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To think my mum could have done better?

(30 Posts)
NoTrip Mon 20-Jun-11 10:40:32

I´ve thought this for a while now, spurred on as my own dc get older.

I grew up with a violent father and my mum who was always busy with my db who was considered terminally ill for decades and died in middle age.

I remember always actively disliking my father, he never did anything for any of his dc, resented buying us the very basic things in life. He never participated in things like Xmas and scheduled his holidays when we kids were at school. We never had any family holidays, ever, (maybe it was better that way anyway?)

I cared for my db as a child and was always afraid he would die when I was responsible for him (thinking of it now, it did not even occur to me to that neighbours could help)

I grew up very independent, left home at 15 and have basically had a successful life. But as my dc grow up I feel increasingly resentful that I was given nothing as a child, no time, no toys or activities, no sweets, Easter eggs, birthday presents or birthday parties. I have no positive memories from childhood and plenty of very bad ones!

I have very tentatively tried to tackle the subject with mum but she won´t accept any failing. Other siblings have criticized her more openly. The problem is mum sees her whole identity as the caring mum, but this was true for only one of her children!!

Am I being ridiculous? Could mum have done better? It is only more than 20 years later that I have considered she might have been just a little responsible for a thoroughly miserable childhood : (

Thanks for reading this. Any thoughts? Should I see a shrink?!

LaurieFairyCake Mon 20-Jun-11 10:44:28

Is your father dead? I'm interested in why you're tackling your mum and not him - not trying to make excuses for her but she was the only one busy caring for anyone.

Yes, seeing a therapist may help you process some of the awful stuff that happened to you in childhood.

GeekCool Mon 20-Jun-11 10:45:26

I grew up with a violent father and my mum who was always busy with my db who was considered terminally ill for decades and died in middle age.

I think you are blaming the wrong person here, but that doesn't mean your feelings are invalid. We feel how we feel, doesn't mean we are wrong. I think you maybe could benefit from some counselling, but not everyone is comfortable with that.

I don't think you are going to get anywhere with your mum, except more angry so I personally wouldn't question her so much just now, look at counselling and get your thoughts and feelings in order before broaching the subject again.

GypsyMoth Mon 20-Jun-11 10:47:04

good grief!!

i'm worried by this.....my own dc had a dad like this,who i left,throwing our family into hardship as a result as we lost his wage and ended up on benefits. i'm still trying to remedy this now. and my dc dont have a lot,but i got their dad out of their lives. i though i was doing the right thing

i try my best,as your mum probably did

SydSaid Mon 20-Jun-11 10:48:25

I don't kow how you think we should be able to answer that question. It sounds like your mum did the best she could considering she was stuck with a violent man who was presumably the wage-earner, as your mum was caring for your ill brother.

It sounds like she didn't have the option to be either generous with gifts or even have the freedom to leave with no income and an ill child.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 20-Jun-11 10:48:40

That must be difficult if your mum feels so strongly she was very caring and you remember differently.

Do you think she actually could have done something different? I just wonder if having a very sick child and a very unhelpful husband means she did her best. I don't think that necessarily means she is right to remember herself as a very caring mum to you if she wasn't, but in practical terms, maybe she really could not have done more?

WriterofDreams Mon 20-Jun-11 10:51:40

I would agree with the others that you seem to be blaming the wrong person. Caring for a very ill child must be so hard. I know it doesn't excuse your mum entirely from looking after the rest of you, but at least she had some sort of excuse IYSWIM - what was your father's excuse?

Having said all that I can see where you're coming because I have issues from my childhood that I blame my mum for much more than my dad even though they are both to blame. I think that's for two reasons - we generally expect mums to be more caring and are harsher on them when they're not, and we're mums ourselves so we know how we think a mum should feel and we wonder why our own mums didn't feel that way.

You've tried broaching things with your mum and it hasn't worked. Honestly if she did admit fault would it make you feel better? Counselling might help a lot - just talking through your feelings could help to ease the sadness and resentment you feel.

NoTrip Mon 20-Jun-11 10:51:55

My father isn´t dead no, but it was always clear from a young age that he was a "bad person" if you like. I haven´t seen him in more than 30 years, he takes no notice in his dc, to the point of not attending db´s funeral ; (

Tiffany, I think leaving a toxic style father is the very best thing to do! I was always desperate for mum to leave my dad!

redwineformethanks Mon 20-Jun-11 10:59:11

If your Dad was violent, and your Mum had no money of her own maybe she didn't have money to buy presents etc. Perhaps she was worn out with worry about your brother and had no energy left for the rest of you.

I sympathise but I wouldn't be too harsh on your Mum. Sounds like her life was probably fairly grim

ScarletOHaHa Mon 20-Jun-11 11:00:23

Having children brings back how we felt within our family as children. My parents don't make an effort with my DS and it definitely makes me think about my childhood.
I use my family life as a template of how NOT to do things. They are not bad people but they are selfish and lazy. I don't always get thing right but I do try my best. When they regurgitate the disney version of things that have happened, I just disagree and can do so now without bitterness.

GeekCool Mon 20-Jun-11 11:03:06

OP years ago, leaving a marriage wasn't the way is now, there was less support about for women to get out of abusive marriages. Couple that with your mum caring for a terminally ill child she must have felt trapped.
I think you have a lot of anger, re-reading your OP you say: db who was considered terminally ill for decades and died in middle age.
As if you have been lied to for many years or some such. I think your mum is your ONLY target as your dad is not around, but I think she is unfairly taking the full force of your (understandle) hurt and anger. I really recommend you take up some counselling.

ScarletOHaHa Mon 20-Jun-11 11:06:15

I get on better with my Dad than my Mum - I guess cos he did work really hard.

Also I agree with WriterofDreams; you can sometimes recognise a deficit when you become a mother and realise that your own mum doesn't feel the way about you that you feel for your child. I had counselling for completely different issues and feel much better about my early family life.

pfbornot Mon 20-Jun-11 11:07:39

Your mum sounds like she was under monsterous pressure and probably did her absolute best in very difficult conditions. It sounds like your father is an extremely nasty person (because as a child, you think things that your parents do are "normal" and most children with "mildly shit" fathers still remember thinking their father was good as children, despite realising the truth as adults - so if you remember hating your father, then he was probably a very bad father indeed).

So it looks like your mum had no help from a monster of a husband, one ill child and from the sounds of it, at least 3 more children including you. TBH, I wouldn't resent her not providing birthday parties/easter egg hunts under this amount of pressure.

I think that what I would try and do in your position is to assess your mum's current behaviour - is she a nice person now and do you think the two of you could have a positive relationship excluding the past. Is she a good granny? If yes, then I think you need to try and forgive the past. Also, take extra delight for yourself when you provide birthday parties/days out and the like for your own DC and think of it as a treat for both them and you.

NoTrip Mon 20-Jun-11 11:12:39

Yes, mum had a really hard life, she did, and I haven´t questioned her role until now. But she was the responsible adult wasn´t she? And she never really took care of me. Even when I´ve had my dc she hasn´t "taken care" of me if you like. Even if it´s blatantly obvious I need help with something or ask for advice, she won´t help. When I ask her why not she says she´s so used to me doing things on my own/being independent she just doesn´t notice. I remember being completely abandoned to get on with things from being very small.

Mum came from a big and lovely family. I never saw them as a child. She did have options though I appreciate how exhausted she must have been and how hard it is to plan things in that situation. Is taking care of one child reason enough to neglect all the others? Was it reasonable to leave me responsible with db when she went shopping etc?

fatlazymummy Mon 20-Jun-11 11:13:42

Your Mum probably could do better, with hindsight, and with the circumstances of today. The same as the rest of us could. Remember there used to be very little help from the state regarding disability and illness and very little help for women in abusive relationships.
I didn't have a sick sibling but I did have a bully for a father, very little in the way of treats, easter eggs, toys etc. [though possibly more than you].
I think what some people don't realise is that life is more child orientated nowadays. Life often did revolve around keeping the man of the house happy and children came last.
I also realise that although my childhood was lacking compared to todays standards [in some ways] my parents ,certainly my mother may have had a much harsher childhood than I did.

megapixels Mon 20-Jun-11 11:20:10

It sounds like she had no other option and that she wasn't deliberately excluding her other children. She had to care for your brother because he was the ill one, she didn't choose to do it. And how could she do the shopping for everyone to eat etc. if she didn't leave one of the others in charge of your brother?

I feel very sad reading your post, your upset is understandable, but I think your poor mother cannot be blamed for it.

MooMooFarm Mon 20-Jun-11 11:23:40

I don't think YABU. However I don't know how far it will get you trying to tackle the subject with your mum. I agree with you that ideally she should have put her children's emotional wellbeing first and left him, but for whatever reason, she didn't. From what you say, I assume she had a pretty miserable time with him too, so maybe she stayed because she couldn't find the strength to do so (because your Dad had dragged her down with him?).

So yes, as you don't have your dad around to 'blame' (for want of a better word), it's understandable that you feel upset with your mum for letting it all happen. But just because you want to work through why things happened as they did, she clearly isn't ready to, and may never be for all you know. And I don't think you can force somebody to face their past if they don't want to, or can't.

I would try talking to a counsellor, on your own, because it is possible to resolve and move on from what you've experienced without having your mother on board.

MooMooFarm Mon 20-Jun-11 11:24:45

Sorry meant 'couldn't find the strength to leave'

ScarletOHaHa Mon 20-Jun-11 12:54:27

I can understand why you feel so hurt. Taking care of one child in need should not mean to the exclusion of the others. We have different expectation of roles in the family and I am glad that they no longer revolve around the man of the house.

NoTrip Mon 20-Jun-11 12:57:12

Thanks for all your thoughts, they have really helped me clarify things in my own mind.

Geek, what I said about DB, it´s not that we were lied to as such about his illness, but doctors CONSTANTLY, and REGULARLY insisted he was on the point of death. He always crept back from death. This is why I didn´t like looking after him, it was a helluva responsibility from about 8 years old. And when I left home I was always aware of the possibility of being called home at any moment and had to keep in regular contact with mum (before days of mobile phones!). It´s a big strain for this to happen time and time again.

Pfbnot, you made a good point about looking at our current relationship. I guess that is where the problem lies sadly. I think we don´t really have any kind of mother-daughter relationship at all. There was no time for that. We never did anything together or had any kind of chats or something like that when I was growing up. My role has been supporting her, helping with db, helping her with her divorce, financial assistance, etc. And then we live in totally different worlds and I think she is a little intimidated by my success. One thing that makes me sad is that Mum has been divorced for a long time now but she still hasn´t ever bought me a present. She says she has no idea what I would like and that´s the truth. She doesn´t know me at all. Having dc did improve things for a while, but she seemed to enjoy seeing me struggle with something for the first time in my life. That was a shock. I would never have expected that in a million years.

Having said all this, I think you are all right. Mum had a terrible time of it and probably did do all she could in the situation. It´s a shame I just can´t get past it.

risingstar Mon 20-Jun-11 13:03:22

a person who worked for me lost her mother when she was 21 and mum was 42. she died from alcholic poisoning (liver packed up). her dad was an agressive bully who dominated all of them and was a bastard.

she had therapy and it boiled down to the following.
" given everything that she had to deal with and everything that i had to deal with, she was the best mother she could be and i was the best daughter i could be- i survived."

WhoAteMySnickers Mon 20-Jun-11 13:13:21

I think your mum probably did the best she could manage at the time.

And now, it sounds like she's just totally in awe of you. The role you've described in supporting her, helping with your db, with her divorce, and financial assistance, well it sounds like you're the mum!

You're probably everything she wishes she could have been, independent, confident, successful, in spite of everything you went through or went without as a child.

Maybe some counselling would help you. Do you think that your mum might be willing to come along for one session or is that a complete no go?

ronshar Mon 20-Jun-11 13:22:50

I was about to say something very similar to Whoatemysnickers.

To compare our lives to our mothers is never going to end well. The life for a single mother now is hard, send your self back 30 years and it was hideous. You mother may not have a bank account, know how to write a cheque, get credit, be given a flat/house to rent because she was a single parent. etc etc.

I think you need to try and accept what happened and not blame your mum. She did what she thought was right at the time. Hindsight is a beautiful thing.

welshbyrd Mon 20-Jun-11 13:32:13

I feel the same towards my mum OP
She never hurt me, but ignored the violence/nastiness me and my siblings received from our father

The reason your so angry with your mum is - as now a mother yourself, the love and maternal instincts,the warmth and protectiveness you feel for your DCs, makes your know in your heart, you would never allow your children to come to any harm, accidental or at the hand of another being.

As a mother, its your job to make sure your child is safe. Your mother for whatever reason,did not do this.
Feeling the amount of love you have for your DCs, has made you question, how your mother did not protect you as a child.

orangehead Mon 20-Jun-11 13:36:35

op I understand how you feel. My father was violet, I always knew what he was like so didnt expect anything else from him and didnt have a relationship with him. However my mother always portayed herself as loving mother who put her children first and I always believed it. But since having my own dc I cannot understand how any loving mother can stand by and watch thier husband kick the shit out of thier 4 yr old child. I know it was difficult to leave back then but I couldnt just do nothing. So I feel more angry at my mum. But there is also other issues with my mum such as she would threaten to kill her self if we didnt behave. She has also cut off my dsis and db because they choose to 'live in sin'. However she doesnt seem to get that she might be partially responsible for my dsis leaving home to live with her bofriend at 16. She was desperate to get away from home.
I suppose in your case the difficulties in leaving back then were intensified by having a sick child. But I get why you are more angry at your mum then dad.
So sorry for the loss of your brother.

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