If you are my family or friend you have heard this comment from me more times than you can count….
“I’m sorry, I can’t go, Todd has to work”.
I feel like I broken record often with this saying. Drinks after work? “Sorry, I can’t go, Todd has to work”. Dinner with the girls? “I can go this Thursday but not next Thursday because Todd has to work”. A weekend away with my best friend and her husband “We’d love to go but Todd has to work”.
I live at the mercy of my husband’s work schedule.
My husband works for a local factory, a factory that does not have leeway with absences. They operate on a strict point system so no matter why you miss, whether illness, family emergency, etc. you get a point for that. And you get very few points.
Now most people who know this understand it, and our true friends don’t even care anymore. They simply check with me ahead of time before scheduling things, etc. We make it work.
Well, that was until recently.
About a year ago I received a save the date card for my cousin’s wedding near Chicago. I was excited as I love weddings, but of course I noticed right away that Todd had to work. Okay, no big deal, he might be able to switch with someone closer to that date. I then got the invitation and even told my cousin that I was waiting to respond until I knew for sure if Todd could get off.
Low and behold he couldn’t get off. And I knew this meant another “I’m sorry, we can’t go, Todd has to work”.
Now I know what you are thinking, could I go without my husband to this wedding? Well, if you are not a Mom of three young children, at first glance you might say “Well, of course you could…you aren’t working, he is, so go!” But those of you who have young children are making a face of “Of course you can’t go alone…I mean 3 against 1…AT A WEDDING?” That’s like playing Russian roulette with 3 bullets, not 1.
Now, my children are (for the most part) well behaved. I can with all honesty take them most places. BUT (and this is a big BUT), I am living at the mercy of the Terrible Twos right now. Complete game changer. Yes, my name is Mandi and I am controlled by my 2 year old son. (insert a collective “HELLO MANDI” right here please).
Oh the terrible 2’s…and L has them bad. Yes, I am “that Mom” that you look at with that sympathetic look in the grocery store, as he launches a pre-made pizza from the cart onto the floor. (Oh I hate to admit it but that is a true story). Yes I am “that Mom”.
And although my children are for the most part behaved I liken them to cats. You know how cats always tend to go up to the people that are allergic to them or hate them? That’s my kids. It never fails that they proceed to act like kids straight out of an episode of Super Nanny when they are around people that (1) have no children (2) I want to impress or (3) Are strict, no nonsense, inpatient people.
So the thought of taking my 3 kids across state to a nice formal event like a wedding without my husband? Well, let’s just say I can hear glasses breaking or see fingers in the wedding cake if I simply close my eyes. I can hear the “No, I don’t want him to sit here” and see my 2 year old yelling “NO” at innocent wedding guests who simply want to hold him. A wedding is not a place you want to be outnumbered.
And of course I hear L’s new favorite thing to say, his terrible two Motto: “I WANT TO TALK”. Picture if you will the wedding ceremony. A nice quiet, romantic, beautiful wedding and there I am with my three kids by myself. Of course L will start talking and I like every good parent will politely say “SHHH…” to him to remind him to quiet down. You know how my 2 ½ year old responds to that? By loudly announcing “I WANT TO TALK”. Yep, I can picture that happening during the vows for sure. I told you I’m “THAT Mom”.
Now I’m not saying that I can’t take my kids anywhere by myself. I mean to be honest I am primarily a single parent because my husband works 12 hour night shifts and is gone most nights. So yes I have navigated the 3 hour dance class with my boys in tow, and I go to church alone with them every week. I am getting through these Terrible Two’s one grocery store trip at a time. We’re making substantial improvements, but a wedding is just not the place to try out how far we’ve come.
So, thinking I was doing the right thing for me, my kids, and my cousin getting married, I politely RSVP’d that I could not attend the wedding. I was sad to miss the event, as I LOVE weddings and never get to see my family in Chicago, but in the pros v. cons list in my mind – the cons list was a multi-volume series against the list of pros for attending.
I sent my RSVP.
Two days later I was driving to my daughter’s dance class and I checked my phone. I had a message from my Aunt (the mother of my cousin who was getting married). It was without a doubt one of the most hurtful emails I have ever received. She interpreted my RSVP to mean that I didn’t care about their family.
I had so many emotions reading this email. I cried I was so mad. The accusations made against me in the email were so far from the truth, they weren’t even in the same continent. Here I thought I was doing the right thing, and suddenly I felt like I was on a firing range, with accusations and insults being shot at me in all directions.
Now the problem is, I’m a defense attorney, so my natural reaction has always been to fight back. Defend myself. Oh how I wanted to sit down and just let loose in a long email (you think I blog long, you should read my emails). But, this was my Aunt…not some stranger opponent. And yes, although my Aunt was bullying me at this point, it was still my Aunt.
So, I swallowed my pride, and didn’t respond to the email. I instead vented to my Dad, my brother, my husband, my friends (and now you).
That night I laid in bed realized how much we jump to conclusions as humans. Had my Aunt bothered to ask me why I couldn’t go to the wedding, maybe she would have understood. But instead, she turned me into a villain. She judged me without having any facts to support the allegations (wow that sounded very legal, didn’t it?).
But then I kept thinking of people I told about the email. The people who love me that I vented with. And all of them said without a doubt that I was not in the wrong, that the email was horrible, and that I did the right thing. As stated perfectly by my Dad “You’re a Mom and you have to put your children first”.
So do me a favor fellow readers, when you get a RSVP from a Mom and she declines the invitation, don’t judge or look into the reasons why she declined the RSVP. Just remember she’s a busy Mom just trying to do the very best she can, and cut her some much needed slack. She’s really not a bad person, she’s just a Mom.