Should I be making more of a fuss - Mother's day expectations?

(27 Posts)
theRageARGGGGH Tue 05-May-15 22:09:35

My mother's a fairly difficult character all round. She's a bit naive, a bit unworldly, very proud of being a grudge-holder, very petulant, quite needy, a bit narcissistic, though I wouldn't go so far as to say she has actual NPD. We've never got on. She only likes other people who buy into her manipulative game-playing - once I realised that it wasn't normal I ran to the other side of the world and have never gone back to live.

Growing up listening to her complain about how undervalued she was by everyone, particularly my father, because she wanted compliments on her appearance, wanted jewels and flowers and to be treated like the little princess she was brought up as - and my father just isn't that sort of person, would never flatter anyone and has never really understood why his wife is so huffy and nothing he ever does is good enough - I always thought "I have no desire to be like her, i'm never going to find self-worth in whether other people treat me like a princess".

So this is a genuine question because I think she and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Am I being a cow about Mother's Day, or is she being needy and self-centred?

It's Mother's Day on Sunday in the rest of the world (i know the UK has it on Mothering Sunday). This year, as every year, there have been reminders for the last couple of months, discussions of what presents she has received in the past and whether they were adequate, discussions of whether she is appreciated enough, whether her daughter (my sister) is appreciated enough as a mother, whether there are enough celebrations, etc. On the day she will be taken out to lunch by the family, and she and my sister (the two mothers) will revel in feeling underappreciated, while being given lots of stuff and telling everyone how much they deserve it because they're martyrs to the cause of Motherhood and all these selfish other people just don't understand. Thankfully I have missed these performances in the last 20 years by living in a different country.

This year it's even more extreme, because she turned 70, and has been making lots of pointed comments that there wasn't a big party organized for her, and how she'll have to go to the party organized by her old school for everyone in her school year who is so underappreciated by their families that they didn't get a 70th. Maybe 10 years ago, I'd have felt guilty and would have gone out of my way to organize a party for her. These days I tend to think "if she is desperate to have a 70th party she can organize it herself, she's an able bodied adult and fully capable of communicating, and her disposable income is about 10x mine, I know none of her friends, and I live on the other side of the world. Sod it."

Likewise with Mother's day. I jsut don't want to buy into all the drama. I plan to give a large donation to the DEC in her name. This will be an insufficient present as she finds major disasters to be "negativity she doesn't need in her life" and donations to charity are apparently something done by other people - she always "has bills to pay". But I am so bloody sick of the self-centredness. AIBU to not make more of a fuss of the woman?

iamusuallybeingunreasonable Tue 05-May-15 22:13:00

Oh, she sounds like a pita!!

But you only get one mum... Thank god you may say

WhereYouLeftIt Tue 05-May-15 22:21:14

It sounds as if the main pleasure in her life is complaining. You are ensuring she has something she can complain long and loud about, what more could a dutiful daughter do wink?

theRageARGGGGH Tue 05-May-15 22:26:14

grin indeed I do say, every time I get off the phone/Skype

should I actually just be thinking "thankyou for all the martyrdom, for the years of you handwashing everything inadequately and ironing and cooking everything from scratch even though it was usually inedible because you genuinely thought that made you a better mother than all those disgusting "career women" who used washing machines and microwaves and thought that adequate emotional development was as important as ironed school shirts"?

I just look back and think "what a wasted life - all that needy, bitchy, petulant nastiness and martyrdom when it could have been so different".

I spose it's the age-old question of how you behave to people to whom you have a strong bond of duty, when you can't stand them. She's just turned all this Mother's Day stuff into such a rigmarole though.

theRageARGGGGH Tue 05-May-15 22:28:21

WhereYouLeftIt - I think you're right. However I also know that whatever I did would have the same outcome.

I need to let go of the idea that it is in any way my place to teach this bloody woman to behave acceptably. If she wants to be grotesquely needy, that shouldn't reflect on me. Really. It shouldn't. [whimper] confused

fredfredgeorgejnr Tue 05-May-15 22:29:02

YANBU right up until the donation in her name, that's just spiteful, fine not to care, but don't be horrid, it's really not worth it.

Quitelikely Tue 05-May-15 22:30:02

I dunno I think you're lacking in compassion.

Why donate to charity if she doesn't like it?

Give her a gift voucher to get her hair done or something...........

Why be as equally as bad as her?

cozietoesie Tue 05-May-15 22:30:11

I'd just Thank Goodness I was on the other wide of the world. Imagine what it would be like to still be living near her!

Let her stew.


ladydepp Tue 05-May-15 22:30:50

Crikey, I thought my DM was a pita but yours is in another league!

I think a DEC donation sounds like a great idea. Don't give into the emotional blackmail, just send her a card and do the donation and leave it at that.

She sounds like she might be in need of a reality check wink

ladydepp Tue 05-May-15 22:33:40

How is giving a large donation in someone's name to a worthwhile charity "horrid" ??

Most normal people would be thrilled with that....

primarywannabe Tue 05-May-15 22:35:08

I don't blame you for not getting involved in her drama, but a charitable donation is not a gift. If you want to give to charity, do it, or ask others to do it instead of giving you a gift on your own special occasions. But don't pretend it's a gift for your mother, because it isn't.

However YWNBU to send her a card and give it no more thought!

theRageARGGGGH Tue 05-May-15 22:40:35

Quitelikely / fredfredgeorgejnr the donation is because honestly, I think a bit of a reality check is needed - a bit of wider perspective on this most self-centred day of the year. And it's giving her a present (as well as people who could really do with one).

Is that spiteful and unreasonable? Genuine question - this is all such a sodding drama that I genuinely have no idea if AIBU

She's always used presents either as weapons, to comment on things she dislikes in other people - "here's a very expensive and frighteningly ugly scarf, darling, because you have such appalling taste that i know you'll love it" - or as tools - "I'll buy you a car, darling, your husband doesn't appreciate you --provided you are then beholden to me for everything because I bought you a car and you're so ungrateful--" (thankfully it's my sister who is stuck in that particular game - multiple house deposits, cars, bills paid, food shopping done, children's school fees, extended overseas holidays, clothes shopping once a week... I would run a mile before accepting a coffee from my mother)

theRageARGGGGH Tue 05-May-15 22:46:31

would Quitelikely / fredfredgeorgejnr / primarywannabe be able to explain - what's actually wrong with it? Why is it different from - say - Oxfam Unwrapped type presents? Or charitable donations in someone's name to remember them by? We have other relatives who've always given charitable donations as presents at Christmas. I actually think it's better than buying something she won't like. Because she'll never like anything I buy.

I'm not trying to be inflammatory, I'm genuinely trying to get a handle on whether I'm really going wrong here. I would like to not be a horrible person - and I know that nothing I do in my mother's eyes will be good enough. Thus, something that at least does good to others and doesn't do a lot of harm to the world seemed, to me, to be a good solution.

GraysAnalogy Tue 05-May-15 22:48:29

Are you on reddit by any chance because someone on there recently give their narc mother a donation as a gift, it was fab grin

Kewcumber Tue 05-May-15 22:49:12

I think a bit of a reality check is needed - you know very well there isn;t going to be any reality check. If it makes you better to donate in her name then by all means do it but you are going to have to deal with the moaning.

I presume it isn't co-incidence that you live on the other side of the world?!

theRageARGGGGH Tue 05-May-15 22:52:22

GraysAnalogy - no, but that person has my sympathies

Kewcumber - my reasoning is that whatever i do i will have to deal with moaning. At least this provides some external usefulness. And no, it's not a coincidence that I don't live on the same side of the world!

cozietoesie Tue 05-May-15 23:36:10

...whatever i do i will have to deal with moaning...

A genuine question. Why do you plan to give her anything at all in the circumstances?

Andylion Wed 06-May-15 00:14:26

I'm not trying to be inflammatory,
But you are:
* I plan to give a large donation to the DEC in her name. This will be an insufficient present as she finds major disasters to be "negativity she doesn't need in her life" and donations to charity are apparently something done by other people *

i would just give her a card. If when she complains, tell her that, as she never likes the gifts you give, you're giving cards from now on.

theRageARGGGGH Wed 06-May-15 00:43:59

Andylion - good point there smile. I was actually saying that in the direction of the people saying I was being spiteful or that a charity donation isn't a present.

Cozietoesie - in solidarity with those who have to play along, I guess? Like it or lump it, the woman is my mother, there are certain expectations of how one behaves. Whatever the others think, they play along, so who am I to say "Stop!" like Max in Where the Wild Things Are.

Actually, I think the others all think it's totally normal because she's beaten my father into submission, and my sister is like my mother (and BIL 's mother isthe same - he thinks all this is what women should be like). My mother's a very good advertisement for not bringing kids up to be princessy - in terms of the princess's expectations of others, self-worth coming only from adulation, and self-determination depending on what others think.

Nellagain Wed 06-May-15 01:03:23

grin I had a nan like your mum.

My poor df used to tie himself in knots over her presents. They were never right. There are many tales on how my nan showed her displeasure.

I suppose you may as well get hung for a sheep as a lamb. just stand back for the explosion. Your relatives are going to love you When your card gets opened.

ssd Wed 06-May-15 07:52:02

I think your mother has done a good job on you, you can clearly see she's selfish and manipulative but you are still questioning if this is correct..

of course you're right.

stop questioning yourself, and thank god you moved.

fredfredgeorgejnr Wed 06-May-15 08:55:27

The problem with the gift, is you know she won't like it, gifts you know the person will hate is just nasty.

As you said, you would be doing it as a weapon, because that's how she uses them. Just don't do it, you're not going to win the battle, she's more experienced in the fight, more committed and it's just not worth getting involved in the fight.

Being a good person is not trying to score pointless points, if your mother is horrible (and she certainly sounds it) don't get involved, you're a long way away, you won't need to hear the moaning.

theRageARGGGGH Wed 06-May-15 09:21:44

thanks fredfred. I wasn't looking at it really as scoring points, but you're right, it is. flowers

One of the effects of such an upbringing - where no criticism ever actually applied because it was just someone else treating you badly - is that I keep having to stand back and ask myself whether behaviours are genuinely good or bad, just coming across as good or bad - and whether the mitigated difference between actually being vs. coming across as, is something that matters or not. It's sort of like I'm having to develop a moral compass from scratch, and I keep getting tied up in knots. confused

cozietoesie Wed 06-May-15 11:28:05


I think you might find it useful to read - even post on because they'll welcome you warmly - the Stately Homes thread on the Relationships board.

Nanny0gg Wed 06-May-15 14:56:37

The problem with the gift, is you know she won't like it, gifts you know the person will hate is just nasty


You don't like your mother - fine. You don't actually need to see her again - your choice. You don't want to bother with her birthday - also fine.

You want to give to a charity - do it in your name.

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