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My mum and her criteria

(64 Posts)
southernharp Fri 12-Jan-18 23:46:21

Bear with me. This might be a bit long. I live down under and my mum is in the uk. I am her only child and my dad died 7 years ago. She can be a difficult character- dogmatic and opinionated. I have two kids and am fairly recently separated from my H . It has been a very difficult road for me over the last year.

My mum, who is 80, has been pretty unwell over the last year (illness has not improved her temperament, just the same) and last Easter she paid for the flights for me and the kids to travel to the uk for a visit. I paid for all the other stuff, such as uk travel, groceries, trips out and I did all the cooking and laundry. We had a lovely time, although I did have to do a lot of ignoring and smiling. The kids love their granny though and had a ball. As part of the trip I caught up with old friends. I had a night at the beginning with a friend who picked us up at Heathrow before we got a train to my mums the next day and then I had 12 nights with my mum. I came back to London for 3 nights and the kids and I had an amazing time together sightseeing and I also caught up with school friends for a night and finally I had two nights with my Friend who picked us up from Heathrow and she arranged for a group of my uni friends to join us. My mum was a bit pissy about these arrangements.

I asked Mum to visit us this year, but her illness has got worse and she cant travel. So we are discussing going again. Again she has offered to pay for the flights and I will pick up the other expenses. This time I will need to take some leave without pay too - not much, but a few days. She is trying to dictate that I don't send any time anywhere except with her. Not see any friends or go anywhere else with the kids. So far I have said nothing, but obviously I really want to see my friends - it was so lovely to see them last year and I miss them so much. Also my kids had a crazy good time with me in London and it was lovely to share this with them after such a stressful time for all three of us. They are really keen to revisit some places and to go to other places. If I were paying for the flights I would put my foot down - but I am not. However my mum seems to think she is 'giving me a free trip' (it's not free- I pay for loads) and so she can pull the strings. I am tempted to nod and agree and just not tell her about a couple of nights in London and a couple of nights with my friends. Any advice?

Littlelambpeep Fri 12-Jan-18 23:52:03

She does sound difficult (and jealous)
I would tell her you want to spend time with your friends but maybe contribute a small amount for the flights

MexicanBob Sat 13-Jan-18 02:17:43

If you can be sure your DCs can keep a secret, I'd arrange the time with your friends and not tell her about it.

vwlphb Sat 13-Jan-18 02:47:14

Has she explained why she doesn't want you spending time with anyone else? It's not like it's any cost to her at all. confused

Unless she feels that because she's paying for the flights, you should max out all your holiday leave with her and not spend it with anyone else? If so, would she feel the same way if you spent the same amount of holiday days with friends at home instead?

Greensleeves Sat 13-Jan-18 02:52:25

She's being really selfish and unreasonable. I would tell her what the plan is going to be - you are not prepared to undertake a journey of this magnitude and NOT catch up with other people you care about - and let her take it or leave it.

Maryz Sat 13-Jan-18 03:02:59

Can you organise your time with friends in the middle?

It might be that you left her, but spent nearly a week in the UK before flying back to Aus and she felt this was time that should have been spent with her. Whereas if you spend the time with your friends either at the beginning or middle of the holiday she might not "notice" so much - because you will be leaving her and flying straight back.

Iwasjustabouttosaythat Sat 13-Jan-18 03:03:53

I agree with PP. Pay for a bit of the flights.

From what you’ve said above it was 6 nights with others and 12 with her. I kind of see where she’s coming from if she paid all that money to see you and you spent 1/3 of the trip with other people. She probably misses you terribly. I can see why she wants as much time with you as possible. She is older and while I don’t want to sound harsh I’m sure she’s painfully aware of how precious time is.

That said she’s clearly not the easiest person to spend time with so do just pay a bit of flights or lie about it, which will spare her feelings. Might be hard for the kids to lie about it.

hevonbu Sat 13-Jan-18 03:47:09

If she's too ill to travel and is in her eighties, it might well be the last time you see her (or the last time you see her outside some ward/hospital). My granny got a sudden stroke and ended up half paralyzed at around 81 or 82, died some few years after. Your mum perhaps expects this to be the last time you two meet, that might why be she doesn't want to share you and DC with anyone else, perhaps thinking that you can see your friends all you like once she's gone.

sycamore54321 Sat 13-Jan-18 04:03:01

I don't think you can really claim that stuff like groceries and, from what it sounds, internal travel that your mum wasn't included in, is "paying for loads" towards the cost of your UK break. You'd surely have been buying groceries and doing laundry in your regular life in Australia if you hadn't gone?

To be honest, in her 80s and paying several return tickets from Australia does give her a lot of reason to expect you will focus heavily on her for the visit. Could your old friends come to where she lives and visit you there? Could you bring your children to see interesting places in the locality rather than overnight stays in London?

I know it is difficult and controlling and not entirely reasonable of her, but from her perspective, she sees very little of you and your children, and if she is paying to being you to UK, I guess she wants to maximise that. If she has raised it with you, she clearly felt hurt by the previous time when you spent one third of the time she had been hoping/expecting away from her. Do you think she is doing this just to be controlling and in charge, or because she genuinely misses you and your children and wants to forge the relationships as much as possible in the short visit?

Charolais Sat 13-Jan-18 04:29:36

So your mum paid for the flights for you and your two children round trip from Australia to England and you spent 7 nights with your friends and 12 night with her. I would be pissed off as well if I was your mum. She was paying for you and her grandchildren to be with her. I’m sure she could understand you spending a night with friends but not for almost half the trip!

At her age she thinks every time she sees you is the last. If you go back on her dime then spend the time with her instead of living it up with your friends. Take her to some nice places such as parks, beach, a walk along the river (wheelchair if necessary), places she remembers from her youth. When she’s dead you can come back (using your inheritance) to have fun with your friends.

You sound awful btw.

chatwoo Sat 13-Jan-18 04:34:51

I would stand your ground and say you will be spending 5/6 days or nights away from your Mum... Not sure if you feel the need for you justify, but perhaps do so, if you think it will smooth the way. Then offer for her to pay less on the flights... Not sure how much it is for the three of you, so take off 500 bucks, or pay for one of the children yourself. Whatever seems most "fair" i suppose.

I feel for you, it's an awkward situation!

chatwoo Sat 13-Jan-18 04:39:13

"When she’s dead you can come back (using your inheritance) to have fun with your friends."

@Charolais
That's harsh. You obviously don't agree with the OP, but why be so nasty about it?

mogulfield Sat 13-Jan-18 04:46:37

She’s being unreasonable, but then she’s 80 and probably just really misses you.
I’d stick to my guns though, 12 days is still a long time to spend with someone and friendships are important too.

Iwasjustabouttosaythat Sat 13-Jan-18 05:50:04

That's harsh. You obviously don't agree with the OP, but why be so nasty about it?

Harsh but probably what the mother is thinking...

southernharp Sat 13-Jan-18 06:16:06

Well my mum thinks all sorts about me. I don't let it get to me too much. To be clear my mum lives a 6 hour train ride away from London and the day I arrive in all likelihood I will have to stay elsewhere overnight. That's what I did last time and I stayed with my friend who lives near Heathrow, travelling on the next morning. The same with the night before I depart - I don't have enough faith in the trains to get me back to Heathrow for the flight home. Of the other nights not with my my Mum last time, I spent three just me and the kids in London. I took them to a show and we did lots together. In this time I met up with some old school friends who travelled a significant distance from different directions to see me for lunch. I am not sure you would call any of this 'living it up'. Some people just need to wind in their necks!

Given the distance to my mum's and the cost of the train fares, I don't really want to see my friends in the middle of what will be a very tight trip. And I do want to see my uni friends who have been a great support in my separation and make me feel happy.

Also to be clear, the everything else I paid for last time was food for all of us (including my Mum) and meals out and we went on a holiday together for three nights and went to a number of local attractions. I have suggested another holiday this time to a place we used to go to when I was a child.

My mum is not some frail and gentle old lady. She is very able bodied and can be a right battle axe. She has very strong opinions on everything, including things she knows nothing about and will argue that black is white. She has not been especially kind about my separation - he left for a younger model -even suggesting that it is somehow my fault. I know this is by the by, but we are not dealing with a wheelchair confined sweetie here. She has form for being really horrible to my friends, here and in the UK and so I am not letting her anywhere near them.

So maybe I am 'awful', but I probably get it from her!

Topnotes Sat 13-Jan-18 06:26:18

You're not awful at all. confused. I have a sister who lives OS, my DM an DD pay for flights for her and her DC when she comes back to visit but they think it's really important for her to catch up with her friends too (and me as we live in different parts of the UK) and she arranges similar itinerary to you. But you are an only child and your Mum has a different view on this. It's not unreasonable for you to want to see your friends, but you might need to be a bit creative with how you manage this with your Mum. Not easy.

EllaHen Sat 13-Jan-18 06:31:01

I can't imagine my Mum ever behaving like this. She doesn't own your time because she has gifted you the money for the flights.

See your friends again. Be kind to yourself. You have been through a lot. See the people who were there for you.

And please don't feel guilty.

southernharp Sat 13-Jan-18 06:32:31

I am thinking I won't tell her. Just claim my flight home is earlier than the reality. And restrict her access to my Facebook, which I do anyway. I won't tell the kids until we have left granny's and then they don't have to lie. It sounds odd, but I am very set on having a couple of nights somewhere just me and the kids. We all got so much out of this time together last time and we still talk about it.

EllaHen Sat 13-Jan-18 06:54:25

Sounds like a plan. It's such a long way to travel - make the most of your time here.

Topnotes Sat 13-Jan-18 06:55:35

You might need some time to offload to your friends after you have seen her too, for the sake of your sanity. And it is a good idea to maintain strong friendships in the U.K. as there may be circumstances when you need to call on someone for immediate help.

DukeOfBurgundy Sat 13-Jan-18 07:09:01

I can see it from your Mum's perspective. ("AIBU to think if I'm paying for DD's flights that she shouldn't spend half her time with other people?") but she's being very shortsighted because she's making you less keen to want to travel to England to visit her.

If she's a difficult person, I wonder if she feels "in competition" with your friends and sees it as you preferring their company to theirs. You mention that your friends are more help to you regarding your current situation than your mum is. Maybe she's aware of this at some level and it's fuelling some kind of petty jealousy. "Oh, I'm not enough for you then? I barely see you as it is and you'd prefer to be with them than spend time with me?" (Totally projecting here obvs.)

Thing is, if you arranged a second visit in the year where you just saw your friends, she wouldn't be happy about that either, I bet. (Not that you could due to time/money.)

YANBU to want to spend time with your friends and being a London tourist for a bit. You live such a long way away and it is entirely reasonable to want to see more of the UK than just your Mum's house.

But the money bit makes it complicated. She IS paying for the flights. And if she is controlling, this gives her leverage to try to control how you spend your time.

Is there any way you can make savings on what you spend when you're here so that you can pay for part of the flights?

Ecclesiastes Sat 13-Jan-18 07:20:05

I am very set on having a couple of nights somewhere just me and the kids.

Make the most of it. One day they'll think of you as you think of your mum. Sooner than you think.

pullingmyhairout1 Sat 13-Jan-18 07:29:48

I'm with you OP. See your friends.

Increasinglymiddleaged Sat 13-Jan-18 07:42:37

You sound awful btw

I really wonder about people who feel the need to shove this kind of shite in their post.

It's a really hard one OP because if it was your mum's last year alive I'd say suck it up for one trip but she could still be here in 10 years I imagine. I honestly don't know what I'd do in the circumstances you describe.

Footle Sat 13-Jan-18 08:33:28

I'm 10 years younger than your mum and some of my children live far away. I'd hate to think they'd have no connection with anyone here ( England ) except me. If I could pay for them to visit, I'd expect them to catch up with friends too - and be extra pleased if their children made strong links with people here.

Your mum feels differently, but there might be some mileage in my thoughts that you could use to open her mind a bit.

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