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"I'm praying for you." Or how to deal with my mother...

(44 Posts)
WithRedWine Wed 23-Oct-13 10:04:19

So after spending the past 3 months of my pregnancy without any family support, I got a text from my mother.

"Hello redwine, as we haven't heard from you, we presume you're still angry. The most important thing to remember is that we love you. Don't know why you felt you had to storm off like that when a cup of tea and a hug would've made all the difference.Why can you never bring yourself to. say sorry? We are praying for you daily

What's the back story?

Katrose Wed 23-Oct-13 10:05:50

Don't want to read and run but it clearly looks like she's totally ignoring the reason why you 'stormed out'. Sure someone will be along with advice in a bit smile

TheFabulousIdiot Wed 23-Oct-13 10:09:28

what were you angry about?

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 23-Oct-13 10:09:47

Also no idea of the back story but that sounds like a slightly cackhanded attempt at an olive branch. Is she in the habit of praying for people? hmm

FunnysInLaJardin Wed 23-Oct-13 10:12:14

why did you 'storm out'?

Anniegetyourgun Wed 23-Oct-13 10:15:06

It sounds like a very passive-aggressive attempt at an olive branch IMO. "Don't know why you felt you had to storm off like that"? That's more like an accusation. What's wrong with "I'm sorry we hurt you"?

WithRedWine Wed 23-Oct-13 10:30:32

Sorry, posting on the main site from my mobile as can't seem to get back to the mobile site. don't mean to drip feed.

Basically i was already heavily pg with dc3 when we last visited over the summer. Had intended to stay 3 days. on the second day, sis who still lives at home flew I
nto an almighty strop about something or other and wouldn't leave her room. M goes up to speak to her then comes back down silently and looks dejectedly at the meal she's just made,.prodding it with a fork. I say 'Is everything alright?' & whisper 'is it anything we've done?' as I'm not sure what sis is upset about. M slams her fork down and carries her plate out of the room.

That was realky the last we, & our dcs saw of either of them that visit. M holes herself up in sis's room for the next 5 hours. Occasionally one of the dcs goes to check they're alright and as i whisk them back downstairs i can hear giggling coming from voth m & sis. A couple of times that evening I go up to say 'are you ok? do you want a cup of tea or anything?' & basically they both shoo me away.

About 8 in the evening once the dcs are calmed down & in bed, dh & i resolve to leave the next morning if things are still weird. About 9pm sis finally comes down & tells us what difficult guests we are, then starts yelling about the couole of hours she spent watching the dcs the day before, & how ungrateful we are. I say, 'hang on , you didn't have to look after then if you didn't want to. you only had to say.'

Then she rants a bit more about how awful & how much hard work our dcs are. I polutely remind her that I spent much of my teenage years looking after her, & she wasn't exactly a model child. She storms off again. M comes down & wants to know what the yelling was about. I tell her, she skulks off, defending sis.

So the dcs are a bit worried when we leave early the next morning. M stands on the dooorstep shoutingg she doesn't know what's wrong with us. Dcs start crying & we head off. That's the last we saw of them or heard from them. And now this text. Baby is due in a few weeks.

JeanSeberg Wed 23-Oct-13 10:35:44

Is your dad still around or is it just your mum and sister in the house? Just wondering if you could ask him what's really behind this..

Otherwise I would just send a polite reply and invite her to see the new baby when you're ready - visits to be at your home in future.

LookingThroughTheFog Wed 23-Oct-13 10:40:58

Christ, they sound like a nightmare. Say sorry, but without telling you what you've done that's caused offence?

Delete the text. You're doing well enough without them. Their prayers are between them and God and can be safely ignored too.

NotYoMomma Wed 23-Oct-13 10:41:20

I would just reply curtly

'I did not storm out, our family left very bewildered and upset at your and dsis's rude behaviour. you spent a lot of our last vistit either shut away in dsis room talking about us or being very rude. As it is I feel that we have nothing to apologise for but rather it is the other way around. please be on touch when this is forthcoming and dsis had grown up.'

or some such

WithRedWine Wed 23-Oct-13 10:46:38

jean my dad"s still at home but just doesn't engage in emotional stuff really. tends to have his head in a book or newspaper.

JeanSeberg Wed 23-Oct-13 10:50:03

I assume this isn't an isolated incident then?

WithRedWine Wed 23-Oct-13 10:52:22

notyo i have been trying to compose sonething along those lines but know that whatever i write she'll just twist into something else, but not before relaying the whole thing to my extended family.

Mangelwurzels Wed 23-Oct-13 10:53:32

Sounds like your sis can do no wrong in your Mums eyes. Does your sis live at home by choice or is it because of money problems? she may be resentful she is still stuck at home with your parents. Obviously it doesn't excuse her behaviour.

WithRedWine Wed 23-Oct-13 10:55:43

this sort of thing seems to flare up every year or so- the last worst time was when i'd just had dc2 & she took it upon herself to smack dd1 repeatedly, which i supoose what part of her 'helping' me after the birth.

mummytime Wed 23-Oct-13 10:58:09

I would just not bother to reply. If whatever you do say will be twisted, there is no point.

Then send a "baby has arrived card" followed by a Christmas Card. But basically ignore.

It doesn't sound as though you need her "help" after the baby is born, really.

WithRedWine Wed 23-Oct-13 10:59:42

MangelWorsels Well, sis was about to start university last thing we heard. Haven't heard anything from them since then so presume she's temporarily moved into halls by now.

meekenough Wed 23-Oct-13 11:29:56

anyone who slagged my children off would be dead to me, family or not YANBU.

snowqu33n Wed 23-Oct-13 11:41:48

wait, she repeatedly smacked dd1??!
Ignore the email, make separate contact with your father if you can and you want to, otherwise leave them to it.

LookingThroughTheFog Wed 23-Oct-13 11:54:04

I completely agree with Mummytime's response. That is; no response. You already know she'll twist what you say, and/or share it about. No response is the only real way forward.

LookingThroughTheFog Wed 23-Oct-13 11:55:27

Oh, and I'm now suspicious about the timing.

She's on her own with non-engaging Dad. Precious daughter is away in halls. Where will her focus go next...

WithRedWine Wed 23-Oct-13 11:58:06

snowqueen yes, dd1 was only 3 at the time. M wasn't part of my life for at least 6 months after that, but she wormed her way back in, and look where that got me.

it's hard because i look around at friends who have parents & inlaws who genuinely help out a lot, & i feel sad my dcs will never experience that kind of love & care which comes without strings attached. my dad's parents were always there in a non-judgemental way when i was growing up & i just wish my family were like that. times have changed i suppose. or maybe i'm just crap at dealing with them.

WithRedWine Wed 23-Oct-13 12:05:21

lookingthrough yes, i had that thought in the back of my mind too. i do have another sister & a brother too, but they're pretty unapologetoc about going off & living their own lis. they're not manipulable, or needy, i suppose.

Mattissy Wed 23-Oct-13 12:13:56

I don't think you should ignore the text, if you were visiting a couple of months ago for several days then you obviously usually have a decent relationship with her. You have as much right as your sister to voice your feelings, your sister sounds like spoilt brat btw!

Just tell her calmly why you left, the ball is in her court then.

FunnysInLaJardin Wed 23-Oct-13 13:18:21

I would be inclined to ignore tbh. She sounds just like my MIL ie a bit bonkers and if you engage you'll just give her more ammunition. Stress like this is the last thing you need with another baby on the way. What does your DH think?

My DH had to basically ignore his mother and while he hasn't fallen out with her their relationship is quite fragile as she uses any excuse to be nasty and it really upsets him, so ignoring is the best way for him to cope with her.

FunnysInLaJardin Wed 23-Oct-13 13:19:25

oh and the we are praying for you thing is hideously passive agressive

LookingThroughTheFog Wed 23-Oct-13 13:25:12

Of course, being something of an angry, impulsive thing myself, I'd probably text back 'Praying for your soul too, Mum.'

But I would wish that I could just go ahead and ignore her.

WithRedWine Wed 23-Oct-13 13:36:59

Well, it's always been rocky. & i should say that 3 days & was the absolute maximum dh & i estimated we could cope with. seems tgat was on the generous side...

i just don't like all the packing, planning & travelling when the dcs never know what to expect emotionally when we go & see them.

WithRedWine Wed 23-Oct-13 13:43:01

lookingthrough i was thinking of something like "how sweet that you'd spend so much time praying for me. and when i already have so much to be thankful for. Have you seen either of these websites?" & then do a link Oxfam &/or Amnesty International.

What do you think?

TombOfMummyBeerest Wed 23-Oct-13 13:43:27

Dear God, why would she think she would have a leg to stand on? Total narcissism. I feel your pain.

I would reply, simply saying that you have nothing to apologise for, and are tired of feeling as though you need to for nothing at all.

Then stop all contact after that. Others are right; you don't need them in your lives.

Reprint Wed 23-Oct-13 13:44:43

I agree its a passive aggressive attempt at an olive branch .,... but some people are only able to communicate that way.

Personally, I think I would stay totally at arms length, The short bits of history you have posted seem to show that you are actually in conflict whenever she is part of your lives. TBH I would have drawn the line when she smacked my children!

I am someone who usually believes that talking can solve most things, but when it comes to narc parents there simply is never a genuine communication going on.

I would reply, but in quite clipped fashion to say that as they do not understand why there has been no contact it is obvious that nothing has changed, and you would therefore prefer no further contact.

I would ignore such a message because of the passive aggressive nature of it. This message neither conveys any real apology or even responsibility for her own actions, its actually also quite blaming of you. Such toxic people thrive off such drama and any response from you will give her an "in".

Emotionally healthy balanced people would not act in such a manner. I would also think your Dad's role in this overall dysfunctional birth family unit from whence you came is that of bystander. Such weak men often act out of self preservation and want of a quiet life, he has failed to protect you here from her malign influences. Such women like your mother as well always but always need a willing enabler to help them.

I would suggest you read "Toxic Parents" written by Susan Forward as a starting point.

I would also state that if she is too difficult to deal with she is too difficult for your children to have to deal with as well. I would not visit them at all.

I would also point you to the website entitled Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers and go from there as well.

Thistledew Wed 23-Oct-13 13:49:54

Just text back "All fine here, thanks. Will let you know when the baby arrives".

So you don't get drawn in to any debate about who was wrong or right, but you can't be accused of sulking or game playing by not responding. It might help to calm things down if you respond to her as if you have a normal but rather distant relationship- completely ignoring any histrionics may mean that she doesn't have the fuel to feed the fire.

DontMentionThePrunes Wed 23-Oct-13 13:51:47

"Mum, we left because there was a problem with us that a) nobody would explain to us and b) it mean you ignoring us for X hours. The time to talk about it was then. If you want to explain then do, but I have no problem with my decision."

And ignore the crap about the praying.

BeattieBow Wed 23-Oct-13 13:52:40

she sounds very similar to my mother. I think you should ignore the text. and cut contact.

like you I feel sad that I don't have a good relationship with my parent or any support from my mum like my friends do, but I don't think it is possible with the parent I have. It's sad but you need to focus on your little family and make the most of them. At the end of the day it's your mum that will lose out.

Meerka Wed 23-Oct-13 13:53:33

well, it sounds like there is a lot of history. If anyone smacked my son, never mind repeatedly, I'd be exceptionally angry and they might well be out of my life anyway. However.

Assuming you want some sort of relationship, then maybe the best thing is to plan how much you are willing to put up with. At what point do you draw the line and walk away? you cant foresee every circumstance but you can have a rough idea, such as "we can handle upsets if they speak to us calmly but if they explode without explanation that's our limit" or "we want only contact every 6 months' or 'they can visit us, but we won't go there"

Then text her back calmly. Explain that actually you had no idea why your sister and then mother were upset and what was difficult for your family was that there was no calm explanation and chance to sort things out. If they are willing to speak in a level headed way about why they were upset then perhaps it can be sorted out, but you do need to know what the heck was going on and why they were unhappy. You left - not stormed out, but left - because you felt that whatever was happening could not be sorted out then and it was all pretty miserable. It was the best option in the circumstances.

If they respond with games such as 'you should have known' then you can only say that you didn't. They can choose either to explain in a calm way. If they don't, then keep your distance. If they do and it was a reasonable explanation then you can talk further.

If it was unreasonable then time to keep distance. From what you wrote this is not the first time it's happened and you feel that they do both twist things and broadcast them all over. If that's the case, then I'm afraid you're in for a rough ride and again, you'll have to decide just how much contact you do or don't want.

I think in all this you have to consider the impression your children are left with. Shouting and tantrums are a very poor example. For this reason alone it might be an idea to keep a bit of distance. If the good outweighs the bad, then at the least point out to the children that this is how not to handle disagreements and upsets!

I think that the keys here are calmness, speaking clearly and without too much passion and keeping a clear idea of what you want out of your mother and sister and how much you're prepared to put up with.

good luck.

FunnysInLaJardin Wed 23-Oct-13 14:02:30

Beattie that is what DH has done in effect. It's the only way he can deal with it and I can see that it makes him feel very sad, but it is better than the upset she can cause when we are in contact.

In fact following on from my thread about my own mother earlier this week I was saying to DH why can't we just have families where you can say 'oh my mum and dad are lovely' and I think the answer is that both of our parents were basically very unhappily married and they can't contain their bitterness at life, especially when DH and I seem to be so happy/successful.

LookingThroughTheFog Wed 23-Oct-13 14:06:45

You know what, RedWine, if it would make you feel better, then forwarding the website and saying 'think these people are in more need of your prayers. I'm fine.' would be, well, if not advisable, then OK. Well, it might make you feel better anyway.

But really, the advise is 'ignore, ignore, ignore...' There's no greater revenge on a narcissistic parent than proving you can live your life happily and well without them.

sturdyoak Wed 23-Oct-13 14:07:06

I would text back,

Thank you for praying for me. I am sorry you and sis were upset on our last visit but we just don't know why everything went so wrong. We have not being in contact because we didn't really know what to do about all this and it is awful for everyone when there are arguments.

Anyway I hope you are all well and sis has settled into uni.


Wine and family.

BooHissy Wed 23-Oct-13 14:07:35

Whatever you do don't reply.

She won't hear you, and all it will do is provoke a reaction from you, and then she knows how to get you.

It's emotional manipulative nightmare parent 101.

Ignore. Detach some more.

Check out stately homes thread on here, you'll be right at home! smile there are loads of lovely MNers who'll know exactly what you're going through.

sturdyoak Wed 23-Oct-13 14:08:05

^Then just take it one step at a time.

Jessdurberville Wed 23-Oct-13 17:28:53

Think I'd be tempted to just text back 'I'm fine thanks, apology accepted'.

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