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Struggling to understand my mother's behaviour

(8 Posts)
FeastofBeans Sun 25-Sep-11 17:35:32

I'm mid-30s, married, baby due in a few days. I live 250 miles from my family (which isn't that large, just mum dad and older brother, no grandparents, aunties/uncles or cousins). My brother lives near my mum and dad. My parents are in their 60s but reasonably fit and healthy and still working.

We go to see them a few times a year, and they come to see us a few times a year. I keep in touch as much as I can but they don't make it very easy - if I ring my mum she will continually say things like "oh I'm hopeless on the phone" and "I hate talking on the phone, I can never think of anything to say". She prefers email so I email her pretty regularly and she'll reply but not actually say very much IYSWIM. She's got facebook now so I try to interact with her on there but that's all quite one-way as well.
My dad's phone behaviour is also very weird - he has a terrible, abrupt phone manner (he has actually lost business because of it, and it contributed towards him losing a job). Yet when my mum is on the phone to me he will apparently sit tutting, sighing and looking at his watch until she hands him the phone, and then he will have nothing to say and I'll have to make all the conversation. It's quite wearing and all adds up to me feeling like I don't know my parents and they don't know me, and that they don't really want to.

They've gone on and on at me for 4 years about giving them a grandchild before I get too old, made me feel very panicky about it and in some respects actually been quite insensitive and offensive about it. They know they won't get one from my brother (who seems to be pretty much asexual if that makes sense), and for 4 years it has been the be-all and end-all in particular for my mother that I get pregnant and forget my career - although from the day I was born to being in my 20s my education and career were the be-all and end-all for them, so some kind of switch flicked at some point. She would tell me how left out she felt that her friends had grandchildren and she didn't, how sad she was that she might never have one etc. Any mention of her friends' grandchild/ren would include a guilt trip for me.

I took my time regardless and started TTC when it suited us. I miscarried my first (fortunately we hadn't announced the pregnancy) but I never told my mum about this because I knew it would be all about her and she would make me feel guilty. After the 12wk scan with my second we told my parents but they didn't seem as pleased as I had thought they would be from the 4 years of badgering me! They have pretty much fallen off the face of the earth since then.

It seems like whatever I do is just not enough. I try really hard to be a 'good daughter' and manage expectations etc, and it's very tiring and upsetting that I continually seem to fall flat. I just thought my mum would come into her own when I got pregnant, give me a bit of advice, but there's nothing. Over the past couple of weeks I've had a few problems and been hospitalised a bit, and I am now booked in for a c-section. My parents were on holiday when all this was going on, and I deliberately didn't tell anyone about it because I didn't want my mum to find out the baby's new birthdate through facebook or whatever rather than through me. So I waited, and when she got home I told her over the phone what had gone on and her response was "I'm going now because Coronation Street is on". I don't think she took any of it in, or she just didn't care. I was shock and my DH was furious, he actually wants to cut them out completely he is that angry (they have done a number of other things recently that have royally pissed him off wrt the way they treat me).

When it comes to my brother though, they seem to know everything about him, and I must admit it feels like I have been pushed out of the family (there is a lot of history regarding this which I won't go into). They seem to feel that because I have DH I don't need them, but I think this is just convenient for them and they don't actually want me.

I wish I had a better relationship with my mum, where I felt I could confide in her about things I am worried about, but she just doesn't want to know. It's almost as if I don't have a mum, and I can open up more to my (older female) colleague at work than I can to my own mother. Yet we all keep up the charade of being parents/daughter. I don't know if they even realise there's a problem with our relationship - they have very skewed ideas about relationships because my brother is odd and never set a precedent, and they have toxic families themselves.

I don't think I'm managing my relationship with my parents very well at all, because I'm obviously offering them more than they want. Should I just hold back on any details of my life and have a bare-bones relationship with them? I honestly don't know how to please them and I am sick of trying to be the dutiful and obliging daughter but being met with such minimal responses. They cause me a lot of heartache with the way they interact with me that sometimes I feel I'd be better having no relationship at all with them and saving myself the misery.

I would really appreciate any advice, I will do anything to make this better especially with a DC imminent.

DontGoCurly Sun 25-Sep-11 17:54:25

I honestly don't know how to please them and I am sick of trying to be the dutiful and obliging daughter but being met with such minimal responses.

You don't have to please them. I would stop trying.

TheProvincialLady Sun 25-Sep-11 17:59:05

Oh dear, they sound just awfulsad I think your feeling that you would be better off with no relationship with them is spot on. And your DH agrees. Just think - do you want to inflict them on your baby? They don't deserve any of you.

I'm really sorry that you have this to deal with.

The sad fact is that, for whatever reason, your parents just don't seem that bothered. There's nothing you can do about that. It's not you - it's them.

We all want 'proper' parents - loving, nurturing, interested... and it hurts when you don't have that, because it is a basic right that a child has. But we don't always get what we ought to have and we just have to play the hand we've been dealt.

It's your parents' loss. They could have had a loving daughter and grandchild, but their behaviour means that's probably not an option now.

You have a husband who loves you, a child on the way - focus on your family (that's you, your husband and child!)

LesserOfTwoWeevils Sun 25-Sep-11 18:02:59

"they have toxic families themselves"
So do you. That's why your brother is the favourite despite making no effort and you can never please them no matter how hard you try.
And your mother is a narcissist. That's why it's always all about her.
Moving hundreds of miles away is probably the best thing you could have done to manage your relationship with them very well!
It might help you to read more about toxic families to help you understand that it's not your fault and it isn't anything you've done.
Then focus on your own little family, you and your DH and soon-to-be DC, and forget about them.

Conundrumish Sun 25-Sep-11 18:06:19

I would keep it minimal and concentrate on your new baby and building up a supportive network around you. I imagine it will be tough when the new baby arrives as you will wonder how they could be like this once you experience maternal love - but I would put it down to their own childhood. I think it's great that you can see that this is not normal and are likely to build a really good bond with your DC.

FeastofBeans Sun 25-Sep-11 18:12:23

Yes I 'moved for love' (DH worked down here). Now we could both work anywhere and could go back up home but choose not to. I think this is subconsciously because we don't want to deal with my family!

It's just so sad.

WhereYouLeftIt Sun 25-Sep-11 19:19:18

It is sad, OP, but I think LesserOfTwoWeevils has got it bang on.

"I was shock and my DH was furious, he actually wants to cut them out completely he is that angry (they have done a number of other things recently that have royally pissed him off wrt the way they treat me)."
And your DH has probably got it bang on too. If you're not ready to make the conscious decision to cut them out, at least make the decision not to initiate contact. If they call you, repond; but if they don't, be thankful.

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