Stepmom not invited to stepson's Phd graduation

mom23step23May 29, 2009

My SK29 is out at Stanford working on his Phd in Genetics, and we knew that he would be graduating either this spring or around Christmas time. His father told him, in January, that we would like to fly out to see him graduate, (about 1300 miles away), and to please let us know as soon as he knew when the graduation would be (the graduation depends on lab experiments, and work accomplished in the lab, etc).

My DH also has been tired of only hearing from his kids when they want money or need something fixed, so he has backed off from his relationship with them. He has contacted each of them, but the ball is clearly in their court now, and he has been waiting for the ball to come back. (This is the SK29 who we bought a 4 day cruise for he and his wife, and we are still waiting for a thank you. I think I wrote about it in an earlier post about entitled stepchildren).

I just got the mail today, and there is an invitation to SK29's graduation on June 13 from Stanford. The invitation was addressed to only his father! June 13 is my weekend to work (I'm an RN and work EOW, there is no way that I can get out of work). Also, SK29 must have known about this for a least a few months. He is giving us less than 2 weeks to try to get our work schedules arranged to have time to fly out, (we'd probably have to fly out June 11) and not to mention even the fact that it is too late to get any hope of reduced airflights with such short notice!

I am insulted that the invitation is only to his father. My husband has no desire to spend his precious vacation time away from me because his kids act rudely and leave me out. My husband and I have been talking about going out to San Francisco for the graduation and also doing some other things too while we are out there. We didn't think it would be until fall sometime though, since we haven't heard anything from his son.

The last time that any communication was between SK29 and us was on January 29 when I emailed SK29 and his wife telling them that we had dropped a check for $1000 in the mail for them for their cruise, and to please let us know that they received it OK. We still haven't heard from them.

I think that SK29 wants his father to be there. I just think that he assumes that Daddy is money bags, and it doesn't matter what he has to pay for an airflight, or what kind of hoops he has to jump through at work to try to get time off on such short notice. DH's kids all know that he has to pay 38% of his income to his ex, yet they don't seem to care if their carelessness costs him more money!

I'm angry and hurt. If all you want to do is rip me apart, keep those comments to yourself please. I come here for support.

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Step23, No bash here. This an impossible no win situation..You dont want to deny DH the pleasure of seeing son graduate, and yet the snub wants DH to skip it altogether.Not to mention all the extra expense..Waiting for the shoe to drop here, DH has a graduation in 7 days, talks to grad on phone, he has not mentioned, the date, tickets(which are limited and I m sure BM has distributed them to her family members)I think she ll try to say grad you can give ONE to DH , excluding me, DH will not want to attend under these circumstances. I can urge him to go, but he wont...Just emphathy, we ll have to compare notes to see how it played out.....BUT, our skids may be worried, no invitation, no check :)

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 6:18PM
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Sorry Mom23... That was very thoughtless of him to wait so long to let you know when the graduation will be. Is it possible for your husband to phone his son and ask if leaving your name off of the invitation was an intentional slight or just an accidental omission? Many young men (especially gifted scientists) are somewhat lacking in the social graces, so it may be a possibility. Also, on the airfare, check into all of the Bay Area airports -- not just SF. Oakland and San Jose are often much cheaper.

On a similar topic -- but a happy note -- My older son is graduating from high school tomorrow and I told him I wanted to take him out to lunch to celebrate afterwards. (We had already discussed the whole party deal, which he DID NOT want.) He informed me that his father and stepmother had already made arrangements to take him out. Crush... But then I took a deep breath, thought about it, and realized that the best thing to do would be for all of us - both sides - to take him out together and make happy. So I called my Ex and suggested that since graduation was a major life milestone for DS, that why didn't we all celebrate? And he graciously agreed. (Maybe I caught him off guard?) After being divorced for 15 years, I'm OK with him now, and I actually like his wife (DS's stepmother). I think the only one who will have a real problem with it will be my husband, since he's still very angry at Ex for the verbal and emotional abuse that occurred in my first marriage. But he's promised to behave, and I'm sure he will.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 6:30PM
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My D is graduating this year. Its not easy. We are dividing up dinners -- and my D wsnts to go out with her friends too.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 6:44PM
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Dotz, thanks for your input. You made an assumption that SK29 was inviting his Mom, that is incorrect. When my husband divorced his wife 4 years ago, all three of his adult children divorced their mother. The whole family divorced her. SK29 has not seen his mother in 4 years, she does not even know that SK29 has 3 children, I do not think she knows about the graduation. She certainly will not be invited.

I'm too generous hearted. A few nights ago, I suggested to my husband that we buy a new recliner for a graduation gift for SK29 (he has no nice furniture since he's on a tight budget with school). Remember, this is the kid who still hasn't said thankyou for the cruise. Why do I keep setting myself up for more hurt? He wouldn't appreciate a new recliner either. If it was a recliner, his wife would only wonder why we didn't get a matching sofa too. Then, if we get the sofa, well then why didn't we get matching lamp tables, and on and on it goes. No amount that we get for them is enough. How many thousand dollars would we have to spend to get a Thank You?

And Sweeby, if DH phones and askes if it was an oversight, he would of course say yes. That would make it an easy out for SK29. That is the whole plan, snub me, and then pretend that you didn't mean it. He's not stupid. The card was not written in his handwriting anyway. I imagine that he had to turn in a name. The invitation says that no tickets are necessary (so it is a first come, first serve for seating). Sure I can go anyway, invite myself, and just show up. Not interested.

4 years ago SK29's little sister graduated from UW Platteville, and her Dad was invited to the graduation, there were no tickets necessary there either. We were dating then, not married. He asked his daughter if he coulde bring a friend, and she answered, "Sure, bring whoever you want to". He said, "Great, I'll bring ____." She then said, Oh, do you have to bring her, I meant anyone but her. DH said, no you said that I could bring anyone, and she is who I choose. DH insisted that I go with him, so I did, and SD25 was mean to me all day. She later admitted to her Dad that she was mean to me to try to drive me away! It didn't work.

I don't want to go through another weekend like that, and not to mention the expense.

It will be interesting to see what DH will do. I'll keep you informed.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 8:47PM
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Oh, Mom 23 , I cant wait to hear how this will go....I ve got crazy grandma who has attacked me at another graduation, she screamed DONT YOU KNOW WHO I AM???? (I didnt) She said she was my DHs MOTHER IN LAW!!!! I said, um, my DH already HAS a mother in law(which was not true, my mom is dead)I just didnt know how to handle such an affront...This is exhausting, slugging it out with clueless, classless people...I just dont know how to handle damned if you do, damned if you dont kind of people, guess I ll just flounder around, and hope for nobody getting married or graduating in the near future...

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 12:09AM
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It sounds like SS clearly does not want you at his graduation. I am sure that is hurtful for you, but it sounds like he has not accepted you as his SM. It sounds like perhaps there have been issues with his children for a long time...since his daughter said he could bring a "friend" to her graduation but did not want him to bring you. But only you would know if there are issues. Also, it sounds like maybe you are trying too hard and setting yourself up for disappointment. It is so hard to establish a relationship with SKs. I imagine it is even more difficult when the SKs are young adults when you first enter their lives. If I were you, I would set the bar much lower and not expect much. I don't know enough about the dynamics of the situation to give any advice as to whether your DH should go without you. It sounds like there's a lot more to the situation than you've mentioned (I am not suggesting that you have misrepresented anything, just that I would need more info about it to give any meaningful advice.) The fact alone that the adult kids "divorced" their mother when their parents divorced 4 years ago suggests there are deep-seated issues in this family, some of which obviously have nothing to do with you. Since SS29 lives so far away, he is not a factor in your everyday life. I would try to be happy in my marriage and go on. Best of luck to you.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 8:11AM
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"The fact alone that the adult kids "divorced" their mother when their parents divorced 4 years ago suggests there are deep-seated issues in this family, some of which obviously have nothing to do with you."

This was also my initial thought. I don't think it has anything to do with OP, the kids have issues with parents and step parents get caught in the crossfire sometimes. I'm sorry you're going through that but I would have to agree with having no expectations from these adults. They have their life, you have yours.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 8:57AM
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Good points, Molly and Ima --

Mom23 -- It sounds like the ideas for these generous gifts are yours, not your husbands? But that any 'credit' for the gifts is either going to him, or perhaps, being spitefully denied because the SK's know the gifts are from you? Either way, it sounds like a pretty good reason to dramatically scale back on the gifts... (And the expectations.)

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 10:09AM
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wow it is so bizzare. sorry, you have to deal wiht these people. sending invitation two weeks in advance only? and not inviting you? SS is rude and mean. give up on them, live your life. let DH decide what he wants to do.

but give them nothing and do nothing for them. let DH do what he thinks is appropriate, disengage and enjoy your life. luckily SKs don't live close by. I think SKs have unhealthy patterns with their parents and you got caught. nothing to do with you. don't take it personally, they need some therapy. and they need to grow up.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 10:58AM
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Why would you waste money on flying out when he obviously doesn't care enough to send the invitation earlier? Maybe he doesn't really want even his dad there but sent the invitation in order to get a gift. If my skids treated me like that they 'might' get a card, certainly not a gift or attendance. Since dad isn't interested in being treated like this any longer I would suggest he send a short note congratulating him on his degree and saying sorry he can't come due to 1) you not being invited and 2) too late to get reasonable tickets. As long as they are allowed to treat you like that they obviously will. I think your DH is smart to back off. And if he wants to give the other 2 anniversary gifts it would be up to him but danged if I would. There's always the economy for an excuse. I don't have any patience for this kind of stuff.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 1:34PM
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If dad really wants to see him graduate he should go. However, I'd let him go alone- SK29 was rude to exclude you, but I'd take the high road on this & let it go- why rearrange your schedule just to be treated poorly? I'm speaking from experience, it's better to stay home.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 9:26AM
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I don't know Phds work -- could son have just find out he passed his orals and didnt want to jince it by saying he would graduate prior to knowing it was all done?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 9:46AM
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Happy endings are always nice! It turned out that SS29 did not know that the University sent out invitations to his graduation. His father phoned him saying that I was very hurt that my name was not on the invitation. SS29 phoned me the same day and apologized for the mistake. That meant alot to me. He asked me to come out and see him graduate. Surprisingly, even with only 11 days notice we were able to book flights from Milwaukee to San Francisco for only $182 round trip! My husband and I both attended, we had a wonderful visit. We were able to take SS29 and his family out for a nice dinner while we were there, and had time to attend all of the festivities on campus, and then had to fly back home to be back at work Monday morning. It was a very short visit.

I am so glad that I went, and shared this moment with the family. It was awesome to see SS29 being hooded at the Phd ceremony. We got it on video. He tried to give us a tour of his laboratory, but I didn't understand anything. I'm a registered nurse, and I have had college level chemistry, microbiology, etc and it was still all way over my head!

Again, happy endings are nice.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 10:46AM
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Great MOM23!!!I also got to attend Grad I was worried about, 7 days , no tickets, but had to wait for the night before for call to DH, do you and Dotz want to come? Thought BM had taken all tickets for her family, I was correct, saw a note on SSs MySpace, he was willing to BUY tickets other kids could spare, and apparently he got some at the last minute...We met him before the ceremony to give him Congrats and gifts, and skated out without having to deal with BM and crazy grandma..Sweet relief!! LOL

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 11:20AM
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great news. sometimes it is just an error in communication. excellent outcome.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 9:21AM
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So glad to hear that!
Isn't it nice when our fears turn out to not be justified?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 10:43AM
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Oh that's great it turned out well. It seems like this SS may be a little on the oblivious side and maybe thats something to remember in the future when you think there may be a slight/insult to you/Dh.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 11:44AM
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