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To lay ground rules with my mum the moment she 'starts'

(82 Posts)
PinkyOfPie Fri 27-May-16 18:50:59

My mother is coming tomorrow to stay for a week. This is giving me slight panicky feelings and no doubt by bedtime I'll have come out in hives.

As a bit of background, my mother is, shall we say, extremely difficult. Think Monica's mum in Friends, but worse.

I could write a book about why this is, but I'll use a few short examples.

Firstly it's the constant petty criticism. From the way I wear my hair (why can't I dye it brown and have a nice short Bob, blonde is so tacky) to my parenting skills (why have you never taught her that it's rude to put your elbows on the table). DD is 3.

Last time she was here she offered beforehand to babysit for us so me and DH could have a date night (she stipulated the date night, not us). When it came down to it, my friend had a spare concert ticket for an 80s artist I'd been dying to see since childhood at our local arena, and DH got an offer to watch football at his friends who has BT Sports. So rather than a date night we arranged to do that instead. We'd only be a few hours each, same as if we did have a date night. Mum was royally pissed off about it. She said she wouldn't have offered to babysit if she knew we were going out with friends and not each other hmm. She babysat begrudgingly and lectured me the next morning because I had 2 glasses of wine the night before. I'm 29.

This is quite consistent with her thinking, she thinks a woman should serve her husband and that friends are useless when you're married (unless they are wives of your husband's friends). She actually told my brother's lovely wife, who is a SAHM looking after a toddler and home schooling her son who has additional needs, that when my brother comes home from work she should have a cake baking in the oven confused as "that's what a good wife does". I am a militant feminist and do not share this thinking, it ends up with quite a few disagreements.

It may not sound too bad, but there's so much more, if it's not criticism it's the constant passive aggressive attitude, a snobbish intolerance of other people, and the fawning about how utterly amazing my brother is. My brother is a lovely man, but if he cooks for his wife she acts like he's saved a child from drowning. She once told me "at least with your brother I have one child who's nice".

Strangely if you asked her she'd tell you we were best friends and closer than any mother and daughter ever. Because of the way she is, I end up being polite for ages, then it gets to me and I snap at her over one little thing. Which is not great, I know. But then I'm very much "the bad guy" and for the next two weeks she'll constantly reference how easily upset i am and how I need to control my anger.

I really would love to have a close relationship with her, and have tried endlessly, but she makes it so hard with her insistence that she's never wrong, and won't compromise on anything.

I did once tell her sincerely how she made me feel, years ago, but it ended in a very long guilt trip on her part, wi h absolutely nothing changing. However, during this coming visit I'll be turning 30 and I'd really like to have a nice birthday weekend without her winding me up. I'm also pregnant (which she expressed her disgust at, I posted about it in chat) meaning I'm insanely tired and suffering badly from morning sickness, dizziness and nausea. All. The. Time sad. I can't be bothered with her snarky attitude on top of all this. She rang me yesterday, arranging to meet at a shopping centre at 11am, and she said "can you cope with getting up so early on a weekend?". This is because on a Saturday I like to have a lie-in til 9am, and in my mother's world this is considered super lazy. I should be up at 5am martyring about the house. I've had to have words with her before about how, when she stays, she knocks on our bedroom door at 7am asking why we're not up yet (doesn't want us back o miss out on the day apparently).

DH has said that the second she starts with her bad attitude or criticism (which, knowing my mother, will be 2 minutes within us greeting each other) I need to lay down the law, say that this weekend is my birthday weekend, on top of being constantly ill, I want a pleasant visit so the criticisms and PA attitude must stop right now. If I don't do this, I'll end up just silently taking it whilst seething inside for a week. She'll most likely go on a huff, but i would actually prefer that than me huffing all week for once.

WIBU to do what DH says?

Slowtrain2dawn Fri 27-May-16 18:59:15

I think you should cancel. Whatever you do will be wrong. Sorry but you can't manage behaviour like that. Failing that that do what your husband says but be prepared for her trying another huge guilt trip. If you call her on her behaviour you will be in the wrong in her eyes. If you don't you will blow and still be in the wrong.
This is not your fault. She sounds really damaged and toxic. I really feel for you flowers

BeALert Fri 27-May-16 19:04:09

I think your husband is right, but you need to have your response prepared eg 'Mum, if you're going to be critical then we're not going to have a good weekend. Instead of criticising my hair colour perhaps you could focus on the things I do right. It's very hurtful to be criticised like that.'

If she goes off in a huff, leave her to it. It's not your problem, it's hers.

And if that doesn't work, then you're probably better off without her around.

icouldabeenacontender Fri 27-May-16 19:04:09

Could you say you are too ill to have her to stay?
Given how crappy you are feeling, I don't know how you'd cope with that kind of palaver as well. flowers

MrsBobDylan Fri 27-May-16 19:05:45

We must be sisters grin, nothing works with my Dm except grinning and bearing it until she goes.

Ywnbu to lay down the rules, but if she's as much like my mum as she sounds, she'll just up her game and bully even more.

Sorry, but I've never found a solution, other than emigration.

happypoobum Fri 27-May-16 19:08:24

Have you had a look at the Stately Homes Thread? Lots of good advice on there for people like us who have had a lifetime of criticism and abuse.

I don't know if this link will work but it's on the relationships board.

MatildaTheCat Fri 27-May-16 19:09:09

Why on earth do you have her to stay for so long? Three nights max is enough.

As it is you need to channel your pregnancy hormones and let it wash over you. If she complains tell her very confidentially that you are under strict instructions from the doctor to take it easy. Each time she starts go for a lie down.

Happy birthday.

Creasedupcrinkle Fri 27-May-16 19:10:43

Another sister waving here.

daisywhoopsie Fri 27-May-16 19:12:27

My mother was like this with me (before I went NC). My father still is but to a lesser degree.

I have had to limit my contact with him. I've tried doing as you've suggested and asking him to stop but 5 minutes later he's doing it again as he's 'forgotten' I'd already asked him to stop.

In your shoes I'd cancel and have myself a lovely, criticism free, birthday weekend!

rockchick78 Fri 27-May-16 19:13:40

And another sister here!!!

Lottapianos Fri 27-May-16 19:14:39

I feel ill with anxiety before seeing my mother too. A week?! That's way too long.

She sounds dreadfully stressful to be around OP - critical and controlling. You need to put your own needs and health first at the moment. As a previous poster said, it sounds like you will be wrong whatever you do so go ahead and cancel if you want to

icouldabeenacontender Fri 27-May-16 19:15:23

Ther's a lot to be said for the American legal system's justifiable homicide methinks. grin

Scuttlebutter Fri 27-May-16 19:16:58

I have a MIL who does this in a very small way and a DM who does this big style. With DM we have actually gone NC but my preferred technique with DMIL is to actually turn it round and now DH and I look out for it, and play Bingo when she visits. This turns it into something funny and we've both found it helps to stop it getting under our skin. So we'll have a list of things we expect digs over - this time of year I expect it will be the state of the garden. We have a policy of really trying hard not to let her rile us, and over the years it has definitely worked - the sarky comments and little digs have dwindled considerably. It really helps to approach it as a team and if you are having her for as long as a week, then I would def build in time away from her (dogs are wonderfully helpful in this regard - walks and vet appointments are very useful excuses). Have you a friend you can escape to for a couple of hours? Good luck.

dodobookends Fri 27-May-16 19:18:27

Why is she coming to stay for a whole week?! She didn't invite herself did she?

Your DH is half right - you do need to stand up to her and like he says, lay down the law, but actually he needs to back you up and say his piece if necessary as well.

If she criticises your hair or whatever, tell her that you are an adult, and how you look is up to you, and if she won't be pleasant to you then she can go home.

EveryoneElsie Fri 27-May-16 19:19:46

Of course YANBU. She sounds like a nightmare. I like BeAlerts answer - 'if you cant say something nice dont say anything' could be the new rule.
Have a lovely birthday flowers

issynoho Fri 27-May-16 19:20:20

Fu-u-u-uck that. Cancel. She sounds nasty. You're pregnant and need to be surrounded by lovely, kind people only.

EssentialHummus Fri 27-May-16 19:31:18

Another sister here (and I'm an only child grin)!

Either cancel, or respond to each edict with, "Well, that's not how we do it in this house." Then change the subject. And fgs, three days max in future. A week is difficult even when you're on good terms.

RaptorInaPorkPieHat Fri 27-May-16 19:32:28

I should be up at 5am martyring about the house grin brilliant imagery

YWNBU to lay down the law, but I'd be tempted to do it before she arrives (awkward phone call). That way, if she takes the huff she can huff at her house and not at yours, win/win.

Krampus Fri 27-May-16 19:32:51

I am another sister.

The funny thing is that mine is convinced that many people, always female, are controling and bullying her. My fav recent one was when I drove her to visit a relative, they then spent all the time bitching about how controlling X was. Back in car she asks how to turn the heating up, so I reached over and twiddled the dial to show her saying here it is. Y'know because is safer than watching her saying no the one down no not that one left left no too far .... straightaway she exclaims What ARE you doing THAT for? I explain why and she immediately acuses me of trying to control her air con (tri zone affair so tbh I dont give a fuck what it is set at) and how I am just like X !!!!!!

She can't understand why her dils aren't her best buddies and they leave contact up to her sons.

HowBadIsThisPlease Fri 27-May-16 19:38:44

I think you should cancel. I'm guessing that she doesn't even know that what she's doing is bitching and criticising. I bet every time you have tried to pick her up on anything before she has a completely sincere, though utterly obtuse "WHAT...?!" attitude. She's the type who digs and then if you react, however calmly, you are the problem.

Absofrigginlootly Fri 27-May-16 19:42:22

Have a look at the website 'daughters of narcissistic mothers'.

I think it will enlighten you, especially about how your golden child DBro can do no wrong.

I would cancel. When she asks why, say "you're relentlessly negative and I'm feeling rough enoug as it is and I just want to enjoy my birthday"

You need to detach from her emotionally I'm still working on that, easier said than done but it honestly makes life so much better

PeppaIsMyHero Fri 27-May-16 19:45:24


You are under no obligation to have her to stay and life is too short to spend large chunks of time with people you...well...don't like.

She's going to criticise you anyway, so you may as well be criticised for cancelling and save yourself a week of misery and stress. smile

Lynnm63 Fri 27-May-16 19:49:00

Not quite sure why you want her to visit in the first place op. If it were me I'd cancel. I was lucky as my mum was great. Life is too short for this crap.

VenusRising Fri 27-May-16 19:51:46

Repeat back to her every blessed thing she says to you. Everything, just parrot it back.

Or cancel!

Life's too short!

TaintForTheLikesOfWe Fri 27-May-16 19:55:57

I love the fact that you refer to yourself as a militant feminist - you rock! Just the comment about your DBro being the nice one would have me telling her to get to fuck!

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