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Am I being unreasonable or selfish in expecting more?

(20 Posts)
CakesRus3 Sat 22-Aug-20 11:00:51

My parents divorced when I was 13. My mum met another man who turned out to be pretty awful. Lots of emotional abuse and emotional neglect. It had a massive impact on me as a person and future relationships. As a mum to 3 dc's, I question quite alot how my mum could have chosen this man and herself over me and my siblings. My dc's are my whole world and like most parents I ensure they're supported financially, physically and emotionally. I am a single parent, have been for 10 years. Their dad isn't around unfortunately. In that time I have worked hard to be financially secure.
My eldest dd 25 has a little girl so I am a nanny too. My 2 youngest are 15 and 12.
Life is busy with working and taking dc's to activities (prior to the current situation) etc. I look after my gdd once a week and my eldest dd comes for tea. We usually catch up on weekends to do some shopping or a walk maybe. I am always overly conscious of making sure I am there for them (my eldest dd and gdd) as my mum wasn't for me when I had my eldest dd at a young age. I think because I really struggled with my mh. I sometimes think I am traumatised from those years. I'm obviously alot older and wiser. A completely different person to back then. I just really struggle to forgive my mum. Our relationship is ok now. She helped look after my dc's a little when I went back to university (after divorcing). If I wanted to go out, she would look after them. There is and never has been any consistent pattern though. She is very self absorbed. I'm used to that.
Throughout lockdown I worked and my anxieties were through the roof. Home schooling too. I would pick up some shopping for her. Bake cakes and drop them to her and my dad. Cook on weekends and deliver to my eldest as there were no takeaways open. Made sure my 15 year old had the best lockdown birthday. Also my eldest dd was supposed to get married but it had to be cancelled so made sure that was a special day too. Along with an emergency trip to hospital, a leak that came through the kitchen ceiling and my fencing falling down. Oh and I bumped into a pillar whilst reversing. I'm not saying all of this because I want a medal. It's what makes me happy, seeing my dc's happy. I'm just giving a bit of back ground to why I'm questioning my mum's behaviour.
From the stress of the past few months, and a change in my health which makes me so tired, I have felt quite down. To the point where I am concerned I can't get back to the normsl me. I phoned my mum on 2 occasions very upset, explaining I am struggling quite a bit. Sometimes I wish someone could just cut my lawn, make me a sandwich, fold my pile of washing. I know life is busy for many and sometimes we all feel like we are struggling. We dust ourselves off and start again. However, its made me question again why my mum is not wanting to help me. Or am I being unreasonable expecting anything at my age? I don't even know what I'm expecting really. She is on furlough until January. She doesn't do anything with her time. It would just be nice if she would maybe take my dc's out or offer to cook a meal. I honestly don't know if im expecting too much? Please be honest, I would rather that. I can't seem to face her at the moment and I feel guilty for feeling angry at her. I worry I am always going to be reminded.

OP’s posts: |
Aerial2020 Sat 22-Aug-20 11:13:09

I would suggest you start taking care of yourself a bit more. It's hard to learn, especially with the background you have described. But you can't run on empty and soon you will make yourself ill. Your eldest is an adult now and whilst I can understand why you are helping so much, maybe reduce that a little until you are stronger. You can still be a supportive mum
If she is getting married, she will have a partner to help.
You can't help others when you are empty.
Why are you baking cakes for you mother? I would stop that. Back off a bit. She's not the mum you hoped you would have and amongst all this, you are grieving that relationship you hoped you would have had with her. You are struggling and she is still not helping you. I would leave her be for now and concentrate on you.
Being a single parent is bloody hard. Be kind to yourself. People have been used to you doing everything. Stop doing it all, you can't. Something will give and it will be your health.
Breathe and deal with things slowly. Your mum is an adult who made her own decisions. You don't owe her.

Aerial2020 Sat 22-Aug-20 11:18:39

Also, when we have had trauma/emotional abuse in the past we have been conditioned to feel guilty or that we are selfish. You have had this ingrained in you your while life don't will take time to unlearn that.
You are not selfish to want to someone to consider your feelings for a change. You are not unreasonable to want your mother to support you the way you hope she would.
It's coming to terms with he fact that she probably won't (as your history describes) and how you manage that as it hurts.
Therapy could help with all these emotions but maybe start with taking a breath and thinking what can I do to be kind to myself.

crimsonlake Sat 22-Aug-20 11:21:50

Difficult one, but I think it is wonderful that you have been the exact oppsite to your children that your dm has been to you growing up.
How old is your dm now? Perhaps your expectations are too high considering her history although you say she did help you out with childcare at one time.
Do you not think your children are now at the age when they would not be wanting to go out with their grandmother?
You do so much and I totally understand that you have to shoulder everything as I have been in your shoes. If only someone would do something so simple as to make me a cup of tea that would be a treat.
You have tried to explain to your mum and it has not amounted to anything. Perhaps stop trying to be supermum and being everything to everyone.
I understand you have a lot to be resentful of in your upbringing and a lot of us have skeletons in our cupboards and grudges we harbour against our parents.
I read a very good saying months ago which I quote a lot to myself
'Do not look back, that is not the way you are going'
Take time to rest, time for yourself, enjoy the present and try to let go of the past.

Opentooffers Sat 22-Aug-20 11:40:28

Does your 15 year old do some chores around the house, or are you doing it all? Be honest, you won't be doing your DC's any favours in the future if you run around after them in an effort to make up for what your mother lacked with you. You have worked while bringing 3 DC's up as a single parent. I'm not surprised you're feeling burnt out, add home schooling to a big busy life and no wonder you are suffering. I've been trying to get my 16yr son to wash up for years, he is doing now - got home at 9 from work to find him at the kitchen sink, came down this morning to a tidy kitchen - bliss ( he was only wearing his underpants while washing up, but, hey, it's progress lol).
Involve your DC's in household chores, IME, offering payment surprisingly didn't work, however, withholding existing regular pocket money, has worked - I still owe him, he'll get it when I am satisfied that washing up on days I work has become a regular routine wink

CakesRus3 Sat 22-Aug-20 11:51:38

13Aerial2020 thankyou for your message. Yes, I had no clue how to take care of me until a few years ago, still learning. It's such a big fear of mine, being like my mum. So I over compensate sometimes. I know I'm not but it's something I always think about. I only baked throughout lockdown. Not now. Yes, my dd has a partner. I want to be supportive enough. That is why I question my mum. I don't even know what is enough.
I am trying to take care of myself. It just proves difficult sometimes. I often think of therapy but can't afford it really. Just ordered a book online. I try to help myself by reading lots of internet self help. I agree, my mum isn't going to help how I want her to. I just feel angry at her again. To the point I can't spend any time with her. I wonder if I should tell her how I feel?
21crimsonlake - thankyou for your message and I believe in that quote, very much so. It's How I try to think to heal myself. However, struggle with it popping back to haunt me. My mum is 65. Yes, she helped a little whilst i was training. My dc's would enjoy the company, Im working and they don't see their dad. It would be nice for them. Just to invite them for tea so I have one less thing to think about on occasions would be nice. Maybe my expectations are too high. I guess I already know this deep down. It's just times like this bring back the memories.

OP’s posts: |
corythatwas Sat 22-Aug-20 11:55:13

It must be really hard to parent after being let down yourself, but I think there is a risk of tying yourself up in the I will be the perfect parent- narrative. You need not only to let your children do things for you, but also to let it be a positive experience for them: not something you feel guilty about or something that only happens because you have sacrificed yourself so long that you are at breaking point.

Find something that the younger dc can do every week. Don't build it into a narrative of "I have sacrificed myself for you". That bit was your choice. Build it into a normal everyday narrative of "we all live here, we're all going to contribute a bit, it's a normal thing to do".

As for the weekly walk with your eldest dd: is this just another instance of you being a good mum and always being there for your children? Or could it equally be something positive you do for yourself? Because it's nice to have time with someone you love? Perhaps even something she is doing for her mum because she feels she should do something nice for you? Let her narrative be positive too.

The quotation cited by crimsonlake is excellent: 'Do not look back, that is not the way you are going'. It is also not a place your children have ever been to, certainly not a place they helped to build. Don't get yourself, or them, trapped in it! Help them because you enjoy it. Let them help you because it is a good thing for them to do.

CakesRus3 Sat 22-Aug-20 11:56:20

40Opentooffers Thankyou for your message. That's great news. Nice to come down to a clean kitchen. Yes, we have a chore chart. Started it through lockdown. They had to keep some kind of routine as school had stopped. It took a while but it works well. Dishes and walking the dog. Taking out recycling on a Wednesday. Cleaning their room on a Saturday. They're good. I am very lucky. They have there moments like most.

OP’s posts: |
Aerial2020 Sat 22-Aug-20 11:56:32

That anger is coming from the realisation that she was crap in your childhood and she is being crap now.
Being a mother yourself, you realise you would never treat your children like that and you over compensate so they don't ever go through what you did.
I get that. I think the anger has been buried and now you are freeing yourself. It's a process.

corythatwas Sat 22-Aug-20 11:57:39

Oh and bake a cake because you fancy a cake and it's a nice thing to do. Allow yourself to do what you do for your enjoyment.

I don't know where you live, but if older dc can get around on their own, on foot or (once infection risk has receded) on public transport, it is a very empowering thing for them.

OhCaptain Sat 22-Aug-20 11:58:15

I think it’s unreasonable to expect things from someone who has shown you repeatedly who she is, and that she won’t ever be that person for you.

But it’s not unreasonable to feel sad about it.

You sound exhausted! But just because you do so much for your dc and gdd, doesn’t mean everyone else does or even should! It really comes down to personal preference.

I would say though that your dc are old enough to be doing plenty of chores etc.

Don’t be a martyr just because of your crappy childhood!

You’re not a bad mother if you get your 15 year old to cut the grass!

CakesRus3 Sat 22-Aug-20 12:05:10

55corythatwas thankyou for your message. I never feel I have to sacrifice. I want them to be happy. I love being with them. It is difficult to even my time out aswell as work. That's why I would appreciate my mum's support. I wish their dad was around. In that time they're happy with others, I can have time to recharge. It's non stop most of the time. I do say to my dc's, we all live here and it has worked well. It's the responsibility as a parent I hold alone I struggle with. I can't change it, I know that.

OP’s posts: |
corythatwas Sat 22-Aug-20 12:19:16

No I do understand that, OP. It must be very hard when you get so much happiness from being there for your children to know that she doesn't get the same happiness from being there for you. But it sounds like there is some bit missing in her, something she just isn't capable of- and you are!

user1471457751 Sat 22-Aug-20 16:22:58

Surely your anger should be for the deadbeat dad who abandoned his children?

CakesRus3 Sat 22-Aug-20 17:01:01

Thankyou everyone, really appreciate it. Do you think I should say how I feel. I can feel myself distancing myself from her.

22user1471457751 I have had years of anger but it hasn't changed anything.
We forget he exists. I can't change his behaviour. It doesn't effect us.

OP’s posts: |
billy1966 Sun 23-Aug-20 00:29:08


That anger is coming from the realisation that she was crap in your childhood and she is being crap now.
Being a mother yourself, you realise you would never treat your children like that and you over compensate so they don't ever go through what you did.
I get that. I think the anger has been buried and now you are freeing yourself. It's a process.

OP, you are a wonderful woman to have broken the intergenerational neglect/abuse.

The strength of character that requires.

Part of being a good parent is modeling valuing yourself.

Your mother is not a support.


CakesRus3 Sun 23-Aug-20 08:12:59

29billy1966 thankyou for your message. I contact her, asking her to go for a walk, out for the day etc. She is going to know something is up if I suddenly stop. Also, I don't know how to be around her when I feel so much disappointment. I have voided it for so long. Throughout this period (pandemic), I have realised more. I'm not sure if I should explain how I feel?

OP’s posts: |
Aerial2020 Sun 23-Aug-20 12:42:59

You could try but it might hurt you more as I doubt you will get a response you long for.

If you can't access therapy right now, try writing it down for yourself. All those feelings you have about her and the disappointment of lack of support.
That might help.
You can slowly distance, reduce the contact how you want. If it's hurting you to be around her, listen to that. Take care of yourself. The inner you is crying out for that. That is ok to listen to her.

billy1966 Sun 23-Aug-20 13:46:18

I think at this stage expecting a lightbulb moment from her is highly unlikely.

She has consistently put herself first and I think you need to do the same.

You rightly are angry at how she has treated by her and her choices.

You need to own this.

You either continue to spend time with someone you would rather not be around, to your own detriment or you decide that how you feel has value and that you are going to put yourself first finally.

There are consequences in life sometimes, this could be when your mother learns it.

I think you need to start thinking about yourself finally or the consequences for you could be serious ill health.


SandyY2K Sun 23-Aug-20 13:54:01

Well done on turning things around and being a much better mum and role model for your DC. It can be hard when you had a poor example as you did.

It doesn't sound like your DM is the kind of person to see you need help. Some people offer and others can just set you need a break.

Do you think she world help if you asked? If so then ask her. She may not have the foresight to offer.

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