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Is it me or my mother? What have I done wrong? Can it be fixed?

(69 Posts)
shelfy74 Tue 10-May-11 22:09:05

Just read the thread re narcissistic mothers and wondered what you would all make of my mum? My gorgeous son is now 7 weeks old. From the start mum hasn't been as interested in this baby as she was my first, now nearly 3. For example she knitted for my first and said she was too busy (she works 4 hours a week) to knit anything for the new baby. She hasn't bought anything for the baby except a shorts and t shirt set yet my first son was showered with gifts.

Mum and dad live 50 mins drive away, it's about 30 miles. Dad is 82 and developing dementia over past few years. She has just turned 70 but is fit and well, very active. I am their only child and there were arguments some years back just after my first son was born about dad driving as he has visual hallucinations. Mum said she felt unsafe with him driving too. Eventually it was agreed he wouldn't drive distances anymore and since then they have barely visited. They have been on bus about 4 times in the past 2 years but this takes 3 hours each way so its not practical. There is a train route but they won't entertain coming this way, I'm not sure why but suspect its because they have a free bus pass but would have to pay for the train. Mum can drive but refuses to drive here as the most direct way involves a short stretch of motorway which she won't drive on. There are several other non motorway routes but she won't try them despite me offering to accompany her, have her follow me etc. So basically she says that she lives too far away to come to me.

When I was pregnant for the second time my biggest worry was who would care for my son when I was in labour. I asked mum. She said she'd come and I spoke about getting a taxi arranged and prepaid etc for her. However nearer the time she said she didn't think she could leave my dad and I should make other arrangements. I was really hurt and struggled to make these I think mainly because I felt this should have been my mums role. But I did arrange for friend to take him.

Anyway to cut a long story short my labour was horrendous, 69 hours culminating in an emergency c section. I lost 2 litres of blood and was very unwell. My childcare arrangements were a disaster as I had only expected at most to need 1 overnight, although friends helped massively mum never offered to come.

My partner obviously rang my mum following the birth to tell her she had a new grandchild and she said she and Dad would visit in 2 days time, not the next day as she had to work (she is a self employed yoga teacher, she runs a 2 hour class). At this point DP had words with her, he felt strongly she should cancel work given how poorly I was (and that she had a new grandson) but she refused. Anyway the next day she got my dad to ring my DP to say it wasn't worth coming for 1 hour (hospital visiting hours). Another row ensued and eventually they turned up the next day having got a lift with friends of theirs. This was a very strained visit, I was pretty much off my head on painkillers and still in bed on drips / catheter etc. She didn't even bring me a bunch of flowers or anything.

Because my son then became unwell with severe jaundice we were in hospital for 9 days after the birth. They didn't visit again.

On return home again no visit was arranged however this was academic because within 2 days my son was back in hospital this time with bronchiolitis. This was terrifying and he ended up on a ventilator (cpap machine) and in hospital for a further 9 days. On top of this I was not recovering well from surgery and had a wound infection. It may sound dramatic now but at the time I thought my baby might die. Also we had major problems with sorting childcare for my older son so we could both be at the hospital. After me explicitly begging her, my mum came for 1 night, driven by friends, and again made it clear she would have to return to go to work and care for my dad (though she happily leaves him for several hours most days to go shopping). She said she couldn't let her class down and needed the money. Money is not an issue for them she has since purchased a brand new car. She looked after my son but expressed little or no concern re the new baby or how I was coping.

Thankfully we are all home and recovered now. Up until today I haven't been able to drive following my section and I'm still sore. I have really wanted what everyone else seems to have; a mum to come and mother me through this awful time. I've been don, in pain, emotionally exhausted, arguing with DP and unable to keep on top of a house, toddler and new baby. I have told her I am struggling, she just says things will get better. A few times she has commented she wished I lived nearer so she could help.

We have been over to mums once with the kids, I felt pressure to go as they hadn't really met their new grandson. She hasn't been here again. She is putting some pressure for me to visit again, making comments like she doesnt know what the baby looks like but she hasn't made any offer to come here.

Am I being unreasonable to feel it's her duty to come to me? When my older son was born I drove over weekly so they could see him and the same is clearly expected now. She doesn't seem to realise (or care?) what I have been through physically or emotionally.

I think that she just doesn't love me and isn't interested in her new grandson. This is unbelievably hurtful and I am consumed with turning it over in my head again and again, wondering if I have done something to cause it, if I could do something to fix it, to give me a mum like everyone else seems to have. I needed a mum over the past few weeks.

What do other people think?

JeremyVile Tue 10-May-11 22:14:02

Do you think you have a good understanding of the severity of your dads dementia?

Dropdeadfred Tue 10-May-11 22:14:16

I am sorry you have had such a hard time and i hope your little boy is bettr now?
It sounds to me like your mum is a bit worried about her age and your dads age- perhaps things with him are worse then you know?
Depsite everrything thoough im sure you know that your mum does not have any 'duty' to do anything for you sad as that might seem

zikes Tue 10-May-11 22:18:35

How bad is your dad's dementia? It's degenerative, isn't it? Perhaps she can't leave him.

lookingfoxy Tue 10-May-11 22:20:12

It sounds as if your mum does love you, but she has a hell of a lot on her plate.

LoopyLoopsBettyBoops Tue 10-May-11 22:20:28

I understand that it is all very upsetting, and I'm so sorry that DS2 has such a traumatic arrival, as well as your own health problems. However, I do think that you are placing far too much emphasis on the support that your mother should be giving you. Just because she supported you last time, doesn't necessarily mean she can or even wants to this time.

There is clearly a big gap between what you understand to be your dad's health issues and your mum's perceptions of these. This might be the first thing to resolve.

I know it's hard, but it isn't all that unusual for grandparents not to be very involved, especially if they don't live nearby. Sadly, it's just a result of everyone moving further apart.

Do you think that perhaps you might be a little depressed, and trying to pinpoint someone to blame? How are you feeling apart from the issues with your parents?

shelfy74 Tue 10-May-11 22:21:01

My Dad is not (yet) diagnosed with dementia, he has been getting more vague and confused over several years. He sees things at night, these are benign hallucinations which don't seem to upset him but are clearly distressing for my mum. Whilst he is at home in his own environment he is generally OK, he just potters about, but he doesn't cope well with being out of his comfort zone. I have tried to support and encourage them to see their GP re his mental state and he did go to the doctors a few months ago, apparently the GP thinks it might be an eyesight problem and is sending him for a specialist eye test. I agree that my Dads situation must be scary and upsetting for mum but its not new, nothing has particularly changed or got signficantly worse over the past year or so. I don't mean to dismiss what is going on for him, because its very upsetting for all of us (not least me, I love my Dad dearly) but I don't think it explains her behaviour over the last few weeks. Maybe I am wrong?

drivingmisscrazy Tue 10-May-11 22:22:39

not sure, but it sounds like she doesn't either want to leave your dad overnight (presumably this makes him anxious/upset) or to travel with him (ditto). I think it's not your mum at all but your dad's dementia (she may be hiding the true extent of this from you, knowing that you have a lot on your plate already). She may also feel that she could do with some support from you, rather than vice versa. I'm not in position to know whether you can do this - you have 2 small children - but looking after someone with dementia 24/7 is just as hard as children, and much more emotionally distressing. I think you should try and visit her.

drivingmisscrazy Tue 10-May-11 22:23:43

visual hallucinations are classic for some types of dementia

LoopyLoopsBettyBoops Tue 10-May-11 22:24:51

If it makes any difference, when I had my babies, not a single member of my family came to the hospital. I was in for 2 weeks, DTD2 was in NICU for 3 weeks (32 weeks prem) and DTD1 died. My brother lives in the next city. He didn't even bother coming to the funeral.
Families don't always do the right thing, sadly you simply can't expect them to do what you would do in their position.

pollyblue Tue 10-May-11 22:25:18

Could be my mother! She was awful to me when I came home after having twins by c-section. She'd looked after my 2 yo DD1 for three days while I was in hospital (DH was at home with her morning and evening, so she had DD on her for about 8 hours each day.) She had never babysat for DD since she was born, so granted she wasn't used to caring for her. Anyhoo, within an hour of me getting home, she was screaming at me that DH was a crap Dad and too soft with DD and I had no idea how tired she was. I was three days post surgery, had a section wound which was oozing and infected and 2 new babies.....of course I had no idea [hmmm]. her screaming fit was triggered by me asking DH to put DD up in her highchair so I could get painkillers from my bag without DD 'helping' me. She told me that either she was looking after DD or DH was, and if he was she would go home there and then. I had come home early from hospital because she didn't want to leave her dog in kennels for too long, but didn't want to go home without seeing the twins arrive home either.

Sorry, hijacking thread! As you can tell, it still rankles me and it was at that point that I thought "oh balls", and really withdrew from the relationship. We are friendly but distant now. Obv it wan't just that that did for me, it was the last thing in a long long line of upset and dramatics.

I do understand that you want your Mum and you feel let down, but maybe this is your time to realise that she is never going to be the kind of parent you want. TBH yes I think YABU to feel it's her duty to come and see you. Sadly I think you need to lower your expectations of her. I hope you're feeling better and stronger soon.

JeremyVile Tue 10-May-11 22:26:11

I'm sure your mum recognises you could do with support and would probably like to be able to offer it, but she's going through a lot too.
Maybe, ideally, she would like some support too? But you are in no position at the moment to offer that so perhaps she just accepts that you both have to get on with your own stuff the best you can.

Brevity Tue 10-May-11 22:26:16

You've had a really tough time and I can understand that help and support from your Mum would have been invaluable.

However, you have elderly parents who may be losing their confidence to travel and spend time away from home. I think your Dad may be more unwell than your Mum lets on.He may be better at home, so she will prefer you come to them.

I think you may need to adjust your expectations of them tbh.

LeonardNimoy Tue 10-May-11 22:28:26

I think you are being a little harsh on her? At 70 she is not a spring chicken and I think you may be expecting too much support from her, certianly that is an age where she may not be up to doing much practical "mothering" where there is also a toddler and a newborn in the equation. My Dad has been ill the last few years, with cancer, hallucinations and just generally loosing his marbles a bit. I live 2 hours drive from them - in theory he could be left on his own for a couple of days but my mother wouldn't dream of it, AND i HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT HE is her priority these days.

whethergirl Tue 10-May-11 22:30:56

Would you consider talking to her about all of this? I just think you need to know what she is thinking and feeling as she seems to contradict herself. Also, do you think she just assumes you're ok because you've got your dp?

I do feel for you, and you'll be getting loads of people on here saying your mum doesn't have a duty to do anything. I personally disagree. I can't imagine not going to see my child - no matter how old - if they were ill in hospital.

But try not to have too many expectations of your mum, she loves you in the best way she can but it doesn't mean she is capeable of giving you all the support you need from her. Just take what she gives and don't break your own heart by expecting more.

garlicbutter Tue 10-May-11 22:31:21

It's not her duty. If she were a soft & caring, giving mother - and your dad were in good shape - then she'd have done what you wished. That would have been good for you; you were in great need and they couldn't or wouldn't give what you needed.

I do feel for your disappointment, which is palpably acute. It's awful to find yourself in a life or death situation, and to discover that people aren't there for you as you might have been for them. But they weren't. Now you know.

I, too, get the impression your mum's fraying at the edges. Possibly your dad requires more care than you realise. It's certain that your mother's marriage is not supportive of her - someone with early dementia is all take & no give, through no fault of their own but that doesn't help the partner in a caring position. It's a fair guess that she's had to pin all of her identity on the yoga class, no? The money is an excuse; if that's how she justifies the one thing that lets her be herself for a few hours a week, then fair enough.

Please don't think I'm trying to minimise your distress! It must have been horrid for you to find out you're more "on your own" than you thought. But maybe it's time to detach a little - and accept that, now time's moved on, they are the fragile ones?

Dropdeadfred Tue 10-May-11 22:31:36

Your mum is perhaps really feeling her age moe than she did when you had your previous child
She is 70 - although you say she is active that doesnt mean she may not feel tired sooner, not feel confident driving long distances and also it sounds like she is worried about your dad too, what you are expecting of her may have been more feasible if she lived nearer and was younger. Have you got any friends locally? You do sound a little depressed and it would not be unexpected after what you have been through
How is your mum and your dp's relationship now? Does she get on okay with him?

drivingmisscrazy Tue 10-May-11 22:34:48

I think that's probably right leonard - in her head you have a partner to help with things, whereas it's just her.

My mother is totally not interested in my family (as DP says, just sees them as obstacles to her being my centre of attention), but she is also 77, lives alone, and can't be expected to do things that might be reasonable if she was 10 years younger. Given that you can't support her at the moment, it might be better long-term to try and accept that she can't help (which is so so different from not wanting to - and she has said that she would like to help if she lived nearer)

zikes Tue 10-May-11 22:35:50

I think your mum is probably struggling more than you realise.

Bluebell99 Tue 10-May-11 22:42:13

My mum was 66 was I had my ds and was no help at all. She came when he was born but was of no practical help, in fact she was very much a guest who required looking after. I had had a c section and was quite poorly, and depressed. A big shock as she had been hands on with my sister's children. She made it very clear she was never going to babysit, and has been true to her word.
She didn't look after my ds when I went into hospital despite arriving at my house about 2 hours after I went into labour. She left him at my friends all day until my mother in law arrived, who went to get him immediately and then my mil looked after my parents.!
I think it's sad and now I don't having any expectations of any help or support.

jesuswhatnext Tue 10-May-11 22:42:58

i think there is far more going on here than you realise, im sorry that you had such a rough time but maybe your elderly parents believe you to be a competent adult who did afterall choose to have 2 children after giving some thought as to how you would cope with them!

like whethergirl, i cant imagine not helping my own dd in a time of crisis, always providing im not living in a crisis of my own! - your mother may actually be at her wits end, from the sound of it she is fairly isolated due to her lack of confidence with driving, she is coping with an elderly confused man on her own, her yoga class may be her only real contact with people outside her home all week!

assuming you will get better over the next few months, i dont think it unreasonable for you and your dh to travel with the dcs to see them!, a 30 mile trip is hardly taxing for a young fit family and 'duty' works both ways!

Xales Tue 10-May-11 22:45:48

Lots of different things here I think.

Firstly I am sorry you have had such a tough time. You mum is right. Hopefully your son is now out of the woods, you are healing and things will be getting better.

3 years ago when your first was born was a long time ago in terms of how much worse your dad may now be in comparision. So perhaps your mother was much more able to help you then.

You are struggling to look after your children 24/7 imagine how she may be struggling and stressed looking after your dad 24/7 and maybe worried about you as well but unable to do anything about that. She may be too exhausted to cope with coming to see an emotionally stressed daughter a demanding toddler and a new born and feels very guilty.

Maybe like you if she gets half an hour all she want to do is hide under the duvet too. Things are not going to get better for your mum, probably only worse sad

Several hours there and back on a train and several hours at your place is a lot of time to have your dad out of his comfort zone or to leave him alone for. That is very different to leaving him for a couple of hours to have a break.

Also would she feel comfortable coming to you when you DP takes it upon himself to have words with her? There was not much she could actually do to help you while you were unwell in hospital and she still had you dad to look after.

Why are you and your DP arguing when you have a 7 week old baby? And why are you struggling to stay on top of your house a 3 year old and a baby?

jesuswhatnext Tue 10-May-11 22:50:15

btw, where was dps mother in all this? could she not have looked after dc1 while you where in hospital?

budgieshell Tue 10-May-11 22:52:52

I have a few friends who's mums do loads for them and they just take them from granted asking to have the kids at short notice and asking for constant help. Maybe your mum wants to help but needs to keep it to a minimum for the sake of your dad. I also have friends who say their mum's take over with the children and offer too much addvice (interfere). It's a difficult time for you a baby and a toddler, try not to stress about your mum, she maybe upset about missing time with your young family because of your dad.

NanaNina Tue 10-May-11 23:13:41

I have only skim read the posts, but no one (including OP) has mentioned that it was actually the DP who "had words" with his MIL and also with his FIL when he phoned up, so do you not think he has not acted in a very sensitive manner. I understand that OP's mum has a yoga class and I also understand why she couldn't let the class down, as there would be no one to take her place and maybe 20 people turning up for nothing. Why was it so important that she visited the hospital so soon.

I can see OP has a lot on her plate but I know what it's like to be 70 and feeling more tired than when younger. Also like so many others I think the OP is a little unrealistic in expecting her parents to drive over to her. I also think she is under estimating the stress on her mother due to her father's illness (even if it hasn't worsened in a year)

Yes where is DP's parents in this. Did they arrive at the hospital when summoned by their son?

Sorry to sound harsh but I think you have to take these things into consideration.

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