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Birthday Party Blowout

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Stepbomb: Children's birthday parties are supposed to be about balloons, presents, laughter and lots and lots of cake -- not adult agendas. Right?

Birthday Cake

Well, about a month ago, my stepdaughter told my husband and me that she'd like to have a sleepover with two of her friends for her upcoming birthday. So we sent the invitations, and we received confirmation phone calls from each of the girls' parents.

We also received some presents of our own: a series of angry voicemails and an e-mail filled with four-letter words, written to both of us. From guess who? Yes, the ex was upset once again: "Why hadn't we informed her of our party plans? Were we trying to one-up her? And how could we plan a separate birthday party when we should be hosting one together? &*#@!"

How does my husband's ex think she can curse us out (using combinations of profanities that would make Andrew Dice Clay blush) and then believe we'll be motivated to do what she wants? That we'll jump for joy at the opportunity to stand next to her as her daughter blows out the candles atop her Justin Bieber birthday cake?

It makes us wonder what she's really upset about. Could her amplified anger and "one-upping" comment be linked to what her suburban-mom peers will think about two parties vs. one, rather than to what will make her child the happiest? All the more confusing is the fact that my husband and his ex haven't ever hosted a joint birthday party.

In fact, long ago we talked to the girls about this issue to find out what they wanted. Not surprisingly, the girls said they preferred separate parties, because it's what they were used to. And it's not like they've been oblivious to all the tension.

I replied to the angry joint e-mail and admitted to the ex that I'd made a mistake when I hadn't informed her about our party plans, and said I regretted that she'd had to find out through her daughter. And I left it at that.

But it does make me wonder: Are my husband and I doing the right thing?

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46 comments so far | Post a comment now
chris August 11, 2010, 3:25 PM

This time, I agree completely with the seperate parties. My sister divorce this past year and she tried the whole “sharing” parties. She would invite her ex and his family but her ex and his family never returned the favor and invited her for anything. I find that so rude! Now my sister does what she wants for her girls on her weekends and if he wants to do something, she lets him do it on his weekend.

EllieMo August 11, 2010, 5:05 PM

Is mom perhaps angry that, once again, the stepmother is doing all the planning and organizing and dad just sits back and lets it happen without much effort?

You say they’ve had separate birthday parties up until you came along, and now all of a sudden you’re spearheading everything. Again.

It sounds like stepmom loves playing fairy godmother and giving the kids everything they want, making them happy, while mom is left to the hard work of parenting and dad just coasts along not actively doing anything at all.

I’d bet a hundred dollars that it wasn’t dad who organized the sleepover, made invitations, called the parents, set the evening up and made preparations (buying and prepping things) for the special day.

Sodamom91 August 11, 2010, 5:12 PM

Stepmom’s attitude that she’s just making the girls happy is getting tiresome. Every single post is all about how life would be perfect if mom would just step aside and let the step give the girls everything that makes them happy. What kind of adult makes decisions based on whether kids are happy or not, common sense and respect for parents be d@!&ed?

Anonymous August 11, 2010, 6:09 PM

I think when any parents have joint custody, they should talk to each other before planning anything like a birthday party or special celebration with the kids. Whether you want to do things together or separately, you need to coordinate dates and times and what exactly you’re doing. (Not inform her of your plans, discuss them together.)

Even if you were getting along well, I can easily see how a mom would be jealous to hear that the stepmom had already planned the special sleepover to celebrate her daughter’s birthday. It would be perfectly reasonable for her to wish that if her daughter wants a sleepover with a few friends, she do it at her mom’s house. I guess one question is, did the dad really organize parties before you were there? Were they the special one or were hers?

I think when you asked your step-daughter if she wanted separate parties, she probably knew what answer you wanted her to give. She may also have thought, oh good, two parties.

Although I think your husband should have talked to the mom before making any plans, I don’t think you have to have a joint party with her. That doesn’t seem like it would really make anybody happy.

I don’t think this is about what her friends will think. I think it’s more hurt feelings at the idea that her daughter is having a special party with you, not her. We want our moms to be above that kind of thing, but they’re not always perfect.

Stepbomb August 12, 2010, 11:56 AM

@EllieMo- Thanks for your comment. It’s always good to hear another point of view because often, I’m much to close to the situation to see it as clearly as an outsider might.

To clarify, my husband did call each parent to invite the girls to the sleepover. And then did make and send out the invites. When it comes to communicating with other moms/dads about his daughters, my husband and I have agreed that he should handle that.

Leah August 12, 2010, 12:06 PM

Dont’ know why comment didn’t print before but sorry stepbomb, Mom is 100% right this time. I typically tend to agree w/Stepbomb in this blog, but this incident reeks of pure antagonism on Stepbomb’s part. Seriously, why on earth would plan a bday party without asking the MOTHER what her plans were or if she was okay with her having a sleepover with these girls? And where on earth is the father during all this? CLEARLY you knew this would cause issues. I don’t get it.

Even when I read the title I thought to myself - don’t tell me stepmom took it upon herself to decide to throw this girl a party without having the girl’s parents discuss it together FIRST. Come on, you knew this would bother the mom. Heck, I generally agree with you but this would bother even me if I were her mom. This is really over-stepping step-mom boundaries and obviously trying to one-up and be the “better” or “cooler” “mom”.

superPRmom August 12, 2010, 5:29 PM

Knowing the history you’ve had with the mom and the profanities and how you’ve tried to work with her in the past and it’s never worked out nicely for you, I’d say… you should plan and do your own thing as the stepmom and let the mom do her own thing. Afterall, did mom consult you when she made plans for her daughter’s bday? No. So why should you have to run everything by her when she throws a hissy every time? I say, you’re an adult, you wanted to give her a sleep over for her Bday, it’s what you and your stepdaughter talked about and decided and your husband made the arrangements… so good for you. And then of course she’ll have her celebration with her mom and that’s fine … until this woman is mature enough to handle things better, I say you don’t need her permission to grant her a sleepover - her dad is there and agreed and it was on your time with her. Go for it!

MiniVan Mom August 12, 2010, 6:19 PM

@EllieMo, It hardly sounds like she’s trying to be a “fairy godmother” Rather, she’s trying to throw the girl a little sleepover. Why is such a bad thing for a stepparent to WANT to be involved? It’s like they can’t win: either they are wicked for not being nice enough or trying to one up birth mom by just trying to live in the life they’ve stepped into.

And quite frankly, if someone told me to F*ck off everytime we had an issue, I wouldn’t be chomping at the bit to discuss anything with her. We teach people how to treat us by how we act.

ColoradoStepmom August 12, 2010, 6:32 PM

It does sound to me like Stpbomb wants to be the cool friend who gives the kids everything they want so she can be more popular on the kids’ eyes.

And why should she clear her plans with the mom? Because the mom is the mom. I’m sure when they divorced she didn’t think “you know what would be awesome? I’d the father of my kids totally stops parenting and hand over ge reins to another woman.”

I think a better question is why Stepbomb, knowing that it’s complicating their family situation, keeps grabbing control and inserting herself into what should be plans between the mother and father of these kids, under the guise of making them happy and giving them everything they want. It sounds like the behavior of an enabler or someone who wants to win a popularity contest.

Anonymous August 12, 2010, 6:51 PM

Okay, everyone…we are making a a lot of assumptions here. Just because she writes this blog doesn’t mean she’s the one throwing the party. The Dad is throwing it too. She’s writing it from her point of view but she’s said that he’s planning the party. So is he trying to be “the cooler parent” too? Or is easier to attack the stepmom?

Cantregister August 12, 2010, 9:42 PM

Definitely read through the other posts.

Dad is too uninterested/ busy/ whatever to go to a school conference, so Stepbomb does it

Dad is too uninterested/ busy / whatever to take the girls shopping and lets them wear her clothes

Dad is too uninterested/ busy /whatever to volunteer at school so Stepbomb does it

So, no. I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that it was Stepbomb who assumed the role of a mom or dad AGAIN, which is why Mom is freaking out.

And the other question unanswered is, is this sleepover birthday party out of character for dad? Was he a super hands- on dad before Stepbomb came around? Or Did he let Mom do all the planning prior to this and now, all of a sudden that Stepbomb is in the picture, lets her make every event and tiny little thing into Disneyland? Because maybe mom sees that dad is putting zero effort into parenting because Stepbomb is doing all the work.

Question August 12, 2010, 9:59 PM

So did the girls always have completely separate parties before dad remarried? Or is it a new thing this year?

LuAnne August 13, 2010, 6:25 AM

EllieMo - I am a stepmother and I planmy step-sons party all by myself, have for the past 9 years, his ex has NEVER gotten upset about it. and it’s not that we are tring to be “fairy godmother”, that comment is an insult. we are simply doing what needs to be done. now, my situation is A LOT different. my husband and his ex get along, and i get along with her as well. she is invited as well as her whole family. in my opinion, the bloggers ex needs to grow up! the situation can always be easier and its up to the adults to make it that way….at least for the sake of the kids. seeing they don’t get a long separate parties is fine. the mom and step mom need to come to some kind of understandin, and the mom needs to chill the f&%$ out!

Commentary2005 August 13, 2010, 9:57 AM

I find it really sad that those stepkids will never know what it’s like to have their dad care enough about them to plan a birthday party. That is a form of theft, when a stepmom inserts herself and robs a child of the chance for their mom and dad to express their love during something as essential as a celebration of their birth. So what if everyone gets along because the step does everything? Why wouldn’t a dad love to have hard stuff taken off their plate? It’s only the kids who, in the long run, get hosed and shorted out of their dad’s care and attention.

Stepbomb August 13, 2010, 11:21 AM

Thanks again for all of the comments. Again, they give me helpful perspective as I’m managing this situation. I’m trying to do the best I can, but I know that I always have room for improvement. So your points of view are helpful.

I need to make a few clarifications. The girls’ father is VERY involved in their lives. He is 200% involved in planning their parties, taking them shopping (which he does regularly) and he also volunteers at the school on a routine basis. This blog has been about the problems his ex has when I participate in these same activities. She has no issue when her ex husband volunteers, etc..

It saddens me greatly that my husband would ever come across looking like he’s not involved, etc.. Because that is the opposite of what is going on here. So, for the record, he is always involved and I don’t make any decisions without him. He is trying to do his best too.

More back story on the party: Mom knew in advance that we were planning a party and that it was going to be separate from hers. Her issue with us/me was that we didn’t tell her before we sent our invites out/invited the three girls that we did. She wanted a second head’s up. Which I could appreciate and apologized that we didn’t give her. Now please note that she will not inform us of her plans and never does. That’s an unfortunate double standard we’ve learned to live by. Because, despite what it may seem, we don’t intentionally rock the boat. But sometimes we/I do because we aren’t always perfect either.

I hope you can recognize that it’s been a very tough situation for everyone and I really do my best to portray each situation in the most fair/accurate light that I can. It’s just hard when the girls and my husband want me involved in their lives and their mother gets wildly upset every time that I do. Do I only listen to the mom? Or do my husband and his daughters’ opinions also get to be factored in?

AnotherMother August 13, 2010, 12:57 PM

Sorry to ask again but — before Stepbomb was in the picture, did mom and dad always have completely separate birthday parties for the girls?

AnotherMother August 13, 2010, 1:02 PM

Oops, I meant to say… You said that the parents never hosted a joint birthday party together.

But does that mean they never officially threw parties together?

Or that they celebrated (maybe by just going out to dinner all together) but are doing something different this year?

Anna August 16, 2010, 5:47 AM

Stepbomb - in your response you state that “we” aren’t informed by “mom” about her plans. That’s because she doesn’t have to inform you - just the girl’s father. In this situation there isn’t truly a “we” - just a them as in the girls’ mom & dad. You have to let the parents parent and kind of stand to the side. And even though you said “Hey we are going to have a sleepover for X’s bday” you most CERTAINLY should have given her a head up about the specific date/time and guests BEFORE sending out invites - honestly, that’s just common sense. Just try to put yourself in her shoes. Imagine you and your current husband have a child and get divorced. Suddenly your ex’s new wife is planning all these fun activities that you hear about second-hand through your child or the stepmom just telling you what’s happening. Your ex doesn’t ask/discuss anything with you, suddenly this new chick is hijacking your kid - that’s whats going on with the ex wife right now!

Stepbomb August 16, 2010, 12:47 PM

@AnotherMother- To clarify, they have never officially thrown a party together.

Anonymous August 16, 2010, 3:22 PM

Geez, that Biological Mom is a PSYCHO….to the point of which Feminists decry….She has a POWER and CONTROL issue and needs to move on to anger management or the StepMom and Daddy need to apply for a protective order from the local judge….Mark this post..Not protecting yourselves and children from PSYCHOMOMS like that will lead to conflict/violence and death…KUDOS to Daddy and StepMother for doing the right thing by the children…Let that PSYCHO rot in her own personal hell and misery. You have done the right thing by the children and stop apologizing to that abuser…More than 2 men die for every 1 woman in the U.S by murder and suicide related to intimate partner conflict and intimate partner violence…Heads up America…Abusers like this Mother should be sent to jail/fined heavily and sanctioned by having their Custodial Rights lessened.

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