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So how do I sort this one out?

(17 Posts)
TheFrogs Thu 28-Jul-11 03:48:04

I find myself getting really annoyed with my mum. She has always been critical but lately it's starting to drive me mad.

She'll come into my house and start looking around, she doesn't even try to hide it. "this surface could use a wipe"...."what the HELL'S going on here?" (pile of washing maybe)...."your lawn needs mowing, cant you even just weed the flowerbeds?"...ridiculous things. I could perhaps understand her horror if she was a houseproud person but she isn't! My house is cleaner than hers in general, just not as tidy (two kids, six pets...well, 7 but the fish is pretty neat wink). Her comment about the garden was particularly uncalled for as she knows I love my garden and have always kept it nice until I started having problems with my hands and legs a couple of months ago. She KNOWS I cant physically do it at the moment. She also had a strop at me earlier in the week for walking too slowly as she "thought i'd have started my tablets by now" (I'd been taking them for one day...they had been prescribed the day before which she knew, she was with me!).

A few days ago we were having a conversation over the phone. I asked her what time we were meeting up, cue a rant about why it was stupid for her to go home first and she'd come straight here after an appointment. I said I never suggested she go home first, I agreed it made more sense to come straight here. She said I was trying to start an argument! She does this all the time.

She is so dramatic about everything, seems to hear something completely different to what i'm actually saying. As much as I hate to say it, i'm starting to wonder if she does it on purpose for attention. I've noticed recently that a lot of telephone conversations we've had have been strange...her answers dont really bear any relation to what i'm saying, so at her end of the phone, to whoever is in the same room (her husband) it seems i'm having a go at her when i'm actually not. He is now being frosty with me because of it. I just feel totally bullied, confused and miserable about the whole situation. Even ds has had enough of it, she did the same to him tonight. The puppy had been sick on the sofa so he was taking the covers off for me to wash, I nipped upstairs..she comes in and interrogates ds on what the hell he's doing and why the dog is in his crate. Ds tells her, it's just for 5 minutes because the puppy hangs onto the inner cushions by his teeth and tries to rip the filling out of them! I then hear him tell her (in a weary tone) not to "start" (he's never said that before). I get downstairs, she tells me my dog is wild because he's "locked up all the time" (he's not locked up all the time...in fact he's been in his crate for hours now but the door is open, he puts himself to bed at a certain time and that's that! grin). She is constantly making assumptions and hurling accusations based on nothing at all and giving me a good bollocking in advance, it's stupid niggling little things every day. If I try to talk about it, i'm "trying to cause an argument", if I dont I end up losing my temper then she cries and i'm a terrible daughter.

I dont need her constant picking. She is great in other ways, I love her dearly and dont want a huge falling out but I need to sort this. How do I go about it when everything I do is wrong?

TheFrogs Thu 28-Jul-11 03:49:02

wow, that is an essay...my apologies.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Thu 28-Jul-11 04:15:38

Well, frankly, she sounds so awful that I'd be tempted to cut her off. Hurling accusations, accusing you of things, and you speak to her every day and invite her around when she insults your child? Why do you want her to be so involved in your life?

That said, if you think it's worth working through:

I'd develop a script that shuts down the conversations. I bet that at the moment, she criticises and you justify - well I haven't got round to the laundry today but I have done x, y and z and also I'm in pain at the moment and etc. Or - I didn't say you should go home first, I was just thinking that perhaps you want to have the option, etc. She's getting you to engage, and it's unhealthy.

You need a short script. If she criticises the housework: "I'm happy with the way my house is" and change the subject. If she persists - "I hear you. But I'm happy with the way my house is". Don't expand, don't justify, just repeat it until she stops. "My dog is happy, thank you" "That's your opinion and I disagree. My dog is happy, thank you".

What would happen if you said those things?

TheFrogs Thu 28-Jul-11 05:21:06

She does help with transport as I can't drive, takes the kids to hobbies I wouldn't be able to get them to otherwise etc. Like I say, she can be really great and i've had so much bad luck over the last few years i'm sure i've been a worry to her.

But still, she cant seem to help criticise me all the time...I honestly dont know why she does it when she's so helpful in other ways.

In answer to your question, if I said those things I would get "OH why are you being like this with me now? What's the matter with you? I am NOT arguing with you, just leave it, no just leave it".....

I actually said to her this morning (with a fake smile plastered across my face) "mum, you aren't happy unless you're complaining are you?!" grin

I dont mean to make her sound awful, she loves me and adores the kids but she just seems to have this nasty streak I dont understand.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Thu 28-Jul-11 05:57:00

I would say because she likes drama, and likes to feel in charge, so she's great in a crisis but as soon as you're under control she likes to put you on the back foot again.

Ok, so if she does 'why are you being like this, I'm not arguing with you' you can be 'Oh, good, I thought you were criticising my house/dog/way of life. Anyway, shall we go to the park then?'.

I take it you're a single parent? In which case, do you have a good friend you can practise these interactions on? Sounds silly, but it really helps, have the friend try as hard as they can to badger you like your Mum, and practise shutting the conversation down.

wotabouttheworkers Thu 28-Jul-11 07:14:23

I do sympathise. My mother could be hyper-critical. Is there anyone else in the family/her close friends to whom you could vent and who would perhaps have a word with her? I would also sit her down and say, 'Today you have criticised the state of my house/garden etc etc etc and you do this each time I see you. I love you and I know you love me but this hurts me/irritates me/annoys me and as a result I rather dread seeing you. Please could you keep those opinions to your self so that I can enjoy our time together and not dread it. Now, would you like a cup of tea/glass of wine?'

TheFrogs Thu 28-Jul-11 07:31:01

Spot on yes, i'm a lone parent. The more I think about it the more i'm convinced that she's possibly frightened of "losing" us. If she can keep me down then she's "needed", can dramatically "save" me blah blah. That's quite fucked up to read back to myself actually.

Her situation is a pretty rubbish one and has been for a long time...while I feel sad for her, it's a life she chose and there isn't anything I can do about that.

It's like having an extra child and my two are more than enough! grin

TheFrogs Thu 28-Jul-11 07:37:33

sorry wot, cross posted smile. She doesn't have any friends and our only few family members have a lot of stuff going on...I really can't bother them with it.

And if I said that i'd be "trying to cause a row" sad

lifechanger Thu 28-Jul-11 07:39:45

How old is she? If she's becoming more irritable and difficult, it could be hormonal maybe?

Have you tried taking her out by herself (this may not be possible of course) for a meal to thank her for everything she does for you, and ask her if she's ok, because you're worried she's not herself at the moment? Really listen to her, and say nothing acusatory. Menopausal women can feel invisible sometimes, on the edge of everyone else's lives.

Sausagesarenottheonlyfruit Thu 28-Jul-11 07:40:51

Huge sympathies from me, my mother can be very similarly wearing.
I find it happens when I lean too much on her for lifts/childcare etc. The boundaries start to blur and the respect vanishes.

I strongly advise you cut back drastically on the contact. Kids are on hols now so presumably have to go to fewer clubs. Use cabs and buses if you have to go somewhere. Do you shop online? All of these things will eat into your budget but please believe me that it is worth it in terms of re-establishing your autonomy.

TheFrogs Thu 28-Jul-11 07:57:13

She's early 60s lc. I do try to do nice things with her, my close friend's mum is around that age, they know each other through mutual friends from years back, have the same sort of humour. Will she come out? Will she bugger. She wont do anything sad. I invite her for meals with us, she gives me the evils and sniffs.

Sausages, I dont expect it, they offered re hobbies. I really do appreciate it but feel i'm sort of expected to put up with crap in return if that makes sense!

lifechanger Thu 28-Jul-11 08:49:32

Tell her that then!

lookingfoxy Thu 28-Jul-11 10:04:00

Ugh, my mum was like this and it really used to get me down, house, garden etc not tidy enough.
I ended up just pulling her up on it every time she made a comment and she soon stopped, sometimes I can see her looking and her brain whirring and i'll say to her 'don't say anything about the mess' and she just laughs now.
In fact she now sneaks round when im at work and cuts my grass and hedge!! Result grin

pictish Thu 28-Jul-11 10:21:16

Look - by the sounds of it, she's keeping you the kid, as it makes her feel needed somehow.
The 'why are you starting an argument?' tactic, when you dare to venture any displeasure at her crappy behaviour, is actually a form of emotional abuse. Abusive people often see having their bad behaviour or opinion challenged in any way, as a personal attack.

Now listen...she's your mum, and you obviously love her....BUT don't be bullied into accepting rudeness from her.

You sound like you need to stand on your own two feet a bit more. xxx

EldritchCleavage Thu 28-Jul-11 10:23:45

I copied my older sister's method she used when our mother was overstepping boundaries (usually when the grandchildren were being disciplined-despite being a strict mother she is a soppy grandmother). My sister would just say "No!" firmly, over and over, to cut her off. Without shouting or rattiness, just firmly. In other words, I'm not getting into this with you. Amazingly, it works.

Fuzzywuzzywozabear Thu 28-Jul-11 10:27:41

She does it to make herself feel better. ie by criticising you she is implying she is superior. (it's a tactic of my mothers) you've been given some good advice here which I think you should heed. Practice the "broken record" technique as others have said above - If she then retaliates with the responses you said, then walk away from her. Eventually she will realise that tactic wont work anymore, so be prepared for her to change tactics and up her game. Just bat everything back to her and mentally tell yourself "no, I'm not catching that ball"

Sausagesarenottheonlyfruit Thu 28-Jul-11 11:43:09

Thefrogs ,you're right of course, you are expected to take crap in return for favours!
That's the unspoken deal - Doesn't matter if you ask for lifts or not, the accepting is enough to make you seem reliant so now your mother is seeing the two of you in Parent/Child mode.

This gives her the 'right' to act in full on parental mode, 'coming into your bedroom to criticise the mess' all over again.

Only way to make it stop is to stand on your own two feet. Don't let her have so much of your life.

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