Misunderstandings happen every single day, but most are fairly inconsequential.
Every once in a while, though, a misunderstanding can mess up an important relationship.
They might even illuminate something about a failed marriage, according to the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor JqF27 recently found herself horribly confused by a conversation she had with a few of her future in-laws.
After hearing critical feedback, the Original Poster (OP) wasn’t sure where she stood with the family.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for being upset that my sister-in-law doesn’t trust me to watch her child and starting a ‘feud’?”
The OP had an extensive history in childcare.
“I (35 [female]) and my fiance have been together for 4 years and set to be married in November.”
“I have worked in child care since I was 12. First with neighborhood kids, then as a full-time nanny.”
“I am Doula and Newborn Care certified, my AA is in Art and my BA is in social science education.”
“A few years ago, I was injured and worked an office job.”
“But the last year I’ve been back in the nanny game and I am so happy to be back!”
The OP spent a lot of time with her brother-in-law’s newborn.
“My fiancé brother and his wife just had a new baby about 4 months ago.”
“I’ve been around the baby almost every weekend and a few times at family gatherings.”
“I am so excited to be her aunt.”
“While at family gatherings and such I’m quick to help wherever asked, but I don’t step in unless I am asked (which is often).”
The OP was asked to watch the baby before plans changed.
“Recently my fiancé was talking to his brother and he said he and his wife wanted to go out on a Saturday night.”
“They said they couldn’t because his parents weren’t available and asked if I would mind watching her so they could go out.”
“He asked me and I said I’d be delighted.”
“About an hour later, I got a text from SIL, saying they decided not to go out, but thanks anyway.”
“I said not a problem and to let me know if they changed their minds.”
“I never heard anything back after that.”
Then the OP found out the reason why she hadn’t watched her niece.
“Earlier today at their house, I was holding my future niece and I heard BIL and fiancé talking about how nice getting that break was, and he straight up asked my fiance if I was feeling better…”
“I got confused and said, ‘I’ve been fine, Lucy canceled on me.'”
“I do admit I immediately looked at Lucy and asked why she lied.”
“She said it was a miscommunication and wouldn’t say anything further.”
“She picked up my niece out of my arms and walked away.”
“I was unsure what to say or do.”
“In the end, we left, still confused.”
“The most my fiancé could get while talking to his brother later was ‘she only wants to leave the baby with family.'”
“They left her with their 86-year-old grandma with hearing issues and who is a chain smoker.”
The OP was left incredibly confused.
“I was and am flabbergasted and p**sed.”
“I told my fiancé I’ll respect her wishes and will just not go over until we’re married if she’s going to act like this.”
“Now, my fiancé is mad at me, BIL is mad at SIL, SIL blames me for blowing it out of proportion and says that she’s being perfectly reasonable.”
“I’m standing my ground on this, and I’m also mad at my fiancé for not taking my side.”
“…But then I think of my future niece and wonder… AITA here?”
“I fully acknowledge that a mother gets to choose who watches their child, but I too have the right to be hurt.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some questioned the sister-in-law’s motivations to lie to the OP.
“They have a 4-month-old baby. Hormones are still out of whack, and no one is sleeping. $10 says, mom is feeling insecure right now and perhaps irrationally doesn’t want any comparison to you.”
“What if baby likes you better? Why did dad ask you? Does he think you’d be a better mom?”
“These are totally irrational thoughts, but may be bouncing around in her subconscious.” – arkieg
“I can totally see SIL as a new mother feeling very threatened by OP’s years of professional experience.”
“It can be really a really difficult, overwhelming thing at first, and it’s even more difficult to find your feet when you have too much expert/’expert’ advice or judgment coming in (even if it’s mostly your own perception).”
“It makes sense to me that SIL would want to put some distance between them while she figures things out, even if it means trading Very Good childcare for Mostly Senile chain-smoking childcare.”
“I don’t think it’s the best choice, but I do think it’s understandable.” – CinderellaRidvan
“Being a new mom is hard enough, and people step all over you without even meaning to all the time. I bet OP isn’t as easygoing with new mom as she thinks, just because of the nature of her career, and SIL tried to cover it up poorly.” – Nomada88
Others said, all other concerns aside, it wasn’t the OP’s choice to babysit or not.
“I think that you’re underplaying the actual reason you’re hurt; your future SIL implied she did not consider you family.”
“Your SIL doesn’t need a reason or to justify to you why she didn’t want you to babysit. Comparing yourself to the grandmother isn’t fair, because its still their choice and has nothing to do with you.”
“It also complicates the situation, and undermines the actual insult that was dealt to you by giving them reason to claim you are unfairly judging their parenting and insulting her side of their family.”
“You are NTA for feeling hurt that your SIL said you weren’t family. That’s the part that I’d be focusing on.” – StripedBadger
“Honestly, it sounds like it was just a white lie to smooth over any uncomfortable feelings.”
“They don’t need to explain why they wanted their child to be with her grandmother instead of her uncle. But its’ not strange for them to decide to avoid having to say that they made that choice when ‘Thank you for the offer, but we don’t need you to babysit her’ works fine.”
“The reasoning they gave when you confronted them is the issue. I do wonder whether you were as calm as you think you were, but even in that case it doesn’t justify what they said.” – StripedBadger
“I disagree with NTA. The original issue was that SIL didn’t feel comfortable leaving her baby with OP for babysitting. OP’s response to this is, ‘OK, if I’m not allowed to be left alone with your baby, then I refuse to interact with you & your baby AT ALL.'”
“That is absolutely not the response of a well-adjusted adult person to whom I would entrust my children.”
“I totally understand that the ‘you’re not family’ argument is hurtful. But we already know there’s a communication issue between BIL / SIL / OP’s fiancé / OP. So I don’t think that comment should be taken at face value when it was communicated to OP secondhand as the result of a clearly uncomfortable situation.”
“And it definitely shouldn’t be a reason to take the nuclear, ‘Well then I refuse to be in your presence at all’ option. What likely happened is that BIL and SIL didn’t agree on who could watch the baby and BIL unilaterally made a decision, and it got messier from there.” – baffled_soap
After receiving feedback, the OP shared an update about a call she received.
“I got a call this morning from Lucy. She was crying and upset and asked me to come over.”
“I went over and the first thing she did was hand me the baby and said, ‘This has gotten out of control. I need to tell you something.'”
“To summarize, she and BIL have been not agreeing on a lot of parenting choices. He tells her she’s too uptight, she tells him he’s not involved, he says she doesn’t let him be involved, and around and around it goes.”
“What really happened is, BIL tried to surprise SIL with a date, which is why he called us.”
“She admitted, she didn’t want to go, she didn’t want to leave the baby at all, and so she told him I canceled because I was sick. She has apologized for dragging me into this.”
The OP’s brother-in-law actually gave his wife an ultimatum.
“It caused a fight when she said she didn’t want to go out anyways, and he told her they had some serious issues they need to work out and if she didn’t go, then he was considering filing for divorce.”
“She agreed to go, but at that point, only grandma was available, as she didn’t want to tell me any of this.”
“They went out, while the baby slept (she’s sleeping through the night), and they are on the verge of splitting up.”
And it turned out the visit at their house hadn’t been what it seemed to be.
“At her house that day, I asked why she lied, and she said the truth, ‘It was a miscommunication’ and refused to talk further because she didn’t want to bring us into it.”
“After we left, they fought again.”
“It was actually BIL who said the family thing, blaming her, trying to also hide it all, I guess.”
“So basically, what it boils down to is, marital problems with me being caught up in it. It had zero to do with me at all.”
“She didn’t even know about the family comment until BIL said I wasn’t coming over anymore, which is why she called me to clear it all up.”
“To end, I’m watching my niece (no longer ‘future’ niece) each Wednesday evening while they get some counseling.”
Though the OP may have recently felt like she was on an emotional roller-coaster amidst her family, she could at least rest easy knowing that the root problem was not with her, but with a struggling marriage. Hopefully, with the help of some couple’s counseling and quality childcare, the pair will be able to work through it.