I am 34 years old and expecting my first child. My partner and I are thrilled and have a solid relationship of more than 8 years. My family situation is complicated and it appears that it may be even more so with the birth of this child.

My parents divorced when I was about 4. My bio mother was unable to follow through on being in the picture for various reasons and we have had a challenging relationship over the past 30 years or so years. My stepmother (whom I consider my “mom” as she raised me) and I are very close, yet she and my father are not thrilled that I am having a baby out of “wedlock.” They have sort of gotten over their initial resistance to the idea and are now more supportive and caring. However, due to their religious and moralistic beliefs, they have still not told my 14 year old little sister that I am pregnant and I am almost 5 months along.

On the other hand, my bio-mom is totally thrilled, really nurturing and really focused on this next generation of life. My contact with her has increased from virtually no contact up until the last 6 months to almost daily emails. We don’t talk on the phone as this type of contact has led to serious issues in our relationship in the past. She is also compromised in her health. She is about 59 and has had 2 strokes and 2 heart attacks within the last 10 years or so. Her time on this earth and enjoying her grandchild may be limited.

One issue I am having is that bio-mom has been in my life for a total of maybe 6 out of my 34 years and yet has this very mom-like affinity for being in my life. She always signs her emails to me with “Love, Mom,” which sort of makes me uncomfortable because her mom role was severely compromised and then assumed by my stepmother.

My major concern is in regards to when the baby is born and the preceding shower/preparation. Who do I invite? How do I mitigate the potential issues that may arise between both sets of parents in the waiting room, at my home, during the shower, etc., and how do I respect both of their roles in my life without either feeling compromised by the other’s presence? I know for a fact that my stepmother and birth mother would be very uncomfortable being in the same room with each other and my father may even decide to not be involved at all if he has to interact with his ex-wife.

What do you think? What is the most tactful way to handle this? I would like all of the emotional support and love I can get, and I would like to pay respect to the involvement that both sides have had in my life and will have in their grandchild’s life, but I also don’t want to deal with the tension that will come with that given the negative history between both sides of my family.

Thanks, any advice is certainly appreciated.


Dear JW,

I think you should proceed as you wish, asking whomever you would like to the shower. Then it is up to them to either accept or not, and to behave. Your only job as far as both are concerned is to see that they get equal attention. If you are concerned about your bio mom feeling alone, enlist the help of a friend to sit near her and make conversation while you open presents. At the end, if you want to thank all those who have made this a special day, introduce the woman who gave birth to you and then the woman who helped raise you. You could say something like “I wouldn’t be where I am without either one.” That’s all it takes. If you step mom is as moral as you say, she will be gracious and not make a scene, nor will your mother on this happy occasion.

Good luck,
Grandma Maggie