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Can anyone empathise/help me articulate or am I being silly?

(28 Posts)
Nodecentnickname Mon 01-Oct-12 15:30:21

I don't know if this is the right place for this rant tbh but here goes...

I love my mum and get on with her well. We spend quite a bit of time together and she is a great Grandma. That said, as far as me and my siblings are concerned she made quite a few mistakes as a parent when bringing us all up. She was under great strain as a single parent in some quite frightening circumstances and I'm sure this affected her parenting.

Now, in present day we get on well however she is elderly and can sometimes be a bit old fashioned. I am currently pregnant and she has a habit of making comments that some how 'diminish' my experiences. When I was pregnant with my first many years ago she went to great trouble to deny the existence of my growing bump. I remember being very proud of it but whenever I was with her I was told it was 'just wind' or 'extra weight'.
For some reason this hurt me and I couldn't ever explain way but it made me feel very small.

She also has an issue with women stroking their bump. She says it is an affection and attempt to draw attention to themselves. This obviously made me wary about touching my bump as she would always note that I was doing it. This time round I am older and give less of a shit. Or at least I thought. She has been quite good until now but her latest 'issue' is that I have nasty morning sickness which is not something I have suffered in previous preganancy. She didn't get it either so she has decreed that it is a gastric bug because morning sickness is 'psychological'.

I am trying to hold my cool whenever she says this but it is hard when I get spells where I feel so dizzy and my insides are turning is over. She was also laughing at me cradling my stomach. Mainly because I am really bloated!She is coming to stay for a few days from this afternoon and everytime I think of these comments I start boiling with rage.

My DH tells me not to bring it up with her and that I should cut her some slack because she is elderly. My siblings don't really understand as I am the only one with kids and who is pregnant.

Why? Does anyone else understand this and AIBU to feel thoroughly pissed off.

CailinDana Mon 01-Oct-12 15:34:15

She clearly has some issue around pregnancy. It could be her age - even in the 60s/70s pregnancy wasn't really something you made a big deal of and the older generation would definitely not have put up with mothers to be making a fuss.

Have you thought about asking her directly to stop the comments?

Thumbwitch Mon 01-Oct-12 15:39:44

YANBU to be pissed off, no.

She clearly has strong issues around pregnancy and if I were you I would just be completely straight with her and say things like " well you might believe it's psychological but there are many doctors and scientists who know it's real" or "if you don't like me touching my baby bump then don't look" or even "I don't know what your issues with pregnancy are but please don't inflict them on me".

If those are too confrontational for you, use the MN fallback - "did you mean to be so rude?" or replace rude with mean/ condescending/ patronising/ thoughtless as necessary.

Frankly, if she's upsetting you so much, why are you having her to stay just now? Wouldn't it be better to put her off? (I realise she's probably almost on the doorstep but if she's going to stress you out then perhaps she might have to cut her visit short)/

Your DH should butt out. She's your mother, deal with her as you think you have to. Being elderly is no excuse for being rude/a cow to you.

Nodecentnickname Mon 01-Oct-12 15:40:27

Maybe she does have an issue. Yet she has had four pregnancies. Most of them reasonably 'easy' and not so hard.

I think she sometimes has a sort of jealousy issue that rears its head sometimes.

I have challenged her but it doesn't end well and I usually get told I am silly or she was teasing. On some occasions when I try and stick up for myself I am left feeling like i am causing trouble and usually get hissed at by other family members.

attheendoftheday Mon 01-Oct-12 15:43:15

I can see why you'd be upset by those things. I wonder if now would be a good time to redefine your relationship a bit, more as equals than mother and daughter? I don't agree that you should keep quiet, you have the right to not be treated badly and to stand up for yourself.

I would be making clear that she's entitled to her opinion, but that you do not agree. For instance, over stroking your bump, you could say "Really? I think it's just a sign of affection to my baby," and then change the subject, and keep stroking your bump whenever you want. Or with the morning sickness say "Really? Most people think it's to do with the hormones released in early pregnancy. You must have been lucky not to have any yourself." Try to keep a mildly interested but not too involved tone, and don't get angry, there's no point. Try to remember that it doesn't really matter what she thinks anyway.

I think that laughing at you is more unkind. You could try the mumsnet classic "Did you mean that to be so rude/hurtful?"

ivesufferedenoughfools Mon 01-Oct-12 15:43:55

Hi there, your post resonated with me.

Firstly, congratulations! It is great news that you're expecting and you should be able to enjoy minute of what is a very special time (sickness aside obviously).

My tactics would be to ignore what you can (not easy, I know) and only challenge if it is something you feel extremely strongly about. The reason I say this is that there's no point in you getting upset and having raised blood pressure over things that are your DM's issues and not your own. You know that you've a bump, you have every right to stroke it as much as you want to and never mind what anyone else thinks! Similarly, your morning sickness is a fact. If your DM can't see this then tough. She can believe what she likes. Doesn't mean you're not experiencing it.

With regard to your experiences being lessened somehow, I can absolutely empathise. When I was younger, my DF worked away a lot and my DM was at home with three of us under three (me and twin siblings). She got very used to being stoical, coping and generally getting on with things. As such, she cannot seem to empathise when I talk to her about tricky nights, teething, any other problems with baby DD. She's very much a 'get on with it' kind of person. The only thing I can think of in terms of age is that today, pregnant women are told to really take care of themselves etc whereas back in the day, you got on with it, however hard it might have been.

Not sure if any of that is helpful or if I've expressed myself in the best way but just wanted you to know that you're not alone and wish you good luck!

CailinDana Mon 01-Oct-12 15:44:11

In that case you have three options. Put up with it and say nothing. Stop seeing her. Or stand up for yourself properly and don't accept the "I'm only teasing" bullshit. The response you need is "I don't care if you're teasing, I don't like it so please stop," or "you think I'm silly, I think you're mean. Clearly these comments aren't helping either of us, so could they just stop?"

Thumbwitch Mon 01-Oct-12 15:46:31

You get "hissed at" by other family members? Is this normal, are you usually the scapegoat in the family?!

Bugger "teasing" - I think teasing is foul, especially when it's a parent doing it and it's hurtful - that's not "teasing", that's tormenting.

Kick her out again if she starts with any of it. Have you other relatives nearby she could stay with?

attheendoftheday Mon 01-Oct-12 15:46:39

I would say "Please stop teasing because it hurts my feelings," or "Even if you think it's silly, please could you stop because it hurts my feelings." You have to remember you are not being silly and she's striding your confidence!

attheendoftheday Mon 01-Oct-12 15:48:10

Erroding, not striding!

Nodecentnickname Mon 01-Oct-12 15:54:25

The last time I 'stood up' myself. It wasn't pleasant.

But yes I think I will say something if she does it this time.

It's just my DH thinks am I unreasonable to get annoyed by it. He thinks I should take it all with a pinch of salt and 'chill out'. He is very much a live and let live type of person. I, on other hand, go upstairs and quietly boil.

It's the story of my life to be honest. I often feel that my feelings are not valid, or important.

I think kicking her out or not seeing her could be an OTT reaction especially as she is perfectly reasonable and helpful the rest of the time? She is coming over to help me with childcare over the next few days. I suppose I just needed to hear that this wasn't me being 'silly' and that I am not being unreasonable for this to get under my skin.

CailinDana Mon 01-Oct-12 15:57:22

It isn't unreasonable for this to get under your skin, it would annoy the hell out of me.

What happened the last time you stood up for yourself?

Nodecentnickname Mon 01-Oct-12 15:59:17

I'vesufferedenough I think my mum is similar to yours. She is a 'get on with it kind of person' and thinks all this avoiding certain foods and alcohol and so on... is just silliness.

Yes in the same token, she keeps telling me to sit down and not move around so much!

She has very different ideas about parenting, but to be fair she rarely intervenes or criticizes with my other child.

This is where my DH is coming from. This is what she believes, and I should just ignore it/tolerate it.

Nodecentnickname Mon 01-Oct-12 16:03:34

The last time she denied to my face what she had said, then sat in my garden chain smoking and obviously trying not to cry. I ended up sort of 'apologising' and making her a cup of tea. She avoided talking to much for about an hour then was absolutely fine with me.

Except for that hour I felt tense, uncomfortable, sick and it was horribly reminiscent of my childhood and how we were all held hostage by her fucking moods.

Thumbwitch Mon 01-Oct-12 16:04:49

No you're definitely NBU.

Your DH can still sod off though - it's all very well for him, he's not the one getting upset by his own mother, you are - how dare he minimise your feelings in that way! angry

Perhaps try turning the teasing around then? Rather than going straight for the obvious "this is upsetting me", just laugh at her.
"oh you're so old-fashioned, such an old fuddy-duddy - there's nothing wrong with me patting my bump, it's lovely!"
"Do you remember thalidomide, Mother - the pill that some pharmaceutical company made for morning sickness? I don't think they thought it was psychological"
"this. is. a. baby. bump. That means I'm pregnant, you know"

I'm probably too PA over this, tbh (or just plain aggressive!) because my own mum was on the belittling side of things too - when I told her I was pg with DS, she said "Oh no, now I'll have 6 grandchildren" - like that was some kind of problem! Sadly for her, it didn't happen as she died when I was 20w pg - but I was most put out at her reaction. sad

Nodecentnickname Mon 01-Oct-12 16:06:56

I don't know... I think there is probably a lot more to it than just a few remarks she makes. My DH doesn't understand this. There is a whole back story that is somewhat repressed and almost forgotten, but then since becoming I have become a parent it has started to rear its head and makes me feel quite resentful and sad.

CailinDana Mon 01-Oct-12 16:08:50

You need to start letting go of the responsibility you think you have for how she feels. She sounds horribly manipulative. My mother is the same with most people - complain about anything and she sulks, sometimes for weeks. Except she's not like that with me because I just won't have it. If she does sulk, I either pretend she isn't sulking and just talk to her as normal (which makes her look like a massive twat) or if I just have no patience I say "Enjoy your sulk, talk to you when you're finished!" TBH I can't really remember the last time she sulked with me, she just doesn't bother any more.

Saying something then outright denying it is ridiculous behaviour. I would call someone up on that bigtime.

Thumbwitch Mon 01-Oct-12 16:10:00

Well from what you're saying it does sound as though she has always had you tiptoeing around her moods and reactions, even as a little child - so you're getting a lot of stuff from your own childhood coming into your response to her behaviour.

Have you ever had counselling for any of it?

Nodecentnickname Mon 01-Oct-12 16:12:58

Thank you Thumbwitch

I think my feelings do get 'minimised' (that is exactly how it feels).

I am expected to get on with things and I am mostly quite happy to do it. I tend to be the one in the family who is the most 'sorted' and the mediator, so I think it is in everyone's interests for me not to 'make waves'.

The thalidomide drug is something that will resonate with her.

Happylander Mon 01-Oct-12 16:21:18

How awful for you. I have looked after some pregnant ladies who are hospitalised due to morning sickness so it definitely isn't psychological.

Stroke your belly as much as like as it helps you come to terms/bond with the baby inside you. Your body do what the hell you like. Personally I would lift up my top and rub my naked belly lots in front of her and if she says anything say 'what I was only teasing as you seem to be so put off by my pregnancy it is funny' then vomit on her head. Sorry feeling rather childish today but that might make her realise that morning sickness is not all in your head! shock

Sorry but saying she is elderly is no excuse for rudeness, unsupportive behaviour. Yes she may have had a tough time when bringing you up but that does not give her or her age a right to be mean to you. Stick up for yourself and don't be guilt tripped by her or her moods. They are her moods and she owns them don't take them on board.

Enjoy your pregnancy. Just laugh at her.

Nodecentnickname Mon 01-Oct-12 16:23:49

CailinDana thank you for your responses. Yes I think I need to change my responses to her behaviour.

She is actually a lot better in her old age than she was when we were growing up.

I have had no counselling.

CailinDana Mon 01-Oct-12 16:32:19

It is very very hard to change patterns of behaviour that you've carried on for so long. Do you think, rather than challenging her, you could learn to let her comments go over your head? What she says isn't acceptable but I'm thinking that if she gives you a lot of help and you're keen to hang onto your relationship then challenging her might not be the way to go. Because at this stage she's unlikely to change in any significant way. Perhaps work on putting less value in what she says? Work on just smiling and letting it wash over you, the way it would if a child said it to you?

Nodecentnickname Mon 01-Oct-12 17:01:16

I think this is what DH is trying to get me to do. Let it bounce off me.
I will try but other times I just feel really ragey!

CailinDana Mon 01-Oct-12 17:05:15

I know it's not easy to stay calm when someone really gets your goat. What your mother says is never going to be uncomplicated, given your history, it will always sting to some extent. But reacting isn't really getting you anywhere so something has to change.

What do you think?

Thumbwitch Mon 01-Oct-12 23:28:41

happylander, that just made me laugh - "vomit on her head" - bad but oh so funny!

Counselling might help you - if only to help you change how you respond. You are reverting to hurt child every time she "teases" you, you need to learn how to stay in "adult" mode and respond as an adult would. So, despite all my PA offerings earlier, you could try simply "Oh don't be so silly Mum". To everything she says that you don't like.

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