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Heartsink grandmother

(20 Posts)
Pfaffer Sun 26-May-13 13:35:23

DH's mother made it clear early on that she wouldn't be 'that sort of grandmother' ie don't ask for childcare, which we wouldn't have done anyway. So throughout his life she's not had a whole lot of input aside from one 4-night stretch with him as a toddler, which she offered, and did a portion of (her husband and sister mainly looked after him I gather).

Things have dwindled to a couple of hours occasionally and certainly not overnight. He's 9 now. He has two other grandparents who have him for holidays and she's always seemed relieved by this, for reasons I couldn't fathom (did she mean 'phew I'm off the hook?').

The trouble is that she's a big one for grand gestures and making sure she's highly thought of. She wrings this out of one, if one isn't careful. Lately she's done so very little - over the past couple of years - with ds that I don't have to go along with her self-delusion about being a special person to him: he's been very offhand with her himself, and prefers to sit in a cupboard in her house with a computer watching Scooby Doo.

She has offered a few times to take him to visit her overnight (she lives fairly near and is in our neck of the woods once or twice a week on average, though she doesn't visit) but reneged at the last minute, the last two times pretending that this wasn't the arrangement at all. This is a barefaced lie.

Only now she's ill and needs hospital treatment, is rather down, and has got it into her head that ds will be devastated by her being in hospital and that she's sad they've grown apart. I know this stress will come my way eventually, but wtf do I say to someone who I can't be straight with, but who really, genuinely is the root of the problem? I'm sorry she's ill and I don't want her being stressed, but how on earth can I spin this to make it ok? It's not really ok.

littlemissgiggles79 Sun 26-May-13 14:13:33

I'm not sure what you're asking.

If she's done nothing with your son especially in the last 2 years whats the problem now?

Does she expect hospital visits etc?

littlemissgiggles79 Sun 26-May-13 14:28:18

I have guessed from having a re read that she now wants to see your son now she's sick?

I'm afraid you suck it up and take him. Perhaps being ill has brought matters into perspective for her and afraid of her mortality.

To DS you tell him she's older and ill and it's important to be kind to people especially to family.

Who knows maybe she'll be the gm you hoped she would be now.

Pfaffer Sun 26-May-13 14:31:41

Thanks. I suppose really I want to know how to be nice to her at a difficult time when in reality I'm furious at her selfishness. Even now that she realises she's been an arse, it's all about her.

littlemissgiggles79 Sun 26-May-13 14:35:40

She does sound really selfish. I can't believe she wouldn't want to see her grandson anyway.

But I don't know how sick or how old she is and I guess it'd ve worse if you refused.

You don't have to make a meal of it. Visit gift, bit of chit chat. Doesn't have to be everyday or frequently.

Booyhoo Sun 26-May-13 14:36:31

best advice is to let go of that anger. it's not going to help you make the right decision. if your son wants to see her then take him. you dont have to lick her arse but you can be polite with her and engage in chit chat without getting into how you feel about her. if she is very ill, this might be the start of the end of her life and i think you might regret holding onto anger out of principle. especially if your anger affects your ds relationship with herl.

FarBetterNow Sun 26-May-13 14:43:26

How old is she?

How much looking after will she need?

Will she be able to look after herself after her treatment and will she still be able to drive?

Pfaffer Sun 26-May-13 14:45:14

It's not the end of her life, it's a stint of unpleasant treatment. I'm sorry she'll go through it, it's not nice.

Based on past form, it's very likely that she'll at some point corner me to tell me she feels bad about neglecting things with ds. I'm quite bad at the whole smile and nod thing, so it's quite good to be able to get it out here.

I don't know why she hasn't wanted to see him, except that he's quite hard going at times. Also, based on various things she's said to me, I think she wanted more plaudits for the odd couple of hours spending-time-wth-her-grandson that she did do. She kept saying she was happy to let me have some time off (he is at school all day usually though confused ) and I kept replying that I know he really loves spending time with her. Which is the truth but I suppose does make her less the giver of a gift than she usually likes to be.

Pfaffer Sun 26-May-13 14:46:30

She will be just the same after treatment and recuperation. Older. It will knock things out of her. I wouldn't expect her to be jumping up and offering to have ds for a week's holiday, or anything like that.

seeker Sun 26-May-13 14:59:53

I don't quit understand what you're asking, I'm afraid.

Pfaffer Sun 26-May-13 15:24:36

I don't quite know either.
It's good to get it out, though. I feel she's been a bit of a blight on my life for quite some time (too much mental energy spent) and this is just another way in which she fails to apologise for something whilst at the same time I can't just be straight with her and call her on it.
She's a selfish blight but she's ill, so I suppose we all just keep schtumm anyway.

GilmoursPillow Sun 26-May-13 15:38:58

Maybe this is the point where she realises what she's missing out on and wants to make amends.

It'd be a big thing to swallow the past and allow her to make amends but you'd probably never regret it, and nor would she or your DS.

littlemissgiggles79 Sun 26-May-13 16:04:44

I can't keep up with you.... your first post ds is not bothered about her and spends it watching scooby doo.

Last post you have told her he loves spending time with her which is true....both can't be right.

Maybe if ds us a livley lad its a bit much for her? doesn't mean she doesn't love him. Also its not essential for gps to take grandchildren for a weeks.holiday, mine never did.

don't lose.sight of the.fact that an older person is going.through some.unpleasant treatment and now is not the time to be telling her she's selfish.

Helltotheno Sun 26-May-13 16:33:55

OP I would say there are two things here. Firstly, as a GP, she doesn't have to take on minding of her GC and in terms of telling you she wasn't going to be doing much of that at the start, she was right ime to nail her colours to the mast. Ideally, it would be good if GC were somewhat involved but it's not an entitlement.

BUT the other side of that is, if someone goes that route and you reduce your expectations accordingly, then they needn't go pretending to the world that they're involved, interested, close to their GC etc, because that's just hypocritical BS.

You sound like you're twisting yourself in knots over this woman and internalising everything. I'm more in favour of the direct approach OP. Don't be annoyed with her for not wanting to take your child; that's her entitlement. On the other hand, cut her off at the pass with any of the self-pity about how they're not close and remind her that it was her decision at the very start to not be close so she has no-one to blame but herself. Also, she told you not to have expectations so don't have expectations. This business of her arranging something and cancelling etc, just don't go there. Make your own arrangements and politely tell her that you won't be making arrangements with her any more because she cancelled the last few and subsequently lied about it.

I think part of the problem here must be that you feel intimidated by her?

Pfaffer Sun 26-May-13 16:34:54

Sorry, it is of course one of those things which has quite a long and jumbled history.
DS adores his grandmother, but like many people, if he is sidelined he takes himself off and finds something to take him away from the situation. That has happened more and more. He is very happy to actually be with her, but if she ignores him he heads for the computer.

I know I have to keep quiet about it all, and that's what I'll do, just needed to get it out really.

I think being around an incredibly selfish and self-obsessed person is quite unlike anything else really. Very very hard to explain.

Pfaffer Sun 26-May-13 16:37:50

Helltotheno: yes, I think you have it.
Definitely in knots smile

turkeyboots Sun 26-May-13 17:48:27

I understand, my mother is like this too. It's frustrating to have no effort made for months and months, but then be expected to have deep meaningful "make this right" conversations which make her feel better, but does nothing to change her behavior. My mother has been ill lately, so having increased outbreaks of guilt. But have lately taken the view that its not my job to make her feel better about her dodgy lifechoices and so just nod and smile. And keep it to short doses, when I can deal with it and ideally have others round to distract her.

Hope you can find a way through it.

A1980 Sun 26-May-13 20:17:30

One thing that stands out a country mile is you keep mentioning that she won't take your son for holidays and wouldn't have him for a week...a WEEK!

She doesn't have to take him off your hands for days. Maybe she's got the impression that is what you want.

Pfaffer Sun 26-May-13 22:16:55

No....I'd never expect that! And she knows that.
He does go to his other grandparents for that long. That's their business though.

The fact is, she says 'I'd like to have him for a few days in the summer' and then when it comes to it, she is too busy or she manages an afternoon. So she's offered = she can feel ok; but it doesn't happen = no effort put into maintaining this relationship she claims to value so highly.

I completely understand that she doesn't have to spend any time with him. We never, ever try to force the issue with her. What I particularly hate though is her saying she wants to, and very obviously not doing it, or lying about having said she would. And now feeling all sorry about the very very obvious result of it. It's utterly infuriating.

formicadinosaur Sun 26-May-13 22:21:27

Can you just give little feed back whe she goes on about things you don't agree with. Look neutral or change the subject?

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