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It's really upsetting me that that my mother has no interest at all in dd, her only grandchild

(21 Posts)
vonsudenfed Fri 06-Jul-07 13:03:42

There's so much history in this that I don't know where to start, but I'll try not to write an epic.

The short of it is that my dd - my mother's only grandchild - is almost eight months old, and my mother has been to see her just once. She rings every week, but doesn't even seem that engaged with what's going on (for example is still asking me if she is feeding OK, even though that was a problem only for the first few weeks). It's now almost got to comedy, pretty much the first thing she says now when I answer the phone is her excuse for not coming down, at the moment it's the rain.

Now on one level I can live with this - my father is an adoring grandpa, and even my stepmother is cooing over dd.

But what this makes me realise is that my mother has, in fact, always been crap. Ever since my parents split up when i was seven, I've lived with my father. And there have been all sorts of excuses for my mother - she had bad PND, a nervous breakdown and so on, and I've been excusing her all this time.

But what her treatment of dd has made me realise is that she has in fact never really loved me either, and I've just been making excuses for that. And I'm really really sad and upset, especially as dd is such an adorable child that I can't believe that my mother isn't interested in her.

I don't think there's a punchline, or even anything I can do. I just wanted to get my thoughts out and say how crap this is. Offload over.

NotQuiteCockney Fri 06-Jul-07 13:05:45

Hmmm, I suspect your mother's behaviour, both now, and historically, has nothing to do with you, or your DD, and everything to do with your mother's mental state.

It does suck. But she's not doing it on purpose, or because she doesn't love you, or because your DD isn't lovely. She's doing it because of her own troubles.

Twiglett Fri 06-Jul-07 13:06:59

yes NQC said it perfectly

thegardener Fri 06-Jul-07 13:09:31

you poor thing, could you write to her & let her know how you are feeling, it may put things in perspective for her and bring things to a point where you can move forward one way or another.

vonsudenfed Fri 06-Jul-07 13:11:40

No, I think you're absolutely right - she had a fairly loveless childhood, and I don't think knew how to love.

But I think what's really got to me is that I have spent decades trying to make it OK and to pretend it's OK, whereas what is happening with DD has made me realise that it's never going to be OK, and she's just not able to mother, or even to trust anyone enough to love them.

I suppose on some level I thought, oh well, once I have a child, then it will all be OK. And of course it's not, it's just the same only with new complications.

<sigh>

vonsudenfed Fri 06-Jul-07 13:13:47

thegardener - what I might do is write a long letter and see if I want to send it. The problem is that my mother is so emotionally fragile (long history of alcoholism as well as depression) that I've never dared confront her with anything, in case it sends her over the edge/back to drink or whatever.

maisemor Fri 06-Jul-07 13:26:42

big hug to you Vonsudenfed, I know how you feel. It is just such a sad feeling when you have that realisation.

There is not much you can do to change her. however there is also nil chance of her ever changing unless you tell her how you feel. You are not responsible for her drinking or not drinking, only she is.

SecondhandRose Fri 06-Jul-07 13:44:06

Can completely understand where you are coming from. I have just seen a therapist for six months about my mother. Signed off now and feelign a lot happier.

My Dad actually told me a few years ago that he had to tell my Mum to cuddle me when I was little as she didn't seem capable.

I think you need to tell her low it is making you feel. There is a knack to this. My therapist taught me you have to talk about yourself and your feelings. Do not accuse your mother of anything at all.
So something along the lines of 'I appreciate you are very busy but I would like to see you more and I would like you to get to know your Grandaughter'. It makes me sad that we don't see you'.

DO NOT say - why are you staying away, why are you blaming the weather etc.

Is your Mum quite old? Mine is and I don't think they were brought up with much emotion.

NotQuiteCockney Fri 06-Jul-07 14:43:37

Well, vonsudenfed, in some ways it is better now that you have a child, as at least you aren't repeating her mistakes.

It's got to suck, though. My mom certainly had her failings (different ones, probably not as bad), and it's hard not to take them personally, isn't it.

vonsudenfed Fri 06-Jul-07 15:10:42

Yes, it sucks, and it's just the occasional grinding realisation of that fact that gets me down. But I am very lucky, I have had counselling, managed to get beyond my childhood, and now have a lovely family and have had far more chances than her, so it could suck a whole lot more.

Maisiemor and SecondhandRose- I understand what you're saying, and you're both right about the hows, thankyou. I do need to do it, but am being a bit of a coward. That's partly why I posted here, to try and say it out loud first before talking to her. And yes, she is old, but I think her upbringing had a lot to do with it too - there is a great history in her family of preferring boys, and I think she felt unwanted from the start, just as her own mother did. Misery, coastal shelf, Larkin, etc. Here's hoping for much, much better for dd.

SecondhandRose Fri 06-Jul-07 21:08:45

My relationship has really improved with my Mum when I actually started to say what I wanted rather than beating about the bush and presuming my mother would know. The therapist said it was all about poor communication and my perception of events which probably wasn't correct.

Last Christmas, rather than coming on holiday with us she chose to go to go on holiday on her own (with no one she knew) to a holiday in Stratford. I was devastated as it made me feel that is what she preferred. Thankfully this year she is coming with us.

vonsudenfed Sat 07-Jul-07 22:17:53

Interesting stuff. My mother is so fragile that it has never occurred to me to say what I think to her, despite three years of therapy (mine, not hers). And I'm not sure what I'd say if I wanted to be honest. Other than come and see dd, of course. Perhaps that's what I need to think about next.

angelscomeinthrees Sat 07-Jul-07 22:33:42

I found having my dcs brought back a whole load of stuff from my own childhood - nothing like you've been through, but still enough to make me marvel at how a mother coudl be so dense as to what she was doing to her child. My mother favours one of my dds over the other (I also have ds) - it's changing a little now that dd2 is less manic toddler and can talk a bit, but it's still noticable. Yet I swear she loves them equally.

I've decided not to confront my mother, I simply don't see there is any point in stirring up painful memories that no-one can do anything about. Instead I've decided I'm responsible for my own happiness - this applies to every area of my life, inc. my relationship with dh, my children, friendships etc. I can really recommend a book called 'Loving What Is' by Byron Katie - you can get it from Amazon.

Good luck!

SecondhandRose Mon 09-Jul-07 13:24:27

Is it possible your mother is staying away as she doesn't know for certain that you want her to come? Maybe she doesn't want to interfere?

howdoo Tue 10-Jul-07 07:08:42

God, this sounds familiar. When I had DS1 I remember thinking Ha, now she will have to be nice to me because she will want to see him ... err, no! DS1 is now nearly three, DS2 is 18 months, she has never looked after them for even an hour except when one of us has been in hospital. I had to go into hospital for 3 days when DS1 was 1 week old - my parents came up to help DH, but only stayed ONE night, leaving poor DH to cope with DS1 all on his own, and didn't come and visit me in hospital even though it was a 10 minute drive away!!
I spent years getting upset about this stuff, but did eventually realise that she does love me, and she does love DSs, but in her own way. She had a very emotionally neglected childhood herself and I try to remember that rather than getting angry/upset.
Your mum does love you but she is emotionally stunted. Thank God that we can turn it around with our own children - I used to dread that I would feel as disinterested as my own mother but I don't.
Do write the letter, even if you don't send it, as it may help to get it all down. However, eventually you need to let it all go, you can't change her and she really is to be pitied if anything. I got sick of getting upset in the end, plus I spoke to a few close friends who agreed she sounded awful! It was really nice that other people agreed that I wasn't mad and that my mother's treatment of me wasn't particularly maternal.
Do you have siblings and if so can you talk to them? It was a revelation to me when my brother said he had never felt loved as a child - before that I had thought it was just me.
Sorry, bit rambling - I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone, and that you can get past it

vonsudenfed Tue 10-Jul-07 14:17:24

Rose - I do try - both DH and I have invited her, but I think she is rather freaked by DD, and so scared. DD looks a lot like me as a child, and my mother had very bad PND that led to a breakdown, so she may just find babies v frightening. But we've put together a book of photos to send her, so that she doesn't feel so estranged that she can't come when she feels strong enough, if that makes sense.

Howdoo - thankyou for the message, and, yes your situation does sound familiar to me too. And it sounds like it comes from the same sort of causes. My mother's childhood was materially fine, but emotionally horrific (for example she was in hospital for months with polio, and her own mother visited her just once, and then she was sent straight to boarding school as her parents divorced, so didn't go back home for a year) so she's doing well just to function.

And you're absolutely right about letting go - I think I'm starting the process, slowly but surely. I'm not sure if I'll write her a letter, as I find it hard to be angry with her, even if I'm not going to send it, just because she is so fragile. But I've actually found starting this thread really helpful, just in allowing me to say I'm upset, and have other people acknowledge that everything is not alright.

I do have a brother, and I have talked to him a bit, but his experience was very different. My mother's family have a history of preferring boys, plus he was very ill as a child, so I don't think he ever felt as abandoned.

But the most important thing, as you say, is that we can turn it around with our own children. DD won't mind having an absent-ish granny, it's me that gets upset about it.

howdoo Wed 11-Jul-07 09:30:59

Good on you - you will be fine. I also found that once you have children, they (and your partner) become your family, so your parents etc can become less important, if that is what you want.
I know what you mean about the letter - it can stir things up in your mind a bit just writing it. Also, I sent my mother one once, she was all apologetic, and then nothing changed at all!!
Hugs to you

compo Wed 11-Jul-07 09:35:01

can't you go and see her though so she gets to see your dd?

vonsudenfed Thu 12-Jul-07 09:24:41

Hmm, there's the problem - she lives in a house that she has kippered for 20 years with cigarette smoke, and couldn't not smoke at home, so I'm not desperatly keen to go up for a while.

But that's also the bigger problem - I don't know what I want from her, other than a few visits. She's an ex-alcoholic who still drinks, and smokes pretty intensely, so I'm not going to ask her to look after dd. I suspect on some level she probably knows that too, and hence her ambivalence, and the whole thing making her feel bad.

<sigh> it's just what it is really, and it just upsets me because it never ever changes.

Tatat Thu 12-Jul-07 13:56:18

VSF, and Howdoo
Your posts could have been written about my dad. Gosh doesn't it hurt? Thanks goodness our emotional make up means we're different, if your mums are anything like my dad then they weren't given the role model for being loving parents, and now we're paying the price!
I've made lots of excuses for him over the years and would probably have continued to do so if it wasn't for my lovely little boy who's now 2.7. When he was born I just couldn't believe that anyone could treat their child (even if that child is now an adult, i.e. me) with so little interest because my instincts towards ds were so so powerful.
I have made all the excuses that exist ("he's not mean, just thoughtless" "he's a bit eccentric so he doesn't even consider his behaviour might affect me" "when mum left it hurt him so much he's withdrawn from all of us" blah blah blah") as on some levels I do feel sorry for him.

I have tried talking to him twice about how his apparent disinterest really hurts. He's been terribly remorseful and makes an effort for a couple of months but then things go back to the same- we only speak/see each other when I call/visit, (and we only live 6 miles away, when I do call i of course want to hear about how he's been doing, what he's been up to etc but he never asks about ds/dh/me, tells me whopping great fibs that I know for an absolute fact to be untrue.

Ooh don't I sound bitter! Honest I'm not now though (breathes calmly again)

I came on here looking for advice a while ago and although it was tough, I took on what a number of people had said and that was: you've only got one dad. yes he's not perfect (far from it) but it's the best you're going to get. You can either move on and accept that he's who he is as it's unlikely that he'll change his ways at 62, or continue to use up effort and energy on worrying about it which will get you nowhere. So I've let go- it's sad but it no longer hurts me in the way that it used to.

Good luck, I hope that you can let some of the hurt go- it really does make a difference. xx

vonsudenfed Thu 12-Jul-07 14:22:29

tatat - I think you are absolutely right, and I'm hoping that the process of hanging it all out on Mumsnet, will help me let go in the same way as it has clearly helped you!

For me, one of the key things has been wanting a bit of mothering from her when I had dd, and missing that. But DH has looked after me wonderfully, so I am appreciating what I have in the present now, rather than mourning what didn't happen in the past.

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