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Mum taken into hospital but didn't tell me(24 Posts)
I'll try to be brief, i'm interested in what others might do in this situation and appreciate any advice.
I'm mid 40s and feel I've always done my best to support my Mum (i'm only child). She's been married 4 times, two of those very difficult marriages, so she's had a lot of emotional and financial ups and downs. She's always been very 'highly strung' and self centred (as an example, one year she complained my Nan - who was dying of cancer at the time - hadn't sent her a birthday card.) But until my dcs came along (now have 3 under 9) we were close. In the 25 years since I left home i've asked her for help just three times (I stayed with her for a week when I split up with my previous partner - and yes I paid her rent! - and she came for a few days to help out with the dc were born). I've always tried to be independent and not add to her problems.
The last couple of years have been difficult (dh with alcohol issues and aggression, one dc with behavioural problems). Ex and I separated in the new year. I've had much less time and energy for anything beyond caring for dcs and keeping everything afloat. Mum is 2 hours away and never helps out, Dad 2 hours away in the other direction, ditto. But that's life and i'm cracking on ok. She complains if I don't keep in touch (I do try, and make sure she's kept up to date with the dcs) yet doesn't contact me - I've not heard from her since the beginning of August. She emailed my ex last week (we're on ok terms and he sees the dcs regularly) and said she'd been taken into hospital, but she'd not told me because 'I never hear from her.' Ex was pissed off and forwarded it to me (as I suppose she guessed he would). He said 'she's got a nerve, you've given her far more support than she's ever given you.' She has also posted on FB about it, thanking all those who had been in touch offering support and get well wishes. Ex thinks I should post something cutting, but I don't want to get into a fight in public and I guess that's actually what she's hoping for.....is this a passive aggressive thing?
The dcs made and decorated a birthday card for her last week, she's not said 'got it thanks' or acknowledged their (very good, she says proudly) school reports I gave her copies of. She never does. They're minor things I guess, but important to the dcs.
So, what to do, if anything? I don't have the energy for an emotional ding dong but feel like i'm stuck between a rock and a hard place.....part of me just wants to ignore it. I'm angry and hurt, and tired of her dramatics.
Just ignore it. She's trying to manipulate you into running round her.
Put boundaries in place now, your too low, perhaps even non existent boundaries when it comes to your mother continue to hurt you.
Stop sending her anything like copies of their school reports or hand made cards; she is clearly only interested in her own self and always has been. Your children need to be kept well away from your so called mother. You also do not need her approval any longer; she would never give you that anyway.
I would not go out of my way at all to be in any form of contact with her now particularly as you have not heard from her since August. By doing that she has really done you a favour.
It is not possible to have any sort of emotionally healthy relationship with her. She is not built that way at all; her own family likely did an awful lot of damage to her. This woman only cares for her own self ultimately.
I would instead grieve for the relationship you should have had with your mother rather than the one you actually got. She was not a good parent to you and is a similarly disinterested crap role model of a grandparent when it comes to her own grandchildren.
Your mother seems to take every opportunity to punish you. Each event she twists and distorts so that, no matter what you do, you don't do it right and are always wrong. This implies she is in the right and this makes her feel good. You are the 'baddie', she is the 'goodie'...always. She can then continue her martyrdom...geared to make you feel guilty, she is always the injured party, you are the unkind, unthinking one.
You will never win, ever. Even if you try and win her round with her grandchildren and the lovely things they do for her/acheive she will just use whatever they do as a way of getting at you again.
I think you have to accept this and let it all go. Ignore all the manipulation, don't react, don't bite and don't put your children in the firing line so they are being ignored and hurt too. She is clearly dysfunctional/damaged and with her own problems which only she can confront. Sadly though I don't think she will. Grieve for the mother/grandmother you hoped she would be.
Some interesting thoughts, thank you.
Atilla re her own family doing a lot of damage to her - actually I would say it's the exact opposite, she was (according to my lovely Nan) quite cossetted and indulged as a child by her Dad, in a way her older sister wasn't. Her Dad was in the services so maybe he overcompensated for his absence when he returned...I don't know. My grandparents were lovely, kind, generous people and the rest of the 'main' family are a good humoured, easy going bunch. My Mum has always stood out as the high drama one, and I think maybe because everyone else dislikes/can't be bothered with arguments she gets away with a lot. Every situation ends up being about her....my Nan died (in another part of the country, very close by to where Mum's sister lives) and Mum thought her sister should pay for her to travel to the funeral. That was one of the few times I actually said 'you want WHAT?!' to her.
I do feel like i'm being punished for having my own crap going on, and being pretty wrung out by it all. I really could've done with some gentle support from her, but (and I do appreciate she's been unwell) it feels like she's just dumping more grief on me.
It sounds like a very unbalanced relationship - and she seems to be holding you to entirely different standards of behaviour than she does herself
Are you aware you have said:
She doesn’t keep in touch with you
yet she complains and publicly chastises you if you don’t keep in touch with her
(she is capable as she keeps in touch with other much more distantly related people)
She doesn’t offer you emotional support
yet she expects you to offer it to her - often you have to "guess" she needs it in order to prove your affection
You have supported her financially when she has been in need,
yet she didn’t even offer resources that would have cost her little /nothing to support you
She doesn’t even acknowledge your & your children’s good news / achievements
yet she expects even the dying to celebrate hers ( birthday)
I could offer advice - but really, you know this is wrong, you just need to find a way you are happy to deal with it.
665 yes I've long felt it's unbalanced.
The last time we met up (early Aug) she was fine.....I can't quite believe she actively decided not to tell me she'd been taken ill, but told my ex and posted about it on FB. It's obvious she's expecting a reaction.
She caused an absolute ruckus after my last dcs were born (too long to post here) and I forgave and forgot at the the time because I just couldn't be doing with bad feeling. If i'm honest i'm still angry about it, and could cheerfully give her both barrels now.
What would be the worst thing about telling her how you really feel?
If she rejects you for admitting your true feelings, or even if you fear it likely how does that illuminate your relationship?
Why does she get to say what she likes, to who she likes, and you don't get a voice?
I wouldn't expect her to take it well, but one way or the other it might save you years of grief.
"Atilla re her own family doing a lot of damage to her - actually I would say it's the exact opposite, she was (according to my lovely Nan) quite cossetted and indulged as a child by her Dad, in a way her older sister wasn't. Her Dad was in the services so maybe he overcompensated for his absence when he returned...I don't know"
Her father certainly did her a lot of emotional damage; he over compensated for his absence and made her the centre of his universe.
Your first sentence re your mother is quite telling and partly accounts for the ways she is now - narcissistic and self absorbed. I would also think that her relationship with her sister is not good either.
She is not and will not be the mother you still so want her to be; she is not built that way. Its all about her and what she wants alone. She knows she has done wrong by you but she does not care.
665 What would be the worst thing about telling her how you really feel?
It would end badly! She is very good at twisting things around and i'm crap at conflict and I know i'm poor at holing own in an argument. I know she wouldn't listen. But I should think about if just saying my piece, regardless of the outcome, would be worth it (for me at least).
Attila I hadn't thought about in that way. And you are bang on about her and her sister. Since their Mum died they have tried much harder to get along, and generally succeeded I think. But for years they were not close - I know my Mum always felt my Aunt was the favoured one, but if anything I think my Mum was (and I know my Aunt would say that!)
You seem quite dismissive about a lot of things she does (eg 'small in the scheme of things', or words to that effect), smoothing over her outrageous behaviour in the hope she'll come to her senses or step up. But it's the last thing she's going to do - and you are staining at the seams with the effort of keeping her antics under wraps.
I'd love to see what 'giving it to her with both barrels' would look like! Not before time by the sound of things.
Read Toxic Parents by Susan Forward. You'll feel guilty for even reading it (how do I know this...) but FOG (Fear, Obligation, Guilt) is part and parcel of being the victim of an abusive dynamic, so plow on! You'll at least start on the path of giving up all hope of her being a decent mother, the one you've hoped for. Plus you'll learn how to set boundaries and hold your own when she starts playing up as she has done with her very manipulative behaviour towards you around her hospital stay.
Hi springy thanks for the book suggestion. I feel guilty at the thought of reading it... But I feel like i'm in a mire where she is concerned so help working out where I go from here would be good.
My gut feeling is I should just ignore, not contact her, don't let her mind games (as ex put it) affect me. If I do do that, I want to be sure i'm doing it because it's right for me, not because i'm worried how she will react if I speak up.
Why do I suspect you're going to go for the latter suggestion <sigh>
Why do you think that springy? That ignoring it would split me in half? (if i'm understanding correctly, have a cold-filled addled brain at the moment)
I'm feeling more and more that she's trying to force us into a bust-up. Does she really think I would ignore her PA shenanigans? Perhaps she does, but I don't think so - she's been public enough to ensure I will see or be told what's been going on. And i'm not sure a bust up is the best thing for me. I admit part of me that would like to write a massive missive telling her exactly what I think, press 'send' and be done with it. But I know it would blow up, and I would be the bad guy.
Some things are dangerous to ignore. I use that word purposefully.
Dangerous bcs the toll on oneself is too high. There is no way to push this stuff down. The only thing, imo, is to grasp the (painful) nettle and face what you're actually facing: a toxic mother. It's painful but it's what therapists call 'clean pain'. Whereas ignoring it, pushing it down/aside is torturous, unproductive - damaging.
springy thank you, I really appreciate your thoughts, and the others who've offered theirs.
I'm going to have a serious think about it all, and read the book you recommended.
Springy is right, choosing pain now means you have to be in a position to cope with it,
and the fact you are writing what you are here probably means you are.
The choice of pain / grief ( and it is grieving for a loss) is very hard even if its temporary
but not choosing, trying to hide from it is like the monkeys curse, and comes back on you seven fold
Well this is great, I went onto FB last night to reply to a friend's message and there's a post rom my Mum on my newsfeed, a meme about always loving your children. Jeez. She's now (apparently) communicating via the medium of FB.....I guess to ensure all her friends see it, without actually having to speak to me directly. Or am I being cynical? Bloody hell.
I think the best thing you can do is to write down the pros and cons of contacting her, and methods of contact. Then give it a day or two to mull it over and decide what to do.
It's kind of telling that your ex is telling you she's playing mindfuck games here!
One thing I try to do in turning-point situations is to imagine how I will feel in 15 years' time, looking back. Which action will I think was right? Used this trick a couple of times now. Might it help you? I do think that having a read of toxic parents might be good. A great deal of it won't apply, but it sounds like your mum has been quietly very controlling and there's some real food for thought in there.
Also, if you can try to develop a mental habit of stepping back. She's your mum, lots of love and feeling towards her. But if you step back and saw her as an outsider, a visitor to the family, how would you see her behaviour then? Stepping back can help you get some very useful emotional distance, though it can't stop the hurt of mind games entirely.
Once thank you. You've given me a few things to think about there.
I spoke to ex about her last FB post and he thinks I should get in touch with her too, in whatever way I see fit. He's known her a long time and has been shocked/appalled by her behaviour in the past but for the sake of keeping the peace has always contented himself with rolling his eyes quietly in the background.
You could keep the peace by just stopping playing the game.
There would be nothing wrong with phoning her to say hello, haven't heard from you in a while, how are you? Pretend you took her FB post at face value (a nice sentiment), pretend ex never forwarded anything to you, she's probably been to busy to call or respond to the card you sent.
I've got a toxic DM. For me, there is absolutely no point in telling her how her behaviour makes me feel. In fact past attempts made feel rotten for no gain, it has no effect on her thinking whatsoever and she finds a way to hurt me in retaliation.
Ignoring her is by far my best option. I have the occasional polite phone conversation or we meet (rarely) but I strictly keep the conversation like one you would have with a strange person you've just met: no important personal information is shared, smile and nod, "more tea?", totally ignore bonkers stuff, change the subject.
She will never ever be the mother or grandmother I would like her to be. That's my problem to live with not hers. She is who she is. All I can do is accept her as she is, which actually means rejecting almost all contact.
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