Dear Annie: I have been in my stepson’s life since he was 6 and married to his father for 20 years. He lived in our house full time for most of the years. So I view him not just as a stepson but as one of my sons. He and his live-in girlfriend got engaged last year. They planned a wedding for the fall. My husband felt that since he was out of the house and on his own, they should pay for the wedding on their own. I didn’t agree and gave them both cash for the wedding, with my husband’s knowledge. (We don’t share money; it works for us.) They were both very grateful. I told them that I understood that I wasn’t the mother of the groom; I just wanted to feel included in some of the planning and help in any other way I could.
Then they got pregnant and moved the wedding up. Then COVID-19 hit. The wedding date was changed a few times. Ultimately, they ended up getting married in a small ceremony at their home and planned to have the wedding and reception after the baby was born. I totally understood.
But recently, one of the other sons told me that they just canceled the wedding altogether and planned on having a 1st birthday party for the baby at the same venue, because they signed a contract and can’t get the money they have put down back.
I have to say that I am so hurt that my contribution to the wedding (which was actually a lot of money for me) meant so little to them that they didn’t feel the need to tell me in person that the wedding was off and explain the situation that they could not get the money back. I don’t want my money back and totally understand the circumstances, but I feel I shouldn’t have heard this through a third party. I am sure the other mothers were told in person.
So my question is this: Should I bring this up to them at some point or just let it go? Normally, I am the type to keep to myself, and if someone hurts my feelings I “just get over it” without saying anything. But this hurt is lasting much longer, and I feel resentment building inside of me. — Unappreciated Stepmom
Dear Unappreciated: Maybe sometimes we can just will ourselves to “get over it,” but most times that’s a recipe for resentment. This seems to be the latter. So there is no other option than to talk with your stepson. Make it a conversation, not a confrontation. Using “I” statements, let him know that you didn’t expect to be part of the wedding planning process, but that you felt a bit hurt when you learned about the change of plans from someone else.
Go into it with an open mind. It may turn out that there was some miscommunication or context that changes your understanding. But you sound like a thoughtful, supportive stepmom, so I have no doubt you’ll be able to handle this with care.
Dear Annie: Not long ago you printed a letter from “Nearing the End.” They were reflecting on lost loved ones and bothered by the fact that it seemed like a lifetime of memories just disappeared when someone died.
Most lives leave ripples in the pond of life. The writer might try looking for those positive ripples of grandchildren, a circle of friends, a church, old co-workers, neighbors or anywhere else. — Mike L.
Dear Mike: I love this comment, and I’m reminded of the film “It’s a Wonderful Life” and this quote from Clarence: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. And when he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
Thanks for writing.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.