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Am I overreacting re. my mother?

(20 Posts)
tangerinefeathers Sun 10-Feb-13 00:03:28

Will try and keep this brief. We moved home over a year ago, I had reservations as my relationship with my mother has always been difficult, but we thought we'd give it a go.

Anyway it's ridiculously expensive here to buy, so we've been living in my one-bed flat with our DS (2). Not great, but I know it's the norm for many so just deal with it.

We've put in offers on a few places but always been outbid. The problem with my mother is that she seems to be almost enjoying watching us struggle. She came to an auction and watched us lose, then rang me up afterwards and said, 'It was such a lovely house. And you only needed another $xx' in a 'comforting' tone.

She also told me one day when I was feeling down about it and stupidly confided in her that 'Well, we have more money that all of our friends now. I think our properties must be worth 5 million by now....'

Anyway we missed out on another house last weekend, and she texted me to tell me that 'you will find something soon, it will be perfect in every way'.

This frustrated me because she clearly has no idea of what prices are like now. She has never offered us a single penny, nor have I asked, but now I feel like perhaps she should, given how much money she's made through buy-to-let (but that is so not the norm in our family, she is unbelievably stingy with money).

I rang and gave her a piece of my mind, basically said that we won't find something 'perfect in every way' because property prices here have doubled in the last ten years, and we are totally priced out of the market. And she has no idea of what it's like to live in a one-bed flat with a very active toddler. So don't send texts telling me it will all work out and, while we're on the subject, don't tell me about your $5 million dollars worth of property (she inherited a lot from both my grandparents, and another elderly woman she befriended).

Since then she has been bombarding me with advice, all via text. She's offered for us to live in a two-bed flat that she owns, which I know is really run down, and has started texting DH about cupboard doors etc, so I know she will expect us to renovate it (it's typical of her to offer something that will mean she looks really generous but actually she gains from it). She's been 'suggesting' I get a part time job and move back in with them (I do work, but it's not well paid, and I don't want to live with her), and that we should look in different areas (we already are) because we're aiming too high.

I don't know if I sound really petty or not. it's just typical of her to get pulled up on something (which I rarely do, because it's not worth it, but I just lost my temper) and to then just get really overbearing with advice, messages etc. Every time I check my phone there's another 'helpful' message.

Added to all that I'm pregnant (only five weeks) and her behaviour is reminding me of how she was when I had my DS - constantly calling when I was trying to get labour started, yelling at me when I rang to tell her I'd had the baby because I hadn't called earlier and 'they had been so worried', then coming to stay and not letting me rest and making me go out in the cold so I ended up in hospital with pneumonia. It still upsets me that some mothers go to stay with their daughters and actually help, get up in the night etc, whereas she went to bed every night and got a full night's sleep and expected to be entertained during the day (then told people that the baby was sleeping all night, which he definitely wasn't).

Anyway I am feeling quite down about it all. She's just so selfish and overbearing and completely lacking in maternal understanding or help, she just thinks of herself. I feel stressed and furious and i'm sure this can't be good for the baby inside me. Plus I want to avoid telling her about the pregnancy for as long as possible because she'll make it all about her and try and take over and I want to avoid that this time.

sorry for the essay. Not sure what I'm asking for, just needed to offload.

notnagging Sun 10-Feb-13 00:24:16

Your mother is crazy op! Unfortunately some of us have toxic mothers. I found keeping my distance from mine works best for me. She is emotionally draining & turns everything into a drama about her. Unfortunately my sister still lives at home & it is slowly driving her mad. Don't ask or accept money from her you will never hear the end of it. My mother always gives me money thst you think is a gift then asks for it back. She will remind you all the time & make out she desperately needs it. You will get there op, it is frustrating but you can do it by yourselves.

tangerinefeathers Sun 10-Feb-13 00:35:43

ah, thank you notnagging. I think that first sentence is what I most needed to hear.

It's doing my head in because if you read her texts you would think she was being so nice, so caring, but there's something almost aggressive about them as well, it's as if she can't bear to be pulled up. But to an outsider she is being a saint. Although my husband did have a 'moment of clarity' when I explained that the texts she's been sending him about kitchen cupboards actually refer to this flat she's offered us that he will be renovating in his spare time if we take her up on it. grin.

And telling me to go back to work is just a slap in the face because I do something for work that doesn't make much money but is important to me but it's clear she doesn't see it as a proper job.

EclecticWorkInProgress Sun 10-Feb-13 00:55:33

No, Tangerine, you are not over reacting.

It would not be a waste of time to read up on narcissism; there is a website called Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. There isn't a whole lot in your OP that suggests NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) in your mother, but your second post does in describing her saintly public facade.

It is so so so difficult in dealing with people like this, especially since it is your mother who is supposed to love you. If the stuff you read rings any bells, whole clarions perhaps, then the best thing to do is detach from her emotionally, expect nothing from her - because you know it'll all be about her anyway, and reach a point of indifference towards her (because anger is an emotional connection).

Try a MN search on NPD. There are some excellent threads that explore the dynamics and offer strategies in dealing with it. I can tell you the #1 choice right here: detach, no contact. They are just so toxic in a very insideous way.

It is not you, it is her. Congrats on your pg, btw. Best wishes for you.

notnagging Sun 10-Feb-13 01:07:58

My mum was like this when I was at home. She would be shouting & screaming at me, telling me I needed psychiatric help then as soon as the phone rang her nice voice would come out! Everyone thought she was lovely. My dh only realised recently when she came over, insisted on staying in the kitchen when we were upstairs then we found her sitting in the dark because noone had come down to switch the light on. Weird.
Just be polite op & don't act like you need her. Seeing you strong & independent will burn her up inside which will make you feel able to breath even if its just an act. You will learn that your behaviour is normal & hers isn't.

LittleChimneyDroppings Sun 10-Feb-13 01:16:23

YANBU. But theres not much you can do about it. Its hard. But I think you need to take a step back from it all and do your own thing. Its good to make your own way in this world. Things will work out for you in the end. Don't waste your energy feeling embittered by your mother.

zippey Sun 10-Feb-13 01:43:32

Your mother sounds awful to me as well. You're right, to outsiders your mother might look like a saint, but your OP revealing her underlying motives make sense. For example when reading your OP I did think "maybe your mum doesnt realise how hurtful her comments are and is just trying to help/be kind", but you know your mum and I believe your take on things.

It would be great to have a generous parent, esp now as you are expecting a child, but any such generosity expressed would probably come with conditions. It sounds as if she gets enjoyment from seeing other people suffer, even her own daughter. I think the best thing you can do is make sure you behave differently to your own children, and keep looking for a new home.

SilverClementine Sun 10-Feb-13 02:40:06

OP I really feel for you, that sounds so stressful and unhelpful. I have no further advice than.what has already been offered, I just wanted to say that I feel for you and hope you find somewhere nice to live soon Xx

Astelia Sun 10-Feb-13 04:52:02

She is selfish and mean to you. I find it hard to believe any mother can behave like this, but years on MN has shown that a depressing number do.

My advice would be to keep away and keep communications to a minimum. Are you trying to buy near her or near your jobs?

I think the less you see her and speak to her the happier you will be.

Its not you OP, its her. You did not make her into the toxic woman she now is, her own birth family did that. BTW what if anything do you know about her own childhood?.

I would look at the website entitled Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers as that may well help you. The thing that struck me was the public facade put on for others; this is a narcissistic characteristic.

Detach for your own sake and make those boundaries you have re your mother a lot bloody higher than they are now. Also block her number from your mobile phone and install Caller ID on your landline; incessant unhelpful calls would drive anyone to distraction.

To my mind it is not possible to have any sort of relationship with a narcissist.

notnagging Sun 10-Feb-13 09:11:58

Thank you for that link eclectic. It finally enabled me to put a name to my mothers behaviour & to make sure I do not carry on her traits in my own children. I think like me op you will have to decide whether low contact or no contact is best for you. Personally I prefer low contact as it is easier to manage with excuses & we know live some distance away so it is harder for her to visit.

Stoneinwelly Sun 10-Feb-13 09:33:02

I know I will have to name change after this advise as it makes me sound the worlds biggest bitch but here goes...
I completely understand your situation as I have lived a very similar life. I have a mother who is a very strong woman. It can be difficult to show weakness in front of her or ask advise as if you give her a chance she will takeover, put me down etc. I never give her that opportunity now. I don't think she's toxic but that we come from either end of the sensitivity spectrum. I think she thinks she's helping... and most people think she's wonderful.

She and my father are quite wealthy from family money and inheritance, this is the nature of farming. I decided to maintain a relationship with them partly for this reason. If they were completely self made it would be different but my grandparents money always felt like my money too iykwim.

Anyway my advise is to take the nuclear, one hit option. She has a lot of inherited wealth, you are her child and you are at a point in your life where you need money. You need to go for broke.Use all the weapons available, your children ie her grand children's security, inheritance tax planning, anything to get a lump sum or a property made over to you ie the one she's mentioned. If its yours you can spend your money doing it up.

You need to be financially safe. You can't spend your life creeping round her so you aren't left out of the will. It will make your life miserable. I think your children are entitled to the security she could easily give them. Don't let her control your life with advice, gifts or loans she can call back etc.

If it doesn't work walk away or set v.v. Strong boundaries, nothing lost and you won't spend years hoping she'll take a hint or do the right thing.

O.K. Everybody flameaway.

Corygal Sun 10-Feb-13 10:33:17

I'm not flaming, stoneinwelly. You speak fine sense.

The trouble with rich mean people is they stay that way. OP, you can try asking her for money (make it a lot) but don't try banking on getting any. If DM does cough, she'll prob use it to manipulate, so make sure what you're asking for is worth it.

DM ought to be ashamed of herself. She isn't though. She won't be. The only weapon you have is to reveal the truth behind her public persona. Don't do this in an axe-to-grind way, because it may make you sound less credible, but in a more-disappointed-than-angry way - to all, yes all, your mutual friends and family. Explain briefly that you're struggling and then quietly finish up with 'Mum doesn't want to help'.

It's hard to deal with these people because there's not much comeback and they know it. But remember that a) you can control how much access you give them to your life b) yes, you can; low contact is less effort than none c) you are picking her care home.

When you do have contact with DM, fill your time with merry anecdotes about kind grannies and how much their DC and DGC love them for their generosity.

tangerinefeathers Sun 10-Feb-13 13:07:51

Thanks everyone for your advice and understanding.

I spoke to her today and from what she's said she is going to give me some money. I think my father has told her she has to (and has been saying so for a while), and she has finally understood that we can't get out of this situation without some help, it's just impossible to buy in the current market or even find a rental.

I am in two minds about taking the money, I've always made my own way, but we really need some help and what she is offering would cover the stamp duty so anything we save from now onwards would go towards the actual house.

It's a big step for her to offer to just give us money. I do think she has issues with money, worries about not having enough or running out, and she can't help that. I'm reluctant to cut her out completely as she is my mother and she isn't as bad as some of the mothers on here, just a bit selfish and unable to see things she doesn't want to acknowledge, even if that is frustrating to those around her. Also my DS adores them and I don't want to deprive him of grandparents.

Liitlechimney I agree completely, it is such a waste of energy feeling embittered and I know I'm lucky to have another baby on the way (fingers crossed) and don't want to stay angry with her. Disengaging, expecting nothing is what I try to do but she just wound me up this week.

I have realised recently that I can speak very bluntly to her and a lot of it just goes over her head or she doesn't seem to hear it, or just instantly wipes it from her mind, so I feel better having told her today I think she's greedy, and that it's people like her that have skewed the housing market for everyone else.

Stoneinwelly that is good advice. I took it today... she knows she has to give us something, and I think she's got my dad on her back about it. I just have to accept it without guilt or taking on any of her irrational fear of not having enough money.

Thanks everyone else, I have read everything and really appreciate your words of support.

tangerinefeathers Sat 16-Feb-13 06:34:11

Thought I would update, we found a townhouse this week that would have been great and just about affordable with the money my mother promised me a week ago.

I went over to her house to discuss it with her and surprise, surprise, she can no longer give us that money, it would need to be a loan. And she then started asking if we could pay the interest on it... so her moment of generosity was short-lived. She did say I should speak to my father, typical of her to have everyone talking to everyone separately but no proper sit-down conversation where things are discussed clearly and decisions made.

I was gobsmacked at how quickly she backed out of agreeing to help us. It was clearly something she had no intention of genuinely doing, she just wanted to say it to feel like a saint.

Anyway just after that woman rang whose house I went to look at a year ago and fell in love with (the house, that is) and said she will rent it to us. Just waiting for her to call now. Renting has the added advantage of annoying my mother as she thinks it's a waste of money grin.

So it's worked out and we'll be out of this tiny flat soon and hopefully still be in the house when the baby comes. Plus I haven't had to rely on her for money, which would have come at a heavy price, she is so controlling and the more independent I am of her the better.

Stoneinwelly your advice is spot-on, it hasn't worked, she is far too selfish to give money to her children - but the plus of that is that I am now in a position to set very clear boundaries with her, and limit her involvement in my life. In particular she won't be able to take over when my baby is born as she did last time. I haven't told her about the pregnancy yet and will put off as long as possible and also give her a fake late due date (as a midwife on her once advised to someone) to avoid any stress, constant hassling, around that time.

tangerinefeathers Sat 16-Feb-13 06:37:11

PS to all those who suggested the NPD websites, I was sent to them a while ago through MN and they are very useful in explaining her behaviour, way of treating me etc. She was sent to boarding school at the age of six and I think that greatly affected her ability to be a loving, caring mother. It's sad but there's not much I can do about it now apart from try to avoid making the same mistakes and not letting her get to me too much.

Astelia Sat 16-Feb-13 16:34:33

tangerine thanks for the update and I hope you get the rental house you really like.

I wonder though would it be worth organising a sit down meeting with both your parents before you sign the rental agreement, giving them a chance to give you some money? Have you actually spoken to your father yet?

LineRunner Sat 16-Feb-13 16:51:26

Good luck with your rental house - you deserve it. smile

tangerinefeathers Sun 17-Feb-13 00:31:35

Astelia I should sit down with my father and mother and talk about money but that is something that just doesn't happen in our family. My father finds it's incredibly hard to stand up to my mother, assert himself. He just wants an easy life. I will try and do it at some point. The woman who is renting us the house may eventually sell it to us, she is still settling into a new area and doesn't want to commit. So we'll have time to save a bigger deposit in the meantime.

Also my mother did say that if she did give us/lend us money I would have to keep it totally secret, and not tell my sisters, and I am not really comfortable with that. If she was to give us money I'd prefer that she gave the same amount to my sisters. Not sure why, really, just don't like being a part of her secretive, furtive way of dealing with things.

I suppose the other thing is that with her there is no such thing as a no-strings gift, as there would be when I make a point of helping my children with buying a house. I base my whole parenting strategy on doing the opposite of my mother on every occasion, you see grin. So in a way even though it will take longer I know it will be better if I don't take any money from her. What i would really like is a generous, loving mother and that is a fantasy, I need to disengage and get on with my own life.

It's only since having a baby myself and reading that NPD website daughter of narcissistic mothers (which left me in a state of shock for three days and sent me to brief therapy) that I've seen her for who she is and not a Living Saint and it's only been a couple of years so I still have these altercations with her. I know that with time I will accept her for who she is but every so often I get upset again at her utter selfishness and need a talking to!! Thank god for MN.

Thanks linerunner, we are so happy with our new home. I can't wait for my DS to see it, that will make a year in a shoebox worth it!

Astelia Sun 17-Feb-13 04:21:01

I think you are right then not to want to take any money if it will come with strings and if she won't give the same to your sisters.

Siblings being treated differently is the basis for many family fall outs. Your sisters would probably be upset and rightly so.

Sorting yourselves out and keeping a bit of distance from your parents sounds like the recipe for a happier life.

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