Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

I want to be nicer to my mum

(41 Posts)
heidipi Sun 18-Nov-12 13:51:12

That's it really. Every visit or weekend when we get together I think this time I am going to be serenely calm and smile through every random observation and question, respond firmly but politely to every criticism of my SIL (DB can do no wrong) and generally not get wound up. I fail every time and end up hating myself.

This time I've been with her since Thursday, she's here til Tues and thank god I'm out at work all day tomorrow. Just nearly blew in the supermarket, feel like a stroppy teenager, and she's coming for 6 days at Xmas. She is probably dreading it as much as I am, and I need a strategy to get through it before our relationship gets properly damaged.

Basically her heart is in the right place, she is kind and generous (including to SIL, but criticises her and members of her side of DB's family constantly to me - she is jealous because they live closer and see more of them), is fantastic with DD and DB's kids and they all adore her. My dad died a few years ago, she has lots of friends and is busy socially but I know she also feels lonely and sometimes would rather stay home and have us all visit, so I visit a lot during the year (mostly overnight during the week with DD as DP gets bored there and this way means I can just focus on her and DD) but she spends Xmas with either me or DB.

She just drives me nuts and I know this sounds really petty - asks me random questions all the time, makes inane statements about everything from the weather to politics (mainly informed by things she read in the Daily Malicious years ago) to which the only responses are either "What??!" or "mmmm", also she is getting quite deaf but is in denial so pretends she has heard what I've said when she plainly hasn't, which makes conversation tricky (I am of course patient about this but it does make the logistics of just talking more difficult than otherwise).

We've just had a heated discussion about SIL, where I said I thought she was too hard on her and DB has a mind of his own so things aren't always down to SIL. It ended with her saying "ok we'll just leave it then" as she hates confrontation. I'll have to address it again as she will now think that everyone is ganging up on her.

I want to be able to take a deep breath and answer her calmly or just say "mmmm" but for some reason I fail. How can I be nice for a whole week in December? And also for ever afterwards if possible.

Thanks if you have read this far, I know I sounds like a bitch and I'm really not usually - there's just something about our relationship.

OK, am bracing myself for a flaming. Thanks in advance.

heidipi Thu 27-Dec-12 14:36:55

Oh OrangeLily how did the rest of your Xmas go? Hope it got better, thankfully mine did. Apart from Sunday when we were all sleep deprived and tetchy, it was almost enjoyable (steady now).

I found that having DP around as much as poss has sort of diluted things and made chat easier, when it's just mum and me she goes back to bizarre questions about people I haven't seen or spoken to for years and negative comments about celebs/people in the news (Kate Middleton, the cast of Strictly, blah blah). She's prob just making conversation but I hate agreeing just for the sake of it "mmmm yes full of herself, and yes who is looking after her children while she swans about on telly, and hasn't she piled the weight on" etc etc. She's stayed off the subject of my SIL so that helped too.

Overall it was miles better than expected. I waved her off on the coach thinking I should have got her to stay longer but actually short and sweet is probably safest. Phew! Over and out til the next time grin.

OrangeLily Mon 24-Dec-12 10:58:44

Can I join in on being the ungrateful daughter??

I have a much younger sibling and it seems to mean that I have to be treated as being the same age! Today as DH is at work we have to go 'do something' as a family instead of just hanging out together with a glass of wine or juice.

I feel a bit like a tantruming toddler all the time with DM at the moment. Yesterday she called when she knew I was really busy and kept trying to tell me a story about two family members that I have no interest in taking sides about. I kept saying 'I don't want to know' or 'please stop talking about it' and she just kept bulldozing through to the point I had to shout at her....... Obviously this is me being unreasonable.

This years been really hard. I got married and it feels a bit like she's trying to remind me that I belong to her. Over stepping so many lines/boundaries.

I love her dearly but Christmas may be really hard.

heidipi Mon 24-Dec-12 10:40:19

Hello - ungrateful bitch daughter %231 here, resurrecting this thread for a festive update grin

My mum arrived with us yesterday til Thursday, yesterday was fine as went out then plenty on telly so kept everything easy. Unfortunately DD is sleeping badly and as mum is in spare room, both DP and I had hardly any sleep, topped off with a bit of a row (we're also in the middle of moving house and I am also pg and emotional plus stressing about this visit, so liable to fly off the handle). Lovely.

Being pretty deaf mum was blissfully unaware of all this and burst in on me and a screaming DD this morning with 'oooh I can hear someone singing!' I might even find it funny, much much later.

I've left DD with her and 'gone for a sleep' (a cry and re-read of this whole thread). And it's pissing down so stuck in house all fecking day.

Joy!! Am about to paint a smile on and go and start again. Think before answering, neutral conversation topics, another 'lie-down' later when/if DD naps...

Anyone else want to join in? Happy christmas eve!

heidipi Fri 23-Nov-12 20:11:35

Well I've just spoken to her, nothing was mentioned specifically, but she said a few times on her 'serious' voice 'and how are you?/how are you in yourself?/are you tired?' which basically means she is explaining it away as me having some kind of breakdown, rather than just having reached tipping point with the fussing and questioning and nagging. It's as though she didn't hear my answers cos she talked over them but maybe she didn't hear. I dunno.

As usual she is obsessed by the weather so we talked about that a lot.

Sigh - oh well, no need to talk to her for another week so that's ok.

Thanks everyone smile

Salbertina Fri 23-Nov-12 18:10:01

Well, i currently want to be nastier to mine- shes really not a nice woman and i find her so hard to bear that i often reveal this unintentionally.
Op, at least you're willing to be nicer, the intention's there. She sounds quite hard work!

Anna1976 Thu 22-Nov-12 21:30:40

heidipi grin chocolate and denial sounds like the way forward!

heidipi Thu 22-Nov-12 19:47:57

Oh Anna you have my sympathy - that sounds completely crushing.

I'm still dazed by the weekend and have been wondering how the hell I'm going to deal with this when I speak to mum, then in a flash of genius I realised that I can just not mention a thing. Yup, skim over it, sweep under the carpet etc as we have done for the last 30 odd years with any unpleasantness. That seems to be the perfect solution for now.

Plucked up the courage and phoned her but she's out, so will try again tomorrow. In the meantime I keep looking at DD and thinking we are really not going to end up the same. I'll find a different way to piss her off.

The whole thing has left me knackered, tbh. Think I'm off to bed early with the remnants of a box of chocs from the weekend.

Anna1976 Wed 21-Nov-12 21:56:13

PS Mermaid - thanks for the idea - I also kind of feel i need to protect friends from my parents' stalkerish tendencies - where they obsessively collect details about people and ask after "their friend XXX" once a week when they've met XXX once in a hallway for 20 seconds because I was being polite introducing them.... and they discuss all of XXX's business, make things up, gossip with other people who know basically nothing about XXX, tell me that XXX clearly doesn't like me because THEY know so much more about XXX's life than I do (when I'm usually just saying "oh, how interesting, where did you find that piece of made-up bollocks out?")... eventually I resort to asking them about XXX's life as I haven't seen XXX in 20 years... and they go round telling people I am obviously hated by all my greatest friends from school because I know nothing about XXX's subsequent life.

Either that or they decide out of the blue that YYY is disgusting and they hate them and find ignorant and nasty things to say about the person until I tell them I will not discuss this person with them again as I don't think they're being productive - then they go round telling everyone that I love YYY/ am having an affair with YYY/ voted for YYY or whatever.

The thing is, if asked to justify any of these frankly bizarre points of view, both my parents could be talked round into rationally examining the evidence and deciding that they don't know much about XXX or YYY and don't know much about my relaitonship with these people either. The obsessive detail-collecting about people is one of my mother's more groaningly obvious aspie traits where she has absolutely no idea that others don't share her fascination with what brand of schoolshoes XXX (with whom I went to school 30 years ago and last spoke to probably 30 years ago) buys for XXX's daughter whom they saw at the shops recently... And lot of their vicious assertions are just them talking endlessly and having no boundaries, and being unable to modulate speech appropriately due to having no idea that modulation is even a concept (diagnosed in my father) Asperger's... and of course I should feel kinder towards both parents for knowing that the extreme nature of their behaviour is rooted in them being non-neurotypical, but of course because I'm a guilty bitch and unable to self-regulate sufficiently to be a saint, their behaviours just get me on edge...

Anna1976 Wed 21-Nov-12 21:36:30

Heidipi & others - you have my great sympathy. It's so hard! my mother often reduces me to stunned silence by cutting across me - usually in front of other adults - with "That's enough of your tantrumming, stop going on like a toddler" - usually when I'm saying something she doesn't agree with, but absolutely am not ranting or anything! And of course she now does it to shut me up because it works every time, and I stand there thinking "god you're emotionally and socially stunted, how different all our lives could be if you'd ever listened to anything anyone else ever said, you rapacious self-important negative cow", and she thinks I'm silent because she's right every time and she knows exactly how everything should work and it's totally the appropriate way to treat another adult!

Kernowgal - I think there's also a bit of a shift in our generation seeing self-regulation/ self-efficacy/ enfranchisement as the right thing to do, whereas women of previous generations have been told to look to other people to make decisions for them. I started a (long gone) thread here a while back about whether emotional literacy was the new feminism, but i phrased it pretty badly and people rightly enough thought I was probably too extreme in my view.

Also my family is quite spectacularly lacking in emotional literacy so my stumbling around trying to find it has been a more extreme journey than many others' journeys to enfranchisement!

kernowgal Tue 20-Nov-12 12:53:23

I was talking about this with a workmate the other day - we were saying that there really is quite a difference in lifestyle between our generation and our mothers'. In turn there was probably a fair difference between theirs and their mothers', but I think our differences are greater. Eg both partners (often) having to work, many women in full-time work or breadwinners, general leisure lifestyles, career aspirations and so on.

My mum says she's amazed at how I am prepared to take risks and try new things out; she wouldn't have the courage (though I bet she would really). I don't have kids so I've no idea how different it is for mums and daughters these days. But I guess the one thing I would like from my mum is to tell her about something I'm thinking of doing and her to say "go for it! What a great idea!". I suppose I just want her approval confused My workmate said exactly the same thing.

sassyandsixty Tue 20-Nov-12 12:23:14

Same prob here! We get on fine for a while and then she says something 'squashing' that makes me feel about ten years old again. She seems to expect me to be her 'mini me' and holds fixed ideas about who I am and how I live - yet I am nothing like her and never have been. I find I am always watching my words so that I do not bring up an issue that will rebound on me and destroy my confidence. My only advice is to learn from this sad state of affairs and not be like it with your DCs - especially DDs. Respect them as equals as they grow up and pay attention to the fact that they are not you and are very different from you. That way you can enjoy each others' company to the full. Good luck!!

heidipi Tue 20-Nov-12 10:10:59

be not bf, done that!

heidipi Tue 20-Nov-12 10:10:00

Oh god hideous morning already. She can't wait to go, I can't wait for her to go. I tried to apologise and she just said "it's fine" so we can't even talk about anything. Just pretend it's all ok, it's like being a teenager forever. I really don't want me and DD to bf like we are.

I am in awe of the idea of living harmoniously with your mother! So much respect!

Salbertina Tue 20-Nov-12 06:04:59

Kiti- really off to (again) be plugging your own book without admitting it on such a thread....hmm
Not exactly in spirit of mutual support. Ive reported it but wish you well with it anyway.

Kitikat Tue 20-Nov-12 04:24:20

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Spree Tue 20-Nov-12 04:11:50

Marking my place too ... I really want to be nice and to get along as I want a good relationship with my DD when she is older & I realise I am modelling a mother- daughter relationship for my DD with her.

I start with good intentions before every visit & fail miserably.

Like many of you, I am wracked with guilt.

Maybe we should be posting this on Gransnet to get another perspective sad

LapsedPacifist Tue 20-Nov-12 01:04:45

DH, DS (16) and I live my my DM (84). Over the past 3 years we have managed to achieve a Modus Vivendi, which requires avoiding any contentious subjects for discussion, and we focus on stuff she enjoys doing. We talk a lot about the past, her family etc and we look at photos together. We chat a lot about the garden, household maintenance and other day-to-day issues. I do a daily shop for her, and sort out household bills and other paperwork. Her memory is becoming very bad. sad

Once a week I do a big roast dinner for us all to eat together, we all go out for a meal once a fortnight and to the cinema or theatre every month. We make a very big fuss of family birthdays, and I make sure she keeps in touch with family - they all live abroad apart from us.

ccarpenton Mon 19-Nov-12 23:29:48

I feel for you! I always thought that was all mothers though? It's like, everything out their mouths is meant to make you feel small, right?

I just tell myself that it's because she's insecure and can't cope with the idea that I might be even equal in intelligence to her ... let alone smarter ... which I am. wink

DIYapprentice Mon 19-Nov-12 23:12:05

Ask her about her first crush or boyfriend (go on, dare ya!!! grin)

heidipi Mon 19-Nov-12 22:37:29

Thanks DIY and Mermaid - I admire your ability to steer the conversation to safe things, especially in the face of such criticism.

Tomorrow is another day and at lunchtime I'll wave her off then go home and lie down in a darkened room, feeling alternately elated and wracked with guilt!

Thank you again everyone, this is really helping smile

DIYapprentice Mon 19-Nov-12 19:23:29

Heidi - it's very hard. My DM is very critical, and obsessive about details and constantly tells me how I 'should' be doing something. I counted one day, in 1 hour I had over 30 rather forceful suggestions on what I should be doing, as what I was doing wasn't right in her eyes - was feeding DS1 who was 14 months old. She claimed I never listened to her advice, I pointed out that it just became unhelpful noise because it was CONSTANT, that I wasn't actually doing it wrong, I just happened to be doing it differently to how she would have done it and actually how SHE would have done it didn't matter one iota as she was the grandmother and I was the mother. When her DSis (my very NON 'D' Aunt!!) came over she tried to get some support from her and I told them both to but out. I told DM afterwards to NEVER pull that stunt again or I would walk out and go to my DMIL's house. (I was staying with her for 5 weeks, as she lives on the other side of the world). That particular Aunt is pure poison to me, and DM usually accepts that so not sure why she tried to pull this stunt.

After a number of confrontations I've learned to try to say 'Drop it mum, it's not up for discussion', or completely ignore it.

I've found it easier and safer to focus on certain topics that we can discuss. I've asked her questions about her childhood, schooling, her work as a teacher, etc. I ask about elderly relatives when they were younger. I take her down memory lane, and give her something different to focus on. I now feel I understand her better - she had a very difficult childhood, and although I love my DF I can see that he was a bit of a useless husband to her and a hopeless father to the us.

She has got better, or maybe I've got better at not biting so she doesn't 'poke' as much. Either way the last few trips have been a lot better.

mermaid101 Mon 19-Nov-12 19:04:27

Anna, I could have written almost every word of your post and applied it to myself. i know my sister feels exactly the same. She feels she simply cannot have any sort of conversation with my Mum and says, as you do, that she finds it almost impossible to share even the most basic detail of her life for exactly the same reasons as you.

i get round this by discussing my friends with her. I tell her all their news, how they are getting on at work, house moves, relationships etc which gives the impression of sharing information about my life, but really it isn't. Once I have exhausted that avenue, I move on to asking her about her about her friends. I wring every last drop of conversation I can out of this subject, to the point i often ask her about the same thing a few times and pretend I have forgotten what she said the first time.

If she is negative and critical about others then I force my face into a vague half smile and say, very evenly," oh dear, yes that sounds like a problem" or "It sounds like this is difficult for you". I can tell it annoys her, but she can't fault me for it.

However, she sometimes still manages to find a way to be critical and undermining of me and, as yet, i have not found a fail safe way of dealing with this and resort to the stroppy teenager mode you mention. I think it just makes me so hurt and reminds me, very vividly, of being younger and being, essentially under the control of someone who is extremely selfish and damaging.

Ironically, my mother thinks we have a very good relationship.

I don't know how helpful any of this is to you, but I wish you good luck. It is a trying situation to be in !

heidipi Mon 19-Nov-12 19:03:55

Welcome aboard to the new ungrateful bitches!

Scorpio I feel exactly the same re when she's gone I'll feel more guilty than actually miss her. That makes me feel terrible too.

My grand plans for calm serenity haven't lasted today either - this morning I just had to get DD to nursery, me to the docs and then to work to a running commentary of what I was doing and wasn't I rushing, I should slow down. Got home tonight after being an adult at work all day, first question she asks was "did you have any lunch?" So minor but all my plans to think before answering turned into "of course I've had lunch!", then her "i'm still your mother!" and me "i'm 43! I can organise my own lunch!"

And now she looks all sad, and I've only got tonight (but i've got to send some work notes out and phone a colleague "what? In the evening?") and tomorrow morning left to be nice, then she's gone til Xmas.

I feel awful, she's gave me money on Thurs and everything. sad

scorpiomyrtlock Mon 19-Nov-12 12:38:09

My DM is majorly irritating but its wierd its not for the sort of things that any of the other posters mention, which again always makes me go back to thinking it must be me. Yes - everyone else thinks she is wonderful, she doesn't criticise me but just keeps on saying how wonderful I am, and what a busy life I have. Trouble is she just keeps repeating this again and again without really knowing anything about my life so it winds me up no end. When she does ask me anything I'll try to tell her but she'll start going off on some endless story about what her neighbours son did and how she knows exactly how I feel because of what some teenager 100 miles away did, OR that she had the same experience as a GP 20 years ago (she didn't - being a GP has absolutely no relevance to what I do for a living) She will then promptly forget any relevant detail and start the whole conversation all over again the next time I see her. Then she has some quite loony extreme left Guardian reading views which she endlessly recycles - to make things worse she is very political, and cannot see how anyone could possibly disagree with her, when challenged this usually comes down to "I know because I was a GP". I am political but I keep my opinions to myself unless asked, my views are opposite to hers but I like to think I can discuss constructively and appreciate that others have different viewpoints.
Sorry about the rant when I read it does make me sound like an ungrateful bitch daughter.
The only things I have found that have helped me to an extent are to pretend selective deafness myself - like OP my DM is quite deaf, to plan outings and events like theatre and cinema trips when she's here so we don't have to talk to each other and have something to focus on , and to invite people so that I don't have to talk to her. Over the years I've reduced the time she stays to maximum 2 nights. I also try to arrange for her to take the kids out on her own without us so she actually has to talk to them (instead of reading the Guardian the whole time she's here and then telling me that she doesn't know what to get them for presents because she doesn't know what they're into) Oh and the other thing is I have to hide the wine because after 2 glasses she starts crying about how much she misses her ex H my StepDad who died 18 months ago and absolutely hated me and my family so you can imagine how well that goes down!
I do keep trying to tell myself that I'll miss her when she's gone but I honestly think it will be more the guilt that I wasn't nice enough to her, writing and admitting that just makes me feel even more awful and guilty.

Anna1976 Mon 19-Nov-12 00:17:04

tigerdriverII, akaemmafrost, others... - I'm really bad at this - can you suggest neutral topics? confused

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: