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(Long - sorry) AIBU to be hurt by my mother ignoring her grandkids

(25 Posts)
Nervypreg Mon 03-Aug-15 21:46:44

Well... Where to start. Just got off the phone with my infuriating mother. It seems she is deafing off my children again. I have 2 dc - 1 aged 4 and 1 aged 7 months.
During my maternity leave, in which I have suffered with post natal anxiety and am seeing a therapist for, there was an arrangement that my "d" m would see both gc on the same day each week, taking the eldest out for an hour or two, and me following along to her house a bit later on with smallest dc.

A few times, arrangements would get cancelled - by her, not by me, and she would go sometimes 3 weeks without seeing her gcs. The arrangements also never really "stuck" during school holidays for one reason or another, so all things considered, since the start of the year, this has happened about 12-15 times. She and my df are retired, and their days are filled with going to the supermarket, getting her nails done and going to the small out of town shopping centre for an hour a week.

This week, the excuse is because they're decorating. Last week it was because they were doing their tubs, the week before because my df had a gp appointment (yes, a whole 10 mins in the morning).

She tells all her family she never stops "running around" for us, as if we'd fall apart without her - she's done jack shit for ages, and my eldest asked when she was going to see her dgm today and I almost told her she didn't want to see us.

She's in her 60s so no spring chicken, but is in good health. It hurts me so badly for my children that their own grandmother doesn't "have time" to see them. She phones me every other night (I'm putting a stop to that, that's for damn sure) and offloads her problems, (she suffers with untreated, unmedicated anxiety too, which I know is part of the problem, but it's also the main reason why I have lived on my nerves most of my life too, and felt pretty shit at times. I have told her she needs to get help, but it's like she is using it as an excuse to just do what she likes). She regularly used to make comments about my appearance, my weight, my decisions, my job and still occasionally does. Now it's comments about the children needing haircuts, their tights being too small, they've got too many shoes etc.

My husband wants to move away to be nearer his family, as they adore the gcs and will fully support us with childcare and school runs etc, but I can't help but mourn the loss of the grandmother my kids never got from my side of the family. This isn't the way I imagined I'd bring up my kids, with little or no involvement with my parents. It's so sad I'm crying just writing this. My sister got lots of support with her kids - they were always round my moms when they were little and now regularly get picked up/invited round for sleepovers, but we get virtually nothing. I was always the most amenable child, and my sister was the rebel, so it's not because I acted badly in the past.

I just have no answers for my eldest tomorrow when she asks why we aren't seeing granny, again. AIBU? Please help me get some perspective on this.

woowoo22 Mon 03-Aug-15 22:01:50

I don't think they have little-no involvment, just less than you expect them to have. Do you want to keep a relationship going with them, maybe with less pressure eg every month instead of weekly visits? You won't change them so the only thing you can do it accept/adapt.

lucylooloo Mon 03-Aug-15 22:06:17

Kids that young are quite hard work. The 4 year old will need amusing and the baby will need watching. I think its quite hard for the older generation and genuinely it wears them out. Some GP's find it more of a strain than others. Perhaps when her other GC were that age she was younger and could cope with it more. I think you should accept that she's finding it a bit too pressured and as woowoo says change your plans.

Marcelinewhyareyousomean Mon 03-Aug-15 22:17:12

I disagree with an MN your kids, your problem attitude. Your expectation was probably that your parents would behave the same way towards your dc as to your siblings'.

I would move. You are morning something that doesn't exist and probably won't change.

Last year my DS did a family tree and listed my parents as dead. They are alive, week and uninterested. To put it all in perspective, my DS took the news they were well stoically. The situation has upset me way more than it ever has upset him - he knows no different.

MrsJorahMormont Mon 03-Aug-15 22:22:52

I would move closer to the involved grandparents and leave your mum to her manicures. I probably wouldn't see much of her myself in your shoes.

laffymeal Mon 03-Aug-15 22:28:16

I think your expectations of them are unrealistic, you might as well ask them to grow a foot taller and they will continue to disappoint you until you adjust them. Ultimately your dcs are your responsibility, there's no law that gps have to be involved in their gcs lives. I do feel for you though, it's sad and disappointing.

Peppasmate Mon 03-Aug-15 22:38:15

Yabu! Sorry I know only too well PND is awful but you come across as incredibly entitled!

My mum lived one road away from me, she probably came round a handful of times in my ds first year.

woowoo22 Mon 03-Aug-15 22:41:21

I don't think what you want is too much or a bad thing, just that your parents can't or won't provide, so you'd be better off with a fine then, won't make the effort any more type attitude instead of letting it get you down.

wafflyversatile Mon 03-Aug-15 22:46:20

I think you should move to be closer to your DH's parents.

I would be disappointed too if my mum had had so much time for my sibling's children but not for mine. But it is what it is. Some GPs have more involvement than others. Don't mourn for your DC's sake over lack of relationship with them. I'm sure just now they accept they don't see so much of your DH's parents just now but they'll be much happier spending time with them if they move and happily accept they don't see so much of yours. By all means mourn it for yourself but not for too long. It's not a good use of your emotional energies.

misbegotten Mon 03-Aug-15 22:46:45

She may find it too tiring. Try a compromise and as she has already raised her family and retired so what if she spends her free time shopping and getting her nails done, is she not allowed to do this.

Bettercallsaul1 Mon 03-Aug-15 22:49:30

It sounds to me as if your parents are now regretting their weekly arrangement with your children but don't want to say so. By being "busy" week after week, they are obviously trying to stop doing it and hoping you will take the hint. If I were you, I would stop expecting regular weekly help and let them invite the children when they are in the mood for it - they are much more likely to actually do it then. Too much childcare - and the expectation of it - can become a burden for those expected to do it, and I think you and your mother have mismatched views on this.

It sounds as if you want your Mum to care for your children for two reasons - firstly, so that she can have a bond with your children that you hope would benefit both sides and secondly because you would like her to do something for you, that is, to support and encourage you in your role of mother. I can understand why you would want the latter - she has been critical of you in the past and you want some approval and validation from her now, as you bring up your family.. It sounds to me that, given your mother's anxiety and preoccupation with her own life, this is simply not going to happen and it might be easier for you just to accept it and seek support from friends or your husband's family instead.

If you have a strong need for support - both for your own and your children's sake - then it may well be worth moving nearer your in-laws if you know that they want to be involved. If it would make a lot of difference to you happiness, you should.

wafflyversatile Mon 03-Aug-15 22:57:29

I meant to say too, that it doesn't sound like your mum was of much support to you when you were young and has left you with a legacy of anxiety. Now she directs her criticism at the children, or at you through the children, it's not clear. Increasing their exposure to her doesn't sound like a good idea for them anyway.

I agree with Better that you are unlikely to get the validation you'd like from her now any more than then.

Nervypreg Mon 03-Aug-15 23:31:51

Thank you for your helpful comments. She was insistent before the summer holidays started that she would continue the arrangement - I even said to her, the week before "last week for you!" And she looked at me like I had gone mad and said "no, we'll carry on!". Since then, nothing.
I have called her on it before and she totally disregarded what I'd said, got very cross and told me I was making it all up. She lives 3 miles away, and they both drive.

Yes, she's always made a big thing about treating me and my ds the same, but she just hasn't. However, if my dsis doesn't need childcare, the 2 of them won't speak for weeks at a time and she gets hurt by my ds not contacting her, saying she only contacts her when needs her. My dsis also lives the same distance away roughly. She nagged and nagged and nagged for gc. I'm not asking her to "do" anything, in fact I've been insistent that the kids just like to see them, nothing all-singing, all-dancing. They've taken my sisters kids on holiday in the past too. We just want an hour a week to show them what we've been up to and get to spend time with them. The last time I checked, that was quite a reasonable thing to do. My friends all have good relationships with their parents and their parents love seeing their grandkids, but I distinctly get a feeling of duty - she's even remarked that she'll do it "just this once" because one day I'll have to help her. I can say now that she'll get an hour out of me, once a week (unless my tubs need doing, of course). My sister has hinted that it won't be down to her!

Waffly and Bettercallsaul - you've hit the nail totally on the head and thank you for your excellent words. I shall keep retracing what you've written - she can't help but critisise, like its a game to spot something every week, knowing I'll jump up immediately to fix it. My husband gets really cross.
Woo woo - I will take your advice and relax the arrangement, plan other things and let her get on with it.
Marceline - thank you. Your own story is so sad. I admit to yelping a bit as I read it - bless your ds.
MrsJorah - it's getting more and more tempting to move, but I think she would be devastated. It's so hard making a decision!

TheHouseOnBellSt Mon 03-Aug-15 23:47:24

I am moving to another country to be near DH's family. I love my own more than anything but they never do anything together. I want to spend time with them...when I hear on MN about Mums and their adult DDs watching tv together in the evening....or going to places, I feel sad.

wafflyversatile Mon 03-Aug-15 23:57:55

So it sounds like your sister gets all the favours and none of the burden while it's the other way round for you. DSis only bothers with your mum when she needs something, your mum goes running after her then burdens your every other day every other day moan about your sister, does nothing for you. Your sister isn't interested in any future elder care and your mum is assuming you'll dutifully step up to the plate even though she doesn't treat you very well?
You are the dutiful daughter who gets lumbered and no thanks and she is the rebel who gets pandered to.

Go move near your DH's family.

Bettercallsaul1 Tue 04-Aug-15 00:01:40

Hoping to get support and approval from your parents when bringing up your own children is the most natural snd understandable thing in the world. When it is given willingly, with grandparents enjoying being involved, it adds a priceless, extra dimension to family life. It is such a pity that, so often, for different reasons, it just doesn't happen.

MrsJorahMormont Tue 04-Aug-15 00:34:30

I understand that it's the preferential treatment of some GC over others that is hurtful too. We have this issue but my attitude is that the favoured sibling can then step up and support my parents in their twilight years.

mimishimmi Tue 04-Aug-15 00:58:12

It doesn't sound like she's not involved. My parents have gone many months without seeing our DC, 3 weeks is nothing. It does sound like she's not interested in providing childcare on a weekly basis and it also, from your OP, sounds like you have no respect for how they choose to spend their time. Move closer to the other grandparents but even they might start resenting getting roped into weekly childcare committments on the pretext of being 'involved'.

Marcelinewhyareyousomean Tue 04-Aug-15 06:54:47

Great post Better.

One hour a week isn't too much to ask. My dps are the same - youngish (long) retirees (Mum didn't work) that can only do one thing per day. A trip to the supermarket wipes out a couple of days. They are way younger than the current retirement age so I'm hoping it isn't a switch you hit at 55.

My DS thinking my dp's were dead was a massive wake up call. I was shocked and hurt; ds really wasn't bothered. Being treated such inequality to his cousins is cutting to me but he doesn't seem to impact on him. I always knew the issues were mine but this was a massive underline. I mourn the GPs and DPs I wish they were; they will never be that. It really did help me to move on, I can't make a one sided relationship work. On the flip side there's no more guilt or obligation for my actions in the future.

Have you spoken to your Mum and dsis about moving?

Nervypreg Tue 04-Aug-15 09:06:19

House, yes, it's really sad. I feel the same - it's just not what I imagined it would be like at all.
Waffly- your post actually made me blush because it's spot on. I've never thought of it like that. my dh tells me I'm a pushover with her as I'm so used to walking on eggshells. I try and be the more understanding dd as my dsis has no time for mental health issues - so I try to be the better person if you like. It's just this new situation since dc2 came along has really made me see the differences between what she did for dsis and what she does for me.
Bettercallsaul, she's only told me 2 or 3 times that I'm a good mom in 4 years. I get told my dc1 is demanding (aren't all 4 yr olds), that she makes a mess (see previous comment), that her singing has driven her mad, but then I get told all she does it talk about her to other people in a positive way (maybe to create the facade of doting gm?).

MrsJorah, yes it's so so hurtful, but my dc1 is so confident I'm hoping she'll just shrug it off. Her cousins are very hard work, but their other gps don't do much with them, so I think my dm feels sorry for them.

My inlaws do a lot with dc1 - their house is filled with stuff for her and they absolutely worship her (and the dc2, but she is just too small to do much yet!!) Part of me wonders if my dm is jealous of this, as she makes faces and can't bare to say their names sometimes.

She told me in no uncertain terms that if I had another dc she wouldn't look after him/her and when I told her I was pg with dc2 she just went silent. As a married woman in my 30s, with a home and a secure job, I felt guilty for being pg because she clearly didn't approve. My dhs parents are great with the kids - it's their idea of supporting us, not my suggestion.

Marceline- your first paragraph really resonated with me. What do you think it's all about?! I love going to the supermarket (sad!).
No, you're right, I need to accept that things are never going to be as I imagined, and move on. I have spoken with both about moving - dsis shrugged and said she might move too (not to be left "holding the baby" as such, being the closer of the 2 of us, geographically) and my dm was shocked, and then told my df. She was a bit dismissive afterwards and hasn't asked about it since. If I talk about it, she changes the subject.

Thank you for your posts - they're really helping me.

ApocalypseThen Tue 04-Aug-15 09:14:10

This may sound extremely harsh and unkind, but I hope you won't take it in that way.

I'm just wondering whether the blockage is you rather than your kids? It sounds like you have expectations, that you feel that your parents owe you for being a good daughter in your teens, that they are obliged to you and like you are waiting for every word they say and getting angry about it. Do you think that they might feel under pressure to perform in line with undisclosed expectations and are trying to avoid the whole situation on that basis?

Now that's only a question, I don't know you or them.

Preciousbane Tue 04-Aug-15 11:09:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hifi Tue 04-Aug-15 11:31:11

I think you are expecting too much from them. They obviously don't want to look after your children. I would move or find other care for them. Could you get a mothers help or put them in nursery a few days a week?

My parents live too far away for weekly contact with my dc, they still have a better relationship with them than with MIL who lives nearer. We only get her to look after them if we have no other option as she has made it clear she doesn't want to look after them. I have 3 regular babysitters for the last 9 years.

Nervypreg Tue 04-Aug-15 18:51:06

Apocalypse - that's not harsh and I've not taken it as such. I don't have expectations other than that my parents might want to see my children for an hour or two per week. I've told them they don't have to take the older dc out - she just wants to be with them. I don't expect them to, but they've done it for my sisters kids. They have never looked after the little one. Ever. No one has, she's been by side, or dhs since she was born. I have only been out of the house completely alone 5 times, 4 of those were for my therapy. I don't expect her to look after the little one and have never asked her, or inlaws to do this. She never looked after the eldest until she was over 1. I have never asked anyone to have my "babies".

Hifi - I don't ask them to have my children. I ask them to see my children. There's a big difference (sorry - that's written harsher than I meant it to). I don't "need" time away from the kids, I just want my parents to see them, interact with them, talk to them. I'm going back to work soon and they will hardly see them at all then as eldest will be at school and lo at nursery. I wonder how often they'll see us then!!

Preciousbane - thanks for the tip off about the exhaustion aspect. I'll definitely bare it in mind. I think when lo is bigger, we'll source a proper baby sitter. The only ones I know would be ok with the eldest, but not the babe.

Thanks again smile

Lymmmummy Tue 04-Aug-15 19:21:32

Can understand your disappointment - especially if they seem to place trivial things above helping their own flesh and blood - and the making it sound like they are martyrs to the cause must be annoying - but they are providing some support - just at the level they prefer rather than the level you might prefer - lots of people don't have access to any grandparent type support so what you have would sound good to lots of people

I think the most sensible option would be move towards your husbands parents and just accept your parents cannot provide the level of input you want - but hopefully you will be lucky and get it elsewhere

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