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At my furious. WWYD?

(74 Posts)
Lagoonablue Tue 22-Apr-14 19:11:17

OK my mum is a bit difficult, borderline NPD IMHO. She dotes on my kids though she is incredibly fussy and house proud and almost follows them round with a DustBuster. Not very restful.

We are staying with her for a few days. I can tell her stress levels are high. She is conflicted because she loves the kids but they obviously make her immaculate house messy. Just general untidiness which I always clear up when they go to bed. Kids are 3, 5 and 8.

However she is panicking that they will stain her carpet at mealtimes and they are both sitting on tea towels on chairs with a mat under the table. I don't mind this as is her house but tonight they were a bit giddy at the table as tired so that was difficult and DS dropped a bit of dinner on himself. She was huffing and puffing and wiping.....I got so exasperated that I said, ' you want us to visit and this is the reality of having three small children in your house. They ares messy.'

So.....she took massive offence at this. I didn't rise to the bait. Later heard her slagging me off to my enabler father. Didn't hear it all but definately heard her say my kids have appalling table manners. They don't. They are not great but they are little kids. I am working on it. They are improving as kids do as they get older. So I said 'please don't talk about me. And my kids do not have awful manners.'

I am bloody furious. AIBU? Just feel like leaving tbh.

storynanny2 Tue 22-Apr-14 20:57:33

Fortunately my adult children think her ways are eccentric and funny! So it doesn't seem to have affected them adversely but that is probably because we only visited a couple of times a year when they were young. If they ever visited us they didnt stay in our house but in b and b. Never the same one more than once as there was never one up to my mothers standards.
She used to regard it as being on holiday and called in to see us once or twice. Always after the childrens "bedtime" in her opinion. If I kept them up to see her and my dad, she would say " oh shouldnt they be in bed by now" Er no, they actually wanted to see their grandparents.

Lagoonablue Tue 22-Apr-14 22:48:31

Attila what you say rings true. My relationship with my mother is so difficult and needs a whole new set of threads to be honest. I only manage it by living 200mls away from her!

I can't see a time when I would cut things off though. Would be too painful. Though if I felt my kids were suffering I guess I might. They already have verbalised how fussy they find her.

My Dad came up to me tonight and said 'you have been very patient' and smiled wryly. I think that is probably only the second time he has ever really acknowledged how difficult she is. I was amazed.

She has gone to bed. I am going tomorrow, relations are frosty. It will be a while,before I return. If I tell DH he will refuse to come here. He can't stand her and had his own run in a few years ago. He massively keeps his distance. I may investigate hotels for next time. Am fed up,of tiptoeing around.

Thanks everyone. The stories of food whisked away etc ring so true but have cheered me up too. The one one about the shower.....yes I have that as well. As soon as you get out she is in there with a squeegy and cloth. Windows thrown open. It just doesn't make you feel welcome really.

eightandthreequarters Tue 22-Apr-14 22:53:27

clam That IS worse.

Good luck, OP. At least you're outta there tomorrow.

FreakinScaryCaaw Tue 22-Apr-14 23:00:32

Thank goodness you're leaving. Must be so stressful for you and your dcs.

Deathraystare Wed 23-Apr-14 07:52:26

What is it with older generation of mothers? Have they forgotten what kids are like? Kids are messy. THey learn table manners eventually!
When I read the thread about the family coming to see a baby and the sister (was it?) had chicken pox. My mum would have been the first to voice an opinion on that one and she is not always the most lucid of people! Also those who whizz around the minute mum and baby get home and expect the new mum to wait on them.

It might be best to not eat over there and make your visits short. She only has herself to blame although I accept OCD is an illness that she cannot help.

They must be picking up on her stressing or are they very young?

Martorana Wed 23-Apr-14 09:06:34

Well, speaking as a representative of the "older generation of mothers" I don't mind mess at all. But I also don't go for the "they learn table manners eventually" line either. I would expect an 8 year old to have the table manners of an adult- unless they were being expected to eat something very difficult which they hadn't had before or balance a plate on their knees or something, And I would have pretty high expectations of a 5 year old too- particularly in someone else's house/cafe/restaurant.

Brittapieandchips Wed 23-Apr-14 09:09:57

How did she manage when you were small? Presumably she had to deal with child mess then...

DowntonTrout Wed 23-Apr-14 09:32:16

It can be very stressful having visitors to stay, even family, when your own children have grown up and left home.

I am not OCD at all. My DD, her DH and my GS come to stay. I don't mind the mess as such, GS is a baby. We have hard floors in the kitchen, he can make as much mess with his food as he likes, it will wipe. All his toys, that it have here are brought down and put in one sitting room and I don't put them away until they leave.

BUT I do find all the stuff, bags, paraphernalia etc, all over the place, stressful. I can imagine that with 3 DC it could be chaotic, especially if it's a small house. I'm not making excuses for your mum, she sounds completely OTT. Perhaps it's getting to the stage where you only stay one night or she comes to you instead. I don't think you'll change her, or get her to see it from your point of view though.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 23-Apr-14 09:44:23


I would not even bother with hotels next time; I would not go within a mile of their hometown at all. The fact that you would even countenance going back is itself concerning. At least you have physical distance; you need mental distance from them too.

Re your comment:-
"I can't see a time when I would cut things off though. Would be too painful"

Painful for whom and why are you thinking this way?. I have an idea; you may well feel FOG with regards to them and your mother in particular. Fear, obligation, guilt. Maybe you still see them out of some innate desire that one day your mother will come good and actually say something like ,"sorry I've treated you so bad" and actually mean it. It will not happen. If she is a narcissist then it is not possible to have a relationship with such a person.

If you really cannot go no contact (and your mother will continue to ride roughshod over any boundary you care to set) perhaps low contact is a way forward. You certainly cannot subject yourself or for that matter your children to a few days spent with them again.

Looks like your Dad is still on his wife's side ultimately; he is a weak man who is playing out his role of enabler to his wife to perfection. He is still weak and has failed you as well as a parent by failing to protect you from his wife's behaviours.

Your children are already saying that they find her fussy. She will treat them not too dissimilarly to how you were treated when you were growing up within that household. Think carefully about further exposing them to such behaviours.

Lagoonablue Wed 23-Apr-14 09:46:16

Their table manners are fine. The youngest was struggling with a full size fork as we didn't have a small one. The oldest was eating chips with her fingers. Not the end of the world. Really the comment she made about the table manners was just to,lash out. It is an aside.

I can get a bit fed up of mess and the stuff people bring but I try and relax so my visitors can have a nice time, on one hand she makes a massive fuss of how she can't wait to see us but then follows us round the house with a dustpan when we are there. She gets so stressed.

Anyway going today.

Lagoonablue Wed 23-Apr-14 09:48:31

Thanks Attila. Food for thought.

Martorana Wed 23-Apr-14 09:49:02

So when you said their table manners were "not great"...... ?

littlegreengloworm Wed 23-Apr-14 09:54:31

I woud leave it go for now, though definitely stay in a hotel the next time and have meals out/picnics.

She had some sort of problem. I have an aunt a bit obsessive. Though its different, she feeds and feeds people too. I love a clean house and don't mind housework, but where is her sense of fun.

Your mums life sounds so, so sad and lonely.

DistanceCall Wed 23-Apr-14 13:10:00

She didn't really say anything to your face - she was talking in private to her husband. So I don't think you really can demand an apology.

She sounds like an obsessive compulsive. You are not going to get her to stop being that, whatever you say, and however reasonable your arguments are (and they are - hell, even grownups can occasionally drop food on the floor by accident). And kicking up a ruckus will be rather pointless, as she won't be shocked into changing.

So you need to decide what YOU want to. Whether you want to continue visiting with your children, whether it would be better to meet somewhere else, etc.

Nanny0gg Wed 23-Apr-14 13:45:29

Go home asap tomorrow - and never visit them within their domain ever again. Such people as well make for being deplorably bad grandparents; your children certainly do not benefit at all in seeing these people and nor do you.

Somewhat harsh I feel.

Looks like your Dad is still on his wife's side ultimately; he is a weak man who is playing out his role of enabler to his wife to perfection

Maybe he loves her?

starfishmummy Wed 23-Apr-14 13:51:15

Really Martorana? Even adults drop food sometimes.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 23-Apr-14 13:56:33


Why is that harsh?. OP has had a verbal pasting from her mother and so have her children. Such narcissistic women can and do use their grandchildren to get back at their "errant" offspring. The children have also vocalised their own concerns to their mum.

Not so much love I think so much as an unhealthy co-dependency; that is often behind such awful partnerships. OP has also stated her dad is an enabler to his wife.

Hissy Wed 23-Apr-14 14:51:42

Interesting how the opinions of names I am aware of via Stately Homes etc are of the one mind; don't put up with it, and others are 'but they're your parents!'

Sadly the 'parents' camp have not seen that no matter what anyone does with a parental dynamic like that, you can't win. they also can't seem to see the harm this behaviour does to children.

The DC were being NORMAL DC, and to put up with this constant stress, comments and digs for days when you are doing the very best, only to overhear yet more barbaric criticism when clearly there has been years of it, requires the patience of a saint. My 8yo has impeccable manners, has eaten in fine restaurants since before he was 2, but he can make a mess sometimes. Yes I despair at times, but it's NORMAL child behaviour.

OP WAS right to pull her mother up on this unreasonable expectations business, and even more justified in telling her NOT to bitch about her or her DC. This is further supported by the fact that the enabler father secretly gave support to Lagoona

And yes, this man has allowed his wife to criticise and comment and guilt-trip HIS daughter for DECADES. That IS weak. I'd not stand by and let others tear my DS to bits once, let alone years. I'd go into battle alright and i'd not stop until they stopped too.

But that's cos I'm still recovering from 40 odd years of criticism myself and know what it does to a person.

Hissy Wed 23-Apr-14 14:52:50

Looks like your Dad is still on his wife's side ultimately; he is a weak man who is playing out his role of enabler to his wife to perfection

Maybe he loves her?

No, he's scared of her. HUGE difference.

stottiecakes Wed 23-Apr-14 15:01:53

My mother spends all her free time cleaning and ironing and her house is immaculate. You drink a cup of coffe finish it and the cups gone, washed and in the cupbaord. When the washing is dry on the line the ironing boards out and clothes ironed as they are unpegged. When i go to my parents house i am always on edge and end up following my kids around, putting tea towels on seats. She doesn't do it but i know she will not be happy if they spill something or get a mark on her sofa. She's always been like this, i just have to accept it. Her behaviour hasn't rubbed off on me as i find it annoying. Theres no way if i had guests i would whip the ironing board out.

DidoTheDodo Wed 23-Apr-14 15:08:20

I think I might be your mother! My DD and DGD stayed at Christmas for a few days and we ended up having a bit of a row over the same sort of thing. My house is very small. It is almost 30 years since I had small children around constantly. I do like things to be tidy. It is really hard to adjust - and difficult, if not impossible, to discipline children who are not yours. And I expect you mother's house is not really set up for children in the same way it is at your home.

Whilst I understand it is very hard for you, I also feel for your mother, whose best is not good enough for you. I would never have understood this position until I was in it myself!

Lagoonablue Wed 23-Apr-14 15:24:41

My mothers best is not good enough. Not sure I know what you mean? I just want her to relax!

It is just the contradiction about guilt tripping me into visiting, stating how much she loves having us there but then appearing to be annoyed all the time we are there! Stressed about crumbs, unmade beds, ornaments placed back in slightly the wrong way. All that behaviour tells me is that we are in the way. I am a tidy person too but know there is no point chasing kids around tidying constantly. I do it at lunchtime or when we go out or bedtime. Her house isn't being trashed.

Thing is, on its own this incident would not be such an issue. There is a lot of baggage. Attila's assessments are close to the truth in many ways.

Also hearing someone saying your kids manners are appalling to someone is a bit inflammatory. I couldn't ignore it. I was mad. I said they weren't great but they are not appalling. They don't throw food or anything like that. She knows they aren't appalling. She likes barbs. She was having a go because I expressed annoyance at her constant, cleaning and wiping. I was at the end of my tether and was trying to point out the contradiction in her words v her actions. I did it in a clumsy way. It's true though, will never make progress with her. She doesn't behave like an adult.

As we left for the train today she said 'well it was a good few days wasn't it?' Hmmmmm not for me.

MaryWestmacott Wed 23-Apr-14 15:34:57

She wants you to visit, but then behave exactly as she plans for you to in her head. She isn't allowing for children not behaving like adults, she's not accepting that things will get messy or just moved slightly. She wants you to visit because in her head, she's going to enjoy it, then you turn up and don't act as she decided you would, so she gets upset and disappointed.

Therefore, if you don't think she's "all bad" and you want to keep a relationship with her, you have to accept you going to her house doesn't work for you, your DCs or even for your parents (even if they say they want you there, the reality is going to upset her and therefore upset your dad).

The only way to make it work is to see her elsewhere. Either stay in a hotel/B&B and just visit, ideally arranging to do days out away from her home, or invite them to you, or arrange to go away to a 3rd location and invite them to stay there at the same time (but if you do that, don't be tempted to do a sharing a self catering cottage type holiday, that will be the same problem but more expensive! A hotel, or separate small cottages in the same area might work).

All in all, you have to accept whatever the reason, be it NPD, or mental health issues around dirt/mess, or just going a bit hard work in old age, this is the mother you've got. You can't change her, so if you do the same thing again, you'll get the same situation. Make alternative arrangements if you want to see her & your dad, but if you visit there again and stay at that house you will have exactly the same experience, and life is far far too short for that.

coolcookie Wed 23-Apr-14 16:09:24

I somethinng can't eat without spilling something down me so I wouldn't expect a child of 5 to be able to all the time.

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