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I don't want to go to this party

(68 Posts)
Emelie321 Wed 25-Jan-23 07:34:38

For his 40th birthday, my son (with whom I have a good relationship) has organised a weekend celebration with family and close friends in what used to be an old farmhouse with outbuildings, deep in beautiful countryside. It is not an area he knows.

But I do. As does my ex husband. It is not far from where our son was born and the house where we all lived until he was three. This is the place where the marriage broke down, and I have some very bad memories I would prefer not to have resurrected.

This might not matter now. It's a long time ago. Except that my ex husband is keen to show off to another new girlfriend, as well as our son, what he still sees as the enviable house he was able to afford as a successful young businessman (in mid life he made a lot of unwise decisions and lost everything) and all the places nearby he associates with that success.

Of course, my son would like to see his first home and where he went to playgroup etc. I have never told him why I have never wished to take him there before.

But even if I stay away from all the visits my ex has now planned for our son and family and friends, I know from past experience the former will spend every mealtime loudly holding forth about them all to everybody there, dominating the conversation, and reopening old wounds. He never got over my being the one who petitioned for divorce; and now he will be rewriting history. In addition, in spite of his present extremely modest circumstances, he chooses at family occasions such as this to blank my partner of eighteen years, who had a much more modest career. This rudeness (not obvious) we find stressful. And I am particularly annoyed about this, as - when times were bad for my ex - we did our best on several occasions for my son's sake to help him out, even when we were not very well off ourselves. We don't say anything though - it's not worth it for the effect this might have on others during the short period of time we are together as a family group.

I love my son, and I don't want to upset him - he's paid the deposit, and everyone else thinks it's a great place - but
I'm not at all sure I want to go.

dragonfly46 Wed 25-Jan-23 07:48:49

This is a difficult situation for you.
We have just got back from my DiL’s 40th where her dad was there with second wife and her mother who is still very bitter. My DS and DiL spent the weekend trying to keep them apart.

I think for your son’s sake you should go and just try to keep out of your ex’s way as much as possible. I am sure the rest of the group know what he is like.
It will spoil your son’s birthday if you don’t go.

FannyCornforth Wed 25-Jan-23 07:52:16

You say that you and your son have a good relationship.
If I were you, (and I can imagine feeling as you do, I don’t like parties at the best of times) I would tell your son exactly how I feel.

Plan exactly what you are going to say.
You have explained the situation very well here, and you sound very calm and measured.

You can think of an excuse to tell everyone else later.
I’m sure that there will still be lots of bugs going around 😉
Good luck

FannyCornforth Wed 25-Jan-23 07:53:22

Two very opposing views already!
It’s really hard to advise when you don’t know the people involved

notgran Wed 25-Jan-23 07:55:04

Emelie321 Then don't go. It's only a Birthday Party. Don't put yourself through it. If everyone else thinks it's great then fine, it's not your decision where another adult is having his party and you have never shared your feelings with your son so he hasn't been unfeeling in his choice. If you don't want to make an issue out of it and quite frankly that could be seen as you wanting to be the centre of attention, then have a fake COVID test a few days day before and apologise that you have gone to bed feeling ill. That would be the most diplomatic way to handle it. Everyone else can have fun and you don't have the stress leading up to and during the Party.

fancythat Wed 25-Jan-23 07:58:30

I think you know you have to go really. For your son's sake.
Imagine if you did not?

Sometimes in life there is the only the choice between a yuk choice, and an even worse one.

FannyCornforth Wed 25-Jan-23 08:08:31

I would hate it if I knew that someone (my parent especially) was doing something that they hated just to save my feelings.
Why not just be honest?

NannyJan53 Wed 25-Jan-23 08:12:11

I would go and just ignore the ex. Your son is much more important than he is.

Casdon Wed 25-Jan-23 08:17:17

I’d go, because I’d have to lay the demons. Your memories, particularly the happy ones about the playground you took him to, the day trips you went on etc. are just as important to your son as your ex husband’s. He knows what his father is like I’m sure, and this weekend is for him, not you or your ex. So put your big girl pants on and front it out, you’ll feel much better going forward if you do that rather than chicken out and not know what distorted information your son is being given by his father.

Allsorts Wed 25-Jan-23 08:18:17

I don't think I could go. I couldn't bear the atmosphere and wouldn't want my partner treated like that. Ex needs telling or avoiding. It's your birthday.

BlueBelle Wed 25-Jan-23 08:18:34

Oh this is a hard one I don’t think there’s any ‘have to’ about it
If you do decide to go I think you should explain calmly to your son that whilst you don’t want any bad feeling you have been very upset and hurt in the past and can’t relive it all again so you trust him as the host to make sure you are well apart and not left near him at any time Your sons an adult of 40 he must have seen and know about the difficulties you ve been through with his father surely
How big a group is it is it big enough to get lost in (not literally) or is it just a dozen people

If you really can’t make it then a bad cold or flu is the answer but I think you sound such a level headed nice person you will go, but go with dignity and go with your head held high and walk away if he becomes too obnoxious

Iam64 Wed 25-Jan-23 08:21:39

I’m inclined to agree with Casdon on this one. Reclaim your own happy memories and do your best to ignore his father’s boasts.
It will mean a lot to your son to have yiu there. Can you talk your feelings through with him

Aldom Wed 25-Jan-23 08:30:57

Just go, for your son's sake. Sons are precious. Mine died four years ago. I wish I could attend his birthday party, regardless of any awkward circumstances.

Fleurpepper Wed 25-Jan-23 08:40:03

I agree with most above. Deep breath, smile on - and go for your son.

So sorry to hear Aldom- I just can't begin to imagine the pain hugs

NotSpaghetti Wed 25-Jan-23 08:58:10

I would definitely explain to my son (ahead of time) why I felt uncomfortable, maybe tell him something of the pains of that period but also the joys.

Then, at the very least I'd tell him how it hurts you that your lovely partner is often sidelined and that your ex husband re-wries history.
At 40 your son is old enough to help include your partner if he spots him being left out (once he realises this is going on).

Do you have any happy photos or items you can chat through with your son from those early days? Things that are special to you.
If you are close to your son I'd do this quietly, beforehand, and away from the "pomp" of your ex's ego boot tour. Have a nice couple of hours together talking about his early years.

Then, go to the birthday weekend with the knowledge that he knows more and will understand a bit more. This is your ^son's celebration - not your ex's - keep that at the forefront if you can.
Thinking of you.
You can do it!
Good luck.

Emelie321 Wed 25-Jan-23 09:00:56

Thank you for all your thoughts and suggestions. It's quite comforting in fact to see that you aren't all of one opinion. Makes me feel better that others recognise it's not an easy situation, and there probably won't be a easy solution, either!

Casdon, you are right in that this party is for my son and not for me. And I do need to lay the demons. I've never been one for chickening out, but I do try not to upset people in the process.
Maybe I could possibly share a few of my feelings with him, BlueBelle - certainly I don't want any more distorted information going out than is necessary! And some of my son's friends who I am quite close to will be there... I think there will be more like 30-50 going in total (including children) though am not sure yet.

Your post, Aldom, brought me up short. I know I have to decide what's really important here.

I'm not a great party animal, I 'm quite sociable, but prefer smaller groups.

It feels like I've got friends when I need them - thank you again.

BlueBelle Wed 25-Jan-23 09:10:55

Glad you’re getting a bigger picture Emilee and if there will be such a lot there 30+ I m sure you can miss your ex and not sit near him or be much in his company etc
I m sure you haven’t wanted to blacken his father to your son but he’s 40 he s not a child, you don’t have to dish the dirt, but surely he should know how difficult it has all been and I think it’s only fair that grown children do know facts not gossip nasty stuff, but facts.

I must be a terrible mum as I ve never ducked out of telling my grown children anything they ve asked and as their father moved out their lives with very little contact, no money, no presents , support or acknowledgement of their existence whatsoever I didn’t have to say too much but I certainly told them what they wanted to know
Life is not always a bowl of cherries

notgran Wed 25-Jan-23 09:14:49

It must be me but telling your son just before a birthday celebration how horrible your life was while he was a child, does not seem to me the best idea.

Katie59 Wed 25-Jan-23 09:17:43

If it’s just a party then back home I would go, but I would think twice if it involved the whole day or an overnight stay.

NotSpaghetti Wed 25-Jan-23 09:30:35


It must be me but telling your son just before a birthday celebration how horrible your life was while he was a child, does not seem to me the best idea.

I think you don't need to say it was horrible because obviously it wasn't all horrible but maybe you could put your reticence in some context.
Probably a lot of the joys of that time were related to him. That is definitely something to be celebrating.

luluaugust Wed 25-Jan-23 09:32:53

I am just wondering if the deep countryside couldn't be useful, a long walk at some point?, it sounds a big enough place to keep away from your ex husband except maybe at mealtimes, when you could sit well away from him. Maybe you could just say to your son that you are a bit nervous about such a big gathering but not mention his early childhood. I would have thought with such a big party everybody won't disappear to view the past and you might get some chats to your sons friends.

Baggs Wed 25-Jan-23 09:36:38

Sometimes you have to let someone else be upset to cope with what upsets you. Your son can choose not to be upset that you have bad memories of your marriage to his father. You do not have that choice.

Why are people so worried about upsetting their adult offspring as if they were unreasonable children?

Yoginimeisje Wed 25-Jan-23 09:42:15

Emelie If you feel as bad as you say about going, then don't go. Explain truthfully to your son why, you can celebrate your son's birthday together with your H another day and have a nice, relaxed & happy time together.

I meet up often with my ex's family, we have been friends for 45yrs now, going on holidays together, celebrating birthdays, Xmas, Easter etc. But my ex lives in Indonesia and on the rare times he comes over I don't attend any family gatherings. The words out that he may come back to UK for good this year, if that happens, I will only see my prev. in-laws when they come down to my & my AC's area. Although we are already planning a trip to Holland for my DD 40th birthday this year together, where my DD grew up till 11yrs and went to Dutch school with her brother & sister.

halfpint1 Wed 25-Jan-23 09:55:46

I was fac

halfpint1 Wed 25-Jan-23 09:57:49

I was faced with a similar situation for a wedding. I did go, I felt uncomfortable at moments but got through it. Do go, you will spoil it for your son if you dont