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Mom brings kids to surprise husband at airport; he says 'I didn't want you to be here.'

Mom brings kids to surprise husband at airport; he says 'I didn't want you to be here.'


Surprises can be wonderful, but they can also be stressful - it all depends on the context and the personalities of those involved. Some people absolutely love being greeted with a surprise, while others feel blindsided in a way that genuinely stresses them.

When a surprise goes wrong, it can feel hurtful to those creating the surprise, and annoying to the person receiving it.

In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a woman asked if she was wrong for surprising her husband at the airport with their kids at the end of his travels. She wrote:

"AITA: I surprised my husband at the airport with kids after being away for almost 4 days?"

My husband is really close with his parents and brother and we live 1500 miles away, so besides the two family visits we do with the kids each year, I support him in going to visit 1-2x per year by himself. A little difficult with two small kids but, I'm a full-time mom so I can do it and I don't mind because I know he has so much fun.

My husband left early (4am) on Thursday to go visit his family. I took care of our 1yo and 3yo by myself until he got back into town on Sunday afternoon. My 3yo had been missing daddy and wanted to go see him 'at his airport'. So after nap time on Sunday, I packed the kids in the car, drove the 20 minutes to the airport and waited at the gate as a surprise for him! (He drove our other car and parked at the airport.)

He had also been texting me and video chatting the whole time telling me how much fun he was having with his parents and brother, but that he missed me and the kids way more than he thought he would. He was surprised alright. Got a really cute video of kids running at their dad. But his reaction was also less than enthusiastic. I asked him if it was a good surprise. He said 'it was a surprising surprise.'

Then we get into the car so I can drive him over to the economy lot where he is parked and 3yo wanted to ride home with dad. He says 'I really didn't want you to be here.' Like wtf am I supposed to say to that? And he just says he'll explain more later. Well, I'm fuming the whole car ride home without him and when we get back to the house I am quiet, fearing I'm going to say something I regret in anger if I speak.

He can tell. He just says 'I can't come home to this, just talk to me.' I tell him to explain what he meant by his earlier comment of not wanting us there and he said he was just tired and sweaty from being in a cramped airplane for three hours and was just ready for the travel experience to be done with. I'm still angry.

I say 'Well was it a good surprise? Because you said it was just a surprising surprise.' He pauses and says 'it was good, I just didn't expect it.' I roll my eyes... that's what a surprise is. I ask him to take back what he said at the airport, and he did. But like it still hurt.

Maybe I could have handled it better. I guess I do know he doesn't like surprises so maybe I'm an AH for trying to set up a good one with what I thought were pretty low stakes. Maybe I'm the A#ole for not taking into consideration his mental state after just spending 3 hours on a plane (that the AC was broken on).

Maybe I'm not the Ahole and he always tells me to watch what I say because sometimes it can't be taken back and this time it was him. Idk. You guys tell me.

Redditors were quick to share their feedback.

chittychittyb wrote:

NTA. You're right that your kids being at the airport is low stakes. It's not a surprise birthday party, it's your family. AND he's just been away for a fun trip, while you've been parenting your kids alone - I'm not sure that he gets to be grumpy in this situation.

Spiritual_Basil7665 wrote:

I don’t get these responses. Of course you are upset. You have looked after the kids while he gets a trip, one of two per year, and his response is he didn’t want to see you at the airport? Because he’s hot and doesn’t like surprises? Boo hoo.

It was a s#$%ty thing to say and I think you should send him with the kids next time or let him come home to an empty house while you and kids do something fun. No more favourite dinners upon his return.

JustheBean had a clarifying question:

NTA. You were being sweet. Your little one wanted to see dad! And your husband was telling you how much he missed the kids. You have every right to be pissed. I'm sure you’ve had to jump right into parenting during times when you’re tired, and stressed, and sweaty. And I’d bet you don’t make your discontent visible to the kids.

And he wasn’t even being asked to jump into the work of parenting, the excited hugs and “I love you” is the fun part. I really hope I’m misunderstanding and he didn’t say that he really didn’t want you there in front of the kids. If I am understanding correctly then he was completely out of line.

And OP answered:

He said that just to me, where the kids couldn't hear.

Farm-Comfortable wrote:

NTA OP! You did a very sweet, small thing. Yes, he does not really like surprises but this was not an elaborate birthday party with 150 people and a big band. You took his children, that he missed (and that missed him) to see him when he got off a plane. The man was slightly uncomfortable for three hours (boo f#$king hoo) and therefore could not bring himself to be happy to see his wife and children?

Even if he did not like the surprise very much, it is really hurtful for him to say that he did not want you there. Of course you are upset, this feels like a huge rejection. People are saying he wanted to destress on the way home in the car and that you should have understood that. The man was on a FUN trip with his family, without his kids. This should have been relaxing enough don’t you think?

Roux_Harbour wrote:

He doesn't like surprises. As a person who also does not like surprises, I understand how he felt when a sudden change of what he thought his last trek of the exhausting travel home would look like. Some people are just like that. We need things to be unsurprising.

It's not that he wasn't looking forward to seeing you guys, but he was tired, he was planning to mentally charge up on the drive home before he had to interact with people. NAH.

While there's not full agreement in the comment section, it's fairly unanimous that OP is NTA.

Sources: Reddit
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