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Advice on my mum and our relationship(30 Posts)
I've just finished a teaching contract at a prestigious RG university but I'm struggling to get a job as there are so many excellent competitors out there. I'm applying for many jobs and not even getting an automated response, never mind an interview. However, I have got an interview today with a v good RG university. This is the text my mother sent:
Really give [RG university] your best, otherwise you are wasting your time and theirs not to mention letting down the person who gave you a glowing reference. Hope today went well. You looked good. Good luck. Xx
For context, I'm 30 yrs old. What do you think of this text? I'm trying to work out some things about my relationship with her and would value objective feedback.
I hope your interview did go well today.
I would not have felt at all encouraged to receive a text (she could not even bother to phone you directly) like that. I think it says an awful lot about her to be honest, far more than what it says about you. Its all, "now don't let others, really me, down because I really only see you as an extension of me". The comment on your appearance is also loaded as well.
Has she always been this critical of you rather than encouraging?.
Hope you went onto delete it. Honestly I would not bother reading any more texts from your mother; it is really loaded with obligation.
I would have read it as critical and patronising, along the lines of 'remember to be a good girl and not mess up like you usually do'. The comment about your appearance is also telling - is she someone who is obsessed with appearances?
I would have sent something like 'good luck at interview today. Will be thinking of you and I know you'll do great! Let me know how it goes'
It's hard without knowing any wider context but I think that message would definitely kiss me off. Nobody needs to be told to try their hardest in an interview and I'm quite sure you want to get a job just as much as she wants you to get one! I'm the same age as you and I sometimes think our parents just don't realise how much harder the job market is these days. I know I've had some fairly unsympathetic, albeit well-intentioned advice from my dad when looking for jobs in the past.
I do have a friend, though, who has an impressive habit of saying spectacularly the wrong thing, and that is exactly the kind of message she'd probably send. She'd probably think she was being really helpful and supportive and giving you some good advice. So it just about could be a well meaning, supportive message. But the fact that you posted it here at all makes me suspect not.
It's a bit shit isn't it.
The whole "otherwise you are wasting your time and theirs not to mention letting down the person who gave you a glowing reference" suggests that she doesn't see you as good enough.
It also sounds as if she still sees you as a teenager that needs chivvying along.
Hope it went well
Not had it yet! Three and a half hour trip on the train, left at 6.15am. I was up til 2.30am doing another application.
Thanks for your good wishes. I need them at the moment.
Basically, my mum and I have had a massive falling out because a few days ago I was 18 minutes late (I had text her at 7am to say I was stopping for fuel and would be arrive at 7.15am). I had gone to bed at 1am after getting home from tutoring at 9pm and then working on (funnily enough!) job applications.
she bought a horse for us to share, but I do all the looking after of the horse (and pay a couple of hundred per month towards keep) as I compete her along with my other mare (which I pay for by myself) My other mare is very, very sensitive and can only be ridden by me (she bronced my friend 12 feet in the air) so my mum wanted a horse she could ride too. I was meeting her at the yard before I went to work so we could ride out. I was exhausted and when I arrived, my mum looked extremely cross (I had had three missed calls and a text without a greeting or kisses saying 'do I feed the horses') and I asked her what was wrong. "You're late" and "should you even be riding today?". At that point I burst into tears and said I couldn't take this any more. The yard is where I go for destressing. I'm late for everything in life because I'm so busy and I'm always suffering from anxiety and exhaustion. This is not the first time she has gone apeshit over me wanting my yard run in a certain way (I was there first by about 3 years).
The trouble is, because it involves horses and petty arguments, it all feels such a trivial first world problem. Added to that, my mum has spent huge amounts of money on me over the years and it feels like I'm being spoiled and ungrateful. At university, she sat me down to take me through everything she had spent in 15 years. It was a lot. My mum comes from a very poor rural family and was given no help or support by her parents emotionally, financially or practically. My mum has been a single parent for 30 years as she didn't want men coming in and out of my life, and in that time she built up a solid business. It hasn't made her rich, but it has made her able to retire on the equivalent of a final salary pension.
She gets upset that I don't like her hugging me etc, but the trouble is, when I was a teenager, I had an eating disorder. The cleaner found out (starve/binge/purge) and eventually told my mum. My mum sat me down and raged at me about how I had embarrassed her and how it was mortifying that the cleaner had had to tell her. It was horrible. I never went to treatment as I told her it had stopped. It hasn't. 15 years later and it still affects me. After that, I just stopped talking. My periods didn't come in til I was about 16, I never mentioned it to her. She wanted to take me to the doctor at 17 as she didn't know they had begun and thought there was something wrong with me.
But, she can be very kind. She wants so much for me to be happy and it frustrates her that nothing she does can make me so. She wants to be be supportive and involved in my life and now she has retired, if I ever need any help or support (usually practical, but I'm so pressed for time that that is the best sort of help) she will give it.
OP you need to separate from your mum. She is way too involved in your life and uses money as a way to control you. Seriously, move out and make a life for yourself that doesn't revolve around this woman.
Oops sorry I thought you said 'house' but you said 'horse' silly me! Even so, cut financial ties with her and don't allow her to affect you emotionally so much.
I'm currently crying in the taxi on the way to the university as I know I have made some mistakes in my presentation that I submitted and I can feel the panic rising. I self sabotaged completely.
Sorry for ranting on here, I probably sound really self indulgent. But I appreciate people replying because right now I feel very lonely. I'm lucky that I have a wonderful and supportive partner but he can't fix this, no one can. Plus he is three and a half hours away.
I am amazed she sat you down and listed every penny she'd spent on you. Surely she'd done that out of love for you and you were aware she'd been generous? What was she expecting to come from that chat?
I can understand she gets upset if you don't like to be hugged by her and it's clear why you don't, but I wonder if you've ever had therapy to help you cope with your eating disorder and the way she dealt with it. It sounds as though it would be very useful.
She's far too involved in your life. She needs to be encouraged to make friends of her own and have some sort of an independent life.
Sometimes parents want something for their children so badly that they say something daft at a crucial moment and I think that's all that's going on regarding the interview and her text.
Best of luck with the interview. Is it in a different city? It sounds as though you need some physical distance between you.
Best of luck, concentrate on your interview today, your mother's issues can wait.
Dry your eyes. You are not at all being self indulgent.
She was very precise with all this you are 18 minutes late malarkey wasn't she?.
Her kind actions are all on her terms and are done mainly to make her look good. She has and continues to abjectly fail you as a parent.
Re this comment:-
"At university, she sat me down to take me through everything she had spent in 15 years. It was a lot".
Its actually typical of toxic parents to come out with that sort of stuff; this because we've spent money on you, you are supposed to be eternally grateful. Its a big pile of crap.
"My mum comes from a very poor rural family and was given no help or support by her parents emotionally, financially or practically"
She has continued that toxic cycle of dysfunction with you; she has really given you no support throughout your life and has remained selfish and self absorbed.
You need to put mental as well as physical distance between you and your mother. I guess she has never encouraged you to do that at all, she has basically seen you as an extension of her.
I would seriously consider contacting BACP to find a therapist to discuss all this; it will help you particularly if you find someone you can work with effectively. You need to find someone who has NO bias about keeping families together despite the presence of mistreatment.
Best of luck with the interview, I look forward to reading an update.
I read your OP and the first thing I thought was I bet that OP has eating disorder issues, with a mother like that! I am sorry to hear you're still struggling with it.
She sounds very controlling and overbearing.
Of course she wants the best for you. All parents do. But most parents manage to self-check a bit without being a constant critical voice.
I hope my DD passes her grade 1 cello exam well. God I'd be chuffed if she got a distinction. I hope she does well in her SATS and is exceeding expectations. I really do, I'd be thrilled. Secretly I really hope she goes to Cambridge like I did. However I communicate NONE of this to her as I know it is her life and who wants to go through life with your mothers expectations breathing down your neck all the time? I also know my DD - she is arty, creative, uncompetitive and totally unmotivated by success for success' or praise's sake. I don't think she gives a damn about what SATS result she gets or in future whether she gets into a prestigious uni.
Instead of trying to live my life through her, I am concentrating on living my own life - doing my own music exams on a different instrument, setting myself my own goals around running and changing careers. If you have your own life to life you intrude much less on your kids.
It does sound like I am blowing my own trumpet a bit here but I'm just trying to illustrate that it IS open to your mother to choose to be thoughtful and not use you as a vehicle for her own self-expression.
PS the "don't you realise how much I have done/spent/suffered for you" is something that no parent should ever say to their kid. IME (of my DH's family) it is trotted out in lieu of any real engagement or apology for crap behaviour or in place of ever having to accept that the child is a separate person.
We are the custodians of our children for now - we don't own them and they don't owe us anything.
Oh OP, I can feel your pain through what you write. I agree with other posters that your mother is far too involved in your life. She seems to treat you as an extension of herself rather than a separate person. Her reaction when she found out about your eating disorder was so cruel - berating you for making her look bad, rather than showing concern for you and your health and your feelings. It sounds like she doesn't allow you to have feelings of your own. I have a mother like this and its so damaging and so painful
'I would seriously consider contacting BACP to find a therapist to discuss all this'
I very much agree with this. Having a parent like your mother is so difficult and so complicated that I found it impossible to deal with without having professional help and support. You have learned very damaging lessons from her about who you are, what you are worth, what you are capable of, and you deserve the chance to reset all of that and move forward in life on your own terms. I wish you every success for your interview x
Bumps, it sounds like you have a very healthy attitude to your daughter. Of course you have hopes and dreams for her, but you recognise that she is a separate person and a different person from you and you are able to recognise her strength and give her breathing space to become who she wants to be. You clearly don't hold her responsible for your happiness or for giving your life meaning.
I'm afraid I have to disagree that all parents want the best for their children. Some parents are incapable of thinking about anything on their child's terms - all they care about is making themselves feel good through their child's achievements, and this involves their child following the script and toeing the line all the time, even well into adulthood. Its utterly stifling and suffocating to have a parent like this, and you grow up with virtually no self-esteem or sense of self. Not all parents are as clear-headed and caring as you are.
2nds - I suggested we talk this weekend but she said she didn't think that I would be ready yet as I have competitions this weekend that I will be stressed about them.
Thanks for other points - it is scary having my darkest thoughts about my relationship confirmed. She is so lonely and so desperate to be loved that I feel awful at the thought of making distance between us. But I really appreciate the warmth of the pp here.
Job sadly would be a commute and air b n b - my dp and I live in the south.
Got an hour til interview so apologies for radio silence for a while.
Ps had talking therapy and it kind of helped. Trouble is, any standing up to her that I do is not well received.
I really hope your interview went well!
Please remember that it is not your job to make your mother happy. She is an adult and she has choices - ultimately she is responsible for herself. You are also an adult, not your mother's little puppet, or counsellor, or the source of her joy or anything else she is expecting you to be. You do not owe her anything. Spending money and making sacrifices for their children is what parents are supposed to do. She doesn't get any gold medals or special rewards for doing that, and it certainly doesn't buy her your emotional servitude.
I would think very carefully about what you want to get out of any conversation with her. Will she actually be able to hear you? Will she be able to understand what you say to her? Or will she start twisting your words, becoming defensive, blaming you, focusing only on herself and her feelings? That's an extremely painful experience, and one you might want to save yourself from.
You dont' need to stand up to her. You can quietly detach. Stop telling her the details of your life. Be less available. Start to become clearer with your boundaries. Reclaim more time and energy for yourself. I know how hard this is and I understand the guilt all too well, but you can do it.
Think of how you would advise a friend in your situation. We're often a lot kinder with other people than we are with ourselves
Lotta - I would say what you said. The trouble is, she is elderly and lonely and means well - and when she is being nice, she is great. She was super supportive when we had major issues with my dp's mum over winter (health issues etc).
You have narrated exactly how it goes when I try to talk to her.
The extent to which she twists things - a few years ago, my horse died on the gallops with me. It was devastating and she was good at dealing with it/me. then I bought another using all my savings and the insurance money. He went badly lame the first winter I had him and I phoned her in a panic. She had a go at me, saying I was trying to ruin her day (she was on a day out with a friend in London). She actually thought I was so jealous she was going to London with a friend that I had manufactured an exaggerated issue to spoil it. I didn't know she was in London.eventually the horse had to be put down because he had an incurable neurological disorder.
I find writing is better - perhaps I should try that again? Trouble is, I started writing and I got to page three typed in about 1/2 an hour.... I would post it on here but I don't think the posting boxes are long enough and quite frankly I'm not sure 1500 words of how shit my (privileged, comfortable) life is will be good for anybody....
Interview is over - I went in my usual over enthusiastic gabble mode so probably talked myself out of a job. But at least I was cheerful rather than teary! I made one mistake where I finished by asking a question about research when it is a wholly teaching post, which pissed them off, but apart from that it was ok.
"The trouble is, she is elderly and lonely and means well - and when she is being nice, she is great. She was super supportive when we had major issues with my dp's mum over winter (health issues etc)".
You really do have FOG (fear, obligation, guilt) in spades when it comes to your mother.
I think you need to rid yourself of this notion that she means well; she does not and actively seeks to undermine you at all and any opportunity.
How often is she actually "nice" to you; very rarely I would think and only as well when she could look good in front of others. Her own parents were equally as dysfunctional but instead of seeking the necessary help decided to continue with the same old abuse with you. She has failed you abjectly as a parent and continues to do so.
She was young and mean to you and now she is old and mean to you. Toxic people like this do not fundamentally alter. She was only super supportive because that could make her look good and perhaps went onto make it about her as well. She has never been super supportive, let alone at all supportive, when it has come to you. She has been dismissive of you from the very beginning.
I hope your interview went well and that you get the post applied for.
I would not write to her; I would start the long and arduous process of detaching.
Writing simply give her more ammo to lob at you. If you write her a letter get it all out but for goodness sake do not send it.
My mother has been very supportive of me at times. However, she's totally inconsistent and I can't handle it any more. If someone is always lovely, that's great. If someone is always awful, you learn to avoid them. When they swing between the two extremes and you never know what kind of response you'll get, it drives you crazy. It sounds like your mother is supportive on her terms, and that's no use at all.
Why do you think she means well? She may not be able to offer you any better than what she is doing currently but that doesn't mean you have to suck it up and be grateful just because she's your mother. You deserve better than that
Its FOG, as Attila describes. You have been conditioned to think this way. That's not a criticism, lots of us have had similar experiences. Do write a letter if you feel it would be therapeutic, but do not send it. This woman doesn't seem able to hear you or see you and is not able to make space for you and your feelings. You need to protect yourself.
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