Dear Amy: Recently my nephew got married.
My mom RSVP’d for the wedding and made the five-hour drive with her husband to the city the wedding was in, but then didn’t attend the wedding and reception.
Her excuse was the fact that my stepfather had forgotten to pack dress clothes (there was no dress code for the wedding; jeans would have been acceptable).
The next day all of our family members had brunch at a local restaurant. Again, my mom RSVP’d “yes” for her and her husband, and then didn’t attend. This time her excuse was that she couldn’t find her sunglasses and therefore couldn’t drive to the restaurant. (My stepfather doesn’t drive, and my mom has macular degeneration, but my brother offered to pick them up.)
We had flown across the country to attend this wedding, and I resent that my mother didn’t even bother to see us.
This is not the first time my Mom has done this. When one of my mom’s nieces died, she made the five-hour drive and then didn’t attend the funeral. (I flew in to attend.) And a few months ago, her brother died, and she did not make the drive and did not attend the funeral.
What should I do? I am so angry that I feel like disowning my mom, but I realize that’s not rational or mature.
— Upset Daughter
Dear Upset: If your mother proactively declined every invitation and obligation, you would have a more obvious hook to hang your anger upon.
Here she is, driving for hours with macular degeneration (yikes!), trying mightily — in her way — to show up! And yet … she can’t quite get there.
Your mother might be extremely socially anxious, overwhelmed, exhausted, or undermined by her husband. She might be self-conscious and afraid of facing questions or criticism. She might be wrestling with a serious medical issue that interferes with her functioning. She’s working very hard to show up for her family, and yet she cannot seem to face her family.
Your response to her should not be anger. You should be concerned.
You are focused on the fact that your mother didn’t “bother” to see you at this wedding. But once it became clear that your mother and stepfather would not be showing up for these events, why didn’t you bother to hop in a car and pop over to check on them? She’s your mother. Maybe it’s time for you to show up for her.
Dear Amy: I am a 60-year-old woman. I moved to a new neighborhood about six months ago. At first my next-door neighbors were quite nice, and I was hoping to get better acquainted with the wife.
Now every time I see them, they act like they don’t see me.
The wife is an interior designer, so I asked her over to look at my plans for new paint. She didn’t like them and made another suggestion. I did consider her suggestion, but in the end I decided it’s my house and I was going to do what I liked.
I saw her later, told her I got the painting done, and said that she could come look at it, but she might not like it, and she quickly said, “As long as you like it.”
It sounded like something she had rehearsed. Do you think this would be enough to make her and her husband now dislike me?
I can’t really think of anything else, and they’ve been frosty ever since. Should I do anything about it? I have never been a very popular person and I’m used to being snubbed, and when someone ignores me as she is doing, after a few stabs at friendliness, I just ignore them right back.
I’m already thinking maybe I should move.
— New Neighbor
Dear Neighbor: Do not move. But do move on. Maintain a cordial boundary with these people. Do not push for more.
Dear Amy: “Expectant” was worried because her husband said he would be with his father for scheduled heart surgery instead of attending the birth of their first child.
I asked my husband what he would do if given the dilemma presented in your column.
My husband was very thoughtful and asked if the man’s mother was going to be there. It sounds like she will be. My husband then said, “Well, if the father has his wife for support, the son should support his spouse, too.”
— Supportive Spouse
Dear Supportive: The older mother’s role was not stated, but your husband makes a great point.