Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Am I right to be this pissed off with my mother?(25 Posts)
I'm going to try not to dripfeed but also not to give way too much info (flips bird at Daily Fail).
I've had a complicated relationship with my mother, she left when I was very young and we were completely estranged for a good number of years. Currently she lives quite close to us and we have what I thought was a decent enough relationship.
Last year her relationship with her long term partner broke down and she was devastated. She turned to me for support and I happily gave it, even though at times this was massively inconvenient to me. (I work from home and she would turn up unannounced, let herself in and stay for hours talking about her situation, which meant I quite often found myself having to put those hours back in the evenings which impacted my family.) This went on for many months, and even though she stopped taking any interest what was going on in our lives, or spending time with my DCs, I put this down to what she was going through.
After a while though, I started to notice that if I mentioned anything that was bothering me (stressful hospital appointment, for example) this was met with "you'll be fine, anyway, back to me", which I brushed off for a while, as I still felt very sorry for her. I started to realise how little the rest of the family see her - she literally just comes round to talk to me during the day and hasn't spent any time with the kids or us all as a family for a good 6 months, but she often says that I've been an absolute rock and she couldn't have coped without me.
Unbeknown to me, DH recently asked if she would be able to babysit for a couple of hours in 9 weeks time so that he could get tickets to take me out for a surprise. We never ask for help, and we rarely get any, and as money is tight DH and I get about one night out together a year. The response he got was that as she's just started seeing someone she met online, and he might want to see her on that night, she won't commit.
I guess, without a lot of background that doesn't sound too bad, and it might even sound like we're being entitled expecting a little bit of help. However, I've taken that response like a smack in the face. If she'd said, "I'm sorry, I'm busy that night" that wouldn't even have been so bad, but to blatantly say that she's putting us on hold for a man she's met twice seems to me like a huge fuck you. I feel like I've served my purpose now she's met a new man, and I think this is triggering things I thought were long buried.
It also doesn't help that she makes quite a big deal of doing philanthropic favours for pretty much everyone else in the world, and recently said how important it is to her to be able to do "kindnesses to people."
I don't want to be a twat about it, I haven't helped her because I expect anything in return, but this feels like it's a bit of an eyeopener... I don't know if I'm overreacting, and I'm not really sure how to respond from here?
Pay for a babysitter and tell her only to come when you aren't working. It will self balance and then you can see what sort of relationship you can build together with reasonable boundaries in place.
Take her key away and stop answering the door during work hours.
Google 'narcissistic' and 'toxic mothers'
Get reading and understand how to handle her better.
Also google FOG - Fear Obligation Guilt
You owe this woman nothing!
Get your key back or change the locks and ignore her knocking at your door until you have finished your work for the day.
Definitely going to find a babysitter. I have actually taken to working in a local cafe when I have deadlines to make sure that I'm not disturbed.
I think that when she meets a man, she throws everything into that to the exclusion of everything else. She claims to be independent but her whole equilibrium depends on having a relationship, and she can't understand why people end things with her because she is "so beautiful." We all spent a weekend away together last year where there was no wifi and she complained that she felt completely alone because she couldn't log into her dating site. I suppose this is the first time I'm seeing this as an adult and it's taken me by surprise.
From her pov you got her through her crisis and she's better now. She evidently thinks as far as family goes, support is a one way process.
Helping others, doing 'good works' gives her a warm cosy glow and she can switch that on and off. She liked you as grown up DD confidante, whereas you in your roles as wife, mum, employee and friend to others is not of any interest. The son in law and grandchildren are your baggage.
Nurturing others might be a mystery to her so doing a kindness for your family won't occur to her.
Now you know how her mind works, you can tailor your actions accordingly.
Tbh, anyone who can walk away from a child like that isn't used to putting anyone else's feelings before her own. You need to treat like with like now - put yourself and your family first and only see her when it's convenient to you. She won't like it, but hey ho, that's life.
I have noticed that when there is someone who will 'do anything for anyone' they are often quite careless about those closest to them.
These days I like people with a clear sense of priorities. In the meantime, set much firmer boundaries around your working hours.
Definitely take away the key. Why does she have it?
She sounds narcissistic.
She had a spare key for emergencies etc, but generally just uses it to let herself in (even when we're not here.) I imagine asking for it back would get unpleasant.
The problem I have is that I'm not very good at bottling things up and tend to be quite direct when there are issues as I like to get things dealt with so everyone can move on. So I'm not looking forward to her letting herself in with her latest update as I'm too angry to play along, and yet I know that a confrontation about this won't go well as I think it's unlikely she'll say "wow, I have been self-centred and I've neglected you, please let me make it up to you" and I'll come off like a petulant kid foot stamping because I'm not getting something that I want. (Again, not wanting to drip feed but last year she said that she would mind the DCs so that DH could take me away for my birthday. He organised the whole trip and just as he was about to pay he double checked with her and she let him down. I know about this now, but as it was something he was arranging as a surprise I didn't know what was going on at the time, and it's not something we've ever spoken about, but I'm still pissed off on DH's behalf.)
I think because of the estrangement I'd whitewashed a lot of the stuff that went on when I was younger when she would often promise things and not deliver. And clearly I'm a bit of a naive idiot to be taken in again as an adult, as she was quite supportive in many ways when we first got back in contact and I thought she might have changed. If there's one thing I have learnt, it's that people do not.
Is it common for narcissists to attract other narcissists? I'm NC with my father too as whilst this isn't my area of expertise he was very abusive and ticks a LOT of the narc boxes.
Get your key back, OP!
Or change the lock if it's not too much hassle (we got ours from B&Q).
Not being able to bottle things up is a good thing, not a problem!
I really would consider what you're getting out of your relationship with her. She's not interested in your life or DC or helping or listening to you.
Have you looked at the Stately homes thread? It's for survivors of toxic families.
Your mother is a narcissist. She will never, ever change.
I would change the locks, claim lock knackered or key snapped in it if you want to avoid confrontation, and then gradually edge her out of your life until you're very low or NC.
As others have pointed out she will never change and will be a constant source of irritation, disappointment and negativity in your life if you maintain regular contact.
I can understand you wanting to build a relationship with her after being estranged but sometimes the biggest favour we can do ourselves is to accept that things are as they are, not how we'd like them to be.
My dh's mum left when he was 4. Your relationship sounds v similar. She wanted us largely for support. At times she was good fun and she was never a mother to him.(at times she was a pain in the neck and left us a complete mess to sort out after she died) I would readjust your expectations and look for support elsewhere.
Change your lock. Say you've upgraded it because of burglaries in the area or something.
It is ridiculous that you're hiding out at a local cafe to work. Your boundaries with her are all peculiar. I guess because you're wanting something she can't give you, and bending over backwards to be amenable in hopes of getting love/validation.
Reset your boundaries and know her for who she is, not the person she ought to be.
Why don't you tell her how you feel? Tell her you are upset because you've supported her and yet she can't put herself out for you on the off chance some random bloke she met twice might want to go out that night. Ask why don't you qualify for one of her so called 'kindnesses'. See what her response is, and if it's not a grovelling apology, tell her you want the key back and not to bother you again unless you give her a formal invite. You are not being a twat or overreacting, but you are letting yourself get used by a blatant user. Don't let her.
Agree with Wig above, except that I'd get the lock changed as it'll be quicker and isn't reliant on her cooperation. It'll be worth the money when you know she can't come walking in whenever she feels like it. Ignore the door if she comes round unannounced.
Uh-oh, gargantuan taker here. Your birth mother, that is. She will take and take and take and bleed you dry without giving one thought to how it impacts you.
I'm still pissed off on DH's behalf. You need to be pissed off on YOUR behalf.
Less of the feeling guilty ok? You owe her nothing. It's hard to let this 'relationship' go but you really must - before you're a shell.
Have you had any therapy around all this?
You have to work in a cafe to avoid your mother? Can't you see how nuts that is?!
Change the lock. Or ask for your key back because you have to lend it to a friend for some reason and then never return it.
It's your home, not a walk-in centre.
She's a taker. If you want to keep her in your life and stay happy within yourself, you will need to put up some serious boundaries about what exactly she can expect from you, and what she can't. Like not popping round when you're trying to work and bending your ear for hours on end.
It doesn't sound like you can expect anything from her in terms of support, so you need to think carefully about how much of yourself (and consequentially your family) you're prepared to let her have.
You sound lovely. Hope you enjoy your night out, when it comes.
"Is it common for narcissists to attract other narcissists? I'm NC with my father too as whilst this isn't my area of expertise he was very abusive and ticks a LOT of the narc boxes."
Not too sure on whether it's common for narcissists to attract others, but it makes a lot of sense that the only people who would be able to tolerate a serious (voluntary) long term relationship with someone who has very poor boundaries can only really be someone who themselves has poor boundaries? Hope this makes sense!
My parents are both nightmares, except in opposite ways! So my mother is domineering, controlling, volatile, rages etc and my father is cold, detached, unreliable and self involved.
I think Narcissists can attract people with all sorts of conditions e.g. NPD/BPD is a common combination (I dread to think). I think two Narcissists wouldn't last long together.
Its always both difficult and liberating to have your eyes opened. You sound like a lovely daughter is unappreciated by her mother . Her refusal to support you or her grandchildren in any way is really shitty behaviour to my mind, and worth a "low contact" approach for that alone. You can say nothing and, as Donkeys says, tailor your actions accordingly. I wouldn't indulge her coming round when I was busy and expecting to listen to her problems as a one way street, no siree. You could always confront her ... "so mum, you say I've been your rock and you couldn't have coped without me, but it inconveniences you to babysit for me one evening a year in case you have a date that night, have I got that right?". Watch her response [warning:it could be unpleasant].
Thank you for all your replies, it's been really, really helpful. I think I'd got complacent and I obviously tend to be far too trusting and whitewash over the past.
Since I posted DM has actually done a bit of a u-turn, said she will baby sit and has been quite considerate.
(Which has made me massively paranoid that she has actually read this thread!) Still, this has brought some buried stuff to the fore and I think some therapy would probably be a good idea.
Sorry, pressed to soon, meant to say that if she hadn't changed her mind I would have taken DonaldTrumpsWig's advice and had that conversation.
humanfemale sympathies - your parents sound very familiar. My father is domineering, controlling, cold, detached, and self involved until you question him about anything and then you unleash the burning rage that simmers just beneath the surface. Do you still see them?
Join the discussion
Please login first.