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How can I say this to my mum?

(52 Posts)
Southernlassy Mon 07-Oct-13 13:05:08

Arrrrrrgh!
I love my mum dearly and she's very old- mid 80s- so am lucky to have her still- but we live 300 miles apart and only see each other once every few months. We talk on the phone maybe once a week or more.

Anyhoo- I work from home in the main and am usually quite busy managing my time around 2 part time jobs.
She doesn't seem to realise that I work- well, she does, but not when it comes to phoning and she quite often calls me during the day when I am in the middle of some work, often with a deadline.

Her phone number is automatically withheld so I don't know if it's her or not- it could be anyone. I sometimes don't answer if I am busy but I did today and she was wanting to chat about her shopping trip, cosmetics etc etc which is all fine BUT I am working to a deadline and have a meeting to go to later today, so I had to cut the call short.

She didn't say anything but I know she'd be hurt- and this happens quite a lot.

She doesn't give any recognition that I am working- seems to think that if I am in the house I've time to chat, rather than asking me if it's a good time etc.

I feel such a cow but on the other hand wish she'd take my work seriously and respect my 'working day'.

Is there anything I can do- other than not answer her calls- that might help her appreciate how my life is?

I've thought of the usual- 'love to chat but can't- have to get on just now' and I know she'd still take offence.

Madlizzy Mon 07-Oct-13 13:07:19

Could you not speak to her saying something like "Mum, I do love to speak to you and catch up with you, but during the day, can you treat it like I work out of the home? I'll call you in the evening and catch up then."

buildingmycorestrength Mon 07-Oct-13 13:09:46

I had to get call screening for this problem with a rather needy family member.

I wouldn't answer if the number is withheld, tbh. If it is a client or someone important they should leave a message and you can call them straight back.

Also, maybe make a point of calling her when you are putting breakfast dishes away or something...then you are in control, you've shown you care, and you can ring off without worrying too much?

pictish Mon 07-Oct-13 13:10:22

Well it sounds as though she's determined to be offended, so I don't know what to advise.
If she won't recognise and respect your job, and the fact that you are busy, despite you politely pointing it out, then I don't know what you can really do. It's her issue, so I don't see how you can be expected to fix it.

tiktok Mon 07-Oct-13 13:11:15

Why can't you say those exact words in the last line of your post? If she takes offence, then it's maybe time you dared to make clear where your boundaries are? smile

You sound scared to give offence.....but what you would be saying is absolutely not offensive.

claraschu Mon 07-Oct-13 13:15:00

Is she forgetful at all? My mother used to call me at all sorts of odd times, because she was confused about time often (though surprisingly lucid about other things).

I think the idea of quickly checking in with her before you start work is a good one, if you are really trying to keep closely in touch.

Southernlassy Mon 07-Oct-13 13:17:30

Thanks.
I'm not scared to give offence- well, I am! Who wouldn't be- I am living with the guilt of moving away and living 300 miles from her for almost 35 years! I'm also the only 1 of my peers who still has parents alive so I thank my lucky stars for that.

BUT she is impulsive when it comes to phoning- she phones her many friends constantly- and vice versa- but she doesn't appreciate I have a JOB. Today she's just come back from a shopping trip and wanted me to check out some face cream we each use - name etc- as she couldn't find any in shops - which would have meant me ferreting in my bathroom cabinet when I am trying to prepare for a meeting.

90% of the time I ignore 'withheld' numbers on the basis that if important they will leave a message-but at their age I sometimes think- hmm might be bad news.

My preference is - if it's just a chat she fancies then call me out of 'office hours'- if it's urgent or is a quick question taking 2 minutes then I'll answer.

PloddingDaily Mon 07-Oct-13 13:19:32

I wonder if you could try saying something like "I really want to have a good chat without being distracted by work especially as I'm on a deadline - what time would be good for me to call you back after (end of work time) so I can give you my full attention?"

I'm thinking that way you've gently reminded her that you need to work but not brushed her off, maybe setting an appointment (as it were) to ring her back (& sticking to it) would help alleviate any insecurity she has about you wanting to chat?

I work pt from home & it can be a pita when family don't take it seriously, so you have my sympathy!

Spottybra Mon 07-Oct-13 13:21:30

Get two phones - home and work. Switch one answer machine on as you turn the other off.

plantsitter Mon 07-Oct-13 13:22:28

Get another phone for business hours. Have an answer phone that you can hear on the other line so if it's an emergency you can pick up. Don't give your mum the new number! !

tiktok Mon 07-Oct-13 13:22:31

Southernlassy, it's not normal to be scared of giving offence, honestly smile

It's not normal to be living with guilt for moving away....after 35 years!

You say 'who wouldn't be scared?'.....well, plenty of people are not scared of their parents, or guilty at moving away.

Clearly she is a pain in the bum with the phoning and the trivia, and now you are a grown up person, you can decline to go along with this. Just say the words, 'sorry, mum, I'm busy with something else now....I'll try to call you later.'

Practise saying it without sounding nervous or wobbly.

If she takes offence, tell her she's being daft. In a nice way smile

DameFanny Mon 07-Oct-13 13:22:31

I think you should just not answer the phone to be honest. I work from home mainly, and I've set put my work hours clearly, even to not answering the door if I'm not actually expecting someone. Maybe put a message on your answer phone to say you'll respond to personal calls after x o'clock?

plantsitter Mon 07-Oct-13 13:23:27

X post!

plantsitter Mon 07-Oct-13 13:24:04

X post!

Southernlassy Mon 07-Oct-13 13:24:36

That's good Plodding- you see what happens is that when I pick up, and find it's her- I wait to hear if it's bad news ( about my elderly dad) or if it's something trivial- which it was today. I should control all of this and say right from the start that I can't chat until X time.

It's a much bigger issue really because she doesn't appear to value my work- or rather doesn't appreciate that in order to produce it, I do have to put in the time! eg if she ask what have I been doing,and I say I've been busy she reply with a ' oh housework, cooking, cleaning....'
No mum- WORK. When does she think I do this bloody work????

buildingmycorestrength Mon 07-Oct-13 13:24:38

tiktok it is good to hear that. I'm also v scared of giving offense etc, so it is good to be reminded of what is normal.

Southernlassy Mon 07-Oct-13 13:27:56

I do have a separate phone for business- she calls me on my landline which is ex directory and only known to friends and family.

I am not so much frightened of giving offence as hurting her. That is normal. I'd be a hard person if I could easily and willingly hurt my mum.

I do feel bad about moving away because for years and years she asked when DH could get a job closer and has always made it plain she'd like me nearer. I fully understand this and it is a regret of mine that we've missed a lot of the mum/daughter stuff due to distances.

pantsonbackwards Mon 07-Oct-13 13:33:22

I don't have the phone call issue but i do have the problem of certain people not understanding that when Im at home during the day i am at WORK!

I get asked when im going to get a job? I HAVE ONE!

Don't i think it would be a good idea to set a good example to my children by working? I WORK!

And expecting me to be free at the drop of a hat, be able to run errands for everyone, and being expected to do all the housework AT THE SAME TIME AS WORKING!

purrpurr Mon 07-Oct-13 13:35:31

You need to stop answering. She doesn't sound able to respect your work, so she isn't going to appreciate any attempt you make to reason with her over phone calls during office hours. It doesn't sound like she thinks you do work at all, maybe she thinks you're tinkering. Maybe, contentious though it may be, she is of the belief that your work is indeed in the home - it IS the home (housework etc) and anything else is just a hobby.

As she is phoning your landline (which is not your work number being ex-directory) you should have an answering system where your greeting is something like this:
Hi, you've reached Southernlassy. I'm sorry I can't come to the phone at the moment but I'm busy working. If you leave your name & number and a brief message after the tone, I'll phone you back after work (that's after 6pm or so). Thanks for your call BEEP!

Then just don't answer it. Let the machine take it. There is nothing stopping you listening to the messages say if you take a break for 10 minutes in the morning and again in the afternoon and maybe if you have a set lunchtime for yourself, all good times to listen to the messages, note them down, reply if you want to at that stage but only if you want to and get back to work.

Then, when you're finished work, you can get back to whoever leaves you a message in your own time.

If it's important to your mum to phone you up, she'll get better at leaving precise messages for you like "Hi Southernlassy - it's your mum. I phoned for a chat, bye now" or whatever. Then you can set aside an hour if you need to in the evening to have a good old chin-wag! smile

p.s. I used to hate having to leave voicemail messages but now I don't find it a problem. If I hear a phone clicking in to the answering system I prepare what message I want to leave and then hang up.

Southernlassy Mon 07-Oct-13 13:42:28

Strangely enough she had been shopping today partly to buy something I have 'made' through my work and is on sale nationally.The irony of calling me though when I am in the middle of producing more!

I get so cross about this- sorry. I've done quite well for myself in my field of work and on one level she loves telling her friends etc but on the other seems to think it happens as if by magic- not having deadlines and putting in the graft.

purrpurr Mon 07-Oct-13 13:46:02

Oooh curious now, what can it be???

roz1982 Mon 07-Oct-13 14:00:17

You seem quite concerned with and upset by the feeling that your mum not taking your work seriously or doesn't appreciate that you work - why is that so important to you? I'm sure you have other people in your life that get your work commitments; your mum probably just appreciates you as a daughter iykwim? I'm not saying this to seem insensitive or do disregard your feelings, quite the opposite actually, I don't think your mum means to offend you, but she's old, old people have different priorities. My mums only 65, she's always saying to me 'it's only work' 'there's more important things' - and sometimes I sort of realise that she's right really.

pantsonbackwards Mon 07-Oct-13 14:11:38

Ok, I'm going to make a guess . . . packaging designer?

buildingmycorestrength Mon 07-Oct-13 14:12:28

Roz I also wonder if it is because OP is a woman, though. I bet if it was a son his work would be respected. OP obviously this is totally conjecture, don't know you or your mum at all. confused

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