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How can I be a better daughter?(17 Posts)
My Mum is well into her 80s, lives alone, is independent, still drives, is very kind but I still manage to get hugely irked by her. she doesn't do anything major, just annoying wee things that only seem to annoy me and then I feel really guilty about it.
Today for example, she phones just as kids have come in from school - to ask if the kids had watched a to programme about cats that she'd mentioned on the phone the day before. This is the most important thing in her world and she has to ask right at this moment in time when I'm trying to sort out a snack, get kids doing there homework before a music lesson and get the dinner on. So when I clearly don't have a lot of time to spend discussing cat programme, which they hadn't watched incidentally she then says ok "I'm sorry for being such a bad Mum" and I feel even more guilty.
What is going on here? Am I justifiably pissed off coz she phones me at an awkward time (which she should realise by now) to ask a question that could wait until I make my weekly visit to take her out for the day?
Ah. The guilt trip.
There is possibly more to this relationship then the occasional annoying phone call, but I would start and put up your boundaries a little more.
Either don't answer the phone and call her back later, or don't give her a chance to ask questions, and tell her you are right in the middle of something and will call her back in 10.
Rock on over to the stately homes thread and see if anything there resonates. If not great! If it does that that will give you a starting point.
Hmmm, don't think she's as bad as some on there but I do struggle with our relationship and I'm not sure why.
In no particular order, here are more examples of her annoyances:
When we depart a disabled space, she keeps the blue badge on the dash or holds it up to the window for fear of people thinking she was parked there when she shouldn't be.
She calls up (re the cat programme) then says I've nothing much to tell you (she doesn't do much so that's no great surprise) but barely asks what I've been up to. If I have done something all she wants to know was if I had a nice time and was the weather nice - that's it!
She taps rhythms or whistles the same tune (for the last 40 years) like she is uncomfortable with any silences.
She receives a bit of information that she has to pass on immediately - it can never wait. It is usually not of any great importance or interest (to me).
She hardly goes out or does anything and says she's quite happy in her world but then says how the weekends drag by for her. She's not too mobile to walk any distance but can still drive. Suggestions of even joining the library have always been dismissed.
She tells me the minutae of her day from what and when she has breakfast to when she goes to the toilet.
If we are out for lunch and she can't finish what she has, rather than ask if I'd like any, she makes a great play of pushing the food onto or over to my plate.
When I visit, the first thing she does is go through her list of things to give me or tell me. She always feels the need to give me something she no longer wants (and that I have no use for) and when I say so it's met with "well fine then" or at least it feels that way to me - I may be over sensitive about it.
When getting into my car and I switch on the ignition, the radio comes on, she always jumps (exaggeratedly and comments that she doesn't know how I can drive with that noise - like I have done for years and I always turn it off when she is in car).
She will drum a rhythm on her thighs, then rub her hands together and laugh for absolutely no reason.
When winding up a phone conversation she'll say "I'll let you get back to your business" or "away and attend to your bairns" which just grates on me.
If I'm going out for a meal with the girls or away for a girlie weekend (about once a year), she'll ask how DH will cope and do I leave food for him.
These are the ones that continue to this day, there are oodles in the past that have pissed me off no end. The worst being when I'd just had our second child and at about six weeks old DH was away for one night on business and she asked if I trusted him when he was away. I think I hung up on her then.
Sorry for the length but it's even therapeutic to write it all down
She sounds lonely, my mum does this when she is alone or scared, she try's to mother me~ she will ring and say - frog queen have you remembered it wheelie bin day? I have remembered for the last 8 years lol, she will make any excuse to talk to me, it's like an overwhelming need for her, to feel needed.
I think you are right frog but it makes me feel smothered rather than mothered.
You sound stressed and your mum sounds lonely.
I think most parents can be like this. My MIL and mother love s good pointless conversation at difficult times. Oh and repeating the stories!
I love them, just part of life really. I call them back if I'm too frazzled. Or put them on speaker and get on with the DC whilst they jibber away.
I think you need to work out why you are so stressed/annoyed. But I can understand your frustration.
Yup I do need to work out why I stress about it. I'm going through the menopause just now and have had some health issues. Nothing major but just another thing to deal with. This week I've had a period and a hormonal migraine along with it which doesn't help. I've not had a decent nights sleep in weeks and could cry with fatigue. But even when I'm all fine and dandy she irritates me and I feel bad. She's not a horrible manipulative Mum, she's just a lonely old lady and it must be shite for her only daughter to be narky with her.
Sorry from what you've written she sounds like a lonely old lady with her own quirks.
she's reminding me of my late grandma who I miss dearly
She does not sound manipulative abusive or anything that requires the stately homes thread.
If she is not a stately homes thread would she be open to you telling her some of this?
Even if it is just how concerned you are about her, that she doesn't seem to be enjoying life and not getting out and being with people. ?
She sounds smothering. Very similar to my mum, who I went no contact with last year (but there was a lot of other stuff there too.)
"I'm sorry for being such a bad Mum" - I used to get this a lot. Very manipulative and of course designed to make you go "Of course you're not!" It's very common, I think, where the child in the relationship (you) has been parentified - forced into a role where they are emotionally supporting their parent rather than the other way round.
Does she have any friends or other relatives? It sounds like she is relying on you for almost ALL of her social and emotional supply, which would drain the kindest soul.
As my parents got older their short term memories became worse, so they would phone and tell me about things as soon as they thought of them - even if I was really busy. They would worry about odd things - if I said I was going to x city, my ddad would ask where I was going to park the car.
Yes it was infuriating, frustrating, but it seemed that it was more important for them to have told me, then for me to give them a real answer. Once they'd told me, they often forgot about it completely.
It's a strange time, I think, because you are in a transition from 'them' being the parents and decision makers, and 'you' being the child, into 'them' being in need of care and attention, and 'you' being the care giver. It's not surprising that your Mum triggers you - always, in her presence you have the potential to feel like a small child trying to make her happy.
Find somewhere (like here) where you can vent, and be kind to your Mum.
I agree with venus. She's reaching out for a connection and it can feel overwhelming especially when you are quite fragile yourself at the moment. Many of the things she does to fill silence sound like she is worried you will put the phone down or say goodbye if she doesn't make some kind of sound. She doesn't really want to do very much by the sound of it - I have certainly found that even at 47 I have changed and really value routine and find it soothing, I can see myself being in a small bubble in my 80s and very set in my ways.
I think the idea of getting her used to being on speakerphone when you call is a good one, so that you can just chat while getting on with things, provided she can still hear you she might enjoy it. And if the children kick off she can enjoy not having to deal with it
Thank you for your kind words. I spoke to her yesterday and asked if she was lonely. She said she wasn't in the slightest. Said that people often ask her that and although she is alone she is not lonely. But Venus, what you say strikes a chord. Sounds exactly like my Mum. If I'm going somewhere she'll worry about odd things rather than just embrace the adventure. Worried that I park the car in a dark (mug me now) place, how will I get home etc. etc. She has always tended to do this though but it is just more concentrated as she has gotten older.
She sounds a lot like my mother who is 77 now and I recently posted in Stately Homes about, but mine is a narc and her behaviour is troubled and 10 times worse, I don't think your mother is a narc, well maybe some traits? She sounds lonely and insecure even if she won't admit it because of pride. I also use the speaker-phone to deal with the constant phone calls and tell her it's because dd loves to speak to grandma too! A lot of what you describe are annoying traits that you can't really do anything about other than just try to tune out from them, when she projects her worries on to you like about your dh, with my mother I now try to laugh it off and say you worry too much / you have a vivid imagination then change the subject quickly. I think parents age into caricatures of themselves, I know my parents found that with my grandparents, there's a lot of role changing going on which can be hard to adjust to, I'm trying to learn new tactics to deal with annoying traits / behaviour that definitely seem to be getting worse as she gets older!
I can see how you can get wound up but your list sounds pretty normal to me - in fact some of them made me smile (sorry I know that's not helpful) but only because I could recognise many traits. They are not harmful.
If she calls at an inconvenient time, just don't answer and call her back when you can or a quick answer explaining you can't speak and will call her back.
My df annoys me as he has to call me immediately he receives a letter, call or text as he needs to tell me IMMEDIATELY, it doesn't matter what time of day it is. I can come home to 20 voicemails in a day just saying 'is anyone there? is anyone there? is anyone there? No info,nothing. So then I have no choice but to call him back and find out why he has rung 20 times.
I'm sure we all have things that irritate us about our elderly parents but you say your dm is well into her 80's. I would just try and remember that when you feel like you do.
Yes parents do age. And become weird. The thing is while we may all think we won't in X-Tey years time become that way, we probably will
Ha! I can totally relate! My mum has a long list of quirks and oddnesses (different, mostly to your mum), that are definitely increasing massively having retired 10 years ago, and living alone. I think she just gets used to doing things her own way - so she is just very interested in herself, her stuff, and her life! She also simultaneously craves the busy chaotic house she's always had (I'm eldest of four), and I think resents anything that interrupts her relaxed, regular routine (although she thinks it's full on!).
I think some the frustration for me is that I am so totally in a space (with youngish children still - although getting bigger by the day!) where my kids lives are infinitely more interesting to me than my own. I don't tell them about my day - I ask about theirs! I expect to have to give up stuff for them; do things to make them happy more than me In a positive way, not a martyr way). So to have to do that from the opposite end too really grates - even though my mum has never been a mothering type really, her self-absorption and lack of self awareness frustrates me.
I know it's just one of those things though - not intentional, just part of her age and mine. I work on the 'smile and wave' line as much as I can and try and float above it. That said - I see my mum waaaaaay less often than you!
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