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Please help; she is driving me mad!

(17 Posts)
Nimthenamechanger Fri 26-Apr-13 14:14:54

We live close to my Grandma and she is still very active and helpful. When DH is at work we help each other out with shopping/lifts etc.
Our DS is a toddler and from birth my Grandmother has been so over-the-top. She gives him her absolute undivided attention, excluding everyone else, which is so irritating. Someone will be talking to her and DS will toddle over and she will just drop the conversation completely to talk to him, which I don't feel is right. Any answers then will be monosyllabic as she sings to him etc. When I breastfed him she would make comments such as 'He's not hungry. You're not hungry are you, Baby Nim?' and try to distract him to look at her by poking him!

She looked after me as a baby whilst my Mum worked and ironically I am now closer to my mum as I realise the wedge she drove between us (never encouraging us to make up after arguments/always taking my side etc). I am sure some people will think he's just being a normal loving Great-grandma, but she has always been very good at emotional manipulation.
Naturally my DS adores her; she gives him whatever he wants and is always asking me to leave him with her (I don't; she has cataracts and a bad hip and I don't trust that she will spot hazards in time).

She lost her own mother when she was a few years old and for her whole life has 'mothered' everybody. She loves babies and children, and she often does and says things that make it seem as if she wants to prove that she is more 'loved' than their own mother, such as telling me that a cousin's baby had been calling her 'Mummy' (At 8 months for god's sake!)

Honestly, reading this back I must look like I'm so insecure and worrying unecessarily about a harmless old lady, but she is so obsessive; I feel like we've all faded into the background. When she calls up, all she asks about is my DS, which is quite hurtful tbh.

There is no way I can just see my Mum alone as Grandma now lives with her. She has started talking about me going back to work (I am a SAHM) and mentioning people whose Mums/Grandma's looked after their babies. I just know what she's thinking and even if I wasn't SAH, there's no chance she could look after him; she's 80 ffs.

I don't want to see her less, because that would mean seeing less of my Mum. At the same time; it's not healthy for DS to be pandered to all the time (as he grows up,) I'm worried about her trying to drive a wedge between me and DS (as she did with me and my Mum.) I just don't know how to deal with it, without looking pathetic. Can anyone help?

sweetfluffybunnies Fri 26-Apr-13 14:19:29

Could your mum come and visit you without your grandma sometimes? That way you could see a bit less of your grandma and strengthen your bond with your mum.

Nimthenamechanger Fri 26-Apr-13 14:47:08

I have actually suggested that fluffy, but my Mum's quite busy at work and she has said that she thinks my Grandma would be upset if she finds out that Mum's's seen me and DS without her. Secret meetings sounds a bit silly, but it might be the way to go.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 26-Apr-13 14:59:44

"it's not healthy for DS to be pandered to all the time"

You didn't grow up so badly did you? You might have been anti-Mum for a while but there's nothing to say you wouldn't have felt the same way growing up even without Granny's influence. Lots of kids don't really 'get' their parents until later. She's 80.... how long is she going to last?

Nimthenamechanger Fri 26-Apr-13 15:30:13

She's a tough old bird Cogito. She could be around for another 20 years!Really though; I can see what you're sayng, but I can see so many little ways she undermined my Mum's confidence.
She didn't like my Dad and would freeze him out and talk about him to us. She doesn't like my husband and acts in the same way towards him.
I am coming away from their house feeling stressed out and I don't want to feel this way.

FortyFacedFuckers Fri 26-Apr-13 16:30:14

I know exactly how you feel you could be talking about my grandma, although mine doesn't live with my mum so I don't have that problem. I really think meeting your mum somewhere or her coming to you is the only solution.

ElectricSheep Fri 26-Apr-13 16:36:40

I wouldn't worry about your DS getting undivided attention and being pandered to. Being spoilt by a gp is par for the course imho and as long as you are sensible with him that will be his normal.

Otherwise though your gm does sound a bit overpowering tbh. I think I might be tempted to take the bull by the horns and just invite your DM only once or twice just to make the point that that is allowed grin

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Fri 26-Apr-13 17:10:39

I am very envious!
Grandparents (no surviving GGP) rarely put themselves out at all for my DS and some of his cousins. However there are definitely a couple of favourites that get their full attention and stacks of expensive toys.

She does sound as if she lacks a bit of tact, but I'd swap for her any day!

daftdame Fri 26-Apr-13 17:23:45

I would try to mix up the pattern of your visits a bit - go with someone else, without DS, pop in before an appointment / shopping so you have to go at a certain time.

If you need to break the tension may be help her with some job or other or so the conversation has to be about that. Treat her with her favourite things now and again, so the conversation is about that.

Her being 'jealous' / freezing people out shouldn't be pandered to. Let her see that you have good relationships with other people too.

daftdame Fri 26-Apr-13 17:26:34

Another idea is to talk to her about things that DS has being doing recently - she should at least be interested in this.

Mumsyblouse Fri 26-Apr-13 17:49:28

Even if she lives another 20 years, she's unlikely to be very active and healthy and able to coo over your son for all that time, I have noticed a marked decrease in that generation's ability to do even quite simple stuff from early 80's onwards, if not before, so by 90, she may be very dependent on your mum which is presumably why she has moved in with her. I do feel that some of the responsibility of this rests with your mum who isn't prepared to see you separately (not secretly, just separately- can she not come round to yours after work one night?)

But some of the things you say like her saying 'he's not hungry' and so on are just par for the course with mothers, sisters, grannies, I'm not sure it makes that much of a difference. She is unlikely to change her family role now and I'm not entirely sure it is reasonable to expect her to at 80, I think all you can do is decide how much time you want to spend there and if you can see your mum separately not to exclude your gran but just because it is nice to have that time together. And, make it very very clear you and your husband come as a package, so you go there, often, with him. and sometimes not, as YOU decide, not her.

It sounds like everyone in the family has rather pandered to her over the years, I don't think you can change her but you don't need to pander to her.

Mumsyblouse Fri 26-Apr-13 17:51:11

But your worries about her spoiling him are a bit unfounded I think, love and attention are lovely for little ones and he won't perceive the more complex stuff you do, just enjoy it while it lasts because, however tough you think she is, she may not have that many active years of spoiling him really (and given it's in terms of attention and not sweets, I don't see the issue).

i know it sounds awful but she is really old - she simply isn't going to have the time/energy/wits to replicate the pattern she took part in between you and your mum. also you're not dependent on her help in the same way as your mother was so a) she won't have as much access and b) she won't have the kind of power over you that she had over your mother so the dynamic is entirely different.

i totally understand your discomfort but i really don't think you have to worry about her ability to impact on your relationship with ds.

ElizaDoLots Fri 26-Apr-13 18:51:41

She she sounds infuriating OP

Nimthenamechanger Sat 27-Apr-13 11:53:29

Thanks for replying. I think I am forgetting how old she really is. She's so active; goes dancing etc since my Grandad died. I do forget that she won't be around forever.daftdame and Mumsy she has definitely been pandered to; everyone's afraid of upsetting her. I am going to try be a bit stricter though. The spoiling (treat-wise) won't be such an issue with DS as she can't look after him alone. I suppose I'm just thinking of how overweight I became as a child because I had constant access to sweets and fizzy drinks. My Dad used to go mad.
She would always let my Mum be the one who had to say 'no', the bad guy, so she could continue doing things that weren't in our best interest, but that meant that she was always the 'favourite'.
swallowed that is a good point about the same pattern not being repeated. I do know that realistically she won't have that power and I need to remind myself of that.
This thread has really got me second guessing myself, but I am sure that she's not normal. She has always kept my Mum under her heel by being lovely one minute, then putting her down by telling her about somebody else's daughter's success, how much money they've made etc. She is the only person who has (tried to make) made me feel like I've lost my personality since having a baby. We used to talk all the time about everything and now she just ignores me, unless it's to tell me pointedly about so-and-so who's just had a baby and their lovely large house and their dh's good job (we've just bought a small place, dh v.small salary). Horrible.

Grr; sorry to rant. It' so silly; she has been a lovely grandma in many ways, but she has really got some issues that have caused a lot of hurt over the years.
When I think of my poor Mum and Auntie though. She must have been the MIL from hell. I know she'll never change, so I suppose it's just damage limitation now! Thanks for r&r thanks

ElizaDoLots Sat 27-Apr-13 12:45:44

Don't doubt yourself OP, I think she's been clever to so subtly manipulate things that you are doubting yourself (not helped by some of the posts above). Sometimes this subtle manipulation is worst than outright nastiness because you don't know where you stand half the time.

I think you have to be strict with yourself and have really firm boundaries.

do remind yourself how much easier it will be for you to set boundaries than it was for your mother. my mother is a nightmare and was actually hideous to me as a child and is a nightmare triangulator and player (as your grandma sounds) but she can't have the same effect on ds as she had on me because he has me whereas i was stuck with her iyswim.

your child will have a more buffered and far less intense relationship with her than you had with her. you can turn the sound down on it majorly. in a way it's sad that she still thinks she has the power to play you all when in fact she does not and you can subtly but assertively show her that by holding your boundaries.

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