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The nightmare of Christmas(5 Posts)
I’m not a parent, but I’d really appreciate some insight and advice from parents of adult children.
This year, my husband and I have decided to go away for Christmas, and now my mother isn’t talking to me. This has gone on for three weeks so far and will most likely go on until she calls me in tears on Christmas Eve.
To give you some context. My parents divorced when I was 16 so Christmas has been somewhat stressful since then as I’ve had to split the day between both sets of parents. When I married my husband in 2015, there was the addition of another set of parents to consider at Christmas too. I try to keep everyone happy, including my husband, and don’t really give a thought to what I want to do.
Our first married Christmas, in our new home, we desperately wanted to host it and decided to. Of course, inviting all parents or otherwise making plans to see them on Christmas Eve/Boxing Day. That year, my mother didn’t speak to me for two months, was horrible to me when I spent the day with her on Boxing Day, and even held a grudge all year.
So, last Christmas, I couldn’t deal with another argument and convinced my husband to spend most of the day at my mum’s. To set some boundaries, I told her the exact plans for the day, which were... that we’d have breakfast at my in-laws, get to her at 11am, then have to leave for 6pm so that my husband and I could make the hour’s drive home where we’d have an evening of champagne, canapés and give our gifts. I’d have to see my dad the next day which he was fine with. She seemed happy with this too - perfect!
We arrived ahead of schedule at 10.30am and the day got off to a boozy start. Not for me of course as I was driving. She ended up serving Christmas lunch at 5.30pm! When we left at gone 7pm, she cried and said she’d have Christmas on her own in a cabin in the woods next year. By the time we got home, it was so late, my husband was drunk so fell asleep in about an hour, barely had an evening together. I felt like she’d disrespected what I had set out for the day and despite everything, still wasn’t happy. I decided not to say anything, sent a thank you card, and made a mental note to go away this year to escape all the stress.
Before you imagine a lonely old woman, this is definitely NOT the case. She has a long term partner, whose daughter and granddaughter spend Christmas Day with her, along with my older brother and his partner, who all live nearby. She also has a better social life than me and plenty of dos and parties to go to.
I also spend quality time with her throughout the year, even a weekend break away, so it’s not like I don’t make an effort.
When I told her about going away, she said she couldn’t speak to me. I tried to suggest having a Christmas Day of festivities before I go away and she refused to discuss, before hanging up on me. I was also going to suggest a Christmas markets shopping trip, but didn’t even get to that.
I’ve tried calling her twice since, no answer. And text her, no response. I’ve left it now as I don’t think I should be grovelling. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything wrong.
I guess I’m looking for advice from other parents of adults about what I can do to best resolve the situation. I love my mother, of course, so it’s making me feel really sad and hurt, but ultimately I can’t keep getting emotionally bullied into acting how she wants me to.
There is no pleasing her unless it's exactly to her demands. So just please yourself instead!!
Don't beat yourself up about it. It's not like she is home alone. You are entitled to have the Christmas you want.
Nothing you do will please her, so my advice is to please yourself. Stay home and ignore her. Frankly I wouldn't want anything to do with my mum at all, if she pulled this shit - so stressful for you.
The best way to deal with this is to cut off the oxygen of attention.
I'm not a parent of adult children but for what it's worth, I'd recommend you STOP feeling guilty and engaging with this manipulative and childish behaviour. I appreciate that will be easier said than done. Go away and enjoy your holiday. Remain calm and considered, but if she stonewalls you again, let her.
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