:38 AM on January 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Also meeting someone at a finish line/after a marathon is inconvenient and unpredictable, timing wise, and a lot of people are not at their best after running a marathon (signed, a Boston Marathon Family Meeting Area Volunteer). That's another good reason your husband can suggest, or he can at least say you might need to just completely crash for a few hours (which sounds true ish).

How would your MIL feel about cheering you on at the midpoint of the race or some difficult section of the race? She gets to show up and feel like she did something, you appreciate that she's there but don't have to interact with her.
posted by mskyle at 4:44 AM on January 6, 2017 [10 favorites]

Yeah, your husband should talk to her, and use any combination of these totally correct reasons:
1. You have no idea how you are going to feel, and just might want to shower and crash with room service.
2. Finish line is A MESS at most races because of crowds/security/ not knowing your exact timing, so thats a really hard logistical thing to accomplish and wont be the exciting watching you cross the line thing that she expects. I always just had people meet me at the corner of x and y instead of even trying to get towards the finish line (these were big city marathons though)

If you have to throw her a bone, maybe meet her for breakfast the next morning to recap?

Also, Congrats (for getting through all the training) and Goodluck (for race day)!
posted by zara at 6:03 AM on January 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

I totally get this, as my father used to run half-marathons and his post-race ritual involved bathing in a tub full of ice cubes (with resultant shouting and hooting), eating a omelette of like 5 eggs, and then napping.

Have your husband suggest a next-day brunch or something.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:58 AM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you're anything like me and your husband has been around you after your long training runs, he should understand that you will not be at your best after a marathon. After one marathon, I was walking to the finisher area and wanted to sit down and start screaming because I was done with everything and there were a lot of people around and can people just move out of the way please so I can collect my things, find my husband and go home? I mean, it's not unusual for people to crap their pants during the marathon. Your mother in law probably doesn't want to be around if you happened to do that. That might be a helpful tack to take with her. I agree that your husband should be the person to deal with her but I could see him talking about that with her.
posted by kat518 at 10:29 AM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I get the impression you want her not there at all, even the next day, as you're having a mini-vacation with your parents. I'd ask your husband to tell her exactly that, in one of the nice ways mentioned above -- that this is your time with your parents, and since you see her so often, you don't feel that you're losing time with her by not spending time with her when you're spending time with your parents.

Compromising on this seems way over the top to me. You should be able to go on a vacation with X&Y without Z inviting herself. Period. Even if she happens to be in the same city, that does not mean she gets to add herself to your vacation with your parents, and even if her son will be with you. She's not his left arm, or yours, and I hope your husband can make that clear to her. This isn't something you want to become a pattern; we see it on AskMe all the time, when family members or friends just invite themselves to join a vacation. So I'd recommend describing it that way, not as a race-ending thing, so you're covered for the entire period.

Congrats and good luck!
posted by Capri at 10:47 AM on January 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

Capri makes a great point. If you don't want her intruding on your trip at all, that's fine too, it just needs to be conveyed in a way that won't make your life harder down the road. "We won't be able to get together during this trip, it's really short and already very densely scheduled, but we really appreciate your support and will tell you all about it when we all get home."
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:57 PM on January 6, 2017

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