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guitarnan
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Posted: July 29 2009 at 10:50pm | IP Logged Quote guitarnan

My cousin (raised Catholic, doesn't practice) and her husband (same) just had their first child. My aunt has let it be known through various indirect channels that I should be present at this baby's baptism. Neither she nor my cousin has invited me, yet I'm expected to attend. (This goes back to this cousin's wedding, 9/15/2001, which I was expected to attend, said I could not, and would not have been able to attend for date-obvious reasons...and for which offense my mother has been badgered for the last eight years.)

I have a hard time on a personal level attending an event to which I have really not been invited. Yet, I worry for my mother, who expects to be berated if I don't show up. Mom is so worried about this that she is willing to pay my airfare.

Other complicating factors include my husband's job, my son's upcoming Eagle Scout review issues (same weekend), and, sadly, my personal opinions. Shouldn't I be invited, if they want me there? How can I attend, knowing that this baby will never be brought to Mass, let alone be raised in the Church? Will my attendance make a difference? (I think no - my cousin only goes to church under duress...)

I don't want my mom to go through eight more years of snide remarks from my aunt. Still, I think someone from my cousin's family should mention the baptism and ask me to attend. I also worry about attending (Mom wants me to bring dd) when I know it's pretty much a farce to keep my aunt happy.

It's a mess. I need to pray a lot - but I don't have the luxury of time. I need to figure things out by Friday AM at the latest.

I welcome your prayers, advice, suggestions, gift ideas (have to send one whether I go or not) and etiquette tips. I am completely stumped...how do you respond to such an indirect invitation? How do you reconcile your personal faith, your knowledge of your family and your parents' needs and wishes?

I know this is, in the grand scheme of God's creation, a small issue. But the last small issue (yours truly not attending a wedding) has been thrown in my mother's face for eight solid years. (I could not have attended...no airline was flying...it all boils down to my perceived intent, but my mom has paid the price.) Mom does not need Round II.

Do I chuck my first week of school to do this? Do I send a gift and letter? Ignoring this will not work.

Thanks for sharing...Nancy

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Posted: July 29 2009 at 11:51pm | IP Logged Quote mcchatty

Wait- not responding to an invitation that has not been issued is not ignoring anything.
Of course, they need to invite you, if you need to travel to go. (it's not like the baptism is after 10:30 mass at your home church and they should just assume you will be there.
I am truly sorry that your mother has been badgered by your aunt for years because you were unable to attend a wedding. It occurs to me your aunt will find something to badger your Mom about, regardless. So, rearragning a week of your family's life to go to a sacrament that the parents do not take seriously and to which you were not invited seems unnnecesary.
I would send a gift, maybe 3 or 4 lovely books, a childrens book of prayers, maybe "Goodnight moon" and something that you know the mother will like. I would include a card saying,"I heard through the grapevine that Baby Grace is being baptised sometime soon, please know our prayers are with you and we look forward to seeing you all. Love, etc..." overnight mail it if you have to.
Let your mother know that you simply cannot attend. (I don't think going into your feelings about how "real" the sacrament is to the parents would be helpful at this juncture) YOu might consider "manning up"(to use a phrase my teen boys use when they think I can't hear them) and calling the aunt.
"Aunt Betsy Lou, Niece nancy here. HOw are you, etc... (and then)   I truly want to avoid any hurt feelings. YOu know I love cousin what's her name. Unfortunately, I didn't know about the baptism in time to make it feasible for me to attend. I was thinking of sending some baby books do you have any suggestions?"
Now, to fess up- I would need to cry, take a bubble bath and then wrtie down what I was going to say for each phone call before I did this, but I do think it's worth considering. I am not sure a long thought out hearfelt letter is what's required here, unless you would feel better for doing it. YOu are unable to attend. This happens in real life and grown ups should know that. Perhaps you could discuss with your mother what she could say when she is feeling berated. "Oh for Pete's sake Marilyn, she wasn't able to come. That's life! If it was so important to you, you should have called to give her more than a weeks notice. Don't give me grief about my kids not coming to things you didn't invite them too."
Or whatever would work for your Mom.
I will be praying for you,
Mcchatty

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Posted: July 29 2009 at 11:55pm | IP Logged Quote Red Cardigan

Wow. Tough situation. Prayers coming.

My first impulse is to say no. An invitation is a request, not a command (though I know there are times when it seems otherwise! ), and since you haven't really even been invited (officially) you're not obligated to go.

The complication is your mother, and whether she'll be "punished" for your non-attendance. Unfortunately, if your relatives are the "complain and rub things in people's faces" type, they'll probably find *something* to complain about even if you go. They might tell your mother you didn't look happy, or you seemed stressed, or you were rude to someone, or that your dress was too formal or not formal enough, or that you didn't stay long enough or expected to stay too long...and on and on. They might even complain that you attended without an official invitation!! There's no guarantee, in other words, that your attendance will solve the problem--especially with people irrational enough to blame you for not flying to a wedding four days after 9/11 when the planes were still grounded!

In your place, I think I'd send a nicer gift then usual along with a lovely card and a handwritten note expressing your best wishes. By "nicer than usual" I don't mean $$$, necessarily, just a little more unusual than the "ordinary" baptism gifts (e.g. crib medal sets, baby rosary, guardian angel nightlight, etc.) Your son's Eagle Scout review counts in my mind as a "prior commitment" if anything I've heard from others whose sons have gone through this counts for anything.

As for specific gift ideas, maybe something personalized with the baby's name?

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Posted: July 30 2009 at 12:10am | IP Logged Quote KauaiCatholic

boy, families can sure be messed up, huh? and I mean that in the most empathetic way.

I'll certainly be praying for you. and your mother. and that baby. (heck, I'll even pray for that baby's parents.)

would it throw gasoline on the fire to call your cousin (or her family) yourself? mention the upcoming event, and if they don't invite you (or ask if you'll be there, or otherwise indicate you are expected), ask outright if they want your presence?

depends on family dynamics, of course. but I have found with some of MY dysfunctional family, the direct approach works best. and at the very least, I have the satisfaction of knowing that they know what I know, and vice versa. at least for that one phone call, anyway.    

and who knows what miracles can happen, if you go for the sake of the baptisee (and your poor mother). God can work in mysterious ways!

that's all I can think of off the top of my head. mostly wanted to send and prayers.

ETA: it took me so long to type this response, others weighed in before me and they all seem to be against going. hmmm, maybe I've gotten too used to dealing with dysfunctional, emotionally manipulative mind-game players, and just want to protect your mom. (as well as have SOMEONE there for the baby who can truly witness to the faith.)

best wishes on your discernment ...

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Posted: July 30 2009 at 12:14am | IP Logged Quote folklaur

wellllllll....i would probably do it for my mom. my mom has done oodles and oodles for me/us over the years (still does!) and if it was something that i could do for her, i would.

but i guess what your relationship with your mom is like would play into that.
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Posted: July 30 2009 at 6:52am | IP Logged Quote stacykay

I would have to say that I would not go. If I have learned anything over the past 21 years of parenting, is that I really have to put my immediate family first, and that their needs trump any others'.


Some things to think about-
how often are you in contact with your cousin whose baby will be baptized?
how far do you live from them?
have they attended your children's baptisms (with or without invite?)
how important is it for your dh that you are home?
how important is it for your ds that you are home?


I really think the above ideas are great. A phone call to defuse upset over a non-issued invite and a nice gift (I, like the others, would probably include something to do with Baptism, ie. religious, along with some books that maybe you enjoyed with your children) is a really smart idea, down to the planning out what you will say. Maybe you could even do a dry run with a friend?

I also second that it sounds as if your aunt might be the type to nag at your mom, no matter what you do. She'll find something to complain about. And I am getting so old and feisty, I might even call my aunt on it, if she began bugging my mom about my missing something.

My oldest is an eagle scout, and I can say that after all those years, from Tiger cub to Eagle, all the services hours, hours of work on merit badges, camps, meetings, etc., that getting his eagle and the reviews were a huge deal to him. And I am guessing that your son's work for his eagle means more to him than, and I don't mean this mean, in fact I think it is incredibly sad, than your cousin's baby's baptism is to your cousin.

And last, but not least, etiquette-wise, you really *haven't* been invited.

But these are just my opinions.    And as we all know, you know your immediate family's needs more than anyone in this world.   I will pray for your discernment, for you, for your family, and for your mom, and for this sweet little baby!

God Bless,
Stacy in MI




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Posted: July 30 2009 at 8:42am | IP Logged Quote Paula in MN

Short and to the point here. I wouldn't go. Sorry, but you weren't invited. If the baby's parents wanted you there, they would have sent an invitation, or at the very least called and invited you personally. Hearing about it "through the grapevine" is their way of letting you know they don't value you enough to truly invite you. Your immediate family comes first. Making Eagle Scout is huge, and you need to be available for the review weekend. And your son needs to know you will be there for him!

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Posted: July 30 2009 at 9:42am | IP Logged Quote guitarnan

I've done a little checking, and I think I could fly home Sunday instead of Monday (ensuring I'd be home if the review happens Monday evening - still don't know about that, but I definitely want to put my son's needs first and be here if he has to go anywhere on the Monday). There's really no obstacle except my own bad attitude , I guess.

My mom will be devastated if I refuse to go on the grounds I wasn't invited - although I know she won't be happy if I chop a day off the trip, either.

I can't decide if I'm justified at being annoyed that the "invitation" was phrased as a demand to be passed to me by my parents, or if I'm being prideful and mean because my aunt has been so awful to my mom because I didn't go to my cousin's wedding...eight years is a long time for anyone to hold a grudge (aunt, mom or me!).

My cousins have no intention of taking this baby to any Catholic anything. Still, the baby will receive all the graces of baptism and benefit from them. That is a good thing.

I'd have to fly Thursday evening and return Sunday evening or early Monday...a lot of flying for a short trip.

My mom really wants me to come. She won't even discuss the possibility that it won't work out.

Am I being petty, thinking my cousin should invite me? (My mom says I shouldn't expect them to call or email, since she's now told me about the baptism and the fact that I am wanted there.)

I appreciate all the helpful comments...you have all given me a lot to think about. And pray about.




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Posted: July 30 2009 at 9:45am | IP Logged Quote guitarnan

Update: My son doesn't have to go to the meeting in person. Another obstacle removed. (I'd have to come home Monday anyway to meet Tuesday commitments, but not so early.)

Now we're down to me being petty, I guess...

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Posted: July 30 2009 at 9:49am | IP Logged Quote SuzanneG

Nancy, can you explain why you havne't been officially invited?    Is this some passive-agressive thing? Or is it just a way of communicating in your family.....iow: is an invitation to your mother automatically include you???



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Posted: July 30 2009 at 9:50am | IP Logged Quote SuzanneG

i didn't mean that to be "snotty"..... .....just typing quickly and wanted clarification...it may influence my tendencies.....

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Posted: July 30 2009 at 10:03am | IP Logged Quote SusanMc

I would go if for no other reason than as an act of charity towards the baby who has had no part in all this silliness. Pray, pray, pray and put on your very best attitude then don't respond to any negativity unless you see blood drawn (physically). This method has helped me immensely in difficult family situations. It also helps to repeat the St. Francis prayer "Make me a channel of your peace..." during things like this.
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guitarnan
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Posted: July 30 2009 at 10:09am | IP Logged Quote guitarnan

Suzanne, I really don't know. Normally an invite to my parents is for them only, as I live on the opposite end of the country. Everyone in my family knows I don't fly home for holidays (I worked at an airport...no way will I go to an airport near a major holiday unless I absolutely have to), so they don't ask.

Maybe this is an opportunity to share my faith with my cousins...

I worry most about scandalizing my daughter, who already thinks this baby's trendy name is silly and has wondered aloud why the baptism is happening if no one plans to take the baby to Mass.

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Posted: July 30 2009 at 10:10am | IP Logged Quote florasita

I would take a step back and think of Our Lord & the baby this is really what the situation is about regardless of all the messed up adult stuff.
If you have prior commitments etc. then you do but don't turn a babie's into resentment etc.
just step back and see it for what it is.
Many people may have been baptized as children my dh is one and never attended mass but it may lead later in lfe a movement of the Holy Spirt to learn more etc.
don't ask others or fret etc. over the situation pray and ask Him what is He asking of you in this situation .
I can guarentee it will have nothing to do with being mad at your family and His answer will be simple not long and drawn out either .
   

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Posted: July 30 2009 at 10:12am | IP Logged Quote JodieLyn

Nancy, regardless of anyone else or their motives or not.. if you're feeling petty or with a bad attitude or whatever, then maybe you should go.. not with that attitude of course but so that you don't feed that attitude by not going.

Is the baby actually being baptised in the Catholic Church? that seems odd to me because all the classes for it and that the priest is supposed to have a reasonable expectation that the child would be raised in the Church. Even here, we meet with the priest before a baptism and he sees us there the vast majority of Sundays and knows that our kids are involved, recieving the sacraments, alter servers etc.


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Posted: July 30 2009 at 10:14am | IP Logged Quote guitarnan

My aunt and uncle have a close friend who happens to be a priest, and he's willing to baptise the baby for their sake.

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Posted: July 30 2009 at 10:21am | IP Logged Quote SuzanneG

Well, my thoughts were MUCH easier when you had Eagle Scout obligation....I would say absolutely don't go....your immediate family's needs come first.

But, now.....since that's out of the way.....I'd go either way. If you went, it would really be out of love and respect for your mother.   

But, I'd also not want to "enable" that nonsense-passive-aggressive-we-EXPECT-you-to-attend" attitude that has natural consequences.

So, if it's not a huge burden on your family, maybe I'd go.   BUT, personally, I'd feel perfectly OK not attending and not making a big deal out of it. "Oh mom, I'm so sorry I can't go! I hope you understand! But, I'm sure you'll have a good time, and we'll be praying all weekend!"

And, then send a nice gift with a gracious card!
No biggie. End of story. If they want to make a mountain out of a molehill, that's not your problem.

Praying for you, Nancy...either way.....it's fine.....

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Posted: July 30 2009 at 10:46am | IP Logged Quote KC in TX

Praying for you, Nancy as you make this decision. Family drama is so hard!

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Posted: July 30 2009 at 11:59am | IP Logged Quote juststartn

I'd send a gift. And a nice card. Even if I was her best friend cousin, I'd not go, if I'm having to fly that far from home....

Especially since I wasn't invited--officially. They want you there, they can make the effort to contact you personally...

Call me snarky. Have a Mass said for the little one, and stay home. Send that as part of the baby gift.
Save yourself the hassle.

And mom needs to stand up for herself, and say what one of the other posters said.

Really, the nerve. I am all for going to baptisms if you are close (as in relationship or distance). But to demand your presence--indirectly, no less....no. Have a mass offered for the wee one. They are going to need it, I think. Shoot, the godparents for our dc weren't there for the girls'.

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Posted: July 30 2009 at 12:07pm | IP Logged Quote guitarnan

DH thinks I should go.

My daughter (11 going on 21!) thinks the baptism is silly. I reminded her that the grace of the sacrament will be there no matter what, and that we'd have to pray that this little baby will find her way to the Faith (and, God willing, bring her parents along too!).

Sign.

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