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My mum has let me down. Again. (sorry, long)

(39 Posts)
Apparentlychilled Thu 15-Nov-12 10:48:34

My mum and I have a weird relationship: it's all great if I dance to her tune, as I did throughout my childhood/adolescence (inc supporting her through a really destructive awful divorce from DF). As I grew up and met DP (now DH), I realised that I wanted my own life, and I pulled away, and moved away.

All was good. I moved country but visited her maybe twice a year and spoke v briefly maybe every 7-10 days. I expected little or nothing from her, and that's exactly what I got.

She's never been supportive of me (or my siblings, to be fair), and is selfish, self absorbed and only interested in herself and her life eg my wedding was actually HER day. Really?!- I thought it was about me and DH getting married (and our families being involved, of course. But not just about her!). For a long time I put her attitude down to the hard time she had with my dad (the subject of a whole other thread). But that's now over 20 years ago, and rather than continuing to rant about him, maybe she should just have some counselling? Radical idea. Hmm.

Anyhow, I was trying to change our relationship- put in place boundaries, but also make space for her to have a relationship with me and my DC. I had DD in 2008 and had PND which I didn't' feel I could tell DM about - she's a gossip, and judgmental and I couldn't cope with her. I had DS last year and had PND again. This time I told her, only to be told bf 'causes' PND (no, she has no medical background) and that she had PND with each of her DC. Riiiiight- first time I've heard of that in over 35 years.... And after about 3 weeks, she said I seemed much better, so she felt she didn't need to ask how I was anymore (even though I told her that when we speak on phone when my DC are with me, of course I have a bright manner- I don't want to upset them!).

We went to my home town in July for her 65th, and I specifically arranged 2 things for us to do with her, as she's often saying how much she misses me and DC. She bailed on the first (a trip to the park), as her hair might get messed up in the wind, and the 2nd (tea at hers), she read the paper and watched the TV rather than interact with DC (or me).

About a month ago, I had surgery for an ectopic pregnancy. She wanted to come over the day I got out of hospital, but I said I just wanted to be home with DH and DC. A week later, after DH had gone back to work (he works away) I rang her in tears, saying that I was finding things hard, and asked her to come over. She said she'd check dates and would speak to me a couple of days later. Nothing. So about a week later, I asked again, and gave particular dates that worked for me.

After about a week of faffing around, she said she might not be able to come over. I clearly, calmly (but nicely) told her that I got that she had a lot on her plate (she doesn't really, but I was being nice), but that I was really struggling post ec preg, and that I could really do with a hand, even for a day or two.

She called yesterday saying that she's not coming. Because she wants to go to a golf lunch w DstepF. I knew this was going to happen. And to be honest, I'm not surprised, but I'm amazed by how hurt I am.

I just need to get over my expectations of being mothered by my mum, don't I?

If you've got this far, thanks for bearing with me- I didn't mean to go on so much!

Apparentlychilled Fri 16-Nov-12 16:12:26

weegie- well done on looking after yourself, even when that means your dad being disappointed that you and your Dsis don't talk.

And here's to a gaggle of Mistresses of the Breezy Fob Off!

weegiemum Fri 16-Nov-12 16:07:36


One day I will be Mistress Of The Breeezy Fob Off!

My only regret is my utterly amazing dad.
He looked after us all after mother left.
Me, db and sis.

He hates that sis and I don't talk. I would if she would, but apparently I have to "apologise" to mother first.

Aye, right!!

But poor Dad, he just wants his children to be friends! But I can't, cos that would take me back into my mothers fog. I'm not going there (too many nasty memories!!)

Apparentlychilled Fri 16-Nov-12 16:01:54

I love it!- I'm aspiring to be Mistress of the Breezy Fob Off!

I think if I hadn't just had this massive brush off from DM, this wouldn't sting quite so much- I'm generally good at vague, non-committal ideas till they all leave me alone. Something to get back to- not giving a shit about DM!

Apparentlychilled Fri 16-Nov-12 15:59:48

Attila- yes, it will be seized upon, and it won't achieve anything. If there was any chance it might prompt a global change, I might be happy to weather the storm.

I feel quite lonely amongst my siblings- I have 2 DSis and 2 DBro (though one has SN). My DSis who I mentioned above is probably the sister I like the most, though she's a bit bonkers and doesn't want to address the craziness too much. My other DSis is (as far as I'm concerned) self obsessed, self centered and a PITA (no, nothing like my mother. Really). To be fair my other DBro has been great since the ec preg, as has his wife, and he seems to be have boundaries, compassion, and have been great. Basically, he seems to be a good egg (it's not that we've not spoken over the years, but we've probably not sought each other out. Easy to do in big families w lots of siblings, in-laws, parents and step parents).

I think FOG was a huge part of my life, but I think I've set a lot of that aside. I do find fear crops up a lot in my own life (less so around my family of origin. What really can they do that's worse?!) and obligation and guilt have firmly been kicked to one side. Anger/fury and sadness seem to be my two oscillating reactions to my family of origin, and in particular my mum.

I would love to be close to my siblings, but I'm not prepared for the craziness which I have to participate in to get that. (Actually my DB might be OK. Am going to take it slowly slowly and see if it can be a healthy, adult relationship.) But that makes me sad.

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Fri 16-Nov-12 15:53:17

I think the key to pulling back from them all to the point where that kind of email won't bother you is to become the Mistress of the Breezy Fob Off smile

weegiemum Fri 16-Nov-12 15:47:49

Thanks apparently

I'm free of the FOG
My db is getting there

My sister embraces it, thrives on it. Funny, I don't speak to her now, either!

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 16-Nov-12 15:40:53

Would not send any e-mail as it will be seized on.

Your sister may well not likely ever get or even want to properly ever acknolwdge her dysfunctional birth family dynamic. Denial is also a powerful force.

You are really under no obligation to buy your mother a gift (there's FOG aka fear, obligation, guilt). Not at all surprised to read that in your particular family, the cost of the gift is far higher valued than anything else. You are right in thinking that your sister is deeply enmeshed with your mother and will do anything to gain approval, approval which is actually never given.

Apparentlychilled Fri 16-Nov-12 15:16:53

Oh Mulled- you are wise! I'm sitting here trying to avoid sending a furious email which will only open the doors to WW3 (sorry for mixed metaphors!). Smart idea.

Weegie- that's awful! Poor you and your poor DH. God bless the rest of your family!

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Fri 16-Nov-12 15:12:19

Oh dear. sad

In that case, if you don't want to give her a straight "No fucking way" you could diplomatically have already bought your mum's present. Yes, you are very organised this year.

weegiemum Fri 16-Nov-12 15:02:52

I'm estranged from my mum for similar reasons, big one being when I was air-evacuated from the island we lived on due to severe illness at36wk pg, and she was visiting, she and her husband cut short their visit rather than help dh with our other 2 dc because "weegie isn't here any more". He was a single handd GP left in the lurch by his in laws with 2 dc, pg wife 200 miles away and they just went home (not to see me in the hospital I was in 40 miles up the road from them).

Friends, amazing colleagues, my df and DSM, siblings, mil and BIL (who was only in the country cos dgm had just died) all rallied round. Mother and her husband hes NOT my stepfather just went home.

Should have seen it when she abandoned the family for him when I was 12 - sadly it took me a year after this to finally do it! And she still thinks it was her idea!

Apparentlychilled Fri 16-Nov-12 14:58:37

My sister is deeply enmeshed with my mum, and firmly believes that the more you love someone, the more you spend on them eg she's "broke" but spent over £350 on her son's high chair (WFT?! It's her money, but don't then moan to me about cash!). And she tries desperately hard to please DM. In my family of origin, the cost of the gift was paramount (not the thought, the suitability or anything else). Since meeting DH, I have realised that it really is the thought that counts. I think the level of my pain kind of washed over her, as she can't really see the craziness of our family, and she tries desperately with everyone, despite being repeatedly let down.

I'm minded to get something (I figure my rage will have eased by 25th Dec!) like a bottle of perfume or some hand cream. But not some lovey-dovey "we all love you so much Mum" expensive present. I figure that in life the answer usually lies in the middle ground ie normal christmas present, superficial contact and relationship.


MulledWineOnTheBusLady Fri 16-Nov-12 14:52:39

That's a bit strange. hmm Was your DSis understanding on the phone or did it all wash over her a bit? Is she still in the grip of trying to please your mother, do you think?

Saying that, people have wildly different ideas about presents. I know people who spend loads and people who spend not much at all, and it doesn't always bear that much relation to how much money they've got or how much they like the recipients!

I totally understand why you don't want to chip in, I wouldn't either. But of course I guess you should be prepared for a big "You didn't get me, your own mother, a present!" drama. sad It may be that you end up in a position where a big fight occurs and you have to cut her off, even if your original intention was just to emotionally withdraw IYSWIM.

Apparentlychilled Fri 16-Nov-12 14:41:33

I'm trying not to be spitting with fury. Having had a long conversation with DSis last night about DM and how upset I am with DM, I've had an email from DSis today, asking if I want to chip in for a joint Christmas present for Mum which will cost more than I plan to spend on my husband! In light of this week's developments, I'm not minded to get her anything, let alone an expensive, joint gift with my siblings! Aaaaaagghhhhhhh for crazy families of origin!

Apparentlychilled Fri 16-Nov-12 10:40:35

We haven't had an explicit conversation like you have, but we're just so different that I think we find it hard to have a close relationship indep of DH and DC. She called over yesterday to see DC and I did tell her about DM, and got a bit of sympathy (while being told to focus on DH and DC). For 1st time, I told her that she was spot on, but that I also knew that DM was being shit (and this was to a woman who doesn't say damn without blushing!), and she agreed. That felt better, as I've often felt that when I try to speak to her about this kind of stuff, she thinks I shouldn't feel bad, and just ignore it (rather than feeling it, and letting go of it, IYKWIM).

A couple of weeks ago, DH had a conversation with DMIL about how I feel like she thinks I'm a rubbish mum- she's just so mumly, and I'm not, though I do (of course) love my DC. She was great when he spoke to her, and said she knows we're different, and that's fine- she's her kind of mum, and I'm mine. Given that my DM is so awful, I have felt that I needed to be like DMIL to be a good mum, but trying to be like her (quite traditional, v quiet, SAHM, whereas I'm not cut out to be SAHM (even though I think I should be, IYKWIM) and am not at all quiet). That feels a lot better, to know that though I've no role model of the kind of mum I want to be, that maybe it's OK, and that I am a good mum (or good enough).

JustFabulous Fri 16-Nov-12 07:49:35

Does your MIL know how much you would like her to be a mother figure for you? Maybe she has held back as she knows you don't have the mum you wnat (does she know?) and doesn't want to force herself on you.

When my MIL and I were shopping for wedding things she asked me if I wanted a mum or a friend. I told her a mum but tbh we are not really close. I have tried but she just didn't understand when I was ill and that was hard. I constantly wanted approval and it never came. Very good with the children though.

Apparentlychilled Thu 15-Nov-12 18:15:19

I know- me too. On the one hand it's nice to we that what I get isnt the norm, but at the same time, it makes me so sad and envious.

gemdrop84 Thu 15-Nov-12 17:02:50

As a result of my mum being so un-mum like, I think I've had unrealistic expectations of my MIL (who is v warm and loving, but I've come to realise that she'll never be a mum-figure to me, no matter how much I'd love one in my life. Does that make any sense to anyone? I could've written that sad I feel so jealous when I see my mil and sil who seem genuinely close.

Apparentlychilled Thu 15-Nov-12 16:09:45

As a result of my mum being so un-mum like, I think I've had unrealistic expectations of my MIL (who is v warm and loving, but I've come to realise that she'll never be a mum-figure to me, no matter how much I'd love one in my life. Does that make any sense to anyone?

JustFabulous Thu 15-Nov-12 13:08:52

Some people just don't know how to be a mother and nothing is going to change that if they don't think they need to change and are willing to put the work in.

My mother was shite. I may have mentioned her before. Somehow though she thinks she has the right to my children hmm.

I think if someone in your life is not bringing joy into it most of the time then there is no place for them.

Your children would be better off without granny in their lives than having someone who hurts mummy.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 15-Nov-12 12:57:34

Yes, such stuff can come back to bite you unexpectedly and often when the first DC is born. These sorts of issues re childhood and the realisation that it was actually really bad is indeed painful to properly acknowledge.

Children now adults of such toxic parents often have what is known as FOG - fear, obligation, guilt.

Apparentlychilled Thu 15-Nov-12 12:47:24

Thanks Attila- funnily enough, I had been looking at those books on Amazon recently. I guess what surprises me is that though I've had lots of help over the years, for PND and for crazy childhood stuff, I'm still surprised when it hurts all over again, when I think I've dealt with stuff. Maybe it never is dealt with, but just changes over time?

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 15-Nov-12 12:45:57

If you did come to the conclusion that your mother to your mind is a narcissist, it is not possible to my mind to have any form of relationship with her.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 15-Nov-12 12:43:48

Hi Apparantly Chilled,

Your mother is and will never be the mother you so dearly want her to be. She is not made that way. BTW you did not make her like this; her own birth family did that particular brand of emotional damage to her. Her own childhood may well give you some clues; pound to a penny it was abusive in some form.

(My own parents to a great extent trusted, well more like left, me to get on with life without much imput from them. Their level of overall disinterest is hurtful).

The best thing you can do is for your own family unit to live well and come not to rely on her for anything whatsoever; she is only concerned for her own self. Would not want to subject the DC to such people; you would not tolerate this from a friend and family are truly no different. Make and keep your own boundaries with regards to her if you cannot bring yourself to fully cut her out.

Some suggestions for you:-

Would suggest you read "Toxic Parents" written by Susan Forward along with "Children of the Self Absorbed" written by Nina Brown. You may also want to look at and post on the "Well we took you to Stately Homes" thread on these pages.

I would also look at the website entitled "Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers" as that may help too. These people do not have and cannot maintain friendships on any more than a superficial level (both my ILs do not have any friends, only acquaintances or people they find useful as contacts).

waltermittymissus Thu 15-Nov-12 12:28:08

No direct experience but my FIL is like this. I've never met him. I think he knows about our 3 dc but couldn't be sure.

He's never acknowledged their existence. He doesn't have anything to do with us. DH and FIL never fell out. DH says he's just like this.

SIL lived with him when she was younger so they were very close but he's cut contact with her. The last time she saw him, she bumped into him in the street when she'd been in hospital because they thought there was something very wrong with her pregnancy.

She hadn't seen him since he hadn't bothered turning up to her wedding. When she saw him, she burst into tears and told him what had happened. He looked her up and down and walked away.

Neither DH nor SIL know what they've done wrong. The only time we hear of him is when he visits DH's ex and my DSD. The only grandchild he gives a shit about, though I don't know why.

Sorry to hijack! Just wanted you to know that there are plenty like your DM. There shouldn't be, it's not fair on their children.

We don't speak about FIL now. Not ever. If he turned up on the door I'd be happy I suppose for DH but that's never likely to happen.

Apparentlychilled Thu 15-Nov-12 12:18:38

Mulled- you're exactly right- I said something similar to a friend this morning about not treating friends like this. I think it's notable that DM doesn't seem to have any old friends- about 2-5 years into all friendships, people seem to move on. Funny that.... (at the risk of sounding like a total witch!)

sweet - thank you for your lovely post. Ironically, my dad is like that too! For some random reason I don't expect anything of him (maybe because he's always been absent, physically and emotionally), but I know what you mean about letting go and focusing on my own family.

Thank you all. While I wouldn't wish this on anyone, it's nice to know I'm not alone, and that others have found ways to cope with similar parents.

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