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So disappointed with my mum

(12 Posts)
Duplohouse Sun 24-Mar-13 20:07:37

Hi, so have name changed for this as fear this may out me. However, I would really appreciate some outside views on this.

I used to have a really good relationship with my mum. In some ways, I was her confidante as my dad was a functioning alcoholic and spent a lot of time in the pub. Once I'd left home and was at university, we spoke lots on the phone and the same continued when I moved in with DF (now DH), lots of days out together, the usual girls stuff.

Roll on a few years and DM has divorced my dad and remarried (an old friend of Dad's, but that's another story!). Since the marriage, she has pretty much had a personality transplant and become a shadow of her former self. Sometimes her views on things astound me - think left wing/liberal suddenly become right wing, Daily Mail quoter.

Anyway, I feel that our relationship is slowly but surely deteriorating and it's not for want of tring on my part. It's as though her new DH is her whole world and everyone else comes second, including me and now her first DGC. It's hard to explain as I know she needs her own life and happiness (though I'm not convinced she's happy) but I'm just so disappointed at how little interest she appears to have in me, my DC, my brothers anymore. Conversely, my ILs can't do enough to help us out, are super generous with their time and money and this only serves to highlight how little I feel my mum wants to be involved.

To add to the difficulties, we are now overseas for a couple of years for DH's job and so catching up in person is tricky. Despite having Skype, DM is reluctant to use it and will go weeks and weeks without 'seeing' DC. Again, the ILs Skype 2/3 times a week and DC has a great relationship with them, recognises them etc (only 18months). DC would not recognise my mum if she walked in the door right now!

I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm sad for what could have been and for my DC who is missing out on my mum being what I always thought would be a text book granny.

Does anyone have any ideas about how to handle this?

CookieLady Sun 24-Mar-13 20:22:12

Have you tried talking to your mum about how you feel? She may be completely unaware.

Duplohouse Sun 24-Mar-13 20:42:36

Hi Cookielady and thank you for replying. I haven't spoken to her directly but she knows I've been disappointed about certain things, e.g. before we moved overseas, she'd drive pretty much past where we lived on the way to their house in France but not think to visit.
I'm sure her husband (who the rest of the family tolerate, being kind) has a lot to do with this, maybe there's an element of control there?
The hard thing is, if and when I ever do get her on the phone, he's always there in the background and I rarely get to speak to her alone.

CookieLady Sun 24-Mar-13 22:40:26

It sounds as though your mum has changed drastically since marrying this man. Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do to change the fact she doesn't Skype your dc as much as your in laws. Does she behave in a similar fashion to your brothers? What do they think of the changes in your mother? Does her husband work? If so, you could try calling her when you know he won't be there thus allowing you to talk more openly.

Duplohouse Sun 24-Mar-13 23:45:31

She has and maybe I'm wrong to expect her to always be how she used to be, IYSWIM. Both she and her husband (struggle to call him DSD as never lived with him) are retired and are joined at the hip it seems! The husband has very strong views and opinions and it's been hard to challenge any of these when we've been to family gatherings over the past few years - racism, making jokes about disabled people. It's absolutely sickening as my mum was NEVER like this when we were growing up and there was a time when she'd never have put up with that kind of talk around her.

My brothers agree that she has changed lots, but are younger than me. They also don't have DC and it is my DD that has been the catalyst for my change in feelings, I think. In some ways, maybe I've withdrawn from her too as I don't want my DD brought up to hear such abhorrent views. You were right when you said earlier that I haven't discussed this with her directly though.

Another thing, didn't mean to drip feed, sorry. He smokes and as a consequence, we don't stay with them when we go back to the UK. DD has chest problems which would be exacerbated by this. I know my mum hates that we either stay in hotels or with other relatives but there's no way I'd take DD into that environment. I did tell her this and she just said, 'well, he only smokes downstairs'. I think in her head this meant she'd tried to offer a compromise?!

I really would like things to be better between us but it's as though as time goes on, the wedge between us gets bigger and bigger. I was so envious when one of the girls in my NCT group had her mum flying over from Ireland every week (before we were overseas) to help with her little one. My mum visited 3 times in 9 months - and it wasn't like we didn't invite her.

I think I feel rejected on my DD's behalf and as time goes on, I think the longer this is left unresolved, the less chance there is of us ever getting back to a good relationship.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 25-Mar-13 07:05:18

Has it occurred to you she may be annoyed that you've taken yourself and her grandchildren off to another country, leaving her behind?

Look at your mum's character. She's not a strong person or she'd never have tolerated a drunk of a husband for so long. She used you as a confidante which is all wrong.... parents shouldn't be dumping adult worries on children, they should either deal with it or get appropriate help. So after years of being an also-ran in her own life, zero confidence, putting herself second she's obviously going to latch onto this new husband as a life-saver/hero because that's the kind of person she herself as. Needing 'looking after'. It's unsurprising that, in your absence, she parrots his views and that he gets all her attention.

She's a grown-up. If she wants a relationship with you or her grandchildren she'd find a way to achieve it. But I think she's a user..... You're no longer their to be leaned on so you've been replaced for now.

tribpot Mon 25-Mar-13 07:13:49

Yes, she seems to have gone from one bad man to another - and probably feels that after years of putting up with your dad she 'deserves' some selfishness, even though all she's actually doing is running around after another man whose main redeeming quality appears not being an alcoholic.

You are quite right to shield your DD from both the smoking and the points of view.

Now that you're overseas, can you invite her over on her own? It sounds like she never gets any space from this guy.

CookieLady Mon 25-Mar-13 09:50:52

I'm afraid to say that if she really wanted you and your little one to stay with her she would have put her foot down and told her hubby not to smoke in the house. The very fact she said he'll only smokes downstairs illustrates that she priortizes him and isn't strong enough to stand up to him.

I second tribpot's suggestion of inviting her over on her own. Perhaps if you can afford it offer to pay for her ticket so it removes the possible excuse that they can't afford it.

Duplohouse Mon 25-Mar-13 13:57:37

Hi and thank you again for taking the time to reply. You have all summed up the situation perfectly - and really helped me to see things clearly.

Tribpot - precisely. She's even said as much, ie she'd given up years of her life with my dad and now she's going to enjoy her retirement. It's taken Mumsnet to show me that it was wrong for her to have stayed with my dad in the past and effectively make herself a martyr. I'm not surprised she was relieved when they finally divorced! She did everything at home and had a full time job, never knew if he was coming home or staying in the pub. At the time, my brothers and I used to think she was great, muddling through and sticking with it, keeping things going etc etc etc. But that isn't how her life should have been! She had more resources than most women in our area in the early 80s, a full time career and hence money. Why she didn't leave is beyond me...

Cogito - I have wondered this. The irony is, if we'd been closer, I'd have been less willing to move us all away (and it's not permanent anyway, left our place in the UK rented out for a couple of years, so we will be back). I think I thought that as we'd seen her so little when we were within driving distance, it didn't make much difference! Is that awful? Going back, when I first moved away from our home town, DH and I used to visit once a month (5 hour journey) but these visits scaled back when I realised we (a) had our own lives to lead and (b) they weren't reciprocated. They would have been beforehand new husband came on the scene, but as you've all said, she has made a choice not to stand up to him.

Cookie - that's it! Exactly! Wouldn't you prioritise your new DGC's health over your husband of 5 minutes who thinks there's nothing wrong with smoking around children?! It's baffling that she doesn't stand up to him about some issues but this one is unfathomable. She isn't an unintelligent person, knows the risks of smoking (my grandmother died of cancer related to smoking FGS) and she used to drill into us that we mustn't smoke when we were kids - so why the sudden change of heart?! Sometimes I wonder if there isn't more to their relationship and she's actually fearful of him. But the more time we spend apart, the less likely it is she'd confide in me if there was a problem.

My DH has also suggested we invite her here on her own - though not sure if she'd come alone! I'd like to think she would, but would be devastated if she wouldn't. I'm not saying we'd make her husband unwelcome but they came for a visit last year and all he did was sit around, taking very little interest in everything and the only time I got my mum on her own was when he was in the toilet!

As I said up thread, my inlaws are the absolute opposite, would drop everything if I or DH asked them to if we needed help and it makes me sad that my parents couldn't have been more like them (not that I can do much about that now!).

Duplohouse Mon 25-Mar-13 14:01:19

And forgot to mention - there is no issue with money and them coming to visit. DM and her husband took early retirement after my GF died as he left a sizeable estate. Their house is mortgage free, they have another in France, new cars etc. They are not poor!

CookieLady Tue 26-Mar-13 20:29:32

It hurts you so much is because she's such a contrast to your in laws who sound like textbook grandparents. I think you just need to accept that, unfortunately, you and your family are not her priority. I can honestly empathise with you in this respect. However, your DC are blessed with one set of grandparents who dote on them and that you can rely on them for support. Duplo, you can't force your mother to change. You can hint, suggest and ask but don't raise your hopes that she will - as she sounds like the kind of person who puts her man before everything and everyone else. (Sending you a very unmumsnetty hug.)

CookieLady Tue 26-Mar-13 20:31:17

*The reason. Argh, must get more sleep!

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