Not everybody loves a surprise party.
And if you suffer from anxiety, the stress of a surprise party is not likely to be received well, regardless of the intention from the person who planned it.
Redditor softclovers has been dealing with this issue for years thanks to her mom’s penchant for throwing surprise parties, so she turned to the subReddit “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) to see if she was wrong for her behavior in the past.
“AITA for ‘making a scene’ at all the surprise parties my mom has planned?”
The original poster (OP) was inspired to write her post after her mom’s recent revelation.
“Yesterday my mom (F[emale] 48) mentioned to me (F19) that she’s already started planning my birthday and it’s been giving me a lot of anxiety. I told her several times that I really don’t want to do anything.”
“She nodded but it seemed like she wasn’t listening. My bday isn’t for another couple months, but I’m worried that she’s going to plan something and we are going to get into the same fight we have pretty much every year.”
Despite having the same reaction every year, the OP just can’t get her mom to understand.
“To preface, my family (and my culture) love to throw huge parties for every possible occasion.”
“Despite me telling her that I really don’t want to do anything and her assuring me that she’s not planning anything, every year for my birthday she throws a surprise party that always ends in me having a breakdown in front of everyone, her saying I’m being ungrateful and rude, and then me sucking it up and trying not cry the entire night.”
It all came to a head on her last birthday.
“Last year was particularly horrible. I don’t want to post all the details, but my birthday was the day before I had a difficult exam that I was really nervous about.”
“My family promised they would let me study and we could have dinner the next night after I took the test. I was in the middle of studying when my mom pulled me outside and I realized she had a bunch of friends from college show up to surprise me.”
“I was in my pajamas, exhausted from studying for days, and just plain overwhelmed. I flipped out and started crying hysterically then ran into the house as my mom yelled after me.”
“For half an hour I was inconsolable, so anxious I couldn’t breathe. I locked myself in the bathroom while my mom and my aunt yelled at me through the door to come out and stop ‘being dramatic.'”
“A couple of super awkward pics were taken and then everyone left. My mom was so pissed at me for ‘making a scene’ and ‘being ungrateful’ that she refused to speak to me for days.”
And while the OP’s friends quickly got the message, her family was still adamant they didn’t do anything wrong.
“My friends felt horrible about the whole thing and messaged me afterwards that they wouldn’t have come if they knew, but my family took my mom’s side.”
“I got tons of messages from relatives telling me that I’m so lucky to have a mom who wants to make my birthday special and how I reacted was rude, ungrateful, entitled, etc.”
“Eventually I caved and apologized because I couldn’t handle my family giving me so much sh*t, but every time she brings it up it makes me super uncomfortable because I feel like I didn’t really do anything wrong.”
Now the OP doesn’t know who is at fault or what to do in the future.
“I appreciate what she was trying to do, but I can’t handle surprises (I’m pretty sure I have an undiagnosed anxiety disorder, but that’s a whole other story) and it’s gotten to a point where the thought of my birthday makes me panic.”
“I love her so much and know she means well, but I feel very unheard about how these surprises make me feel. My family keeps insisting that I’m overreacting to everything and I should just be grateful and stop ‘making a scene’ every year when this happens.”
“So, I guess I’m wondering: AITA for ‘making a scene’ at all of the surprise parties my mom has planned for me?”
Redditors weighed in on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
They didn’t hesitate to call the OP’s mom out.
“NTA. Your mom cares more about these parties than she does about your feelings.”—czechtheboxes
“SHE 👏 DOES 👏 NOT👏 MEAN👏 WELL👏”
“If she ‘meant well’, she would have stopped this the first time you told her or got upset.”
“Surprise parties are 9/10 about the glory the organizer gets for pulling it off. Some people like surprises, and that’s fine.”
“But to override the ‘guest of honor’ is extremely selfish, and shows it’s about what the organizer likes and wants, and the adrenaline rush the organizer gets from the ordeal.”
“She does not mean well. She’s mad you aren’t putting her feelings and wants above yours on your birthday. She’s mad that your refusal to play along makes her look like a bad mother.”
“Take all doubt away. Make it very public you hated surprise parties, your mother knows this and chooses to ruin your birthday every year.”
“Do it in advance, so that anyone who she would invite knows. If she does it again, take a moment to calm yourself, roll your eyes, and walk out.”
“Anyone who showed up after you made your feelings clear is not someone whose opinion you should care about.”—compassionfever
Many sympathized with the OP, and told her to take matters into her own hands on her next birthday.
“NTA, sounds like it’s time to plan something yourself with a friend or two. Do something that doesn’t give you anxiety and involves sleeping somewhere else.”
“As your mother doesn’t tell you of her plans, simply make your own plans and don’t be there. Hopefully she will stop making your life harder to stroke her own ego.”—likeahike
“THIS. Go see a movie, and if you don’t have a friends house to stay at, treat yourself to a hotel room if you can.”
“Don’t tell your family what you’re doing, just go out during the day and don’t come back. When she inevitably calls and starts abusing you for not showing up, just remind her she’d said she wasn’t planning anything, so you made plans for yourself.”—Piebandit
“I would just disappear the whole day and not mention anything they can have a party with themselves if they want one so badly.”—toxictiddies420
“NTA, would it be possible to go camping on your birthday. Or stay at a friend’s? Just make plans for yourself for your birthday?”—Delicious_Lobster468
The OP commented that she feared the backlash from her mom if she tried to celebrate on her own.
“I honestly wouldn’t even try to do something like this, as tempting as it sounds. My friends have suggested it in the past, but I think my mom would just completely stop speaking to me if I pulled something like that.”
“She’s really big on spending birthdays and special occasions with family (and I am too, or at least I try to be).”
There were a few that understood where the OP was coming from, however.
“Just adding since there are a lot of comments telling you to just go off on your own, plan your own thing, call her out on it, etc. I get that it isn’t that simple.”
“Like…yes you can do those things, but it’s also hard to explain how you might feel that you can’t. Especially since it sounds like you still live under their roof, they’re able to get your family to back them up, and you’re the one who has to live with the consequences if your mom gets mad at you.”
“If you do manage to just ditch her on your birthday, organize your own thing, or call her out for her actions, good for you! But even if you don’t, it’s okay too.”
“Just try to take steps to make the situation situation even a bit more bearable for you in the meantime. And remember your feelings are understandable and this isn’t your fault.”
“I hope you manage to have a good birthday.”—MinPDnim
The OP took the advice to heart, and tried to come up with a realistic plan.
“I honestly really, really appreciate that you said this. As much I like to fantasize about running off and pissing off my mom, I really don’t want to deal with the consequences.”
“Yeah, I do live under their roof right now. There’s literally hundreds of reasons I wouldn’t be able to move out right now, most of them being related to being a full-time student who is immunocompromised, as well as how much I value my relationships with my family.”
“I’m gonna try to plan something WITH her and have a conversation about my feelings about all of this. Hopefully it goes well.”
“Overall though, as well-intentioned as they are, most of the suggestions of disappearing for the day just aren’t a realistic option for me right now.”
Hopefully the OP’s mom will finally listen to her concerns so she can have a relatively stress-free birthday.