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by Abigail Van Buren

Dinner Disaster Makes Party Planner Want to Disappear

DEAR ABBY: I am a confident, well-established administrative professional who has worked with an executive team most of my career.

I organized a very large company party and, because my regular caterer didn't specialize in the kind of barbecue that was needed, I took a chance on an unknown one. I had never used this caterer, but went on the recommendation of three colleagues I trust.

In the end, it was the most humiliating disaster I've ever experienced. Not only was there not enough food, but it was presented in a sloppy, unprofessional manner. No beverages arrived, so we had to do without them for the event.

I have never had anything like this happen before, and the responsibility was mine. It was embarrassing for me and the people I work with. I couldn't even show my face. I stayed in the background trying to fix things as best I could.

I can't seem to get past this. I feel like a failure. I am seriously thinking of applying for a job at another company so I can put it all behind me. I had red flags along the way, but ignored them because I trusted the individuals who recommended the caterer. What are your thoughts? -- WISH I'D GONE WITH MY GUT

DEAR WISH: You're a perfectionist, and I respect that. But before you punish yourself by throwing away a perfectly good career with your current company over one regrettable screwup, please consider that nobody bats 1000. Yes, what happened was regrettable, but it's in the past. It's possible that the recommended caterer was also having a bad day. If you need absolution, discuss this with your employer. You have learned your lesson. Now let it go.

DEAR ABBY: I'm four months pregnant with our second child and dreading the birth because of my fiance's parents. After the birth of our first child, I asked "Cliff" to allow me two weeks without overnight visitors so I could settle in with the new baby. That following weekend his parents called and said, "We're coming, and we're staying with you guys!"

My mom and Cliff were the only ones in the delivery room, and that's how I wanted it. I want it that way again this time. Cliff's mom had made it clear her feelings were hurt because she wasn't "being invited in."

Because my son will be less than 2 years old when the new baby comes, my mom will be taking vacation time to come and help me out. Is it wrong of me to tell Cliff's parents they can't come and stay that soon after the birth of the new one? Cliff and his dad act like long-lost frat guys when they see each other, and I find it irresponsible, childish and a sore spot in our relationship. -- PREGNANT WITH APPREHENSION

DEAR PREGNANT: Your problem isn't your fiance's parents. It's his inability to act like a mature adult. When his parents announced they were coming, he should have put a stop to it then and there. Because he seems unwilling to speak up, you must assume that responsibility, unless you want a repeat of the "open house" party that happened the last time.

When you give birth your wishes should be paramount. It is not performance art. Your doctor will back you up if you make your wishes clear in advance.

Cliff's mom might have been more welcome this time if she hadn't intruded after your last delivery. But, please, don't place the blame entirely on her because it's possible your fiance didn't tell her you needed peace, quiet and time to adjust when they announced they were coming.

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