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My mum has let me down. Again. (sorry, long)

(39 Posts)
Apparentlychilled Thu 15-Nov-12 10:48:34

My mum and I have a weird relationship: it's all great if I dance to her tune, as I did throughout my childhood/adolescence (inc supporting her through a really destructive awful divorce from DF). As I grew up and met DP (now DH), I realised that I wanted my own life, and I pulled away, and moved away.

All was good. I moved country but visited her maybe twice a year and spoke v briefly maybe every 7-10 days. I expected little or nothing from her, and that's exactly what I got.

She's never been supportive of me (or my siblings, to be fair), and is selfish, self absorbed and only interested in herself and her life eg my wedding was actually HER day. Really?!- I thought it was about me and DH getting married (and our families being involved, of course. But not just about her!). For a long time I put her attitude down to the hard time she had with my dad (the subject of a whole other thread). But that's now over 20 years ago, and rather than continuing to rant about him, maybe she should just have some counselling? Radical idea. Hmm.

Anyhow, I was trying to change our relationship- put in place boundaries, but also make space for her to have a relationship with me and my DC. I had DD in 2008 and had PND which I didn't' feel I could tell DM about - she's a gossip, and judgmental and I couldn't cope with her. I had DS last year and had PND again. This time I told her, only to be told bf 'causes' PND (no, she has no medical background) and that she had PND with each of her DC. Riiiiight- first time I've heard of that in over 35 years.... And after about 3 weeks, she said I seemed much better, so she felt she didn't need to ask how I was anymore (even though I told her that when we speak on phone when my DC are with me, of course I have a bright manner- I don't want to upset them!).

We went to my home town in July for her 65th, and I specifically arranged 2 things for us to do with her, as she's often saying how much she misses me and DC. She bailed on the first (a trip to the park), as her hair might get messed up in the wind, and the 2nd (tea at hers), she read the paper and watched the TV rather than interact with DC (or me).

About a month ago, I had surgery for an ectopic pregnancy. She wanted to come over the day I got out of hospital, but I said I just wanted to be home with DH and DC. A week later, after DH had gone back to work (he works away) I rang her in tears, saying that I was finding things hard, and asked her to come over. She said she'd check dates and would speak to me a couple of days later. Nothing. So about a week later, I asked again, and gave particular dates that worked for me.

After about a week of faffing around, she said she might not be able to come over. I clearly, calmly (but nicely) told her that I got that she had a lot on her plate (she doesn't really, but I was being nice), but that I was really struggling post ec preg, and that I could really do with a hand, even for a day or two.

She called yesterday saying that she's not coming. Because she wants to go to a golf lunch w DstepF. I knew this was going to happen. And to be honest, I'm not surprised, but I'm amazed by how hurt I am.

I just need to get over my expectations of being mothered by my mum, don't I?

If you've got this far, thanks for bearing with me- I didn't mean to go on so much!

MonaLotte Thu 15-Nov-12 10:53:38

That is horrible. Sorry about your ectopic.
I have a similarly odd relationship with my mum. Don't want to hijack your thread, but safe to say, I can empathise.
It's really hard to accept that your mum isn't the close "maternal" mum you want. I am still struggling to come to terms with it. It isn't easy. I can't really offer advice but have some hugs xxx

Apparentlychilled Thu 15-Nov-12 10:55:07

Thanks Mona. I'm usually ok-ish with it all, but since having DC (maybe because I can see the gap in how I try to treat them and how DM treats me and my siblings?), it all feels so much more painful. I can't believe how upset I am by this- am close to tears.

AlanMoore Thu 15-Nov-12 10:57:32

sad how did you get to be so nice with a mum like her?!

I have a lovely friend whose mother is awful. She doesn't see her or talk to her and though it's painful she can live with it. Her own dd is wonderful and they are very very close if that gives you something bright to think about...my friend cut contact about 20 years ago when her dd was small as she didn't want the negativity to affect her.

My mum is estranged from her dad for similar reasons, it's his loss.

If you can lower your natural expectations you might be able to maintain a light friendship with your mum, but it sounds really hard. Hope you can find a good way forward x

AlanMoore Thu 15-Nov-12 10:58:54

Oh and of course you're very upset! You shouldn't have to go through this sad it must be horrid.

FarrowAndBollock Thu 15-Nov-12 10:59:40

sad You must be really disappointed in her. I don't have any advice really as I would probably be unable to bite my tongue and mention the things you have mentioned above, and cause an argument.

Could you start a conversation along the lines of 'you know you say you miss us ... well what exactly do you mean by that? When we came for tea you read the paper ..... you cancelled the trip to the park and didn't prioritise helping me when I really needed you. I'm feeling unsupported and very hurt ...'

Apparentlychilled Thu 15-Nov-12 11:01:52

Thanks Alan- good luck, lovely DH and lots of counselling! smile

I'm strongly tempted to cut her off. I don't think I can cut off completely, if only cos it would be too much of a big deal with other family (I've 4 siblings and don't want this to become WW3 as everyone wades in), but maybe going back to my coping technique pre-DC might be the way forward.

On a bad day (like today) I feel like I must be terrible if my mum doesn't care (even though intellectually I know it's her stuff and her loss). sad

MarianForrester Thu 15-Nov-12 11:06:25

Another one who knows how it feels.

You are not terrible! It is really hard when things just aren't as you'd like them to be (and they should be) but it's her, not you.

I would just accept what she's like and not try any more. Concentrate on your own family, which sounds lovely. You're bound to be feeling big rubbish after the ectopic and all, so just be nice to yourself smile

Apparentlychilled Thu 15-Nov-12 11:06:48

Thanks Farrow- I tried something similar when I was pg w DS- I was telling her that I felt rubbish (at about 32 weeks pg) and her response was that DBro's friend had just had a stillbirth at 34weeks pg, so things could be worse for me. When that caused me to burst out in tears, she was amazed (I was quite emotional while pg!). And that I should never have a 3rd DC (God know's why). When I pulled her up on that, it ended up with a really dramatic email exchange in which she demanded I apologise (for telling her that I was upset when she said that repeatedly. I told her that I had been grown up to tell her that an apparently (repeated comment had upset me), and that I had assumed she'd want to know (as I would if I made a comment that I didn't realise hurt), and that I wasn't going to apologise.

So while at one level I'm tempted to call her on her behaviour, I strongly suspect it'll end up being all about her, and she'll love the drama. I don't have the energy for that, and on the basis of past efforts, nothing will change. sad

Hopeforever Thu 15-Nov-12 11:07:33

No words of wisdom, but a big lot of sympathy.

My way of coping is now not to expect anything from either mum or Mil then I can't get hurt, except I still can't get my head round them not coming when I had the D&C's post MC.

Sorry, not much help

AlanMoore Thu 15-Nov-12 11:08:40

Backing off as much as possible whilst keeping the peace sounds good! Hope you've got some quality rl friendships to cherish too - my mum and nan had a tough time wrt family but some friendships begun in the 1920s by my late nan are continuing today smile

Apparentlychilled Thu 15-Nov-12 11:12:47

Alan- yeah, that's what I've been thinking recently- my RL support has always been my friends, that it's really been friends (and DSIL - a really lovely surprise) who have been my true family in recent weeks, just like pre-DC.

Oh Hope- I'm so sorry to hear that! How awful of them! Sending you big hugs.

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Thu 15-Nov-12 11:21:35

I don't know whether this makes it any easier, but it's not just about expectations of mothering, is it. A friend - even a not-very-close friend - wouldn't treat you like this. The fact that she's your mother just adds another whammy of pain to the experience. I shouldn't think her "friends" find her particularly reliable or rewarding either.

From what I've read on here and observed in my own family, I wouldn't call her on it. You can't presuppose normal reasoning and empathy with some people. It's like trying to emotionally connect with a badly programmed robot.

sweetfluffybunnies Thu 15-Nov-12 11:27:25

I can empathise with you although my difficult relationship is with my dad. My lovely mum died many years ago.

I am in my late forties and it is only in the last few years that I have finally managed to detach enough to deal with his lack of interest in me. I get the feeling that his attitude stems from his belief that he provided for me as a child and that once I grew up I had no right to expect anything from him, as in emotionally, practically or anything else. In actual fact I never expected anything, but it would have been nice to feel that he wanted to offer such support because I am his child and he loves me.

It was all made worse because he remarried and his second wife was a dysfunctional, controlling, alcoholic bitch who set about separating him from me and my siblings, and his grandchildren. He was quite happy to go along with this for a quiet life.

So after many years of trying to maintain a relationship with him and being let down, like you op, I reached the stage of just letting go, of not trying, hoping or expecting, and therefore not being disappointed. Basically I expect nothing and therefore don't feel hurt when that is what I get.

Sadly (for him) his wife died a couple of years ago, and since then he seems to want to have more to do with me and his grandchildren. But I promised myself I would never let him affect my feelings again, and so, while I am happy to see him from time to time, I will never allow myself to expect anything from him.

It is sometimes hard not to feel guilty that i don't try harder, but honestly how many years can someone go on trying to have a relationship with a parent who just doesn't care? In the end you have to find contentment in your own family and life, and leave them to reap what they have sown.

Sorry to have gone on for so long op, your post resonated with me. I hope you find the resolution you are looking for.

Apparentlychilled Thu 15-Nov-12 12:18:38

Mulled- you're exactly right- I said something similar to a friend this morning about not treating friends like this. I think it's notable that DM doesn't seem to have any old friends- about 2-5 years into all friendships, people seem to move on. Funny that.... (at the risk of sounding like a total witch!)

sweet - thank you for your lovely post. Ironically, my dad is like that too! For some random reason I don't expect anything of him (maybe because he's always been absent, physically and emotionally), but I know what you mean about letting go and focusing on my own family.

Thank you all. While I wouldn't wish this on anyone, it's nice to know I'm not alone, and that others have found ways to cope with similar parents.

No direct experience but my FIL is like this. I've never met him. I think he knows about our 3 dc but couldn't be sure.

He's never acknowledged their existence. He doesn't have anything to do with us. DH and FIL never fell out. DH says he's just like this.

SIL lived with him when she was younger so they were very close but he's cut contact with her. The last time she saw him, she bumped into him in the street when she'd been in hospital because they thought there was something very wrong with her pregnancy.

She hadn't seen him since he hadn't bothered turning up to her wedding. When she saw him, she burst into tears and told him what had happened. He looked her up and down and walked away.

Neither DH nor SIL know what they've done wrong. The only time we hear of him is when he visits DH's ex and my DSD. The only grandchild he gives a shit about, though I don't know why.

Sorry to hijack! Just wanted you to know that there are plenty like your DM. There shouldn't be, it's not fair on their children.

We don't speak about FIL now. Not ever. If he turned up on the door I'd be happy I suppose for DH but that's never likely to happen.

Hi Apparantly Chilled,

Your mother is and will never be the mother you so dearly want her to be. She is not made that way. BTW you did not make her like this; her own birth family did that particular brand of emotional damage to her. Her own childhood may well give you some clues; pound to a penny it was abusive in some form.

(My own parents to a great extent trusted, well more like left, me to get on with life without much imput from them. Their level of overall disinterest is hurtful).

The best thing you can do is for your own family unit to live well and come not to rely on her for anything whatsoever; she is only concerned for her own self. Would not want to subject the DC to such people; you would not tolerate this from a friend and family are truly no different. Make and keep your own boundaries with regards to her if you cannot bring yourself to fully cut her out.

Some suggestions for you:-

Would suggest you read "Toxic Parents" written by Susan Forward along with "Children of the Self Absorbed" written by Nina Brown. You may also want to look at and post on the "Well we took you to Stately Homes" thread on these pages.

I would also look at the website entitled "Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers" as that may help too. These people do not have and cannot maintain friendships on any more than a superficial level (both my ILs do not have any friends, only acquaintances or people they find useful as contacts).

If you did come to the conclusion that your mother to your mind is a narcissist, it is not possible to my mind to have any form of relationship with her.

Apparentlychilled Thu 15-Nov-12 12:47:24

Thanks Attila- funnily enough, I had been looking at those books on Amazon recently. I guess what surprises me is that though I've had lots of help over the years, for PND and for crazy childhood stuff, I'm still surprised when it hurts all over again, when I think I've dealt with stuff. Maybe it never is dealt with, but just changes over time?

Yes, such stuff can come back to bite you unexpectedly and often when the first DC is born. These sorts of issues re childhood and the realisation that it was actually really bad is indeed painful to properly acknowledge.

Children now adults of such toxic parents often have what is known as FOG - fear, obligation, guilt.

JustFabulous Thu 15-Nov-12 13:08:52

Some people just don't know how to be a mother and nothing is going to change that if they don't think they need to change and are willing to put the work in.

My mother was shite. I may have mentioned her before. Somehow though she thinks she has the right to my children hmm.

I think if someone in your life is not bringing joy into it most of the time then there is no place for them.

Your children would be better off without granny in their lives than having someone who hurts mummy.

Apparentlychilled Thu 15-Nov-12 16:09:45

As a result of my mum being so un-mum like, I think I've had unrealistic expectations of my MIL (who is v warm and loving, but I've come to realise that she'll never be a mum-figure to me, no matter how much I'd love one in my life. Does that make any sense to anyone?

gemdrop84 Thu 15-Nov-12 17:02:50

As a result of my mum being so un-mum like, I think I've had unrealistic expectations of my MIL (who is v warm and loving, but I've come to realise that she'll never be a mum-figure to me, no matter how much I'd love one in my life. Does that make any sense to anyone? I could've written that sad I feel so jealous when I see my mil and sil who seem genuinely close.

Apparentlychilled Thu 15-Nov-12 18:15:19

I know- me too. On the one hand it's nice to we that what I get isnt the norm, but at the same time, it makes me so sad and envious.

JustFabulous Fri 16-Nov-12 07:49:35

Does your MIL know how much you would like her to be a mother figure for you? Maybe she has held back as she knows you don't have the mum you wnat (does she know?) and doesn't want to force herself on you.

When my MIL and I were shopping for wedding things she asked me if I wanted a mum or a friend. I told her a mum but tbh we are not really close. I have tried but she just didn't understand when I was ill and that was hard. I constantly wanted approval and it never came. Very good with the children though.

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