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adult dd - please can you help me to approach this with her?

(75 Posts)
theresnowheretohidewithachip Sun 25-May-14 11:34:32

I'm so sorry this is long but I can't seem to make it much shorter.

I tried to be the best mum I could when dd was growing up. I was depressed, got no support and at times was emotionally not there for her. I feel terrible about this but there's nothing I can do now.

dd is in her late 20's and married.

I divorced her father who was abusive, when she went to uni.

She is now in a good career, married and happy thank goodness. She lives about 250 miles away.

In birthday and mothers day cards she writes beautiful messages saying I'm an inspiration and wonderful etc etc. In day to day life she ignores virtually all my texts, emails and rarely phones. I brought this up with her a few months ago and said I wasn't sure what she wanted as it feels as if she doesn't want me in her life because she barely contacts me or replies to my messages etc. She said that wasn't the case at all, and that she does want me in her life and that she is just very busy etc. I said in that case I don't think it's too much to send a text saying 'thanks" if I send one saying have a lovely weekend, holiday etc etc. I have seen her twice over the last year.

Things got a bit better after I approached it with her but have now gone back to how they were again. I sent a chatty email saying I hoped she and her DH had a lovely bank hols, asked how they were etc etc. No reply. Sent a whatsapp message saying enjoy half term whatever you're up to. No reply. I can see from the whatsapp app that she has been on there. She will be in contact if she has health concerns and will text and text for advice, opinions. But she doesn't tell me what she's up to or anything nice.

I was up all night feeling so sad and hurt. I have made mistakes in the past but try so hard to be supportive, acknowledge all her happy times in life and have made little things for her and DH and posted them just because. Maybe I was a far worse parent than I thought. I'm so confused because of the conflicting messages I get from her.

Do I bring this up again. If so how. I love her. I love her DH. I want things to be better but I don't want to guilt trip her or try force her into a relationship she doesn't want with me.

Sorry again, this is so long and thanks for reading.

Lweji Sun 25-May-14 11:55:59

I'd phone her, tbh.

Remember that it is easy to come across as somewhat controlling if you keep asking about what she is up to. I'm sure she doesn't report to her friends.
On the other hand, it's a kind of passive strategy to tell her to have a nice whatever and expect her to get back to you telling you what she is up to.

Most and foremost remember that you are not her friend, but her mother.
Do you share much with her?

WipsGlitter Sun 25-May-14 12:15:19

I think you need to detach with love. I love my mum but I hate talking to her on the phone because she witters on. Do you have friends, work, social life etc? Focus on that.

drinkingtea Sun 25-May-14 12:23:46

I think you are vastly over thinking, and she probably is just busy. You can't magic up a close relationship if its never been that way, and trying too hard when she isn't responding may come across as clingy/ needy/ controlling, all of which are off putting. Maybe she "should" make more time for you, probably... but nagging and pesyering are more likely to push her further away, esp as it is a conversation you've already had...

IWillIfHeWill Sun 25-May-14 12:29:05

I've read your opening post all through.

I would suggest that you write to your daughter. Write a little each day, and post it once a week. Then she has the choice of whether to open it, read it, reply to it, keep it for later or just bin it. You won't know unless she tells you. Real letters are great. Make them pretty and loving.

The second part of the plan is to build up your own life so that you have something to tell her (model what you'd like from her - daily detail, gossip and special events) and so that you are not totally dependent on her for your emotional support. [My daughter will be laughing bitterly when she reads this - I depend on her and she is very supportive!] Just being busy really helps. Clubs, activities, walks, volunteering. Are you working? so tell her about that.

I was a depressed single parent, with undiagnosed Asperger's and probably bipolar, and my poor little baby had to cope with that all on her own. I made some horrendous mistakes, did some vile things, didn't know how to make things right for her in the world, but I always loved her and she knew it. Your daughter obviously knows that about you.

I know from what my daughter tells me that the things I say mean different things to her than for me. I used to phone her from bus-stops, for sympathy when the bus didn't come, but she always felt I was saying "Why don't you get your car out and come for me?" And I know from being a daughter that if my mum ever asked or hinted at something, I would be less likely to do it than before... something about the 'mum' role.... also when i was married, if my husband told me to get up, I'd stay in bed, even if I really wanted to be up and about... I think its just human, pressure makes us less likely to comply.

So, live a life you can enjoy, practice loving yourself, write to your daughter about it - make sure you put in how much she means to you, as she might take your new independent life as a sign that you've forgotten her (they don't always hear what we mean to say...wink) and good luck. Don't be sad. You raised a strong, independent child. Well done.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Sun 25-May-14 12:39:02

Some people just aren't into exchanging chatty texts and emails. When you raised this before DD didn't knock you back. If she didn't value you it would be easy to buy a card sign it and drop it in the post box but she has written about how much she appreciated what you did for her growing up. Now she's married and living away and you can be proud of her but you can't dictate how often she replies or how much she divulges.

ExcuseTypos Sun 25-May-14 12:42:10

sad In your situation I would feel upset too. She's a grown adult and I think she could manage a sentence or two in a text every now and again. I think she's being pretty rude tbh.

I've got 2 DDs, one at uni, who usually phones about once a week but she does reply to a text or whats app. Dd1 phones me everyday for a chat on her walk home from work, because she wants to. So they are very different and I accept that, however I would be upset if either of them continually ignored a texts from me.

ExcuseTypos Sun 25-May-14 12:45:11

I can't believe people saying she's just busy. How long does it take to text "thanks mum, were off to the beach today, kids really excited"?

It's bloody rude to ignore texts.

Although I presume OP that you aren't texting her 5 times a day, every day.?

theresnowheretohidewithachip Sun 25-May-14 13:05:43

Thanks for replying. All your replies are really helpful and it's good to have different takes on this.

I don't get the feeling she ignores anyone else like this. I don't contact her every day. Just a text on fri to say have a great weekend and hope she's ok etc and to say I love you. Once a fortnight approx, I send an email asking how she is (she has stomach prob). I don't think it's unreasonable to get a teeny text back just to acknowledge it like Excuse says. She generally is polite, a good friend to her friends and when I did stay with her, she was never off the phone to them. So I am hurt because it feels rude. I don't want to know the ins and outs of her life, I don't want to interfere or intrude. I don't call her in the evenings because I know she's whacked out after work. But I would like to know if she's ok, and take some interest in her and her DH's lives.

I have lots of friends and lots of interests so I'm not sat at home feeling lonely and over-thinking. I just feel confused and hurt because she makes out things are ok between us, but her behaviour suggests otherwise.

When I email, I tell her briefly what I'm up to and where I've been. Though not about people she doesn't know etc etc. I send pics of things I know she'd like (animals, the occasional article, joke) and sent a special gift when she passed an exam recently because I was so proud and happy for her.

So, should I not bring it up with her again and just wait for her to contact her.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 25-May-14 13:19:11

I'd second the suggestion to phone a 'how are you?' rather than e-mailing or texting. Pick a time when she's not going to be tied up doing other things. It's less easy to ignore a ringing phone.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 13:19:45

My mum could have written your post, OP. In fact, I had to read it again to check that it wasn't her but I'm older than your daughter and live closer to her. I do the same things, write flowery birthday and mothers' day cards because I love my mum BUT it grates, it really does. When I needed her as a young teen she wasn't available to me and was quite horrible. I've never needed her since but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate what she's done for me.

My mum was also depressed when I was a kid and also made mistakes - and did/said some unkind things. She never kept confidences and now complains that I'm 'secretive'. I am - I do small talk and that's it. Even now, she's always telling me things about my brothers and their partners and it drives me mad. I cut her off when she does it, asking her not to and she says... "Well what am I supposed to talk about then?". That makes me so sad, she has no life of her own and isn't interested in making one, she wants everything to drop into her lap.

I visit her once a week for several hours and, although it isn't a 'duty visit', sometimes it's one that I'd rather not do because whatever time I spend with her is never enough - and it is for me.

Regarding the texting, my mother does this with abandon. It's got her into trouble with my brothers and their partners and she still thinks it's a great way of keeping in touch... long, long texts, managing relationships with them. Big mistake but she doesn't learn. I told her that I don't text. I'm not a texty person and whilst I don't mind the odd one, I see them as a functional thing, ie. I'm on my way. I don't want to hold a conversation by text. When does it ever bloody end? Endless replies... provided and expected. Ditto the endless media apps... it's madness! A text to me means that I take the information on it and act if needed; to my mum it means everything from I was thinking of her to send a text, that I want to chat and can she ring me for a long talk and when am I coming to see her next and can we have a day out? It's not surprising that my heart sinks although I'd never tell her that.

Take your cue from your daughter OP and mirror it. You've told her that you love her - and she's told you the same. Make your own life full and what you want it to be and stop putting the expectation on your daughter to fill it up for you. If conversations are nothing but a demand for information they quickly lose their interest and become stilted and resented.

You're geographically further away from your daughter but that doesn't mean that you can't plan a visit every couple of months, something to look forward to, or a trip somewhere together, somewhere you'd both like to visit.

What I'm saying is that 'familiarity breeds contempt' but then the reverse is also true. Make the contact meaningful and perhaps pull back a lot with your expectation of response. If you want to let your daughter know all that you are doing then great, post pictures on your apps and she can check in to see them if she wants to. No pressure. Don't make it expected of her, just that it's there and you're thinking of her. She's told you that she loves you, OP.

wickedwitchofwaterloo Sun 25-May-14 13:25:57

Lying has it spot on, my relationship with my Mother is pretty much the same as well, give or take.

But Lying has it spot on OP. I hope you can get something from what shes written.

turnaroundbrighteyes Sun 25-May-14 13:31:50

I'm sorry, but I think you are expecting way too much from her. From your OP you were emotionally unavailable to her so she hasnt been brought up to be naturally chatty to you. Yet now you are in a better place you want her to change and are hurt that she doesnt ?

Given her upbrininging isn't it great that she loves you and tells you she enjoys your messages? Can you not imagine her reading them and smiling and make that enough for you? It must have been very hurtful for her to try and engage with you as a child / teen and feel rejected, but from what she's said that's not what she's doing to you. Give her some slack, keep up the chatty emails without expectation and call her now and again or visit for a real chat. Maybe ask her how she'd like the relationship to be, how she'd like to hear from you and slowly rebuild a relationship you are both happy with.

Speaking from experience it really messes with your head when you have an emotionally unavailable parent, who you love, then have children of your own and realise just how "wrong" your own childhood was.

btw have you ever appologised to her for not being there?

Sorry if this sounds harsh, but surely you see that the most important thing is that she loves you and it's dual standards as the parent being upset for her not giving you what you didnt give her.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 13:33:39

x-posted with your last post OP.

I don't think your contact (from that post) is excessive. I just depends what you expect her responses to be. I think it is that which needs clarification. IWillIfHeWill made a good point when referring to the 'bus stop' that what is said can mean different things. I was nodding my head at that, it's very true.

What you said about your daughter interacting with her friends has also made me nod. She is different with them because they are her FRIENDS, not her mother. You are her mother and the relationship is - and should be - different. I know that some people value the friendships they have with their children but to me, that is something I would find cloying. My mum used to say that I was her best friend and it jarred so much; it's not my role to be her friend. I told her - gently - that she is my mum, that's 'higher' than a friend and I only ever want her to be my mum, no-one else can have that role.

My mum is also divorced, never been interested in finding another partner, which is fine, BUT she expects her children to 'fill in the gaps', ie. do tasks (my brothers, which they don't want to do) and me - ongoing personal and emotional support (which is wearing).

I'm thinking about how you can reach an 'understanding' with your daughter and I'd suggest that you wait until you are face to face, over tea and cakes or something - and say how you feel and ask how she feels about the contact, ask what works for her and would make her happy and secure - and then see where you can meet. It could be something very simple that is easily changed.

You sound very caring, OP and your daughter obviously knows that she is loved. Do you not feel loved by her? What would change that for you?

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 13:35:08

wickedwitch... I'm having a little cry because I feel like such a cow to write that. thanks

Timeandtune Sun 25-May-14 13:38:39

Could you go for quality and not quantity? Perhaps reduce the text/ email contact but plan a trip/ visit/ wee holiday for the two of you?

From my limited experience with DS1 who left home last summer the thing to do is to establish a more grown up and equal sort of relationship which will take you into the next phase.

Also wonder if you are feeling a bit of delayed reaction to the past and it might be worth speaking to someone ?

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 13:39:30

Gobsmacked at turnaroundbrighteyes post too, nodding vigorously.

bronya Sun 25-May-14 13:41:17

I sometimes don't speak to my Dad for months - we're both adults, and life is busy. He phones me when he wants a chat, at an appropriate time (i.e. after DS is in bed!) and visits every few months. Before I had DS I'd see him 3x a year or so, and phone every couple of months. It doesn't mean I don't love him or care about how he's doing - I figure if there's a problem he'll phone me, and if I need his advice I'll phone him. Day to day, our lives are pretty samey - nothing really to discuss! I'm sure your daughter is similar. If she's busy and happy, she won't think to phone you or text - she's grown up an left home!

wickedwitchofwaterloo Sun 25-May-14 13:41:49

Not at all Lying thanks It takes courage to write these things I think. It doesn't make you a bad person, sometimes you have to be honest for your sanity.

livingzuid Sun 25-May-14 13:45:01

I have a difficult relationship with my mother and so I write from the perspective of the one on the receiving end. Why would you want her to reply to your texts aside from the obvious? Because she feels obligated to? That is how I read this - because you've texted or emailed her she is therefore obligated to reply as it is the polite thing to do.

Why do you not want her to reply because she actually wants to? Then contact is meaningful - she's doing it because she wants to. It might be less contact but the cards and messages sound far more meaningful than some three word WhatsApp on a Friday evening when she's probably enjoying time with her DH and the kids.

Your messages and intent read as a bit controlling to me I'm afraid, even though that might not be what you mean. If she doesn't want to let you know, she doesn't want to let you know. You are her mum, not a friend and as your original post says, there is a complex background to your relationship already. It's not going to be the same type of communication she has with you as she does her friends.

If it is upsetting you again then you should discuss it with her. Or arrange more visits and face time which is far more valuable and fun for everyone as lying says.

But she should not be replying out of duty, guilt or obligation. It isn't right to try and force that onto anyone.

wickedwitchofwaterloo Sun 25-May-14 13:45:51

Oh goodness turnaround Very much this. My Mum tries sometimes to be nicer now and thinks this will heal what happened before, but then she flits off again and the cycle is repeated. I know things were hard for her though so I make allowances but it is hard sometimes when she wants to act like nothing's happened because she's having a good month/year or whatever.

OP. I think it's very obvious you love your daughter but give her some space I think.

livingzuid Sun 25-May-14 13:49:43

Gaaah X post. turnaround that is spot on.

Ifpigscouldfly Sun 25-May-14 13:51:49

I very much feel like lying. I speak to my mum often out of duty because it would hurt her if I didn't. She complains I don't confined in her, don't tell her things like I do my friends but she was like you when I was growing up and sadly people reap what they sow.

I love her very much. But I do not see her in the way many people see their mothers. It wouldn't occur to me to confide in her for example. She has very little info on my social life and boyfriends etc because I don't feel it's any of her business iykwim. If you learn to do without as a child you can't really come back around again.

I don't know how to help you - it's not really your fault and it's not my mothers either but it's just the way things turn out sometimes and it's sad. I'm sorry OP.

livingzuid Sun 25-May-14 13:53:31

wickedwitch you have just described my mother to a T. I can go months sometimes as I can't deal with the stress of it all. Sometimes allowing your children distance is the best thing you can do.

saadia Sun 25-May-14 13:54:35

OP have you ever addressed the past issues with her?

Clarabum Sun 25-May-14 14:05:14

I have a similar relationship with my mother. It was an emotional roller coaster growing up with her. In my teens, she left and left my sister and I with an abusive father. I was expected to raise my younger sister whilst my dad had a breakdown and my mum started her new life(and still was not happy). I emotionally detached from her and haven't relied on her since.
I now find it doesn't come naturally to include her in my life as she's rarely been there. She 's maybe been there in person but not in spirit.
When I had my dc's, she proclaimed how much she loved them yet did very little to offer practical help.

My dad pretty much actively participated in our lives. He'd visit, he'd babysit and we spent time together which ultimately repaired our relationship. We are very close now.

Perhaps it might be an idea to offer ways to practically show her your love for her and her dc?
Perhaps say you'll babysit so she and her husband can spend some time together?
Book a nice lunch for you together? I'm not saying that you need 'things' to prove you love her but you need to invest time not a text in your relationship.
My Granny always says "Your love is what you do, not what you say" and I think this is true.
A load of words when you haven't been emotionally available maybe won't mean that much to her. Perhaps she wants you to be emotionally and physically present in her life for these words to have any merit?

I could be speaking totally out of turn but it's what worked for my dad and I.
My mothers relationship with me is still very much fractured. I phone her but it's when I feel strong enough as I know i'm going to get an hour long rant about her life with a 30 second "how are the kids, oh i better get the dinner on, BYE" flung in at the end.

Hope you sort it out. You sound like you love her very much.
x

Rebecca2014 Sun 25-May-14 14:12:04

My mum is my rock and I always phone her up if I have exciting news or something bad has happened, both my sisters do actually and I hope in the future my daughter feels the same way about me that I do about my mother.

I know you are hurt but like some other posters have said, how they were brought up by their parents has damaged their adult relationship with their mother. Maybe worth writing an letter and have it out with her but I hope one day you have an close relationship with your daughter.

turnaroundbrighteyes Sun 25-May-14 14:23:46

Will reply properly later as I have to go out (thanks to others who've been there), but just wanted to caution OP to think very hard before opening a can of worms with her daughter. My Mum and I have a very good relationship in a lot of ways, in others it's limited. She's never appologised and probably never will, I'd like her to, but I think that the main reason she wont is that although I've been more open with her as an adult/ mother myself when she's hurt me she doesnt have a clue how bad things were for me as a child / teen. To tell her would cause her a whole world of hurt that wouldnt change anything and, really, even though I wish I'd been more vocal back then, now she doesnt deserve. If she hadnt been more appreciative of my point of view and compromised on our current relationship now, yes, I'd have to tell her....

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 14:27:09

I am deeply sad to read some of these posts... I thought my relationship with my mum was extraordinary and have never confessed any of my feelings about it before.

Rebecca2014's post made me even sadder because, if anybody asks - I will tell them that my mum too is 'my rock'. She isn't but she's a constant so I just translate 'constant' to 'permanent' and apply that likeness to 'a rock'. My mum doesn't exactly 'boast' but I know she 'revels' in telling other people about our close relationship. She must know deep down that all isn't rosy but I think she has an innate ability to 'gloss over' anything that threatens the picture she has.

Outwardly, I do all I can to keep up appearances because she needs that, she needs external validation in her skills as a mum. Inwardly, it makes me shudder. It's not possible to tell my mum, however gently, about what went wrong when I was a child, she doesn't accept it, gets angry and says that I didn't understand as I was a child... yada yada yada. Everything I say and everything she says - has to go through a 'mum filter' to make sure there is nothing that could harm or upset the balance of what she perceives is our relationship. It is truly exhausting - and not at all honest.

I feel as if I'm 'making up' for the love and support of four children, plus a husband, and I resent her for needing that so much. I know I won't have her forever and that too makes me terribly sad. sad

OP... I'm sorry. Your thread has become a place of catharsis for me but it must be very, very uncomfortable reading for you.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 14:29:47

x-posted with turnaroundbrighteyes again... bloody hell, yes to all everything she's posted. Can of worms? Check! Keeping the floodgates firmly closed? Check, check!

alphabook Sun 25-May-14 14:45:43

Unfortunately I also feel like my mum could have written that post.

I have a very difficult relationship with my mum...she has had depression issues ever since I can remember, however she completely refuses to acknowledge she has a problem that she can do something to fix. Everything is someone else's fault, my dad left her almost 15 years ago she still has him under her thumb and makes him feel guilty for everything that's wrong with her life. I also suspect she has high functioning autism/Aspergers as she has extremely bad social/communication skills. Whenever I speak to her she witters on about inane things, goes on about how crap her life is and asks endless inane questions, which means a lot of the time I end up ignoring her calls/texts because I just don't have the mental energy to deal with it. I always get back to her within a few days, but most of the time if I haven't got back to her within a day she messages me again, which makes me feel even more stressed about speaking to her.

She is single and has almost no friends she she has spent the last 15 years being obsessed with finding a boyfriend, at the expense of putting any effort into making and sustaining friendships. I then feel under a lot of pressure to be there for her, but it's extremely hard work.

It's obviously impossible to say whether any of the above is applicable to your relationship with your daughter as you haven't said what other social support you have and what your mental health is like now, but that's my experience from the other side. My advice would be to give her space - send her texts and emails but don't pressure her if you don't get an immediate response.

alphabook Sun 25-May-14 15:00:38

Re-reading the thread I really want to reiterate the point that others have made about meaningful contact. For me, feeling obligated to reply to my mum's texts/emails reciting what I've done over the last week is not meaningful communication, even though my mum is constantly wanting to know what I've been doing. I much prefer actually spending time with her than dull small talk over text. I know it's difficult as you live so far away from each other, but I bet you'd both be far happier with your relationship if you saw each other every couple of months and felt less obligated to maintain the small talk via text/email.

DesertRose1958 Sun 25-May-14 15:22:40

I also made mistakes as a mum due to circumstances so one day I got the children together and said sorry to them. I told them I hadn't know any better and that I always tried my best even when doing my best was doing it wrong. That said, I have a fab relationship with my children, they all live very close by and we spend a lot of time together, I think I can say we all see each other a few times a week at least. We like being together and Im fortunate enough to be allowed to be a very hands on granny to my 4 grandchildren. I had to say sorry to my children for failing them the way I did at times and tho they said there was no need to and they were very compassionate towards me when I did, I really feel that it strengthened us.

Say sorry to your girl, shown her you are human, yes there probably was nothing different you could do at the time you were letting her down because its more than likely all you could do till your light bulb moment. But those days have gone so try giving her a heartfelt sorry for not knowing any better or for being able to be better at the time. And personally I believe no child is ever too old to be told they are loved and adored.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 15:31:44

Lovely post, DesertRose thanks

livingzuid Sun 25-May-14 15:46:07

Just looking at your post again - she comes to you still for advice and your opinion which is surely more valuable than meaningless trivial chit chat? She comes to you on the things that truly matter, such as her health, but you seem to rank that as less important over wanting to know her day to day activities? That seems very sad to me.

Aren't you pleased that, in spite of all you both went through when she was a child, she still turns to her mum for comfort and support and your opinion is clearly respected?

Sending small things in the mail might to you be nice. Does she want them though? To you, asking her about her day might be what you want to hear about. As a busy working mum, does she really want to have a shallow conversation at the end of a long day? I suspect you may need to re-evaluate your expectations. It reads as all about your needs and trying to atone for the past but not how this benefits your daughter. And it's far more important for us to be able to call on our mothers for advice and support than discuss what the kids did at school that day. Perhaps there is no need to feel so guilty and your daughter accepts what was?

You obviously love her, but I would suggest a rethink here about what really matters.

Viviennemary Sun 25-May-14 15:50:59

She is being thoughtless. I don't think there is much you can do about that but I think it would be a mistake to give a speech on how you want more contact. You just have to keep in touch and be there if she needs you and hope that you might become closer in future.

MooncupGoddess Sun 25-May-14 16:10:35

I'm not sure the DD has children - can't see any reference to them in the OP?

OP... it sounds really hard. But sending her pointless little messages isn't really working, is it? She probably perceives you as quite needy, and given that you weren't great with her emotional needs when she was younger she may find it hard to make an effort with yours now.

Maybe just back off with the messages, but try to see her a little more often?

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 25-May-14 16:12:42

Being old enough to remember a time before mobile phones, I was "forced" to ring my mother every week at a set time. If I missed the time (was late) I would get the usual emotional blackmail, If I missed it completely there would be hell on earth.
It got to the stage where I couldn't go out on a specific night as I would have to stop and ring up my mum. (It really doesn't go down well when on dates, out with mates, or work colleagues.)

I honestly dread to think what she would be like with a mobile phone.

the short of it is give her her space.

livingzuid Sun 25-May-14 16:33:54

True mooncup not sure where I got that from sorry. Good post.

I don't see how she is being thoughtless. Why? By not pandering and responding to every message she is being sent? Why is that necessary? It sounds exhausting and I know I would just end up getting resentful.

livingzuid Sun 25-May-14 16:33:54

True mooncup not sure where I got that from sorry. Good post.

I don't see how she is being thoughtless. Why? By not pandering and responding to every message she is being sent? Why is that necessary? It sounds exhausting and I know I would just end up getting resentful.

Clarabum Sun 25-May-14 17:37:01

I've just noticed that too. I think I manifested children. Oops!

FrontForward Sun 25-May-14 17:47:40

Your daughter obviously loves you but doesn't need the same contact with you now, that you do.

Accept that and stop feeling guilty over the past. You're reading too much into this and will push her away if you try and make her meet your needs

Igggi Sun 25-May-14 18:00:14

I contact my mum far more often now I'm older and have dcs. In my 20s and working full time - well it probably seemed like I didn't have much time for her.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 18:25:00

Reading your first post back again OP... I would probably ask my mum for advice on health stuff too - not because I need to (I don't, I would see my doctor), but because it makes her feel needed and bolsters her self-esteem. That's a big part of my mum's life and her problem now because actually, she isn't needed in that way anymore.

endlesspossibilities Sun 25-May-14 18:28:00

I've been in tears this week over the lack of contact from my dd. I almost could have written op's post.

I hope my dd doesn't feel like many of you seem to, - that I'm needy, or controlling, or I was unavailable when she was a child, or whatever. I know I was the best mum I could have been but we are all human and we all make mistakes.

My dd is 22 and away at uni - a plane ride away. Something I encouraged her to do, helped her in every way I could.

Over the last few months it's been getting harder and harder to communicate with her. In the first couple of years we'd have an email occasionally, a Skype every couple of months, sometimes a quick chat on FB. Over the last six months it's been harder to do even that. Then I'd get a FB message..sorry busy with Uni work, or evening job, etc...but no news: she lost her phone, and she doesn't answer when I ask if she's got it back or if she's got a new one.

I hope the reason she's not communicating is that she's happy, busy, loving life and making plans. If that's so I'm pleased, although it still hurts to be left out of all of it.

It's hard to move from being the centre of her life to being a mere spectator..or not even that. But maybe that's what I have to do.

I'm not in her face all the time - I'm sure I'm not - but maybe her take on it is different. maybe that's what she's telling me. And now I need to back off.

I miss her and it hurts.

theresnowheretohidewithachip Sun 25-May-14 18:33:43

Wow, a lot to read here. Thanks so much for taking the time to reply everyone and so sorry some of you have had to grow up with mothers who were not there for you at times.

No, dd hasn't got children. But she works hard and is often v tired and I absolutely respect that. I also respect and understand that her husband is the most important person in her life and that's how it should be. I don't expect or want to come first in her priorities.

I would hate for her to feel she had to contact me out of duty or expectation. I just wish things were better. But as many of you have pointed out, growing up with a parent who was often unhappy and depressed, can have very serious consequences for the relationship.

I have apologised to her and she seems to have accepted that. I said I wished I'd been able to get myself more help/support and also wished I'd had the courage to leave my ex-h so she didn't have to grow up round an unhappy relationship. I said I wasn't the best parent at all and am really sorry about that and wish I could change things.

No, sending little messages isn't working that's for certain. I tend to only send one on a fri to say have a great weekend and love you. I don't word it in a way that demands or expects a response but that doesn't mean I don't feel sad when I don't receive anything back saying "thanks. "

She does contact me if she has a problem with her health or is upset about something she can't talk to her DH about and I am glad she feels she can. I don't tell her what to do, but to help her work out what she could do or try. I'm not socially unaware (I don't think anyhow). I have lots of really good friends and I'm busy and out and about. I don't expect her to fill any gap in my life. That's not her job. I just wish things were better between us.

I will stop with the Fri text message and emails and I think I will let her contact me when she needs to. I think the thing is that while I feel needed at times, I don't feel wanted. And that makes me regret so much about the past. And so angry with myself that she may have grown up not feeling secure or wanted at times.

I am incredibly proud of the person she has become despite not having an easy childhood. I've told her that. I don't put it down to what I've done or not done, just that she has had the strength of character and determination to not let it define her.

You have given me a lot to think about and I'll read the thread again this evening in more details. Thanks everyone.

DesertRose1958 Sun 25-May-14 18:34:57

Endless when did you last see her?

If its a while ago is there any way you could go and see her? I ask because how do you know all is well in her life?

How are children to know they are loved and wanted if we don't actually convey that to them?

I couldn't and wouldnt let your very sad situation go on. I'd go knocking on her door and say lets sort this out, what ever 'this' actually is.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 18:40:29

OP... I meant to ask you... Do you have any other children or just your daughter?

MrsRuffdiamond Sun 25-May-14 18:44:16

Do you know what? It's been an epiphany, reading through these posts.

As an only child, and one of an unhappy marriage, I became my mum's 'confidante' at a very early age. I have felt responsible for her emotional well-being all my life (she had a dysfunctional start to life, which she never seemed able to shake off), and have memories of incidents which made/make me cringe - she wrote a letter to me when I was on a school residential trip for a week, age 10 - handed out in front of everyone blush When I would return home from university (practically every other weekend, out of duty), I was greeted as though she hadn't seen me for months sad. She was hurt that I was annoyed by this, as I suppose that is what she had craved for herself, but I'm afraid I pushed her away because I felt smothered.

I have just realised that it must be partly as a consequence of this, that I have adopted the 'I will always be here for you, but I don't have any expectations of you' approach to separating from my children. Ds1 is away at uni, and I text him occasionally, call him occasionally, mostly to reassure myself that he's ok! He will sometimes initiate contact, and it's always lovely when we do get in touch, but my overwhelming feeling is that I am so happy he is enjoying life too much to be thinking of us all the time. I speak as one who had pangs of sadness every time I passed his empty room when he first left!

I would never want any of them to feel obliged to text/ make calls etc. because I hope we're secure enough in our relationships and happy enough in ourselves not to need constant reassurance. (I'm not saying this in a smug way at all. I just wish it could have been more like that for my mother and me).

MooncupGoddess Sun 25-May-14 18:46:00

I dunno DesertRose, often forcing a confrontation makes things worse, and if the daughter already feels crowded it wouldn't exactly help matters.

OP - if your daughter has children in the future your relationship may well get closer again. Lots of people are not terribly close to their parents in their 20s (God knows I wasn't) but see much more of them in later years.

theresnowheretohidewithachip Sun 25-May-14 18:49:09

Endless I am sorry you're are feeling left out of your dd's life too sad You've summed up how I feel when you say "I miss her and it hurts".

I really am not needy or controlling. OK I've not been a great parent, but I've not been a totally shit one either I don't think. I spent lots of time doing things with her when she was growing up - cooking, going to the park, playing with her, reading to and with her, encouraging her interests, loads of contact with friends/sleepovers/outings etc and listening to her worries/problems etc. I had some bad bouts of depression but many years where things were pretty normal.

I feel very confused as the messages in her cards seem incongruous set against the lack of a meaningful relationship most of the time. Her words and her actions seem very different.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 18:58:30

MrsRuffDiamond... I was my mum's confidante too. Your post made me cry. I think it's exactly right as you've identified - my mum has done what she herself absolutely craved and it's made me feel completely stifled.

I hope this doesn't sound patronising but kudos to you for being so self-aware that you've avoided this behaviour in your own children.

endlesspossibilities Sun 25-May-14 19:18:05

desert, we last saw her 8 months ago. Didn't see her at xmas as she had to work and we were in different countries. She had to work as saving for an overseas trip which was fantastic. She's not totally out of contact. We've had photos of her trip, an email last week (after practically begging) and one long skype call 2 months ago. Sigh.

I do worry if we don't hear from her - she told me a few months ago - just because you don't hear from me doesn't mean there's something wrong.

Apart from that I get an occasional one line message on FB. She doesn't post there much (says she's grown out of it) so if we look at her friends' profiles we might see the odd photo of her - just to reassure ourselves. Of course my other kids think that's stalking. Sigh.

She says she's coming home for a week next month - if she wasn't I would deffo go and see her.

Maybe I should take some of the advice on here...and just back off.

Phineyj Sun 25-May-14 19:27:16

OP, your relationship with your DD sounds a little like my DH's with his DM (my MIL). He loves her, but he simply doesn't want to chat on the phone, and doesn't return her calls and texts unless nagged to by me, or unless she wants something concrete. If she wanted advice on which car to buy, he'd be on it, but a 20 minute chat about his week - um no. I always thought it was rude of him not to respond, but over the years her focus has shifted to me and I find it equally stifling. My DPs email, mostly, which I find much better as when you're shattered from work it doesn't demand an immediate response. Since we have had DD it has definitely eased things with MIL (thinking up chitchat is much easier with a baby trying to lick the laptop screen - even DH can manage it grin) and maybe this will happen for you if your DD has children later.

It is considerate of you to not ring her after a day at work. I often think my DPs and DPILs have completely forgotten/never knew in the first place what doing a demanding full time commuting type job is like.

As it sounds like your DD likes cards, maybe send her one of those once in a while? It sounds like you do interesting things, so a photo of somewhere you've been? But definitely stop the weekly texts. Not only do they probably prompt guilt (and therefore make her less likely to ring you), it's easy to forget to reply to one even if you meant to, if you're busy.

Phineyj Sun 25-May-14 19:30:41

Also, this won't be much comfort to those who would like more contact, but I think having a grown up DD or DS who rings regularly to witter on about all their problems must be awful too (especially if they forget to ask about yours).

DesertRose1958 Sun 25-May-14 19:32:27

There is so much I would like to say here but I can't for the simple reason there is so much to say. For now though I will add that I grew up in a war zone with a serial philanderer father and a mum who had severe mental health issues. My dad didn't cause them - the fact my beloved and adored mum had them was the reason they met. And no, it wasn't in an asylum ;) However, he sure as hell did make them worse.

Its taken me a life time to get over it all and Im now 56 and if there is one thing Ive learned through out it all its that knowing someone loved you and wanted you in their life will be more of a comfort one day than the fact they backed off and left you to it, whatever 'it' is. In my mind its far better to try and be rebuffed than not to try at all.

My kids loved and adored their granny who by the time they came along was in a happy marriage and doing ok mental health wise even tho she did eventually die in a psychiatric hospital. There is so much they dont know about the best nana in the world even tho telling them would have made them know me more and explain a few things. But that has all gone to the grave with my mum and there it will stay. When she was able to be the best mum in the world my mum was able to be the best mum in the world but when she couldn't be - I won't go there. I dont even know why Im telling you this, its just that Im trying to say if you have someone you love then tell them again and again and again. Dont let them get away, dont let them one day be in the situation where they say oh she just let me get on with being estranged, or too busy enjoying my life to stop me for a few minutes and and say hey, I'm your mum, I love and miss you, I want you. Can we sort this out and start again?

I hope some of you understand this and can relate it to the opening post and a few others.

FantasticButtocks Sun 25-May-14 19:33:54

Perhaps what is 'meaningful' to her, and what is 'meaningful' to you on a daily basis, are not really the same. You are different people, after all, and your interpretations of how things are will be different sometimes.

The messages on her cards are what she really thinks in the moment when she's writing them (so therefore focussed on thinking about how she actually feels about you). Which, when you look at it, is brilliant, OP.

Most of the time she is not focussed on thinking about the relationship between you, obviously, because she is just living her life and possibly not even seeing your relationship as a problem.

Here's my take on it.

The really good things:

1. She loves you and has said so - fantastic!

2. When she thinks about it, she has wonderful positive messages for you - again something to be really, really glad about.

3. When she needs someone motherly to call on for health/problems etc. she calls on you, her mother - again, how lovely that she feels she can talk to you about those things, and treat you like a mum.

4. In day to day life she ignores virtually all my texts, emails and rarely phones. I brought this up with her a few months ago and said I wasn't sure what she wanted as it feels as if she doesn't want me in her life because she barely contacts me or replies to my messages etc. She said that wasn't the case at all, and that she does want me in her life and that she is just very busy etc. Again, do not forget these positives, OP.

The difficult things:

1. You and your DD have different ideas about what constitutes a good relationship.

2. You do not figure so largely and so often in your DD's thoughts as she does in yours. (doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the relationship though, most parents are more interested/concerned about their children and more often, than their children are about them.)

3. Because you are sad not to be having things as you'd hoped, you are perhaps tending to focus on the negative aspects, much more than you are focussing on the positive aspects. When you chooses to focus on these (negative) bits, rather than those (positive) bits, you are reinforcing in your mind that things are bad, or not as they should be, or not as you would like them to be. These are only your thoughts, your interpretation of the facts. These thoughts do not have to be focussed in this way, you can re-focus, decide to change your way of thinking, try another approach. I think you could do a few sessions with a good CBT counsellor and help you change that way of thinking.

This is getting really long now and I am in danger of waffling on all night, by which time the thread will have moved on etc etc, so I'll just post now... blush

DesertRose1958 Sun 25-May-14 19:34:18

endless, we cross posted. I really dont know what to say to you because the situation you are in is just horrible. I hope your girl does get home next month and that a new chapter begins for all of you. xxxxx

DioneTheDiabolist Sun 25-May-14 19:44:25

OP, I have a good relationship with my mother. We see and speak to eachother on the phone a few times a week. However, if my mum was to text instead of calling, I would not reply. I don't like conducting my conversations by text and am known to be terrible at replying to them.blush

Texts are for things like "be there in 15minutes" or similar. They are an effective conversational tool for me. It's possible your DD is the same. So call, don't text.

DioneTheDiabolist Sun 25-May-14 19:45:21

That should be: they are not an effective conversational tool for me.

livingzuid Sun 25-May-14 19:51:55

In my 20s I was too busy enjoying my freedom and starting to grow up a bit to be always thinking, gosh I must call home. My brother went four months before making a call when he first went to uni! Granted things were not easy there but it's just part of leaving the nest. Doesn't mean children don't love you any less, it's that the nature of the relationship has to change as they turn into adults and simply don't need you in the same way. I think a pp has already mentioned this.

The texts and calls and emails though are purely for your benefit, not hers surely? If she wants to talk to you she calls, no? And it's about the important stuff. Honestly, it's fantastic that she still needs your support and opinion and love and values your opinion. On the want/need thing, she wants to talk to you about the things that really matter in her life.

She's not going to tell you about the drunken nights out with her friends or what she did in the office that day smile there are some things for most of us that we just don't share with our parents! Particularly not when at uni and as we are finding ourselves as grown ups. God I can't imagine telling my parents a good 9/10 of what went on in my 20s. As an expecting mum in my mid 30s my life is now rather sedate in comparison and as pps have said, your relationship with her may change as she gets older and the dgs arrive.

If you still feel guilty, leave it behind in the past. My mother only does what she does because she knows full well she screwed up and is trying to make herself feel better about things. Unlike you, however, she has never said sorry or explained it. So if your daughter is OK with it all then that is all that matters.

Whilst you are not trying to control or expect a response, that may not be how it is perceived at the other end. The risk is alienation if it carries on. And with the cards, perhaps she is not good at expressing her love for you and this is her way of doing it.

I would not charge up there demanding to know the problem. That just sounds like 100 kinds of awkward when all that's needed is a few tweaks. Can you plan more short trips to enjoy quality time with her, maybe with activities planned out that you both enjoy doing together? Relationships change and vary all the time and we have to be adaptable.

You should rightly be very proud of the fact that you've bought up a self-sufficient, independent woman (sorry that sounds like a Beyoncé song) who seems to care about you as much as you do her.

theresnowheretohidewithachip Sun 25-May-14 19:57:48

Fantastic Your summary is really helpful and yes, you are right, I do focus on what there isn't not what there is. I'm feeling really hormonal (menopausal) and teary this week and that's definitely not helping. But you are right, I need to remember that there ARE good things and that because things are as they are now, this doesn't mean they will always be that way.

I find it such a hard path to steer - don't want to phone as she is always tired out after work. Obviously texts/emails are not what she wants to have to deal with. I don't want to invite myself to stay. Yet I don't want to sit back and say/do nothing because that could be interpreted as "Mum doesn't give a shit about me or my life."

DesertRose Up to now I've felt that I've wanted to try do things to let dd know I love her just in case that wasn't always clear at times when I was depressed. I don't want her to feel that because I wasn't the best parent, I didn't love her. I want her to know I love and respect her and am proud of all she is.

IWillIfHeWill Sun 25-May-14 20:06:18

desertrose, we have similar early experiences. so much so that I wondered if I'd written one of your posts...

livingzuid Sun 25-May-14 20:09:06

Gosh xp with fantastic's excellent post.

You can always call her if you want to. If she doesn't answer it means she can't chat right then. And if she answers, then she's free for a chat. I wouldn't get worked up about her not answering.

I'm wittering now too so will stop!

DesertRose1958 Sun 25-May-14 20:14:27

Theresnosnow - tell her. Tell her all you've just said in your last post.

In every situation there has to be the person who risks being hurt or taken the wrong way or being seen as a pain in the bum etc, but perhaps by being the person who risks being seen as all of those things a person is on actual fact being the reason things get better.

And this as the daughter of someone who had mental health issues - I always knew my mum loved me. I was never in doubt even though at times I did wonder what the hell was going on. Maybe your daughter does know that you loved her but perhaps she had to be self sufficient to quite and extent and now doesn't know how to be with you. Could you maybe just say to her can we try and sort out how to be with each other, to make up for lost time.

I dont know how your depression manifested itself but with my mums ill health we had long periods of normality where life was wonderful, only for things to then come tumbling down and life to be absolutely hell on earth. Perhaps for us the periods of normality helped with our feelings and love for each other so that when things were bad we had good times to think of - but I really dont know. I do know however that when there has been ill health in a family and mental health problems in particular that its never too late or too futile to try and fix things, and someone has to take the lead.

I really do wish you well.

DesertRose1958 Sun 25-May-14 20:16:02

Iwillifhewill - hello smile xxxx

DesertRose1958 Sun 25-May-14 20:16:43

that should be is in actual fact the reason things get better

StrawberryCheese Sun 25-May-14 20:20:20

OP, your DD sounds like me, but then my mum doesn't tend to inquire as to how I am. She will just text or phone to tell me how many hours she has worked that week (she's part time but thinks she's a martyr for doing a few hours overtime) and generally talk at me until she wants to hang up. So you can see my reasons for not really bothering that much! However you sound lovely and I think you should pick up the phone and call your DD on a Sunday afternoon or whatever, rather than the texts and the emails. I'd gladly talk to my mum more often if she actually took an interest and listened to what is going on in my life. smile

alphabook Sun 25-May-14 20:32:34

It sounds to me like she does love you, and she knows you love her. As others have said, when she stops to think about it (on your birthday etc) her true feelings come out. When she needs you she calls you. However it seems like you're not at the forefront of her mind in her day to day life. And although that might be hard for you, maybe that's just the way it has to be. Some mums and daughters have a "best friends" type relationship, but I think that's quite rare, and there's no point trying to force it if that sort of closeness just isn't there.

To be honest, the big problem seems to be your fears. Your fear that something is wrong if you don't hear from her, your fear that she hasn't forgiven you for the things that went wrong in her childhood, your fear that she'll think you don't love her if you don't contact her frequently. But actually, everything you've said suggests that even though she is getting on with her life she knows you are always there. If you back off a little bit, it might actually give her a chance to realise that she misses you. If you don't hear from her after a few weeks there's nothing to stop you contacting her, but giving her some space might mean that the contact you have is more meaningful for her, and less of an obligation.

livingzuid Sun 25-May-14 20:33:45

Sorry just seen your latest post. With the visiting, why not plan a mum and daughter weekend, just a night away somewhere a bit different and neutral ground? Or go and see her but stay in a b&b if you don't want to impose but I bet she would want you to stay with her. I'm sure she understands you want to see her and she would appreciate you making the effort to go up. Have you suggested it before? There is no harm in asking smile

theresnowheretohidewithachip Sun 25-May-14 20:33:48

Desert your last post brought tears to my eyes.
LivingZuid thank you for your kind words too. I DO feel guilty and I find that hard to let go of. I want to make things right but I can only make the hear and now right. I can't put back the things that needed to be there which makes me sad and angry with myself.

I had really bad PND after a very scary pregnancy (pre-eclampsia) and an EMCS where we both nearly died. For the first 10 days dd was in PICU and the outcome was very uncertain. I was petrified she'd not survive and nobody was giving me much hope that things would be ok. I was physically and mentally traumatised after we got home and had no support from DH and my own Mum had cancer and couldn't support me much either. So we got off to a bad start and I felt very alone, scared and vulnerable.

2 depressive episodes while dd was growing up were the result of having married the wrong man (who was abusive) and not having the courage or strength to leave and staying for over 20 years in an utterly shit situation. Not a great environment for a child to grow up in. Though there was no physical abuse or arguments she had to witness thankfully. The 3rd was after my Mum died.

I'm going to back off with texts/emails. And not try and make the relationship what it isn't but hope that in time, things will change and hopefully get better.

sunbathe Sun 25-May-14 20:37:21

Theresnowhere, I was in your dd's situation at one time. My mum didn't seem to leave me alone for long enough for me to think, ooh, haven't spoken to mum for a while, and then do something about it.

Instead I'd be thinking not again when she phoned, or turned up.

I think if you leave it longer, you'll maybe give her the space to contact you?

endlesspossibilities Sun 25-May-14 21:10:04

so much wisdom on here...and I'm sorry to butt in on your thread thereis. It may be that you're (subconciously) trying to make up for the time you weren't available for your dd. Now you have more time, more emotional strength.

I didn't have depression. I wasn't a single parent. But I did have work, worries, other kids, an irritating husband. I wonder did I do enough? was I good enough?

I look back at my kids' childhoods and wonder where it all went. There's such a sense of loss. While I think that's normal, I also feel a mixture of sadness and even anger at dd's lack of thought.

And yet I'm sure that in my 20's it my last priority was my Mum. It was good to know she was there..I just assumed she was OK and luckily she was. I have no idea how often I contacted her or if she felt the "empty nest" syndrome - I never even thought of it.

Desert, you brought tears to my eyes, and Buttocks your post makes so much sense too.

This song makes me sob www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsk5Qz5oEWo

MrsRuffdiamond Sun 25-May-14 21:16:39

Not patronising at all, Lying, but I can't say I've deliberately set out to be different. It's almost like a visceral need not to enter into that kind of claustrophobic relationship ever again. And I guess my odds were better, as I didn't have the same catastrophes befall me as she did, growing up, and I'm happier than she ever was.

It does leave a legacy, though, doesn't it? I have a lot of anger in me, as well as sorrow, in relation to her, and it comes from that lifelong feeling of being trapped. Knowing how vulnerable she is, I could never abandon her, but my God, there are times when I've longed for that freedom.

theresnowheretohidewithachip Sun 25-May-14 22:19:27

Just want to say thank you to everyone. You have really helped me to start thinking about the situation differently and to approach it differently I am definitely looking for confirmation that dd can forgive/has forgiven me, for the bad times. I want her to know I'm interested in her life, care about her, am proud of her, am here if she needs me, and that most of all that I love her and her DH.

I will stop the texts and emails and phone her every so often instead and hope that in time we can become closer. If not, then I have to respect and accept her choice. I realise I cannot make our relationship into something it isn't or into something I might want but that she doesn't. You have really helped me see that. You have also helped me see that the content of messages might be received differently to how they were meant to be. I may mean one thing but dd may read into it something different - neediness/clinginess/dependence/responsibility/emotional blackmail etc.

Thanks again all and for sharing your experiences too.

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