Advanced search ask you not to say 'But she's your MUM' when someone tells you that they have a tricky relationship with their mother?

(140 Posts)
PlumpPartridge Fri 14-Feb-14 09:29:13

My mum has got terminal metastatic breast cancer. I've had a number of lovely, well-meaning friends who have known me for >5 years say things like 'But she's your MUM' when, having asked me how I feel, I proceed to tell them. In detail.

I tell them that I feel odd about her imminent demise, given that I have spent most of my adult life trying to get beyond her childhood teachings that I was fat and ugly and useless. I find it difficult to forgive her for being an utter bitch when I was small and defenseless and (perhaps contrarily) I get very angry about the fact that she backed down sharpish when I finally dared to threaten her back; weirdly, I would have preferred her to be an unchangable bitch rather than have to realise that she had the option of CHOOSING not to be.

Anyway. I have been fairly open about this turbulent history with my friends and my mum and I sort of get on alright now - me being married with children has done a great deal to make her appreciative of me. To be fair, she tries very hard to be a lovely Nanny to my boys and treats them like princes. They think she's wonderful. I am happy about this.

So back to my point. My friends are being kind and asking me how I am, but don't seem to get that the statement 'But she's your MUM' sort of makes it much worse. She wasn't the sort of mum who supports you no matter what and loves you no matter what you do or look like. She still isn't, really.

When they make that statement I sort of grimace/smile and try to explain why I don't feel that she was ever that sort of mum, because I am grateful that they care but I don't want to lie about my feelings towards her. I've noticed that when I do this, a few of them have seemed almost annoyed that I'm not following the standard conversational script and drop the subject very quickly. I am honestly not rude in these conversations and make it clear that I am grateful for their support, but I do wish they wouldn't use that phrase.

I suppose I should be happy for them that they probably have good relationships with their parents and honestly find my response perplexing. Still, I'd like to ask all the rest of you to say 'Oh, ok' and wait for further details if anyone ever says they have trouble with their mum (or indeed their dad/sister/brother/whoever). To do otherwise feels a bit like my feelings are being judged as incorrect, which really upsets me (even though I know that is normally not the speaker's intention).

Sorry, that turned into an essay! Cathartic, I suppose....

sadbodyblue Fri 14-Feb-14 09:34:14

I think you are absolutely right. unfortunately just giving birth or donating sperm does does not make anyone a mummy or a daddy.

your mum sounds like she was nowhere near good enough for you and is trying to be better with your dss.

that's great but it can't cancel out your experiences.

congratulations on staying strong and being a better mom yourself. flowers

AnyFucker Fri 14-Feb-14 09:35:22

Yanbu with bells on

yummytummy Fri 14-Feb-14 09:35:43

I know exactly what u mean. Have had a troubled relationship with mine and final straw was when she took ex husbands side over mine when I was suffering with very bad dv and emotional abuse. So yes I have felt rage at the shes your mum comment. Some people just cannot comprehend what it is to have never actually had a mother who mothered you if that makes sense

So sympathies to you

Mumof3xx Fri 14-Feb-14 09:35:58

I fully agree also

I have never had a mother daughter relationship with my mother

I was abandoned by her as a child

In your situation I think I would feel not much tbh

MsVestibule Fri 14-Feb-14 09:41:27

YANBU. Whilst all of us would love to receive all the love and support from our parents we need, not many of us get it, and some get very, very little. Some people have a great relationship with their parents and can't really understand why others don't. Some don't have a great relationship with their parents but are still of the "but she's my mum I must love her".

You sound as though you've made some sort of peace with her but that doesn't mean you have to be devastated that she's dying. If you want support that you can't get from your friends, have you tried the 'stately homes' thread in Relationships? I've heard it's good.

Weegiemum Fri 14-Feb-14 09:46:06

I was also abandoned by my mother. I was 12.

We've been nc for 10 years now, and that's helped a huge amount.

I'm sorry your mum is dying. I'm not sure what I'd do in that situation, but as she blanked me at my Gran's funeral and my brother's wedding, I have cone to the point where I don't care any more!

Puttheshelvesup Fri 14-Feb-14 09:48:09

I know, this TOTALLY fucks me off!

I think most people just can't comprehend that a persons' mother might not have their very best interests at heart. It's completely beyond their intellectual and emotional capacity, and it's not just people who have had loving supportive parents.

I think some people who have toxic parents have had to convince themselves that their mummy loves them really, despite evidence to the contrary, as to even consider the alternative would destroy them. You being so open and authentic about your troubled relationship with your dm is a threat to that delusion.

It's just not worth discussing some things with certain people as they will never get it.

Puttheshelvesup Fri 14-Feb-14 09:49:25

Sorry, x post with MsVestibule

mypussyiscalledCaramel Fri 14-Feb-14 09:57:57

My mum has Motor Neurone Disease, I am seeing a counsellor before she dies, to try and come to terms with, being happy for ME when she does go.

This woman is not the mother I grew up with, she has been emotionally unavailable for as far back as I can remember.

This woman has changed twice in my life.

I had that statement thrown at me after the first time she changed, my response was, that she only had the title of Mum.


PlumpPartridge Fri 14-Feb-14 10:01:05

I am actually quite moved that you all agree with me! It was preying on my mind so I thought I'd share it here - I expected a few YANBUs but not everyone!

sad that so many people get it though, really.

TheListingAttic Fri 14-Feb-14 10:05:47

I don't get threads like this. Surely the phrase 'but she's your MUM' works in exactly the opposite way to what people intend? She's your MUM, she's dying, and you're not that cut up about it - does this not indicate to other people that you've obviously been through some serious stuff? Doesn't your reaction make it screamingly obvious that this isn't a nice, cosy, stable, typical mum relationship, and that you're dealing with something completely different and very difficult?

I'm fortunate enough to have parents who did what they were supposed to do - i.e. be generally quite nice to me - but even with my limited imagination I can understand that not all parents are like that, and the fact some people actually cut their parents off entirely, or have ambivalent feelings like you describe, is surely an indication that you got a seriously raw deal in the parent lottery.

She's your MUM - you wouldn't react this way without having damn good reasons to!

Triliteral Fri 14-Feb-14 10:09:44

" I've noticed that when I do this, a few of them have seemed almost annoyed that I'm not following the standard conversational script and drop the subject very quickly."

Maybe they find themselves embarrassed that they said the wrong thing and don't know what to say, rather than being annoyed with you.

YANBU at all though. If you have mixed feelings about it, it's hardly surprising, and must be frustrating to discuss with people who don't have the imagination/empathy to understand that.

DuskAndShiver Fri 14-Feb-14 10:10:34


I find the "mother love conquers all" sentiment very hard because in my family I am the odd one out. My mum adored her mother, my sister loves her (and my) mother with a great closeness; I am the one it didn't work out for because although my mother is lovely and meant well, she completely fucked up with me because I was a tricky sod with mental illness that she decided to ignore and basically threw me under the bus. when I had no one else.

So it's really hard. I like my mother in a way and I wish her well and everything but she's not "my mum" in that sense. I get it. I'm sorry.

ExcuseTypos Fri 14-Feb-14 10:12:55

I agree with you OP. my mum left me when I was 3 but took my sister. She spent the next 40odd years wondering why we didn't have a great relationship.

Giving birth to someone doesn't actually make you a mum.

AllThatGlistens Fri 14-Feb-14 10:14:11


Just that. And those who have been through similar will know exactly why.


MrsDeVere Fri 14-Feb-14 10:14:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Dawndonnaagain Fri 14-Feb-14 10:20:55

Meh, when my dm dies I'll attend the funeral to check the old bitch is actually in the coffin.

zumm Fri 14-Feb-14 10:21:57

This isn't really suitable for YANBU (although you're Definitely NOT! BU).
Its such a deep feeling - and you were just an innocent child. I hope your life ahead gets better and better. Nigel Slater, at the end of one of his books (I think it was called 'Toast'?), says he felt free after the death of his parents.
thanks from me too - and thanks for expressing this in a thread.

hiccupgirl Fri 14-Feb-14 10:23:21

You have all my sympathy cos I know exactly where you're coming from.

My mum died when I was 20 after a very difficult and EA childhood for me and a very unhappy life and long illness for her. I am sad that she's not seen me become my own person and she will never meet my son but if she had lived our relationship would have been very, very difficult and I find it had to mourn the loss of that.

Often when new people find out my mum died 20+ yrs ago they make comments like that must be so hard, awful etc, etc and I find it hard to know what to say really.

Yes she is your mum but even as a mother myself I think that love still needs to be earnt, it's not a god given right.

zumm Fri 14-Feb-14 10:28:26

Absolutely hiccup!

ExcuseTypos Fri 14-Feb-14 10:29:42

I also felt very relieved when my mum died.

My main aim as an adult is to make sure I have a loving relationship with my DDs. It took me a long time to believe that they could actually love me, because as a child I hadn't loved my mum, but had to pretend I did. I thought my own DDs were pretending toosad. It was my DH who pointed out time after time that I was wrong.

I think a lot of people who have a great relationship with mums, find it extremely difficult to understand.

jessjessjess Fri 14-Feb-14 10:30:28

YANBU. I have a toxic mother and it really riles me when people say that.

tobiasfunke Fri 14-Feb-14 10:32:13

YANBU. I had a massive row with my mother last night and I realise that all my attempts to be nice to her and play happy families underneath it I still can't stand the woman. She is another who has made a better granny than a mother but she was and is a shit parent.

jessjessjess Fri 14-Feb-14 10:33:16

PS I find it helps to say: "I know. That's why it's so sad that she didn't behave like one. I'm sorry if my feelings make you uncomfortable but just think what it's like for me."

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