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Tips to become more tolerant of my mother

(98 Posts)
eisbaer Fri 22-Nov-13 17:16:23

Just that, really. My mum irritates the living shit out of me. I can't articulate why, apart from really petty stuff(eating her breakfast while phoning for a chat, ignoring my requests at my house not to and carrying on doing my laundry etc). I know as a 37 yr old I should be able to overlook that and think on it all kindly, but every time she comes to stay I turn into Kevin The Teenager. So does anyone have any tips or recommended reading that could improve my behaviour towards her? I don't have the time or money for counselling or therapy. Ironically, she was much harder on my sister growing up, is more or less solely responsible for her ongoing eating disorder, and yet she seems to be over it and to be able to interact with her adult to adult. It makes me miserable and I cry every time we part because she is 72 and, well, who knows how long anyone has but obviously you want her twilight years to be happy and for her not to feel like a constant source of irritation to her daughter! I know she may always irritate me, but how can u handle it better? Anyone?

Tomkat79 Sat 23-Nov-13 09:44:47

So pleased to have found this thread as I often feel very guilty about the way I can feel about my mum.

She's a wonderful woman and loves my dad, me and my son very much. I'm an only child. I had some counselling 2 years ago when I separated with my ex and the counsellor opened a whole can of worms and blamed my 'inability to form a healthy adult relationship' with the fact that my mother had severe PND for the first 2 years of my life. She carries a load of guilt about this and will often tell people that she had PND and joke that she didn't want me. She always says that she will write a book one day called 'bonding is for glue'.
Before the counselling is shrug this off but after actually thinking about it, the whole thing now makes me really angry. It's a completely involuntary feeling but sometimes when I see her trying to hard to be what she considers a 'proper' mother and not just be herself she gets my back up and we clash.

Like others have said, I can be in a really good mood and then she walks in and it's like a rage that just builds up and everything she says just winds me up. I have never been able to talk to her about the PND as it would probably finish her off!! She's been on anti-depressants for the past 10 years since her parents died. They had what I would describe as an unhealthy relationship. She was never able to break free from them...she moved 100 miles away and they followed etc. She talks about them all time and lives in the past. As soon as she starts with 'your nanny did this' blah blah she's lost me and my internal rage builds up again! She treats me like a child and always says 'there are certain things that mothers and daughters shouldn't discuss', forgetting that I'm a 33 year old woman with a very vivid past so far!

I'm currently 17 weeks preg and I find I am able to breathe and stay calm a lot more when pregnant which is bizarre I know! I try to rationalise it adult to adult and except the fact that as well as being my mother she is also a confused, depressed woman and probably has been most of her life and that's just how and who she is. She also is very kind and will always help me out if in trouble. I try to remember this.

She often thanks me for having my son and allowing her to be part of his life. She says she's had a chance to bond with him and love him like she couldn't do with me. Initially I think 'why why couldn't you love me' and get angry with her. Then I have to remind myself that given a choice she of course wouldn't have chosen post natal depression and she would've loved to have picked me up when i cried and cuddled me. No one chooses depression. If we have deep routed emotional attachment issues because of it then that's just the way it is.

I used to pedestal my parents and think they knew everything and could do no wrong. Now I realise that like me they are just a couple that decided to have a child and that child was me. Now I'm doing the same, trying to do my best by my 6 year old son and my unborn baby. I have made mistakes and will continue to do so and hope that my children will cut me some slack as I now find myself doing to my parents.

Sorry for the epic post...kind of just all comes out doesn't it. Nice to know I'm not alone. Just got to get through Xmas now!! X

eisbaer Sat 23-Nov-13 11:28:11

Yes, I think maybe the irritation rises from certain things reminding you of deeper hurts, but you seem to be aware of the reasons for the irritation tomkat, so that should make Christmas tolerable.
I think my mym's constant, overbearing drive to DO stuff in my house sends me mad because it reminds me how she was always busy away DOING stuff for other people when we were growing up and never just sat and listened to us or spent time with us just in the family. First world gripe i know. But i'm getti g irritated just thinking about it because no-one has ever called her on anything, and then again why should they? No-one is perfect. So your point on parents' just being people trying to do a hard job(as we are) is v. important I think. I would like to be more forgiving, and move past my teens with her, just not sure if I ' m that big a person!

Matildathecat Sat 23-Nov-13 12:28:14

I've got an irritating mum, she does loads of this kind of stuff...starts having a conversation with someone else whilst on the phone to me etc plus is Olympic Gold standard in the tactlessness stakes.

Thing is, almost all my friends find their parents annoying. I walk with friends at the weekend and we have competitions and endless laughs about the latest. Some of it is really shocking but laughing about it does help. That and knowing I'm not alone.

It's sad though. I suppose I must be at fault in some respects, though thinking of her most recent faux pas, I'm not so sure.

auburn63 Sat 23-Nov-13 12:42:47

I cope with my mother by living on a different continent. Things would be pretty bad between us otherwise I suspect. As we are however we get on just fine. With her the problem is that she is a pathological liar, maybe not in the worst possible way, but she just makes up completely untrue stories about things she has done in her life, people she has known etc (she has known so many famous or important people it is amazing, problem is none of it is true!). She even does it by proxy for my father, pretending that he also knows/knew all kinds of famous people, has done all sorts of amazing things etc...He does not and he has not.

redmayneslips Sat 23-Nov-13 14:31:16

Ooh can I join in here please?

My mum irritates the life out of me a lot of the time. She is a very kind person and adores dc which is fabulous I know. We live a 3 hour drive from them so they always stay over when they visit and vice versa.

I just can't relate to her on lots of levels. She plays the helpless victim so often, asking the 'men' hmm of the family to do things even like taking her car to fill it with petrol as she 'can't' do this depite driving for 20+ years. This gives me the rage! She is always talking over everyone and basically does not know how to have a proper conversation - a conversation to her is all about waiting for a gap in the flow of words from the other person and jumping in with a (mostly) unrelated monologue. She talks about other people all the time - this makes up 99% of her conversation. She hates any 'abstract' talk - such as about books, newspapers, movies and just ignores it and changes it back to what she wants to talk about.
She is very nosey and would think nothing of reading letters / notebooks / cards in our house. She will get involved if dh and I are having a 'discussion' and basically tell me off by saying 'be nice to each other, stop giving out' this makes me see RED - I am 10 years marries, 43 years of age , i do NOT nee her instructing me in how to conduct my marriage.
She is mildly racist and cannot see it no matter how often I point it out and pull her up on it and she is hugely sexist (thinks it's shocking that I might not have made dh's dinner or ironed his shirts )

She is totally and uttlerly lacking in curiosity about the world about her apart from talking about everyone in her small town.

I would love to have a proper adult relationship with her but doesn't seem likely. She thinks I am a bit odd and contrary in my opinions about life. We are very different.

eisbaer Sat 23-Nov-13 14:42:20

auburn the celebrity lies- that is crazy! And embroiling your Dad too...
redmayneslips so many bells are ringing with your description. None of it is a deal breaker, but so, so irritating. I just do not want to be so vague and disinterested in what my kids have to say/what they think. But too many of us are on here, I'm wondering if these traits are inevitable in many mums after a certain age or a certain amount of time living alone?

auburn63 Sat 23-Nov-13 14:49:22

Yes it is really like she lives in a parallel universe at times. It drives me totally nuts.

For example, a few years ago we went skiing in Switzerland together with my parents. Now this was the first time my dad, who had gone to school for a time in Switzerland (that is true) had been back there. So lots of nostalgic talk about his school days there and skiing in those days. And she pipes up and says that his best friend at school was a particular very famous skier. My dad just said nothing and I smelled a rat so I just left it. Later I looked up this famous skier and it turned out he came from France and not Switzerland at all. That kind of thing, all the time....

auburn63 Sat 23-Nov-13 15:00:57

And the time she told friends of mine that she knew Mandy Rice-Davis and Christine Keeler really well and implied that she was in some way involved in the Profumo affair and knew all the spies too. She did not and she was not. I was so embarrassed.

BabyMummy29 Sat 23-Nov-13 15:16:24

It's so good to know that other people find their mothers annoying and irritating.

I can't have a conversation with mine as I can't trust her to tittle tattle to her friends and my XH.

It's sad that it's come to this but the less time I spend with her, the better

ThePonderer Sat 23-Nov-13 15:37:31

It's quite reassuring to know that I'm not the only one with a mother whose conversational setting is always 'transmit', never 'receive.' She whitters on about how busy and tired she is doing all these unimportant things and seems to have no interest in my life or her grandchildren.

I would say I had a good relationship with her growing up and in general she was a good mother (though a crap grandmother!). I also know now that I have my own kids how difficult it is even to be a half-decent mother, so I feel I owe her some respect, and, like the OP, that I should try to find ways to control my own reaction to her.

Haven't managed to yet, though! Plus I really worry that maybe it is something that comes with old-age, and in 30 years I will be the old bat whittering on about myself endlessly.

annhathaway Sat 23-Nov-13 16:45:13

This is an interesting thread.
I agree- my mum irritates me at times.

I know it's easy to say- but how would we all feel if in the future our DDs were posting this here?

As mums we are only ( most of the time) doing our best. We aren't perfect.

I agree with the posters who said we won't have our mums forever- my mum still says how she feels sad that on Mothers Day she no longer has a mum to buy a card for.

I think that if my mum does something that I'd not tolerate in another adult, then I'd call her on it - kindly. But most of the time I don't because I know I'm not always capable of doing the right things all of the time with my own kids.

DoesZingBumpLookBigInThis Sat 23-Nov-13 17:09:15

we have a difficult relationship.
I'm here to learn

BabyMummy29 Sat 23-Nov-13 17:13:00

I know that I would never do or say the things to my DD that my mother has done to me.

Surely every parent wants their child to be happy - this is what I can't understand about mine.

She's more interested in what people think than in her own children's needs and happiness.

I won't miss her when she's gone - nothing to miss

annhathaway Sat 23-Nov-13 17:15:31

This is so depressing.

we're all a long time gone.

My own relationship with my mum is far from perfect but now she's so old I'm trying to bite my tongue and be more accepting.

BabyMummy29 Sat 23-Nov-13 17:21:25

annhathaway I can't feel anything for my mother. She is reaping what she has sown as far as I'm concerned.

I can't forgive what she has done and I definitely can't forget any of it. The problem is that she doesn't think she's done anything wrong and keeps doing and saying nasty things, not realising that I will find out about them.

theDudesmummy Sat 23-Nov-13 17:23:19

My mother is not a bad mother, I love her, and maintain a good relationship with her (at a very long distance). She has absolutely no idea she irritates me in any way, or that I know her tales are nonsense (I am not even sure whether SHE knows they are nonsense, sometimes I think she really believes them).

annhathaway Sat 23-Nov-13 17:32:18

Babymummy- have you ever talked to her about how you feel? woman to woman?

BabyMummy29 Sat 23-Nov-13 17:34:50

Yes I have tried to talk to her many times. She denies most of it. When we were growing up she never showed us any affection. I've never had a hug from her and she's never told me she loves me,

She is just totally cold and unfeeling and never gives any support or encouragement to me.

annhathaway Sat 23-Nov-13 17:36:47

that's really sad. sorry. sad

BabyMummy29 Sat 23-Nov-13 17:39:03

Thanks Ann. People often say things like "You'll miss her when she's gone" etc but I just tell them they're lucky to have had a nice mum.

annhathaway Sat 23-Nov-13 17:44:11

Gosh that's awful Baby. Mine has irritated me because she has snooped and betrayed confidences in the past, talking to her friends, but mainly because she is TOO cloying and protective and I find it intrusive.

ScientificProgressGoesBoink Sat 23-Nov-13 17:49:12

A lot of familiar descriptions on here. I have a very pessimistic mum. She reminds me of the Henny penny story. To be fair on her she's been through a lot but I find the constant negativity so draining, and actually I can remember the paranoia and neurosis from my childhood too so it can't just be the last few years events that have made her like this.

I find I can barely talk about anything without it coming back to her. If anything good happens in my life and I express joy I am made to feel guilty because she isn't experiencing the same. If I lose weight and tell her I'm met with 'don't because I've put on x pounds'. It's a similar response to all of the nice things that happen and it makes me furious.

I also get the bullshit, but hers is used to embellish an untrue story that she's telling us to put us off a decision or to try and force is to make if I say 'dd cycled to the next village on her own today' then I'll get a story about someone she 'knows' whose daughter/granddaughter was kidnapped/run over/badly injured/eaten by dinosaurs whilst doing the same thing. It's funny how many friends she has who have horrific experiences when by her own admission she has only one or two actual friends. (Whom incidentally she continually slags off and clearly hates.)

I can see where a lot of my poor self esteem and self hatred in my teens come from when I see her as an adult. I hope and pray that the work I am doing on these areas means I am far enough removed from her to not pass the same crap onto dd. I certainly am already happier and more self aware.

I do feel for her, she has had it tough, but I also think there comes a time when a person needs to woman up and face themselves and be accountable for who they are. She is never accountable, for anything. Nothing is ever her fault, she never acknowledges a mistake, and if I bring up a bad memory from childhood I'm 'misremembering' it.

I tried to have a frank, open hearted conversation about my childhood and the issues we have in our relationship with her, which cost me a lot to do as I knew in my heart of hearts the response I would get. To my utter shock she admitted to it, apologised, and I was overjoyed believing we could build a brilliant new relationship. Only to be met with a letter a week later retracting everything she said, finding excuses for every piece of behaviour, and blaming me for all of it and for being a 'difficult, angry teenager'. So basically not her fault, in any way, again.

I'm sorry to hear so many other people have hard relationships with their mums. I think my irritation stems from all of the above points. Every time she opens her mouth I think 'yeah, yeah, because of the bollocks and self contradiction that she trips herself up with all the time. I have a relationship with her because I feel so bad about her past and because I believe my children have a right to a relationship with her, but I am struggling with our relationship, and I know she knows this.

Not sure what the answer is. My friend tells me I need to let it go and just ignore the goading and bullshit because she won't be around forever, and I know that's true, but so much easier said than done isn't it?

ScientificProgressGoesBoink Sat 23-Nov-13 17:52:45

Baby. I'm so sad to hear your story. For all her faults I do know my DM loved me in the only way she could, and there were cuddles in our house. I can't imagine what it does to a person to never receive that from their parent. I wish I could reach back and give your childhood self a hug.

elskovs Sat 23-Nov-13 17:54:03

I couldn't stand my mum. (She is dead now) She was just so absolutely awful in every way. So very stupid, petty, neurotic, immature, boring, needy, pathetic and useless. I really looked down on her as a human.

I think the reason it bothered me so much was because she was related to me. The fact that such sub-standard person had given birth to me horrified me. I had nothing to do with her because whenever I saw or spoke to her it made me hate myself.

I think most people admire their mothers, but if your mother happens to be a straight up waste of space... what then?

No advice, just my experience. I appreciate you don't despise your mother as much as I did mine though!

eisbaer Sat 23-Nov-13 18:05:09

thedudesmummy keep talking, tell me your secrets! That is how I want to be with my mum. The bigger person who can control her reactions to the annoying stuff. I totally agree with the posters who say "no-one is perfect as a mum, they're only human", that's why I want to change my behaviour! But no-one is saying how they control it, apart from saying they try to remind themsves they'll miss her when she's gone. Which doesn't work with me when she has flicked a switch! Btw my mum falls into the "good, non-toxic, totally well-meaning but misguided and clueless category" so nothing unforgivable in there. Some posters are dealing with an Olivia-soprano-type mum and I think that needs a separate game plan, as they sound as if they actively try to put down their kids.

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