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Can anyone help me find a new coping strategy for my relationship with my mum?

(23 Posts)
cocolacocotte Wed 07-Jan-15 16:19:18

I really hope so because I'm actually losing sleep with worry.

This is probably going to be a long post but I think some background is needed. I hope that someone will read through to the end and have some advice (or maybe just a kick up the bum if it turns out that's what I need...)

I've had a strained relationship with my mum since my early teens. I think some of it stems from the fact that, due to circumstances beyond her control, she was fairly absent from my early childhood and pretty much omnipresent when I was a teenager. She used to work shifts so I went from being picked up from school by my grand parents until I was judged old enough to walk home, let myself in and follow instructions left to prepare tea (at 8 or 9) to her being there all the time after an accident at work left her unable to work when I was 12 until I left home at 18. I feel like I had independance when I needed structure and constant supervision when I needed space.

The fact is though that the main reason we have trouble getting on is that we are very different people.

I started typing out examples of differences but since this is a forum post not a novel, I've deleted them. I can add them to the thread if anyone thinks they might be relevant.

The thing is that even though I (and my entire family) am aware of these differences and have accepted them, she doesn't seem able to do the same. She was very close to her mother and just seems to assume that things will automatically be the same between her and me. Mostly because as her daughter, it is my 'duty' to be close to her.'

By the time I was finishing my A Levels, things had come to a head and we were barely speaking. Despite me having an exemplary school record and a prediction of straight As at A Level (which I got) my mum could never recognise my achievements and always acted as if they weren't good enough. I found out years later from my aunt that this was because my mum was convinced that I would make the same mistake that she did and 'throw it all away' for a boy.

I had always been determined to move far away from their home for university and systematically ignored any university that was in reasonable travelling distance for a weekend trip to see them (not easy when you grow up in a town slap bang in the middle of the country with direct access to the M1). In the end, I decided to study in France and moved out to go to uni at 18. We achieved an uneasy truce before I left, probably because we both knew that if I left with things as they were we would probably never manage to rebuild.

Nobody was really surprised that I decided to stay here once my university course had finished and since then I have built a life for myself over here and have been using the physical distance as a way of avoiding conflict. This is very much helped by the fact that she is too tight to travel here regularly and, in any case, it is my 'duty' to visit them. Similarly, since she found out that I get free phone calls to the UK, she will no longer call me (until she found that out, we had a very strict rota of taking turns to call each other at precisely 6pm on a Sunday, just like she used to do with her in-laws when they lived at the other end of the country. This, too, drove me bonkers). So at most, I get the occasional text or one-line email instructing me not to forget my Dad's birthday or Father's day (I never have done, with or without her prompting) or a longer, passive-agressive email asking me if everything is ok since they 'haven't heard from me in so long' if I miss a week's phone call - (which I regularly do) and the rest of contact is on my terms (although not really, since I start feeling guilty if I miss more than one weekly call).

When we do spend time together (I usually go back there once or twice a year) things are strained but I just keep telling myself that it is only for a few days and my Dad has become a master in finding exactly the right level of alcohol to maintain in my system - just enough to make me mellow, not enough to lake me bolshy.

My husband also dislikes spending time with her as he feels that she is hard work and overbearing and he doesn't like seeing how frustrated she makes me. He has stopped accompanying me on trips over there. We made that decision together and I am fine with it. If, for some reason, I feel like I need him to be there with me he will come but otherwise, he stays here. This leads to constant questionning about why he isn't coming, what is he going instead, etc etc but I find it easier to deal with the questions than the very tense and stressed husband during the trip.

The problem is that several things have happened recently that mean that this "solution" (and, yes, I am aware that it is as much of a solution as sticking your fingers in your ears and singing la-la-la when you don't like what someone is saying) isn't going to work for much longer.

Firstly, her mum (my last remaining grand parent) passed away in September. She had been ill for some time but the doctors had been optimistic in their forecasts so it was something of a shock to lose her when we did. My mum was incredibly close to her mother and ever since I moved away 14 years ago, they had got into the habit of seeing each other practically every day. My uncle (mum's only sibling) also lives overseas so she is feeling very lonely now (although I hasten to add that she still has my Dad and a lot of friends).

Secondly, in the week that my gran died I found out that I am pregnant. While this wasn't much of a surprise to my husband and I it was a huge one for my family as I had always been convinced that I didn't want children and didn't feel close enough to discuss it with them when my feelings changed. When I was younger, 'I want grandchildren one day' was a constant refrain, especially as I am an only child, but that seemed to drop off when I hit 30 and by the time I hit 32, they were more or less resigned to the fact that it wasn't going to happen.

When I did tell them (a lot earlier than I would have liked to, largely because my mum had more or less guessed and pressured me into it when I attended my Gran's funeral) she was understandably excited but I suddenly felt a knoti n my stomach as I realised that just as she expects my relationship with her to be a copy of the one she had with her mum, she's going to expect the same thing with my child. In theory, that would be lovely as I had a very close relationship with my gran and most of my happiest childhood memories involve her. In practice, I just can't see it working.

For a start, this post is proof if it was ever needed that I am carrying a huge amount of resentment for things that happened when I was a child. The fact is that I have come to admit that if my mum was someone I was exposed to as part of my work or social group, I would go out of my way to avoid spending time with her. I certainly wouldn't accept a situation where she would be able to have a direct and unfiltered impact on my child's developing personnality.

Also, even if I reduce the amount of unsupervised contact, it is understandable that she will want to spend time with her first (and possibly only) grandchild and that means spending more time with me too and I honestly don't know how I could cope with that. They came to stay with us over Christmas and by the time they left (after 4 nights) I was so annoyed that I was ready to say that they would never be invited to stay with us again. While my gran was alive, I made the effort to go back from time to time because she didn't want to travel anymore but with her gone I have absolutely no wish to set foot in that town ever again.

At the same time, I realise that a lot of this is my issue to resolve and I don't want my mum to suffer, which she surely would if I were to prevent her from having a relationship with her grandchild but I also know that in any case, if only from a logistics point of view, she won't be able to have the relationship she is expecting so she is probably going to suffer anyway.

I just feel so guilty and crap. I was so happy when I found out I was pregnant but now I feel like me having a family is going to be a source of pain and frustration and I don't know how to cope.

I'm sorry for rambling on. I know that this is Mumsnet, not Shrinksnet but I'm really hoping that if someone has made it through this far, they'll have some words of advice or encouragement for me.


Twinklestein Wed 07-Jan-15 16:43:57

I could give you advice, but my mother, who is staying with me, walloped me today because I didn't take something down into the basement freezer when she asked me to. (In my own house). I am a well-educated 44 year old woman with a string of successful business, a lovely husband and two children. She's not hit me since I was a teenager.

My point is this: some mothers are nutcases and it's not our fault. I've let the resentment go, but it took a long time. Like you, I wouldn't choose to spend time with my mother if I wasn't related to her, and like you've I've sort of scarpered to France. (She's not actually the reason, but it helps).

It really helps to have therapy as there's no point carrying resentment that you can offload.

I would set boundaries that you're comfortable with and stick to them. She's not going to be the grandmother to your child that you had, because of her personality. So from the child's pov there is no loss. (People are sentimental about grandparents but only one of my grannies lived long enough to remember and she was awful). Perhaps your husband's parents are nice, if so they can fulfil that role, if not you can adopt a random nice old person, there are many around.

Would it be possible for her to stay in a hotel/B&B or rent a flat when they come to visit? That makes things more bearable.

We sometimes see my parents on holiday - either at our own holiday villa which has a separate annexe for them; or something with a similar set-up elsewhere. The key is not being on top of each other.

Skype/ Face Time will be handy in due course as she and your child/ren can talk without involving you.

wyamc Wed 07-Jan-15 17:06:07

I have a very difficult dm and it makes me very anxious when I visit her or she visits us. I keep visits short - 48 hours maximum which is about the length of time I can cope.

But just wanted to say my dm has a completely different relationship with me than she does my dd. They get on reasonably well because dm isn't mean/critical to her like she is with me. And also dd is a different person to me. She's just naturally much more resilient than me and any odd comments are water off a duck's back with her.

I wouldn't leave dd overnight with her. But gma does take her to the park or the shops sometimes and they have a good time. Largely because they both like sitting in cafes eating cakes.

So just to say in my case dm treats dd a lot better than she did me. She is still a bit of a manipulative, overbearing, critical (I could go on) person. So I keep the contact on my terms and supervise.

Despite my awful relationship with my dm, she does add some value to dd's life. DD looks forward to her visiting and gma often thinks up some great books/gifts she thinks dd will like. She plays cards and board games with her (I don't remember her ever playing with me).

I would try not to worry. And just see how it goes. In my case dd has kind of filled a gap in our relationship. It works quite well that when she visits, she and dd go off for a couple of hours and I don't have to see as much of her. DD generally tells me exactly what gma's said, where they've been, what they've done. So far nothing majorly untowards has happened and she's nearly ten. But in the same way that dm and I are very different people, dd is quite different to me and gets on a lot better with gma than I do.

cocolacocotte Wed 07-Jan-15 17:07:25

Thanks for replying Twinklestein and sorry to hear about your problems with your mum.

I have made her stay in a hotel once before - we had just moved into a new (luckily, rented) flat only to find that there was a massive, longstanding leak coming from the flat above that had completely soaked the wall of one of the rooms, making it completely unlivable. In addition, we had the neighbours from hell and in fact only ended up living there for about 4 months, just the time to find a new place and arrange the move. It was hell. We didn't even bother unpacking most of the boxes. My husband was on edge all the time which put me on edge and I ended up having a nervous breakdown. I would literally start crying as I walked up the street because I didn't want to go back in there. My parents, who knew about the leak, the unusable room and the bad neighbours decided that they were coming to visit just 3 weeks after our initial move. Not only that, they actually booked the non-exchangeable, non-refundable tickets before talking to me about it. I found out from my Gran. Luckily, when I called that week, my mum was out so I only had my Dad to contend with. As I was forewarned, I was also forarmed, with a list of local hotels which I informed my Dad I would be sending to him so that they could pick the one that suited them best.

They spent all day with us, had every meal but breakfast at our flat and spent hours snoozing on my sofa and armchair perched on hard dining chairs because the two of them were taking up all four seats offered by the sofa + armchair but to hear my mother, you would think that I'd sent them to borstal. The last thing she said to me when I took them to the train station was 'I dare to hope that next time, our own daughter will see fit to put us up in her home'.

When I called to let them know that we had found a new flat, her first question was 'does it have a spare room or will you be making us sleep in a hotel again?' Since then, they have been to visit twice (in over 4 years) and stayed with us both times.

The second time was over Christmas when my husband and I slept on a blow-up bed in the living room because my aunt and uncle were staying too so they slept on camp beds in the spare room and we gave up our bed despite me being 4-months pregnant and my husband being on the point of having surgery on his shoulder. However, that stay was so trying that it has hardened me and I'm determined that they won't stay with us again, at least until we have a bigger place as the spare room will become the baby's room in June (actually, I think the baby will be in with us but they don't have to know that, do they?).

I did have some therapy a couple of years ago, which helped me to accept a lot of things, at least I thought it did but apparently becoming pregnant has just stirred them all up again. I really ought to go back but the woman I used to see has retired and I don't feel like I could face going through the whole process with someone new.

cocolacocotte Wed 07-Jan-15 17:13:13

thanks wyamc, it is nice to know that patterns don't necessarily repeat themselves. I think what could complicate matters in my case is the fact that a visit involves international travel so 48 hours is not really a viable option.

I'm also worried by the fact that we have absolutely no common values and I don't want her passing her judgmental, passive-agressive ways to my child.

Roseformeplease Wed 07-Jan-15 17:14:12

I too have a very difficult (alcoholic) mother and we all live hundreds of miles from her. I keep it to phone calls, weekends mornings only and she has never been alone with my children. I am very firm about what we can manage.

Your mother sounds very difficult. I think you need to sit down and decide what you are prepared to do and stick with it.

How many phone calls a week, a month, none?
How often she can visit, if at all.
How often you will return home, for how long and on what terms.

Write it all down somewhere and stick to it. Resist all pressure to do any more than you want to do and be very firm about withdrawing what contact you do decide to have if she is difficult.

Not sure how you manage the fact that you may want a very different amount of contact with your Dad. That is a hard one.

Roseformeplease Wed 07-Jan-15 17:18:31

Interestingly, my children too are far more stable and capable of coping that I am. They have had a fairly ordinary upbringing in a house with no shouting, drunkenness, ranting etc. They approach my mother like a rather strange and distant great aunt with none of the emotional baggage.

Lottapianos Wed 07-Jan-15 17:21:35

OP, I can identify with loads of your post. I live in a different country to my massively overbearing parents and have steadily been reducing contact over the last few years. My parents are not people I would care to spend time with if I weren't related to them. They are bloody hard work and make me feel crap about myself. Psychotherapy and low contact is saving my sanity

I highly recommend more therapy. I know what you mean about not wanting to start from scratch with a new person but you don't have to share every single detail in the first session. For me, its been the only way to gain perspective on the situation and untangle myself from it

I don't have children (by choice, mostly) but I understand that having your own child can bring up all sorts of complex feelings about your own parents, even if you have a good relationship with them

wyamc Wed 07-Jan-15 17:23:22

Yes that must be a nightmare having to have them stay for that length of time.

Lottapianos Wed 07-Jan-15 17:27:44

Oh and by the way, she sounds incredibly difficult. I'm not surprised that your head is full of guilt and worry over her. Boundaries all the way. And remember that your child is yours. You do not owe your mother a grandchild on her terms. It sounds like she's just the kind of person your child would need protection from

Meerka Wed 07-Jan-15 19:19:46

cocoa goodness me, never mind childhood resentment she sounds enough to make someone with the happiest childhood in the world go nuts.

What lotta says.

Set down the boundaries, set them down hard and ignore the tantrums.

She is obviously very well versed at the guilt tripping and Telling You What A Dutiful Daughter Does.

Well, you are a woman in your own right and while you can have a relationship with her if you wish to, her opinions do not trump yours. Both you and your husband struggle with her. Your lives should not be made more difficult by her being in them.

I think there are two ways of dealing with her.

1) Tell her what she can and can't do and imagine yourself as granite when she starts telling you what's going to happen. Keep calm, imagine you're made of granite, repeat what you've said stonily and ignore the nasty remarks.

If she gets too bad, tell her openly that if she speaks to you like that when your baby is old enough to understand, then she will not be allowed to be around the grandchild.

She will throw a gigantic tantrum but it lets her know the stakes. you should not be spoken to the way she speaks to you, and most certainly not in front of your child. It is a terrible example for her.

2) Tell her what's acceptable but use more direct ways of dealing with her inappropriate remarks. Tell her (calmly) that you disagree with her, that you want to be spoken to with much more respect and that if she cannot be civil then you will speak to her in a while.

Again you will get massive tantrums. The one thing a would-be Matriarch cannot stand is someone standing up to them. But remember, you are an adult and entitled to be treated like one.

Your husband will back you up here completely, I suspect. Talk to him, keep talking to him and draw heavily on his support.

All this is really difficult to do, but try to thnk of her as an overbearing spoiled toddler who's had her own way far too long and now needs to know some limits.

You -are- entitled to an adult relationship on adult terms with her and you -are- entitled to be treated well.

Also be aware that being preg really does stir a lot of emotions around family. It comes in waves you have to ride.

Also, read Toxic Parents

Good luck

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 07-Jan-15 19:31:16

Fear, obligation and guilt are but three of many damaging legacies left by emotionally unhealthy and toxic parents to their unfortunate and now adult offspring. You are well deep in FOG.

I would stay the hell away from your mother in these particular circumstances as such emotionally unhealthy people like your mother do and will not change. Your Dad is also playing a role in all this as well so I would not let him off the hook either; he is her enabler.

You write about not wanting your mother to suffer because you at heart are a decent and emotionally healthy person. I put it to you that your mother has no boundaries and has made you think you are not good enough; she has not ever considered that you have so suffered and likely does not either. She like many toxic parents take no responsibility for their actions nor ever apologise for same.

She was not a good parent to you so it is more than likely she will not be any sort of decent grandparent role model to your child. If she cannot or will not behave she does not get to see any of you. I can certainly see why your DH is fed up with her. You already have physical distance, now you need to reinforce your boundaries higher than they already are (they are too low in any case) and work further on your own feelings of fear, obligation and guilt. Do read Toxic Parents as Meerka suggests. You may also want to post on the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread as well.

Counselling/therapy for you is certainly advisable, you ideally need to find someone who has NO familial bias about keeping families together despite the presence of mistreatment. Therefore the first person you see may not be the right one for you.

springydaffs Wed 07-Jan-15 19:41:07

Have you said to her you don't want a close relationship with her?

yy I appreciate that's not the easiest thing to say! But it would save all the morse code going on. The long and short of it is you don't want a close relationship with her because she is overbearing and expects far too much. Or, at least, more than you are prepared to give to the relationship.

I take it you want her in your life? Though that could be an assumption on my part. So, say she wants 150% 100%, you want ?%. What percentage do you think you want to give to the relationship? Perhaps if you get that clear in your head then you'll know where you're batting from.

I agree that therapy is a good thing to dip back into again. Yes it's exhausting going through the whole shebang but ime of changing therapists, I usually want to deal with a specific issue going on right then. The rest follows on and, actually, you don't have to tell the whole story, only deal with the current issue - how you feel about the history will bleed off that iyswim.

springydaffs Wed 07-Jan-15 19:43:54

Therapy is, after all, how you feel, not necessarily the facts.

Apparentlychilled Wed 07-Jan-15 21:55:40

I can so relate to this, and you have my sympathy, OP.

Fwiw, I second a pp- the patterns don't repeat themselves and when my mum comes out with her random crap, it's like water off a duck's back to my kids. One counsellor explained that as they didn't havve to put up w her rubbish on a regular basis, it won't have the same emotional impact on them as it does me.

For me, having children was a big trigger for old stuff coming up. But it doesn't mean everything unravels and you go back to the beginning- it's just the next layer of the onion. And I've found that I can do therapy on an issue by issue basis, without having to tell my whole story. And sometimes parenting is one of those issues.

IF it helps, around 10 years ago (and probably even 6 years ago when I had my first child), I was so angry with my mother.But since then, with the help of counsellors (due in part to PND with dc1 and 2) and some subsequent counselling, it's ok. We have boundaries. I accept she's a pretty crap parent and that I deserved better. But I also accept that's the hand I got dealt, and that my priority is my lovely DH and my DC.

pdxs Wed 07-Jan-15 23:09:42

Coco. .. I can identify with a lot in your posting: from your tonew, the question is not just practical ways to deal (as you say, solution so far has been sticking fingers in ears. ..) , but dealing with the emotions in order to have an improved relationship

It's also very normal for becoming a mother to stir up feelings about your own childhood. I'd say you are perfectly reasonable in feeling angry/resentful as the circumstances you describe were not good for you

Probably the best thing you can do is more therapy to work through the anger - this may allow you to see your mother as a flawed person, but let go of some of your resentment. .. which would allow you to have a closer relationship. ..

This is based on (bitter) experience. .. It has taken a lot for me to be less angry about how my own mother was, but happy to have a more loving relationship now

Good luck

cocolacocotte Thu 08-Jan-15 17:17:22

Hi everyone,

thanks for all the answers and I'm sorry for my late reply but I'm in Paris and yesterday's shootings have knocked me sidewards.

I have to admit that I've also been blown away by the replies on here. When I posted this message, I honestly expected that the majority of people would tell me to get over myself, that my mum wasn't so bad and that I should make an effort so that my child can benefit from having grandparents. having read through some of the posts on the Stately Homes thread, I suppose that this impression was the effect of FOG. In any case, you have no idea what a relief it is to know that I don't have to accept this situation if I don't want to.

To answer some of the questions asked by previous posters:

Regarding how much contact I want or if I want her in my life at all, I can honestly say that if she and I were the only people to take into consideration, then it would not bother me in the slightest if I never saw her again. I never call or contact her because I actually want to speak to her, only because I feel guilty if I don't.
When my gran was still alive, I kept up appearances for her sake. I loved her dearly and knew that it would cause her a great deal of suffering if she knew how I felt about my mum. I kept contact to a minimum by ringing my gran at her house and calling my parents occasionally, usually at times when I knew she was likely to be out. I found out I was pregnant just 2 days before my Gran died so that made two emotional upheavals to deal with at the same time and I think my resolve about reducing contact with my mum weakend when I started thinking that me having a child and therefore her having a grandchild meant that there was yet another requirement to keep up appearances. Reading through your replies I realise that this is not true. I am going to work hard to make sure that all future contact will be on my terms and I know that my husband will support me.

I think it was Attila who mentioned the fact that my mum probably took no responsability for her actions and I have to say that you are absolutely spot on. In fact, quite the contrary, she takes great delight in playing the martyr, complaining to anyone who will listen about how much she does/how hard she works to make everyone happy. Usually the subjects of these rants are things that she has brought on by herself, for example, when I was a teenager, she forbade me from ever going out with friends in the evening. I was allowed Saturday morning trips into the town centre (be home by 2pm) and the occasional day trip by bus/train to a shopping centre about 30 minutes away but that was it. Then, she would complain to her friends that I wasn't "normal" because I didn't go out all the time like "normal teenagers do."
My wedding was another prime example. We got married in France because that's where we live and where the majority of our friends live and organised & paid for everything ourselves. It was a fairly low-key event and I had a great caterer so I really didn't need any help, apart from sending my FIL on a drive out to Reims to pick up the champagne from the best man's dad. I sent them an email when we were drawing up the guest list asking if there was anyone they specifically wanted to invite. They replied with the names of two people who were already on the list anyway. On the day, my mum:
- insisted on riding in the front of the taxi I had booked to take us from the hotel I was staying in for the night before to the registry office, meaning that I was squashed into the back inbetween my dad and my friend who had come to help with my make up - my dress was creased to hll when we arrived
- spent the time we had to wait before the ceremony telling anyone who would listen that they had only been allowed to invite 2 people and then declaring that she would be having her own party when they got back
- insisted on riding in the car with my husband and I to the reception when we were piling everyone else into a fleet of taxis
- spent the entire lunch commenting on the fact that it wasn't very "weddingy" to have a buffet for the meal (only the main course was a buffet, everything else was served at the table but since we had to cater to a wide range of dietry requirements, we had a carvery style main course with a choice of bbq meats and self service vegetables) and sighing loudly while pushing a piece of aubergine around her plate. Apparently aubergine is the work of the devil and she could not imagine why anyone would serve it other than to annoy her (erm, because we like aubergine? because it went well with the bbq lamb? because I never knew until today that you didn't like it?) Other vegetables were available and all were self service so she didn't have to have any at all but, no, she kept pushing that damn aubgergine around for what seemed like hours
- while we were organising the actual wedding, she said that she'd like to have a party for friends and family back in the UK. The year we got married was also my Dad's 60th birthday so it was to be a joint party. I specifically told her that if she wanted to organise such a party, that was fine. DH and I would turn up, smile at people and I'd even wear my wedding dress if that's what she wanted BUT since we were getting married on the Saturday, leaving on honeymoon on the Tuesday and I was changing jobs 4 days after we got back I would not contribute to the organisation. If there was a party, it was because SHE wanted one. WE didn't. I even sent her an email, reminding her of this. The party went ahead and was generally a nice event but I heard her telling several people during the night how hard she'd had to work to organise it with no help but still "Coco was insistant on having this party and it doesn't do to upset the bride"

When I had my previous therapy, it was for depression that I initially thought was related to my job but it didn't take long for the therapist to pick up on my issues with my mum and I came to the understanding that I was depressed because I was repressing a desire to have children because I was scared that if I did, I would make the same mistakes as my mum did and they would end up feeling the same way about me as I do about her.
We talked through how to focus and embrace the differences between us and I came to accept that it wasn't inevitable.
I think that the emotional stress of becoming pregnant and losing my gran practically at the same time made me lose sight of that but typing out stories like the wedding one above and reading the amazingly supportive replies on here have helped me to get my grip back.

I realise now that there's no point attempting to 'fix' my relationship with her purely from my side because I simply don't want to. I'm going to continue keeping contact to a bare minimum and if she wants that to change, then she will have to take the first step.

I'm sure I'll have more moments when my resolve weakens or when my grip loosens so I'm going to post on the stately homes threads for support.

Thank you so much to you all for helping me see more clearly.

MonstrousRatbag Fri 09-Jan-15 15:54:09

You sound very nice. Much nicer to her than many daughters would be, actually.

I think you can afford to have much stronger boundaries with your mother, in terms of what you allow her or concede to her, without that meaning you are unkind or unfair.

I've found that the thing that helped me most were internal boundaries, where I did not take on my mother's emotions, feel responsible for her feelings, or react to her outbursts. I learned to have Adult-Adult interactions (whether my mother liked it or not, often she didn't) not Adult-Child or Parent-Child interactions, with us almost swapping who got to be the Child. None of that is inconsistent with courtesy or kindness, it's important to say.

cowfish Fri 09-Jan-15 18:42:00


I have had similar experiences, and can relate to what you are saying/feeling. Having gone through this (and out the other end) I thought I would add my two penneth.

It is worth reminding yourself of a few facts...

- Your child and husband are the most important people to you, and come before your mother. Protect them at all costs. Your mum is insignificant in comparison - harsh but the truth.

- Your mother had her shot with you and blew it. She will never change.
- Once your child is old enough and the novelity period has worn off she will behave the same to him/her as she did with you. - People don't often change. If she had the wit to change, she would have altered her behaviour with you before now.
- You are THE boss now, not her, she plays by your rules. You hold the aces now.

Just like you, I had a great relationship with my grandparents, but your parents are NOT the same people as your grandparents.
The 'family dream' is not always possible. I have had to accept I will never have the relationship with my parents I had with my grandparents.
But from this I have learnt to value the relationship with my children, so that the mistake is not repeated.

It doesn't do any harm to lay down the law to your mother every so often - let her know where she stands. My parents once upset severely one of my children. It only happened once, as they were put in their place and given clear boundaries/rules. Since then their relationship with their grandchildren is much better. Their 'model' of good parenting has moved on since the 70's ;)
You must make sure at all costs that the acidic nature of your mother does not adversely affect your child's future. You want them to have a better time of it than you did.

It all requires careful management, acceptance of how it is, and the clear understanding of the really important priorities for you.
I wish you the best, it is not easy, but you will be stronger and a better parent for it.

MyTeethAreChattering Fri 09-Jan-15 22:27:24

Two things spring to my mind here. This might ramble because I have a DM with some sort of personality disorder and I have had a couple of wine tonight.

1. Have you seen this? Fleas Fleas Fleas

2. Your DM insisted she got in the taxi so that meant your wedding dress got creased. Um no. She wanted to get in the taxi and you let her. Your wedding dress got creased because you weren't willing to stop her being an arse. You have to be willing to physically bar her entry. (This is exactly the kind of thing my DM would do and nowadays I would physically restrain her or simply refuse to get in the taxi myself and get another if necessary. I don't care how it looks and besides ultimately she'd look far more of a tit than me).

Btw all the shit she spouts to other people will make her look worse than you. I really wouldn't worry about it. My DM puts me down to other people in exactly that way to people all the time. Hmmmpf. I don't care any more. Anyone who I care about knows who is the sane one. Everyone else is irrelevant. I don't bother to challenge it. Well, sometimes I raise an eyebrow and maybe laugh incredulously for a moment before changing the subject.

I put off having DC for years because of fear of being my DM. It is fine. I am not her. My DC have almost no contact with her. She would add nothing good to their lives, well, nothing good enough for it to be worth the stress to me. I am honest with them about why I don't get along with her because they need to feel secure that I will work to maintain good relationships with them when they are grown and move away. They see me having good relationships with everyone else.

I consciously teach my DC about how to cope with bullies and passive aggressive behaviour, i.e. have standards and stick to them; you can control only your actions not your emotions and certainly not other people's behaviour; recognise what is actually true about a situation not what you want to be true; use "the sterilising effect of sunlight" (don't keep secrets or hide bad behaviour).

It is my experience that having DC changes your view of your parents' mistakes in one of two ways:

Either you forgive their mistakes because you see how hard it is and that they did the best they could, even if they bollocked up some stuff.

Or you lose your last shred of patience as you realise how fucked up it is that they cared so much more for their own well-being than for yours.

Yeah, that is a wine induced ramble but hey-ho I'm going to click post instead of editing it down grin

MiddleAgedandConfused Sat 10-Jan-15 14:26:29

Time to take control and decide what you want to have happen in the future. I put up with crap from my dad for years, but only went NC when he started being toxic with the kids. It was a really easy decision that I would never have made to protect myself, but was very simple when the kids were involved.
Don't let worrying about the ifs and buts spoil your pregnancy. But take few minutes every day to practice saying 'no'.
'We want to come over for a few weeks to help with the baby'. No.
'We want you to bring the baby here for a christening party'. No.
'We want you to raise the baby this way.' No.
Every time you say it, it gets easier. Good luck!

something2say Sat 10-Jan-15 14:38:54

My advice is this.

Firstly I feel for you. You come across as a lovely woman and nothing you have said makes you in the wrong.

Your mother sounds overbearing. She doesn't seem to have allowed the degree of separation in children growing up that there should be. She sounds emotionally manipulative and projecting of her ideas onto others.

So my advice is that you need to admit this to yourself, and then live your life as tho it were true, which will include her finding out that you feel this way.

You are an adult woman and you deserve the right to love life your way. I don't like how she criticised you as a child either.

If I were you, I would change things. Take steps to change things. Stop the phoen calls. Stop the visits. Just because she wants to be the sort of mother she wants to be, and now the sort of grandmother she wants to be doesn't mean you have to accept it. I think she would stand back in shock if she really appreciated the number of people who all seem to think that, currently behind her back.

But more than this, I think it will come about that she knows how you feel, because she sees it in your changing actions and attitude, and when those two things go on to such a time as the conversation has to be had, then I think you need to have it.

It is ok that she knows these things that you have said. It doesn't get to be all her way and how she feels about it isn't going to change it. She has pushed you away and now you don't want to come back and that's her problem, and her fault.

Don't be afraid of letting this be known.

After that, things will all come right. Congratulations on your pregnancy. And the way you speak of your gran may be the sort of mother that you decide to be. One that a child liked and feels comfortable with. X all the best x

cocolacocotte Mon 12-Jan-15 12:28:37

Thanks for the further comments.

The FLEAS article really struck a cord and you are all right that I need to start setting more boundries.

That being said, I've decided to do a little experiment. The last time we spoke was when I called them on Sunday 4th and our last communication was on Monday 5th when I replied to an email from my Dad about a death in the family (which I could create a whole new post about...). I've decided not to initiate any more contact with them to see how long it takes for them to contact me and what form that contact takes. I had thought that they might send me at least an email to check I was ok, given the events that have taken place here in Paris over the last few days and also given that my husband is having an operation today but so far, nothing.

I know this might seem like a pointless exercise to some but I think I need to see exactly how it plays out so that I can get some closure and move on.

On a more constructive note, I saw my GP on Saturday and got a referral to a therapist (which means I'm entitled to fee coverage from the social security and my private health insurance) and have an appointment for next week.

If I have time, I'm going to post on Stately Homes today, if not, I'll do it in the next couple of days.

Thanks again to all of you for your support.

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