Anguished vent

dian57May 28, 2008

I try not to think of myself as a control freak but this is pushing the definition.

I have a large patio with a catering tent over it. I plan and host large parties frequently because I enjoy it. My DIL asked to have my grandson's 2nd birthday at my house and I am glad to help.

The party is this Saturday. I have asked several times over the past weeks how many guests are expected. She cannot give me a clear idea of how many responses she has gotten or even how many were initially invited. I know how many family members are coming but have no idea about their friends.

The last party she threw she asked (via email) for all family guests to bring a dish--enough to serve 80 (yes, 80). I heard about this at the party as family started arriving with crock-pots and sacks of food and drinks. I was MORTIFIED! Only 32 people showed up in the end.

I gently discussed this with her afterwards. I told her that for this party I would be glad to do all the cooking. And I am.

I guess I'm just venting but this is crazy! I guess I'll prepare for 50 and hope for the best. My son is no help as he says, ask her, she knows what's going on. Right.

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I would call her and tell her that unless she tells you (note, I didn't say CAN tell you)how many she has invited, the party's off and you will take GS to Chickie Cheese to celebrate.
That's nonsense! Maybe she doesn't expect you to cook? Maybe she's having a caterer come in!..
Linda C

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 9:44AM
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I suspect that her problem is that she's never hosted a party herself before so she really doesn't understand how it's done. Even if you're having a pot luck for 80, each person doesn't need to bring enough to feed 80, and an experienced party host would know that. I'm not sure I have a solution for this event, other than to tell her firmly that you must have some kind of an estimate as to at least who was invited.

The next time she wants to have a party at your house, you might say sure, but only if we plan it together. That way you can sort of teach her how a party is planned in addition to being in on the entire proces of invitations, guest list, rsvps, etc.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 2:29PM
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It's not like she's never been in on the preparation for a large party. I helped her with her wedding (only on the things she asked), planned her 2 baby showers WITH her (for the first baby--one for family, one for my friends), and my grandson's first birthday party (the please-tell-me-what-yummy-dish-or-drink-you'll-be-bringing party).

She just doesn't get it. I called her this morning and said point blank, "How many people are coming, I need to shop to do the cooking."

She said, "Did anyone respond to you? I've heard from . . . ," and started giving me names.
NAMES!!! A number! I need a freaking NUMBER!

This is her pattern of communication. She's a lovely person, just so incredibly unorganized and unfazed by deadlines and rules I could just go mad. In the end, none of it matters because she's such a wonderful mother to my grandchildren I feel she's an angel sent from heaven just for them.

I'll draw a deep breath. I'll shop. I'll cook. And I'll come here to vent among those who understand.

This too will pass. Sigh.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 3:23PM
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There you go! Perfect.

She is the way she is. You're the hostess in the family, not her (bonus: no competition in the relationship). Every time there is a party, this is exactly how she will be. Lowspark is right; this is probably due to lack of experience -- but it doesn't sound like it's the kind of thing she aspires to get good at. Fine. As you very, very wisely note, she has other, more important, wonderful qualities. No one has aces in every suit, so accept her the way she is, know in advance that entertaining will always be a hassle, vent here to us who understand and let it go at that.

You are doing 100%! Have fun at the party. I'm sure it will work out fine in the end.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 4:27PM
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Feel free to vent all you want! We all have our strengths and hers seem to be her kids and hopefully your son, not so bad. My wish is for a DIL like that.

I'd keep telling her how important it is to know numbers so you can make things nice for her family and friends but in the end, this time, buy food that can be frozen or sent home, keep it inexpensive!

From now on though, I would tell her you are very happy to have the family celebrations but, because she is so busy with the kids and all, you will be happy to take charge of the invites, RSVP's, etc from now on and all she need do is provide a guest list!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 4:55PM
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Wisely stated. Thanks for all who understand. From now on, I may do jsut as Chase states, take some control to avoid these kind of issues in the future. I guess it's going to be a party of Italian food (freezable) and appetizers.

I'm going with a guest list of 40ish. Maybe expecting extras, maybe not.

Thanks for listening!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 7:21PM
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"...She's a lovely person..."

From your description, she probably is.

However, also from your description, she's a practical/rational incompetent.

Impressed with your taking control. If you don't, nobody else will.

You must regard her as a little girl in matters such as this. She likes the idea/thought/fantasy of the occasion but she isn't capable of much more. She thinks everything happens automatically and everything just works out. She has no idea what she's asking of you.

I had an aunt like that. She was a wonderful person. But in practical matters she was an absolute space-cadet. Suspect this person may be, also.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 8:34PM
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Ya! I agree completely with what gellchom said. Good for you for accepting her as she is and recognizing that her good qualities outweigh this not-so-great one. This is a process we go through with everyone, whether conciously or subconciously. No one is perfect and we learn to accept and overlook the negatives when they are far outweighted by the positives.

I try not to think of myself as a control freak
Well, I admit it, I'm definitely a control freak, not overly controlling but I do like to take control and, depending on the situation, have no problem with just taking over the reigns in situations where it's easier to do that than to sweat & fret over someone else who I know will not be able to do the task. By the same token, I am thrilled when others take over situations/tasks that I'm not good at or don't like handling and they do.

So chase's solution is the best and I am betting that your DIL will be glad to have you take that task off her hands. Best of luck with the party, I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 12:20PM
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I don't think that sounded quite right but the gist of what I wanted to say is: I'm happiest if I can do what I'm good at and like to do, and others will take over things that they are good at and like to do. That's so much better than everyone taking their turn doing each thing.

Simplified example: I'm good at planning things, I'm not wild about driving places. I have a friend who likes to drive but doesn't like to plan. I plan, she drives. We're both happy.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 1:01PM
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dian--the problem is that some people simply cannot figure out how you put together a party. Which explains why the catering industry is such a big one.
A comparison is that I have a friend who could shop for clothing at the Salvation army and go to the Oscars and look sensational and original. I have other friends who could go to Saks and make it look like they went to the SA. We all have our skills and talents.
You have a catering tent for heaven's sake--how prepared for all climates is that! Keep doing what youre doing--just be sure they help with the dishes.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 8:49PM
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