About my Mother's depressing behaviour?(23 Posts)
I have just had a baby and its our first, its also my mum's first grandchild. We live in Uk and they're in Australia. Mum and dad were supposed to come visit but due to Covid it was put on hold.
We have been trying super hard to keep them involved with upto four video calls a week (no mean feat with a newborn) paying for and sending printed photos and planning to visit as soon as airlines start flying.
However, my Mum just sits on the calls looking absolutely miserable and cries most calls. We rarely get a positive word from her. Her only focus is on how short changed she is. She's been like this since I can remember, so its not new behaviour, and its pissing me and DH off to no end.
I sent her a what I think reasonable request to perk up and focus on the positives, which resulted in her howling and crying behind my back, now I'm getting the silent treatment.
AIBU to ask her to be happy or at least try? And if she can't AIBU to wind back video calls etc? They're bloody hard work only to be met with constant sadness.
You are most definitely not being unreasonable.
She should be supporting YOU and not making the whole thing about HERSELF.
I have a passive aggressive mother who likes to play the victim every time something doesn't go her way. I get you. If I were you I'd explain to her that you can't deal with her negativity right now, and to get a grip or you will stop calling.
Take care of yourself and enjoy your baby, OP. It goes so fast!
She needs to get it together a bit. It must be really hard to have your first grandchild so far away and not know when you might be able to visit but she's behaving like an angry toddler and ruining what interaction she is able to have.
It sounds like she’s really struggling. Is this purely about the distance from her grandchild or is there something else going on? What’s your parents’ relationship like? How long have they been there? Have you asked her why she’s so miserable?
I think you’re right that she needs to get her act together a bit for the calls. Not necessarily butt- clenched positivity but it’s unreasonable to expect the family to watch her wallowing in misery over zoom three times a week...
I would also talk to her one to one about getting some help and to let her know you have her back; she may desperately need an outlet for this and you can have a frank discussion,
But a family zoom is not the place for this.
I’m so sorry that is really not good for you, your mother is behaving like a stroppy teenager. You did not tell us if your mum & dad moved to Australia or you moved here?
Hopefully you will all be able to meet up in the next few months. In the mean time I would phone your dad & tell him that if she does not stop this wow is me attitude, then you will have to stop the calls as it’s to upsetting for you.
Think it's fine to take a step back. She's being an emotional drain instead of supportive and positive. Is she seeking treatment for depression?
Slightly different situation but we had issues with my SiL. She lives in a different country and when we had kids we tried to keep her in the loop ( and before ) but talking to her was always exhausting. Everything that you spoke about she would turn into a negative for her e.g. if we spoke of seeing family she'd turn it into a woe is me about her family not seeing her kids, during weaning if I said one of the kids liked a food she'd then turn it round to struggles with allergies etc. Nothing too major but it made it hard to want to talk to her, she'd already fallen out with her sister who had gotten fed up with hearing it and then making passive aggressive comments about MiL helping with childcare and her not having the help ( because she chose to move to another country ).
It came to a he'd and my DH told her unless conversations were positive we would be seriously limiting contact. On a coup!e of calls when she tried to turn conversation around my DH just said bye and hung up. I think this helped her realise what was happening and she now has ( mostly ) stopped being as negative and we are able to have lovely chats. When she does have a problem I now have all the time in the world to talk to her.
Maybe you have to talk a bit of a hard line with your Mum?
( sorry if my story isn't helpful at all!)
This sounds familiar. My mother sobs and sobs on video calls at the moment. It’s bloody hard work.
I’m very torn as I appreciate she’s depressed and struggling with the current set up but on the other hand it upsets my toddler to see his nan so upset all the bloody time.
I’ve had struggles with depression (which she has ignored) but I never wanted to bring other people down with me.
I can’t believe she’s not aware of her actions and their impact. Have you spoken to her about how upsetting it is for you to see her so upset? Would she be ok with you saying you need to make yourself and your baby your top priority and you feel the calls are making things harder? It’s tough to advise without knowing your mum. Mine would go demented if I said this too her but if yours is reasonable (and miserable) she might listen esp if you could get your dad onboard.
The video calls are obviously horrible for you and her. Cut them back to once a week.
is she on any medication ? perhaps you could get df on board with this one but a phone call might be better for that conversation.
Just as an aside, 3x a week seems like way over the top. Do they not recognise you have multiple demands on your time?
Not reasonable for you to be expected to sit through a sobfest three times a week. Do you think if you cut it down to one she might take a hint about how onerous you find it?
Mines the same. It’s painful. I try and point out all the good stuff, big sighhhh “I know but....”
Exactly the same with ignoring my mental health issues. I am pretty sure she’s depressed, has been depressed my entire life and would be picked up and helped now. But is of the “just get on with it” mentality and makes everyone else suffer in the process.
I’m no contact with mine for other reasons, life is better without the emotional vampire draining
Whilst I’m not saying you should do that. It’s ok to take a step back every now and then if you find it’s too much.
To answer questions:
DH is English and I'm Aussie. We moved here after about 10 years in Sydney as DH missed his family. Mum was very hostile about the move. Parents are Aussie and remained there.
My mum is definitely a narcissist, took me years of therapy to figure this out. Whenever she's confronted about anything she just shuts down and gives me the silent treatment, never apologises or accepts an apology, and always gets my Dad to smooth things over and she then pretends all is fine.
I get that its hard for her and feel for her, but I'm married to an English person so splitting time between countries was always on the cards. And we are really trying. Honestly it makes me feel like I'm just a disappointment. I told her as much and asked her to try, she read the messages and just hasn't replied. Lovely mature treatment from mother dearest.
She's been like this since I was a child, if she doesn't get her way she acts out. She's also been clinically depressed since we were young. She won't get help because of the narcissist element, if she got help she couldn't be a victim anymore.
You aren't going to be seeing her for a long time. This is your chance to deal with her behaviour and reset things. You are the mother now, you hold the cards. Tell her straight, if you start crying I am ending the call, it is too upsetting and I need to focus on my baby.
Then do it. Every time. You won't change her but you can change the way she treats you.
I feel for you OP. My MIL is the same. She sends pictures of herself very sullen with a message "here is your Mother as you seem to have forgotten her" if my DH hasnt spoken to her for two days. My MIL is very passive aggressive and rude though, which she never apologies for and instead talks about her hard life. Permanent victims twist everything to remain victims. You telling her to perk up probably resulted in her crying to your Dad about how thoughless you are. If he is an enabler then he will always back her up. I would try shorten the calls/slowly engage less. Boundaries could work but if she is a narc then she doesn't care about boundaries.
She sounds like an utter pita. Be thankful she's on the other side of the world rather than whinging in person at your kitchen table every day.
The more you talk about your mother, OP, the more I think you should use this as an opportunity to distance yourself from her. With respect, she sounds toxic and controlling.
As you point out, it was always likely, given that you married a Brit, that you were going to spend some time here. You are an adult with your own family and it isn't reasonable of her to expect you to plan your entire life around her and her needs.
I think offering a channel for her to vent offline might be an idea but you need to be clear that the family zoom is not an appropriate place for this sort of behaviour, which is childish, undignified and toxic.
Could you say to her that you will limit the time spend online with her unless she is prepared to grow up a bit?
Back away. Or your dc will grow up thinking sobbing relatives is normal!!
She should be grateful you are making so much effort. She isn't so stop...
Enjoy your baby.
Imo unless you turn up at her door she isn't going to change...
Couldn’t agree with this more *“You aren't going to be seeing her for a long time. This is your chance to deal with her behaviour and reset things. You are the mother now, you hold the cards. Tell her straight, if you start crying I am ending the call, it is too upsetting and I need to focus on my baby.
Then do it. Every time. You won't change her but you can change the way she treats you.”*
What’s the point in moving so far away and willingly ringing into this shit!
Recycled bottle - your dh should block her on the format she dents photos in. I blocked my mother on WhatsApp - haven’t told her. She can still text and ring and email but it’s stopped exposing me to the format she used for shitty messages.
Christ what is wrong with these people? My mother is like this. Sending crying pictures etc. Classic narcissist. I honestly thought it was me that had made her that way and struggled for many years thinking I was a poison.
I’m ashamed to say I feel slightly comforted reading these awful posts about mothers who behave in a similar way. It makes me think it’s not just me and/or what I’ve made her. It’s an illness that manifests in this way.
I’m afraid with narcissism careful management is needed. Perhaps instead of threatening to cut her off you could say that the calls seem to upset her so you’ll stop? I know it’s hard but nothing you do will be enough. You could move back in and she wouldn’t be happy! You need to do what you are comfortable with and what’s best for your family.
I hope your DH is supportive. Perhaps reading about narcissism and esp narcissistic mothers of daughters could help?
I read “will I ever be good enough” and it gave me really good perspective on my relationship with my mum. I’m still a fucking mess but often now I get angry rather than being devastated by it. It’s an improvement of sorts!
Good luck. X
@Onekidnoclue have definitely read a lot about the children of narcs. Its classic covert narc and dad is her enabler. He has happily backed her 100%.
Have decided its for the best that I just put a hiatus on contact for a while. Only thing I am waiting for now is her to pull out the please for the sake of your father talk to him play which always comes out. She thinks that works and to be fair it used to, but now I see him mostly as someone she uses to weasel her way back in.
I don't think I have the heart to go full no contact but I think two weeks with nothing should send a clear message.
sounds like a good idea all round op you will feel better for it
Good luck. I think the awareness of her condition and your dads role can help.
I hope your break from her goes well. X
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