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Advice Please! Mother Issues

(8 Posts)
JulietBurke Mon 08-Oct-12 17:08:08

I have always had a difficult relationship with my mother - my childhood memories aren't great. She left me with my father when I was 13, I saw her intermittently for the next 5 years (with periods of many months when I heard nothing from her). When I was 18 she cut ties completely and I didn't see her again until last year - 11 years later. I initiated contact (via my aunt) for a few reasons, but mostly because I didn't want her to miss my wedding. Our relationship has been OK over the last 12 months, though I wouldn't say particularly mother-daughter ish. I realise now how incredibly different we are, and I find myself biting my tongue a lot at some of her more... extreme views.

Anyway, fastforward to last week. Recently my DH has been working abroad, which has put some pressure on our relationship. I'm also pregnant and have found it quite difficult to essentially be on my own, so I've been quite stressed. My mother came over last week to spend the day. From the moment she walked in the door she picked out everything she possibly could to be critical about - she complained that I hadn't weeded the garden for a while, my husband had put some offcuts of wood in the bin (I'm not clear what was wrong with that), I had done some of my husband's laundry for him - these are just a few examples. Suffice is to say after an hour of constant complaining I snapped. I told her I didn't want to hear any more critical comments, and that I was trying my best to cope in a far from easy situation. After she ranted for some time about how she would not be spoken to in such a way, she moved into her big finale of "it's not my fault you married a loser". I told her that was enough, calling my DH a loser was way, way across the line, and she needed to leave. Cue a reprise of the rant, this time with a few added extras - primarily about how selfish I am and how I have done nothing but take from her (not true - we have in fact put ourselves out a lot over the last few months to help her with a house move, storing a lot of her things, and even allowing her to stay at our house when she temporarily left her husband). She finished up by accusing me of stealing her skirt and some salmon. She then stormed out and I heard nothing more from her. I was quite resigned to not have any more contact with her.

Then, this afternoon I received a text from her, simply saying ?Am I off your Christmas list??. I have to admit this has utterly floored me. How on earth do I respond? Tempting though it is, I don?t want to be petty and spiteful. On the other hand, I feel that if I don?t make it very clear how inappropriate she has been, she?ll think it?s OK to keep acting like this.

To be honest, if I weren?t pregnant I?d probably take the high road and just act nice to keep things peaceful. However, I won?t risk this sort of behaviour around the baby. I spent my entire childhood listening to nothing but negative comments from her about my father and other family members, and I won?t allow my child to experience the same thing.

Any thoughts? I know people can?t tell me what decision to make, but any suggestions on how to respond to this would be appreciated.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 08-Oct-12 17:12:55

Try 'You are off it until I get an apology'.... Keep the ball in her court.

CailinDana Mon 08-Oct-12 17:13:53

It depends on what you want really, and what you can handle. You'll have to work from the premise that she's not going to change, that she's always going to be hard work. So the question is, do you think having a relationship with her is worth it, and if so, what sort of relationship will it be? You could have one where you just see her for an hour every couple of weeks. The main thing is that you set your boundaries and stick to them. Let her know what your boundaries are - so for example, any negative comments about your house will be ignored any comments about your DH and she will have to leave.

What do you think?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 08-Oct-12 17:15:05

BTW... this is all very good practice for when your new baby reaches about 2 years old... maybe a little older... and stomps off in a completely irrational huff smile Some people are just very big toddlers.

spookytoo Mon 08-Oct-12 17:18:26

She sounds envious of you - hence all the criticism, it is really envy of all that you have and she probably never will.

If you can be the better person and blank all these daft criticisms and make allowances for her inability to form relationships and put up firm boundaries it might work. But better she visits for hours instead of days.

(admit I am making many assumptions from a shortish OP but the issues seem to be all hers and not yours and she is unlikely to change)

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 08-Oct-12 17:20:41

I think you're spot on about the jealousy spookytoo. The comment about a 'loser' DH has sour grapes written all over it.

Coffeeformeplease Mon 08-Oct-12 17:24:18

You have said it yourself, you won't allow your baby's environment (and yours) to be poisoned by her comments.
So tell her that, and be absolutely firm.
First you want a apology, and from then on, show her the door if she oversteps the mark.
(Tbh I don't know if I would ever let her step over the threshold again after the "loser" comment.)
Don't expect miracles though. In general, people don't change (not that much anyway).
Tell her you don't want a repeat of your childhood.

JulietBurke Mon 08-Oct-12 17:37:50

Why are all of my apostrophes question marks? Sorry about that.

Cogito - I like your style, nice and to the point. Good point about the toddler – this is my first DC so practice is always handy!

Cailin - I don't know what I want! I do see how that's not particularly helpful.
Spooky - sorry, yes it was short - primarily because I don't really get her or understand what's going through her head, so I wasn't really sure what to put. Envy makes sense though - she has never worked and always relied on men to support her, I think she finds it very hard to deal with the fact that I actually support myself and often my husband (as he's self employed).
Coffee – yes, it was the loser comment that did it for me. As far as I'm concerned you never, ever criticise a person's spouse in front of them.

I realise I need to decide what I want here, and it's helpful to be reminded that she probably won't change. It's very hard to make a rational decision through the pregnancy hormones!

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