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Relationship with Parents(26 Posts)
Help, my mum is driving me mad! I feel like I can't breathe.
Parents have retired out to Spain and sold their UK property about 3 years ago (without discussing with me or DB) Now whenever they come back (which is around 3-4 times a year for 5-10 days) they have to stay with me, DH 3x DDs (as they have now fallen out with DB and SIL). I am really annoyed because they decided to move to Spain and now just expect to use my house as their UK base (even though we do not have a spare bedroom), I am forever taking in parcels, or doing this or that errand for them. They are forever leaving stuff here when they visit (like big coats, golf clubs, general junk) as if I have the room to store all their crap! I know that this all sounds petty but it think its all the small stuff that just keeps adding up and I feel really put upon.
When they come they stay in my office (I run a business from home, so I have to give my co-worker a weeks holiday so that I can turn the office into a bedroom) Last week my mum came over for 5 days, Everything was fine for the first 3 days, but by the 4th day we start to get on each others nerves, I can see she gets upset that my DDs don't pay her that much attention any more, they are 13 16 17, when she left they were smaller and would sit and play games with her, but now they all have busy social lives and she doesn't seem understand this. She also cries at the smallest thing so you alway have to be careful what you say to her, and this makes the girls not want to be around her as much. She also does this when she phones them, and I know it puts them off of talking to her on the phone. This has had a lot to do with the falling out with my DB and SIL, she gets very emotional because she doesn't see her other GC.
She also cannot miss her TV programmes so it doesn't matter what you are watching once her programmes come on the TV gets turned over. There are so many little things that sound petty but drive me to distraction. But I am mainly cross that both of them decided to sell up everything and move to Spain, when we were always such a close family and had a really good relationship and always spent time with each other, but now with them being so far away we are forced to live with each other for long periods of time and it is ruining our relationship.
Sorry if this is all jumbled together, but they are coming back at christmas for 10 days and I feel like I am suffocating at the thought of it. I have thought about posting on here so many times before but always feel disloyal so want to do it before I change my mind.
OP that does sound extremely difficult and I would find it absolutely impossible. Are they generally happy in Spain, or are the frequent visits part of a dawning realisation that they actually want to come home, do you think?
I think something needs to be said and done, because you cannot continue as you are. But your mother does sound like a difficult woman to reason with - I well know that emotional blackmail and the turning on of the tears. It's immensely wearing and emotionally manipulative. These woman can't seem to associate their own behaviour with people's reactions to them. The fact that they have fallen out with your brother and his family to the extent that they have no contact is very telling. However you and your family are not responsible for this and it is not YOUR duty to compensate.
Do they have to stay with you? Could they afford to stay in the local Premier Inn / B&B? Or are there other relatives who would be happy to put them up occasionally?
Unfortunately, they cannot afford to stay at local hotel, and I would feel terrible asking them too. There are no other relatives, however, they have some friends that often go and stay with them in Spain, but when I have suggested that they go and stay with them for a few nights my DM always turns her nose up because her friends smoke and she doesn't like it. I would like it if she would arrange to see her friends during the day time just to give me a break when she comes over but she always says that she has come to see us and doesn't want to see anyone else, I even put her on my car insurance.
My DF is really happy in Spain as (this is where the story gets complicated) he only retired in April this year, before that he was commuting every week, flying out of Friday and flying back on Monday and staying at work during the week, however, when it came to school holidays and the flight prices increased that is when all of a sudden he was staying with us for 2 or 3 weekends a month as it was too expensive to keep flying back and forth. So he has only just started living there full time and he seems quite content. So this is where my feelings of being (not really sure the right term) but being taken advantage of stem from.
My DM on the other hand is always saying how wonderful it is in Spain and is always posting pictures on Facebook (rubbing in the fabulous weather, drinks on the terrace etc) but sometimes, in her tearful moments she will blame my dad for making her move (she likes to pretend that she is a dutiful wife who does what her husband says, but that is just not my mum, she ran her own company for 20 years, I think that sometimes she forgets that we know her that well!!!).
To make matters worse, they have always been terrible with money, and the house in Spain has lost money since they bought it and they have spent all their savings doing it up (even though it was brand new!) so even if they wanted to move back I don't know if they would be able to afford to.
I have similar. FIL returns home maybe 4 X year and stays a couple of weeks. And ALWAYS it is an understanding he will stay with us. Has sold his house and stores all of his possession with us. He is a LOVELY man but it does get wearing have so much 'stuff' in the house that is no use most of the time.
It's really wearing having house guests at all, you have my sympathy, and your DM I'm sorry to say is being a bit of a PITA by seemingly expecting that everyone dance solely to her tune and every detail while she stays.
I'd have to address her behaviour as its not fair on you, your kids or DH, and it's YOUR home. I'd address, kindly of course, before the next visit and if she gets upset and doesn't come, so be it.
Stop pandering to her.
Your post is full of martyrish "have to" statements.
You don't have to run their errands, you don't have to give them your office, you don't have to change the TV channel, you don't have to avoid setting off tantrums, you don't have to take your DB's share of visits, you don't have to store their stuff, you don't have to let them visit whenever they want.
They ask for these things, or expect them, and you are in the habit of saying yes. Say no. Like your DB did.
Why not ask him how he did it and borrow some of his gutsiness?
I know I don't have to do things but whenever I make a stand and say no I end up feeling bad, and petty, as I said its only small things but they all add up to how I'm feeling. My DM has a way of making me feel like a sulky teenager. I kind of expressed my annoyance to her today when she told me she had ordered a handmade xmas present for my niece from someone we know, and could I pop and pick it up and pay for it. I rolled my eyes (we were on FaceTime) especially as I know that I am now going to have to package it and send it on and she made some sarcastic comment about it not being a big deal and ended the conversation. Then I think about it and think its not that much of a big deal perhaps i'm being unreasonable, but I know its all the small things that end up making me feel like this. BTW my DB is just plain rude to DM & DF, we are completely different personalities, I don't think i could live with myself if I spoke to them how he does.
I don't think there is a solution to my problem I suppose I just want to get it off my chest as I drive DH mad moaning about it, as he is quite laid back and is out at work most of the time while they are here so it doesn't affect him like it does me, and he has the opinion that they are family and you just put up with it.
As for the question of what I would like to change? I would like for them to win the lottery and get their own place here so that we have our own space and are not together 24/7 when they are over!
I don't want to sound harsh, but you're the only one who can change this, but it sounds like you don't actually want to enough. So you can come on here to vent and moan - which is fine by the way - but you need to say if that's all you want to do. Because unless you grow a spine and DO something about it, it will stay the same as it is now. Don't think I don't sympathise - my mum is a nightmare, but a couple of years ago I decided I wasn't going to put up with her stupid crap any more and told her so. It resulted in three months of sulks and silence before she picked up the phone.
The other posters are right op.
I don't know what else any body can suggest as you are resigned to put up and shut up.
You could say you have no space due to the work space (office/bedroom) being needed.
Or you could just be honest, it will cause a bit of upset but you will get passed it.
They choose to move away and sell up. They choose to visit quiet regulary.
you choose to keep your mouth shut when it puts you put. Don't be manipulated by your mums crocodile tears - sounds like she knows how well they work!
Have you thought about being direct with your mother and saying that she doesn't seem happy, has she thought about them buying their own place, perhaps in your neighbourhood? It sounds like a complete unsustainable nightmare, and can't be good for your business. Your colleagues can't much like having to take holidays as and when they turn up.
Your mother is using you. That's not the behaviour of a loving parent.
You have been incredibly accommodating to your mother's demands - does she reciprocate in any way? Does she show any understanding of the effect of her demands on you and your family?
Quite honestly, I felt exhausted just reading your posts, so goodness knows what it must be like to have to live your life according to such a selfish, self-absorbed person.
You're in the FOG - Fear, Obligation, Guilt. I picked up this from your first post: " I know that this all sounds petty...". No, it doesn't sound at all petty. You can't go on like this. What would happen if she decides to come back permanently to the UK for financial/health reasons? Can you enlist the support of your husband/children/co-worker for when you finally put your foot down and say "no" to your mother?
"But I am mainly cross that both of them decided to sell up everything and move to Spain, when we were always such a close family and had a really good relationship and always spent time with each other, but now with them being so far away we are forced to live with each other for long periods of time and it is ruining our relationship. "
Have you ever put it to her like that before?
Airbnb might be a good budget option to suggest.
I agree with other posters. Of course you don't "have to" let her dominate the tv. You certainly don't "have to" stop working and make your co worker take her annual leave around your mother's visits. That is your reason for putting your foot down right there - this is presumably your livelihood and also your co worker's livelihood.
You can't both just stop working because your mum fancies a few days at home.
I think its not unreasonable to keep a few warmer clothes at yours, but if they want you to store large things like golf clubs, you can offer a solution.... "We haven't glt room to store these things, but if you want to buy youselves a shed / garden store unit i don't mind putting it in the garden' type thing.
However, you need to stop letting her dominate you as you are
I am horrified that you all see the mother as the problem and she should be firmly put in her place.
I am a mother of 65 who successfully ran her own business until very recently. I have 2 daughters who live at the other end of the country and I miss them and the grandchildren. When me and DH go to visit they have let it be known that I in particular upset their doemestic and work routine and they feel obliged to pander to me or I get emotional and resentful. I am quite unaware of this and have always done my best not to cause inconvenience to them, but the truth is; parents do just that, just as my mother did to me, and much as I loved her, she could also be demanding and emotional if I didnt pay her the attention she felt she was owed.
Well, we DO owe a little thought and care to our parents. Not for long periods at a time and not if it badly inconveniences us. I suggest that you are very decent about your parents and understand that you do have some emotional duty to them. And its usually Mum who is the most demanding. Have a frank but diplomatic word with her (as my daughter did to me), tell her you miss her since she has gone to live in Spain but equally, it is simply not practical for you to put her up for long periods at a time when you need your home for work. As for your parents' golf clubs etc. you can always bung them in the attic or find someone who would store stuff for them for a minimal charge.
We do now stay at a hotel or B&B when we visit for more than a couple of days and it means we are not imposing on our children, have some peace
so it may not be such a bad thing to suggest this to your mother. I can tell you, it is no fun getting older, feeling redundant to your family and having to cope with the demands of a sometimes irrascible husband. Not surprising we ageing Mums get a bit emotional. But not just becuase we are manipulative of selfish. Wait until you reach your Mum's age and you be a bit more sympathetic.HappyShopper, you are a kinder person than your DB! Another point: you could sometimes visit her in Spain and let her look after you - she'd probably love it!
The OP was mainly about the mother. Therefore the posts were about the mother.
It's not about you KeepSmiling. I'm sure you're perfectly wonderful.
As for the question of what I would like to change? I would like for them to win the lottery and get their own place here so that we have our own space and are not together 24/7 when they are over!
Is there not a realistic change you would like? Or do you feel completely hopeless to change anything in this situation?
It was giving the mother's possible point of view. So far the whole thread souds pretty one sided. And yes I probably AM wonderful. But not according to my daughters...
I appreciate that KeepSmiling and sorry if I sounded snarky. However you're not her mother so you can't give her point of view - you can only give your own in relation to your own family. The OP's mother sounded utterly hard work to me e.g the crying at the smallest thing and appearing to "go off" her grandchildren as they get older and lead their own lives - presumably because they're not as entranced by playing snap and Happy Families any more.
No, I appreciate I'm not her mother, but I have tried to give her a little support based on my relationshiip with my own daughters. All Im trying to say is that rather than criticise the mother for her tearful manipulative behaviour, try and make a compromise with her without it seeming like rejection. After all, you said you were a close family once, and your husband doesnt seem too bothered by her,so the chances are she is not THAT much of a nightmare. I am a tough, competent, very social adult with others, but much more needy with my children. A problem that is I am sure very common with mothers of grown-up children leading separate lives.
Thank you everyone for your opinions, We do visit them in Spain, usually at least twice a year once in the June half term and again in the Summer Holidays. It is better when we go there as they have 2 spare bedrooms and we go to the beach most days, so you can lay on a sun lounger and put headphones on and pretend to sleep a lot of the day . But we still seem to rub each other up the wrong way if we spend more than a week together. The house is a 20 minute drive from restaurants, bars beach and both DP think its acceptable to drink and drive, so I end up being designated driver whenever we go out. Although DH is laid back and gets on well with DP he does not enjoy spending his holidays with them as they do end up getting on his nerves when we are with them all day every day. This year we went as usually in the June Half Term, but booked to go away with friends in the summer, this did not go down well with DM. First she said are we still going to come and visit them as well, when I said no as the flights are really expensive in the school holidays so we wouldn't be able to do both, she then asked for the details of our holiday and said that they would come and join us (we went to Tenerife not mainland Spain where they live). I told her I couldn't remember the name of the hotel and I think from the tone of my voice she realised that I was not on board with this as she didn't mention it again, but in further conversations said that she would have to come and visit us more often . She has also started calling the DG and inviting them out to visit saying they can bring a friend (which I am totally not happy with as I would not trust them not to drink and drive) and it really annoys me that they are going behind my back raising my DDs hopes of a holiday with their friends, when I will be the one footing the bill. I then have to be the bad person to tell DDs that they can 't go.
Last night after I had rolled my eyes at her, she posted on Facebook one of those quote type things about a boy who had to hit nails into a wooden fence every time he was angry and when he learnt to control his anger he could then pull them out and his father pointed out all the holes that were left in the fence, and said that even though you say sorry it doesn't mend the damage done (or words to that effect) I might be sensitive but I am pretty sure this was aimed at me (as my DB is not on Facebook). So then I feel bad again, as she is making herself out to be the victim.
I have come to realise from posting on here that I really need to grow a pair and start pulling my DM as and when she does things, because I could sit here all night and type lists of things that she has done that drive me made and I usually don't say anything to her because I don't want to upset her or cause arguments so its just easier to rant and rave to DH. But I am going to take a lot of your advice and have it out with her (probably after the weekend as it is her birthday!!!)
Omg,you have my sympathy. My dp moved to a far part of the country and other family are ex pat so I'm fully conversant with the uninvited guest scenario, especially since we live near London and have spare rooms. I am much less accommodating than I used to be.
I'm going to suggest a bit more honest speaking since it's obvious your DM knows you aren't too happy. Next time she suggests a visit perhaps say that it isn't a good time, it's too long for you at present ( DC with exams looming etc) or that she will need to be quite self sufficient as you have work? Make sure she understands that you cannot just rock up and expect the world to revolve around you. Giving your colleague holiday really doesn't make sense in the long run...I'd try as hard as possible to keep work running as usual and encourage day trips. Ask her to help out with meals or housework. She's not really on holiday,she wants to see you so she needs to fit in and try hard herself.
My own dp do invite themselves and whilst they don't stay long and do help, it's still not easy. The fact that your own dp sold up and moved without ever even asking your views is awful. I agree that Airbnb is a good suggestion even for a few nights break just to break the routine and set a few new habits and rules.
Start small. The gift that needed collecting? Say you will try but are really busy so no promises this week. Then leave a couple of weeks. Storing stuff you have no space for? Say so and suggest proper storage facilities. Setting new boundaries could save a lot of heartache later because as they get older this could get much worse.
Thanks MatildaTheCat, unfortunately they have already booked for 10 days at Christmas, but I am going to have to say something before this as I feel like I am suffocating at the moment even thinking about Christmas. I did try to carry on working on a few visits, but my DM just sat in the office with us for a while which was disruptive and when she wasn't in the office she was sat in the front room with a miserable look on her face (thats the thing my my DM, she cannot control her facial expressions!) so thats why on the last couple of times I have given my college the time off (once I just gave her paid holiday and the last time we sorted out stuff that she could do from home but it took a whole weeks planning before my DM got there, which I don't think she realises and I don't like to make a big deal out of it but maybe I think now I should). She will help out around the house, but where I am in a routine, its easier and quicker to do a lot of things myself. I did get her to do some ironing on this visit while I did some work but where she was a bit grumpy the last couple of days, I couldn't tell if she had the hump about it or not. KeepSmiling16, thanks for your comments, and I appreciate what you are saying about the getting older and feeling redundant, but the thing is that I had a really good relationship with my DM and probably would have still had if they hadn't decided to move . I guess that I have a few abandonment issues really because it has made me question if we did have that good a relationship if she decided to up sticks and move country. I blame the move to Spain for all of our problems, including her falling out with DB and SIL. It has put a massive strain on the whole family. Could you not move closer to your DDs?
I can imagine that's the problem with a certain type of parent/s who move abroad - suddenly they think that your holidays wi now all be spent with them.
To be fair, I think most adult children would struggle to spend more than a week with their parents/in laws.
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