CAR­OLYN HAX

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Life - Over­whelmed and Com­ing Un­done Email Car­olyn at [email protected]­post.com or chat with her on­line at 9 a.m. each Fri­day at www.wash­ing­ton­post.com.

Dear Car­olyn: As in­ap­pro­pri­ate as it feels to “need” a baby shower, my hus­band was just laid off and we, af­ter sev­eral mis­car­riages, are fi­nally ex­pect­ing our first child in Au­gust.

My suc­cess­ful, es­tab­lished, younger sis­ter very re­cently an­nounced her up­com­ing nup­tials at the end of the sum­mer.

My mother just yes­ter­day de­cided to no longer throw a baby shower for us un­til Oc­to­ber at the ear­li­est, yet I have been charged with or­ga­niz­ing the bridal shower, set for two weeks prior to my due date.

I'm feel­ing rather snubbed; how­ever we have not shared my hus­band's cur­rent em­ploy­ment sit­u­a­tion ... be­cause we know from ex­pe­ri­ence we won't re­ceive any tem­po­rary fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance from fam­ily.

How do I cope with these feel­ings of be­ing over­looked? I won't even be able to af­ford a dress for her wed­ding, let alone any­thing for the baby.

I am still work­ing but we're al­ready up­side­down and eat­ing through our savings try­ing to make rent and pay all our bills each month.

Dear Over­whelmed: There are so many things I want to say.

I will start with this, be­cause it's quick: There's no shame in your “need” for this baby shower. You deal with a lay­off the best you can.

Sec­ond, but most im­por­tant: Con­grat­u­la­tions on your preg­nancy, es­pe­cially af­ter so much heart­break.

Your im­me­di­ate fam­ily is your fu­ture and so is the ap­pro­pri­ate place for you to steady your­self. Not only with the child you have com­ing, but with your mar­riage and home and what you're cre­at­ing there.

A lay­off and a fi­nan­cial squeeze and a twisted dis­play of pri­or­i­ties from your fam­ily of origin? They're dif­fi­cult and stress­ful. They're also cir­cum­stan­tial, though. You can out­last them.

In fact, if you squint a bit, you might be able to in­clude your mom and sis­ter and the show­ers and the wed­dings into a larger happy tableau of fam­ily mark­ing the pas­sage of time to­gether.

Or you squint a lot, till your lids touch. What­ever it takes.

With your feet on this foun­da­tion, tend to the cir­cum­stan­tial things, start­ing with the bridal shower you've been as­signed.

By say­ing no, flat-out. State the ob­vi­ous: You're ad­just­ing to your hus­band's lay­off you're also work­ing closer than you'd like to your due date, and you may well be giv­ing birth on the shower date.

Se­ri­ously. You al­ways have the right to say no to any re­quest, even per­fectly rea­son­able ones, but this re­quest is just per­verse.

As such, it de­serves the no-iest no you've got. In fact, feel free to stream­line the ob­vi­ous to: “No, Mom, I will not plan a shower for when I'm giv­ing birth.”

Please also tell your mother how you feel about the baby shower bait-and-slap. Speak up not as a way of get­ting some­thing dif­fer­ent from her but as a way of call­ing the in­sult by its name. “Be­ing asked to plan some­one else's shower in place of my own feels like a slap in the face.”

Any­one this ob­tuse would prob­a­bly also re­spond poorly to be­ing called on it. So, your mother might ac­cuse you of be­ing self­ish and/or can­cel your shower com­pletely.

It's not about what you do and don't get, though. It's just about liv­ing your truth.

This is not with­out its short-term risks, but the short term goes away. Swal­low­ing your sad­ness over dis­mis­sive treat­ment is not a healthy an­swer for the long term, and the long term is what con­sti­tutes life as you know it.

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