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To ask my mother to stay for less time?

(4 Posts)
motherissues Tue 09-Aug-11 13:32:35

Have name changed for this as never post about anything personal...bit scared. Hope not too long.

First a bit of context. My mother is a very complicated lady...she has had a difficult upbringing which I believe has led to a mild personality disorder. She has a chequered history of anorexia in her teenage years, self harm (more recent), alcohol abuse etc. This has led to very difficult periods in our relationship which culminated in a period of complete estrangement a few years ago (I tried to confront her about some of the aspects of her behaviour/our relationship which had become intolerable to me and she reacted by flying into a rage, drinking continuously and making abusive phone calls). I saw a couple of counsellors at the time to help me deal with the immense guilt I felt at ending our relationship. HOWEVER she has been, in many ways a wonderful mother...she was unquestionably loving and devoted when we were younger and my sister and I are reasonably well balanced with many wonderful traits and hobbies that I would attribute to our mother's influence. We reconstructed our relationship a few years back which has been largely helped by the fact that mum is now much, much better...her behaviour has regulated, I no longer feel I am treading on eggshells around her and she is less manipulative.

The problem is that she lives a 10 hour drive away (through her own choice) and since I have had DD she comes to stay for 5-6 night stretches a few times a year. This is simply too much for me to handle - I just find her to be an intensely irritating woman...I can't even begin to describe how without typing for hours but she is very self-centred, she still drinks more than I am comfortable with, she talks constantly and she is still deeply insecure which comes out in all sorts of ways. However, her heart is completely in the right place, she is kind, she is very helpful (she cooks and cleans and helps with DIY) and has done so much work on herself that is admirable. Because I find her visits so draining I want to suggest that she limits the length of them but I know she will find this deeply offensive and take it as a personal rejection...she will ask why and without directly attacking her personality (which seems really, really unfair as she cannot help the way she is and for once none of it is nasty, just irritating) I will be unable to give her a reason. She will also feel very sad that I am restricting the time she spends with DD who she adores.

I feel trapped and in order to compensate I know I am passively aggressive when she is here (which is also unfair) then feel hugely guilty when she leaves as she has really done nothing wrong, in fact has helped a great deal, and yet I have been unable to be all that nice to her. I honestly feel that if she lived closer and I could see her more frequently but for less time things would be so much better.

Hope that makes feels quite complex to me and I'm not sure I've captured everything. I've talked it over endlessly and just thought maybe some new perspective might help!

snoopdogg Tue 09-Aug-11 13:40:33

I have a similar issue with my mother, if I invite her for the weekend she will arrive on Wednesday afternoon and leave on the following Tuesday - correct me if I'm wrong but I think that makes a week?

In her defence it's a long journey and she's in her 70's, but like you, she drives me mad.

I've got it down to more manageable 4 days through a combination of assertiveness and white lies! I have told her I can't collect her from the train station or drop her off on a Wednesday or Tuesday because of children's committments so she has to come on Thursday and leave on Monday (she won't use public transport or fork out for a taxi). Plus, I make her train bookings myself, she gives me her cc number and tickets are posted to her saving her a stressful journey to the station and trying to sort out timetables.

Don't know if this helps but it might be an approach to take?

PS my mother doesn't drink but she doesn't cook or clean either.....

ZillionChocolate Tue 09-Aug-11 14:20:42

Could you tell her that you have some sort of all day commitment in the middle of the time she comes so you get a break? Perhaps you'd find her less irritating that way. Alternatively, could you find something for her to do? Send her off to do something/see someone else as a treat?

inkyfingers Tue 09-Aug-11 14:27:35

I agree with Zillion - try to fill the time she's with you - get her out to do stuff, maybe take your daughter for an afternoon, which helps their relationship? and gives you a break. Can your partner be around or other family members at times to ease it?

If she really likes DIY, would she mind doing a list of jobs...? Might make you feel more grateful that she's staying. I agree that you don't want to say anything to her. Keep going. One day she won't be with you and you don't want guilt about how you treated her. It would also be lovely for your daughter to have lots of memories of her.

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