about DH 40th birthday photo album in which I don't appear...?

(159 Posts)
Mothproof Tue 26-Feb-13 10:32:29

Regular, but have namechanged for my first AIBU, in case the Mn judgement is that I am being unbelievably petty. This is long, as I'm still a bit stunned, but to sum up, AIBU to be hurt and baffled by a 40th birthday photo album of my DH's life, in which I am almost entirely absent?

My DH turned 40 recently, and when his parents came to visit, his mother produced a big photo album she had had professionally made up (engraved leather cover, glossy paper etc) of montages of photos from my DH's life. (They've done similar for significant birthdays of all of the family.)

My MiL showed it to me first before giving it to DH, as he was at work - I thought it was a lovely idea, and said so. So there we were sitting on the sofa, leafing through the album, and I'm cooing over his baby photos and his cub scout award photos etc and as we got towards the student years - which is when DH and I got together, now over 20 years ago - I made a joky remark about being apprehensive about what I was going to look like when I started appearing in the photos, as I had this mad head of henna'ed hair as a student and some horrifying paisley shirts.

So I was mildly relieved not to see myself in the first few pages of student photos, but then thought it was odd I wasn't in any of the graduation photos, as we had been together two years by then, graduated in the same ceremony, and his family knew me well. It went out of my head fairly quickly, though, until I gradually realised I wasn't in any of the photos - not in our MA conferring (again, was in the same graduating ceremony), not at his 21st birthday, not at his PhD conferring, not at family weddings, PiLs wedding anniversary party, not in snaps from two holidays we took with PiL, not in ones from a ski holiday we took with friends, where the only photos are of him solo or with the other two.

It got totally surreal - I was honestly wondering whether I only imagined I had been there on all these occasions! I featured in five group shots - student class photos, a survivors' ball photo etc, and the third last page of the album consisted of three photos of us as a couple, all - oddly - from about eighteen or nineteen years ago.

But, as we had a baby last spring, our first, I thought I would surely feature there - no. There is a lovely photo of DH snuggling our newborn DS in hosiptal, four photos of DH and DS, and a couple of DS solo. End of album.

At this point, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, and said something light-hearted like 'Oh, it looks as if DH had a baby by himself', but MiL clearly didn't get what I meant.

AIBU to be so hurt at appearing in 8 photos out of 400 plus, especially not in any of the baby photos? I thought I had a reasonably good relationship with MiL, assuming it was she who collected the photos (it's not my gentle, passive, FiL's kind of thing), and I have been her DS's partner, latterly wife, for 20 years, and am the mother of her youngest grandchild. Now I can't stop wondering whether this is malicious (I've always worked to maintain a cordial relationship, but we're very different people, and she has vocally disapproved of our decision to not have a big wedding and baptise our baby) or whether it simply didn't occur to her that I was an important figure in her DS's life, because I hadn't done what her other DiLs do, which is marry young and have a large family in their twenties.

I keep imagining her going through the hundreds of photos of family occasions and choosing the ones I'm not in. Again, how do you overlook a newborn baby's mother, even if the baby is the child of your adored youngest DS?

I'll never bring it up, but AIBU or being stupidly over-sensitive? Or can you think of any other explanation?

OhMyNoReally Tue 26-Feb-13 11:10:09

Maybe just for perspective it was an album of your dh reaching 40, so she was finding photos of just him that she liked, a sort of adoring mum to son. Your mil maybe never considered making a key moments album, not being funny but some mil don't consider partners or marrying partners key events even if they do give amazing grandchildren.

My fil was like this, so much so much so that I never felt part of his family. But it is very odd and yanbu to be hurt by this. Just try and see past it. Maybe make an album for them for Christmas with lots of all of you in, especially yourself, just as a gentle reminder.

Lucyellensmum95 Tue 26-Feb-13 11:12:17

I think she has sour grapes over the wedding - totally unreasonable of her but i bet that is what it is.

However it might just be that she just didn't think and wanted it to be pictures of her DS, are there other people in it? Is she in it? Siblings?

To be honest, unless you challenge her about it (sensitively) it is going to become a source of resentment. If my first suggestion is right then resent away but it would be a shame if there was another explanation.

See, I HATE having my photo taken, hate it and woudl be quite miffed if i was INCLUDED in such an album - maybe your MIL felt awkward about putting too many pictures of you in it?

domesticslattern Tue 26-Feb-13 11:13:21

I think you've given us the reason mothproof. You excluded her from your wedding day (I'm not arguing with your reasons btw, just saying that's how she saw it). So the next opportunity she gets to be in charge of a family celebration she returned the compliment by only including 8 pictures of you in an album. Personally I'd just leave it. In the great scheme of things if your marriage is happy who cares what she thinks.
Happy birthday to your DH!

TheCatIsUpTheDuff Tue 26-Feb-13 11:13:58

That sounds really unkind. What does your DH think? Is MIL likely to have been so focused on her precious baby that she didn't notice that she'd picked all the photos without you in them?

My MIL had a picture up on the wall of DH and his ex, until DH asked her to take it down. It had been there for years, and was a nice picture of DH, and she'd stopped noticing Ex was there! She wasn't being malicious, just unobservant.

It's possible she thinks that you dislike photographs of yourself, I suppose (given the lack of wedding photos, she might think 'Oh, Mothproof's so non-vain, she hates having her photo taken and having people look at her'). Either that or she just picked all the best ones of your H and the ones featuring you were the ones where he was squinting or out of focus...

I think YANBU at all to be hurt by it, but it's probably best to let it slide if, as you say, she will neither understand nor apologise. Poor you.

Saltire Tue 26-Feb-13 11:14:30

OP I know exactly how you feel. Step MIL did something similar for FIL's birthday. 200 photos, not 1 with me in it. Even the pics from our wedding day - there's one of DH and SIL (she was a bridesmaid), 2 of FIL,DH and SIL, 3 of DH with his dad. Then photos of the DSes, not one with me in yet lots of DH with the DSes as babies/children/teenagers or FIL and SMIL with them and about 30 of the DSes on their own. Theres even a pic of our dog in it hmm.

Its actually like I don't exsist in their minds

digerd Tue 26-Feb-13 11:20:56

For her mother's day, send her a beautifuly framed photo of you, DH and the baby - held in your arms.
Have you seen his siblings albums she made for them?

She was either being utterly thoughtless or malicious - I don't know.
DH should have said " There's lots of me mum, but none of DW with our baby. We'll take some and send them to you for your album"

FatherReboolaConundrum Tue 26-Feb-13 11:21:24

Ouch. It's lovely when your OH's family do this kind of thing, isn't it? Not had it in anything like this extreme a form, and not from parents, but at a big family event last year my DP's brother-in-law made some crack to me about me being 'almost family'. DP's sister shushed him in a way that showed that she thought it was funny and was obviously a point of view they shared. I'd been with DP nearly 20 years at this point, but not married and no DC so I don't count. It stung, even though I didn't think I even vaguely cared about his opinion. OP, just keep reminidng yourself that you don't like or respect the woman anyway, so her childish behaviour doesn't matter.

Thumbwitch Tue 26-Feb-13 11:23:45

If she'd done the same for the others, with next to no photos of their other halves, then I'd say it was nothing to worry about. But since the others' partners feature heavily, then yes it does look personal and pretty fucking bad, sorry. sad
What a horrible thing to have done, when you've been part of her DS's life for more than half of it. There really is no excuse - she's just mean-spirited.

I think by now there probably is no point discussing it with her, as you've already said that you doubt you'll get the truth - just ignore it, then if she meant it to be pointed, she'll never truly know that you were affected by it at all, which will piss her off. smile

In the meantime - I'd stop bothering about doing anything for her. She might suspect it's because of the photo book but she won't know for certain.

Mothproof Tue 26-Feb-13 11:25:18

Fair enough, Nancy - I welcome the opposite view and have told myself I was being a bit juvenile from time to time. In my defence, of the famous eight in which I appear, in five you'd have to get out a magnifying glass to see me (graduating class photos etc), and none is more recent than eighteen or nineteen years ago.

I think what stings most is that a stranger looking at the album would think I was a passing fling from student days, and would wonder where on earth the baby came from, because the baby snaps appear out of nowhere grin.

Do people really think it's genuine hurt at the lack of wedding? I mean, no one was invited, we didn't have time, as we got a cancellation a fortnight before my due date, and I was feeling ghastly with SPD and apprehensive about the birth (first-time older mother whose friend almost died of eclampsia a few weeks earlier). It wasn't even a 'wedding day' - we just did it in normal clothes on our lunch breaks and went back to work afterwards! Neither of us even remembers the exact date because DS's (rather complicated) birth was so soon afterwards!

Thanks for all responses, including those from other people in not dissimilar situations. I am going to leave it, as, realistically, I will never get an answer. I think I posted here as a way of hearing what other people thought instead.

quoteunquote Tue 26-Feb-13 11:29:52

One of my friends told me every time her MiL pulls a nasty stunt, she makes a point of having loud sex with her husband,when staying at Mil or if MiL is staying. Which made me giggle.

OP, you probable have lived with your husband for longer than she did, so maybe she feels her grip slipping,

Just make a new book, include all the pictures from the original, and add lots of new ones, all your high days and holidays, and give it to your husband.

I absolutely think it could be genuine hurt

Not all, but some mothers do dream of their children's wedding days, it's a big thing for them. To not be invited at all would seem like a huge snub and be really disappointing regardless.

I'm not judging your choice, we had a registrar wedding too... originally we were just going to do it on our own but then we realised we would never hear the end of it from our parents so we did have close family.

I think you have to do what's best for you but you have to be realistic that other people might be disappointed.

Maybe she didn't understand why the big rush, after all these years? Actually maybe I don't understand, even if God forbid something terrible had happened, what would the actual difference be if you were married or not?

carabos Tue 26-Feb-13 11:39:29

I think that her motives don't really matter - it may be innocent, it may not. BUT the outcome is that you are hurt. If her motives are innocent, then she will be mortified that she has inadvertently caused you pain, if not, then she needs to be pulled on it. In either scenario you need to take her the solution, not the problem - i.e. this is what DH and I would like you to do and here are the photos to do it with please MiL.

These are the little incidents that after you get divorced you look back on and wonder why you didn't take action and wonder whether if you had taken action that things might have turned out differently in the long run [speaks from experience].

Like you, I distinctly remember being in the photos at my XH's sister's wedding. However, when the final album was "published" some months after the event, I wasn't in any of them - not one - it was as if I hadn't been there. What they had done (it turned out) was call everyone they needed for the shot list, taken the shot, then called for me in a "oh dear we couldn't find you" sort of way, did the shot again and then simply chose the first one for the final album - and yes, that is almost too incredible to believe, but it's what happened.

If you value your marriage, and this hasn't been an innocent mistake, then do something about it before it escalates.

Mothproof Tue 26-Feb-13 11:40:49

Dreaming, the friend who almost died was in a coma for a week, and as she wasn't married to her partner, he was told that if she died or remained unable to name him on the birth cert, he would have to take a DNA test/go to court to prove he was the father of the baby. That was what spooked us.

I take your point about the wedding, but DH is the youngest of eight, and all the others had massive white weddings - wouldn't there come a point where you stopped being quite so excited about it all, especially if you could see there was a reason for someone doing it so quickly and quietly? We had a massive party in the summer to make up for it.

nipersvest Tue 26-Feb-13 11:45:31

but nancy, it's 8 photo's out of 400, they've been together for 20 years! am going to have to disagree with you as i don't think moth is being childish at all.

yanbu op, how are the photo's mounted?, are they under those sticky back plastic pages?, i'd go through the album and add a few of your own in there.

MrsMushroom Tue 26-Feb-13 11:45:47

Stick some BIG pics of you on top of any in which SHE appears. Then show her your adjustments.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 26-Feb-13 11:46:05

I didn't want to spoil his pleasure in the album, so said nothing to him until after PiLs had left, when he was sorry and said he would bring it up, but I told him not to. I'm not after a scene

I didn't think you were being childish from the outset and I think this shows you are not stamping your foot and being brattish. I do agree that, to quote you again, MIL felt aggrieved at missing out on her adored youngest's wedding. 'Nothing personal' as they say, but she felt cheated.

Can't he give it back to his mother on the basis he loves it and will treasure it for ever, but really wants you to appear in it as you are such an important part of his life, and ask her to swap say 50 photos over? After all, he should want this!

GirlOutNumbered Tue 26-Feb-13 11:52:59

I think this is really awful! I am now glad that I made my husband a 40th birthday book myself!

Corygal Tue 26-Feb-13 11:55:51

I think it's thoughtless rather than malicious, I really do.

Yes, I would be hurt too but bear in mind that the album is about him - not you as a couple - and made by an old woman who is still a doting mummy to her 40-yr-old baby boy.

There is a page dedicated to you and him, by the sounds of things.

I would let it go - she's old and barmy, as your DH was the first to say. And to coin a phrase, this is one time when it just isn't about you.

SirBoobAlot Tue 26-Feb-13 11:57:09

Bloody hell, how horrible!! shock My ex-MIL has photos of me with DS up in their house.

So sorry she did this to you. Maybe you could do another mini album for DH, a history of your time together or something? If he's 40, you've been together half his life.

mrsjay Tue 26-Feb-13 11:57:13

OP that is just weird doesnt she like you id be a bit confused and fuming about it

MustafaCake Tue 26-Feb-13 11:57:50

You have every reason to feel hurt OP.

Even if she is pissed off about how you chose to marry she has no right to blame you for that. It was yours and your DH's wedding and therefore your choice how you wished to do it.

I would be expecting DH to have some stern words with MIL.

"that's just the way she is" or "she's mad" is not a valid excuse for behaving so horribly.

mrsjay Tue 26-Feb-13 11:58:47

saying that My mil had a picture up in her house from a christening of dh and the dds it was the only 1 taken she had it blown up I thought OK THEN hmm I am sure she had her reasons probably wanted 1 of her boy and his girls I guess

WilsonFrickett Tue 26-Feb-13 11:59:02

Ow! I think she's being really petty and agree with a pp who says it's her way of grabbing control back from you after the wedding. She might not be aware that's what she's doing, mind you, but it's definitely what she's doing?

Can I cheer you up? At my DM's 50th/DB's 21st they stuck lots of family photos up on poster paper as decorations and there was all of one of me. I cried for a week. And I'd paid for all the catering too.

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