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Starting to feel like an outside in my own family - sorry it's a long ramble...

(15 Posts)
hidingbehindasmile Tue 05-Aug-08 10:27:02

I feel so silly posting this really as their are so many posts on this site where people have problems much more serious than this, but this is just a situation which is making me really sad and I just don't feel I can talk to anybody else about it. But even if nobody replies, I would just like to get this off my chest, so please bear with me!

I'll try to keep it sipmle (ish)

My DH and I have 2 kids (3.5 and 1yr) and we live in the same city I grew up in. My parents used to live here too but about 6 years ago, when they retired, they moved 200 miles away to the same small town where my sister and her family live (she's my only sibling btw). My sis and her family also used to live near, but moved to the small town the year before my parents. My parents decided to move there deliberately because it was near my sister. They now live literally 5 mins walk from my sister.

I've always had a good relationship with my parents, both as a child and an adult, but I now feel increasingly isolated from my family . Since the move my parents and sister obviously see each other virtually every day - my mother has provided vast amounts of help with childcare (sis has 3 primary aged children)/ looking after the house etc. Basically she is on hand 24/7 to help my sister and her family out. My father is partly disabled so can't help.

Because of the distance we see my parents rarely (although I do try to get up every couple of months) and have never had any offers of childcare. Which is fine - it makes perfect sense for them to give my sister lots of help, and we are 200 miles away so of course they can't help us.

But my mother seems to have no understanding of the fact that because of their decision to move she has distanced herself both physically and emotionally from me and my children. For example my mum knows my sister's kids intimately - she barely knows mine at all. My parents give my sis and her hubby lots of childcare - during holidays, when someone is sick, after school etc. I mentioned that I would struggle to cope with the hols when my kids go to school and was bluntly told "we cannnot help you". And I do understand this,I really do, but I find it so hurtful as my mum constantly talks of how much she NEEDS to help my sister, and has never once suggested that perhaps I might feel like I could do with a little help!

(FWIW my sister works literally 2 mins from her house as a teacher in her kids school - I work 50 miles away from home and have to leave at 3.30am)

If I ever try to talk to my mum about the fact that I'm finding it a bit hard to look after two kids and a house and a job she just can't seem to have the conversation. She will ALWAYS change the subject to talk about something 'happy' or just say "oh well, never mind I'm sure it can't be that bad". So I feel as if she just wants to reduce me to this permanently jolly family member on the sidelines - and yet she still expects me to listen to her talking about my 'poor sister' and how she needs all this help.

I just feel so frustrated by it all. My mother is not an evil witch - she is a lovely woman and was a great mum to me. And my sister is lovely and has a great family. And I certainly don't think that my parents should base their decision on where to live just to suit me - what I find upsetting is my mothers inability to admit that because they chose to create a situation where they are very very close to one of their children, the other child (me) would be affected by this. I just feel very sad that they have chosen to form this very close 'unit' which I am not, and can never be, a part of. And I am really sad that my children will never really know their grandparents.

God, I've just read over what I've written and I sound so bloody juvenille - but I just wanted to get this off my chest.

If you've read this far then thanks - I'm sorry its a ramble.

TheArmadillo Tue 05-Aug-08 10:30:26

that sounds hard and no it isn't fair.

IS there somehting going on with your sis that you don't know about - that caused them to move to be close to her?

Iwanttobreakfree Tue 05-Aug-08 10:33:23


Can you talk to her about it? I don't think you are being juvenile. It must be very hard and isolating.

Having said that there is not much can be done about the physical distance problem. The only thing that would help is for her to acknowledge your hurt and upset and to listen when you are down.

My parents are buying house next door to my sister soon and that will be tough for me.


nervousal Tue 05-Aug-08 10:34:26

perhaps she feels guilty about living so far from you and thats why she avoids the subject? What can she do realistically to change the situation?

Life's not fair

hidingbehindasmile Tue 05-Aug-08 10:35:47

Hi armadillo

I think there's been a family dynamic for many years that my big sis needs to be treated with kid gloves, but that I can just get on with it.

I should have said that my sis was ill during her teenager years with a psychiatric disease but she is 100% recovered and has been for many years. I think it may be that my mother has never really accepted that my sis is better and still feels she needs to be around to help her out.

Actually that's a very perceptive question, Thearmadillo - reading what I've just written is making me think "can't believe I didn't put that in the OP" - think it has alot to do with this situation!

As you can see, I'm using this to kind of help me think through the whole situaiton.


hidingbehindasmile Tue 05-Aug-08 10:37:57

thanks for your replies.

Iwanttobreakfee - good luck when your parents make the move! You're right that I just want an acknowledgement of how much I've been hurt by what's gone on. Obviously there's nothing that can be done about the distance and nobody's TRIED to do anything nasty - they just don't seem to realise that it has upset me.

Nervousal I think my mum probably does feel guilty underneath and that may well be why she can't talk to me about it.

mistlethrush Tue 05-Aug-08 10:43:55

I know it can work the other way round too - my mil was complaining the other day that bil was spending the summer holidays again with his mil (5 wks in Greece) so dns would be spending time with her - should visit mil soon...

I can sympathise as my parents live 200 miles away, as does mil and fil not suitable for babysiting during day and too far for evenings.

Is there any way you could discuss this with your sister? Could you arrange for your mum to come and visit twice a year for instance for a week or so 'so that she gets to know dcs a bit better so that she can tell their cousins about them'...?

GrapefruitMoon Tue 05-Aug-08 10:50:07

I think you are right that your parents are doing what they are doing because of your sisters past illness - and might it be that she isn't as well now as you think because you don't see her all the time or she needs that help to keep on an even keel?

But apart from that issue I totally empathise with your feelings.... its something I've been thinking about lately. Mine were the first grandchildren on both sides of the family but ILs now have several more living nearby (we live in a different country) SIL and her ds live with PILs so inevitably they are very close to her ds. I felt sad recently when I heard that FIL was taking nephew to a football match. My boys will never have that same close relationship with either grandfather. Even when we visit there isn't the sort of interaction between them that would help to build up a relationship, eg taking them off to do things together. That goes for all the grandparents tbh..

When I was a chid one set of grandparents lived far away. Even when we visited, my grandfather was always busy on the farm, plus he was a very reserved man so we never got to know him properly. I feel sad that it looks like things are turning out the same for my kids. And in fact I do feel quite cross with my own mum at times - she does visit a few times a year but again she doesn't really do stuff with them. Whereas I have very fond memories of going for walks with my grandmother, feeding the chickens, watching her bake, etc...

TheArmadillo Tue 05-Aug-08 10:51:22

how does your sis feel about this? honestly.

She moved away but your parents followed her. Although you feel cast out would you feel that way if they were doing this to both of you?

Your parents seem to have been able to let you go into adult life independantly, but not your sis. She moved away from them (obviously thinking she could cope) but they followed her. Did she want them to or did she want the distance?

Does she feel smothered and jealous of the distance you have from them?

warthog Tue 05-Aug-08 10:51:31

i can soooo relate to this!

my mum lives next door to my sister and provides loads of support. like looking after her kids while she goes on hols.

i'm having another baby in 2 weeks, but she won't come and help me out.

it's bloody hard, and i think it definitely has something to do with your sister's past illness. you've always been a coper, so she knows you'll be fine.

you could phone her up one day in tears and say you're really not coping and you're just desperate for some help. see what happens.

greenday Tue 05-Aug-08 11:02:39

Sorry to hear that! It is sad and I know where you're coming from. The reasons are all clear and present, but yet, it doesn't quite feel good.
IMO, your mum IS aware of the situation that she and your dad have created, but you're right, she won't admit to you. She is avoiding it and is hoping that you will not rock the boat, that you will understand and because, like you said, you were the one to 'get on with it', you are now bound by your maturity and sensibility. People don't like to hear the truth. But I think, if you leave your feelings unresolved longer, it will not go away - it will turn to resentment, and the result of it may turn poisonous. Do something about it now - whether internally or getting your family involved.

hidingbehindasmile Tue 05-Aug-08 11:06:51

I've talked to my sister about this a bit and she does find the help very useful. In truth I don't think she minds my parents moving nearby - she can see that it has its uses!

I get on with my sister very well - we're not incredibly close but we have a very good relationship. To be honest I don't think its really dawned on her that she gets all this help from my parents and I get none. Of course on one level she does know this, but what she doesn't get is that my experience of our parents is now quite different from hers.

Warthog you have my sympathies! My mother has said to me on occasion "you always cope so well with things" and I guess that partly explains this. I think there is also a financial issue - when my sister and her DH first had their kids they were absolutely skint and my parents helped out alot financially. My sister now works so that is no longer true, but I think the image of my sister as needing the help has kind of stuck in my mum's head.

hidingbehindasmile Tue 05-Aug-08 11:10:22

Greenday you're right I do need do to something about this now - that's why I've started this thread really.

I'm just trying to decide whether I should have an open and honest conversation with my mother, even though that might cause her to get upset, or whether I should deal with it internally, as you say and come to an acceptance in myself that this is the situation and I just have to get on with it.

But I don't want this to turn to resentment - I love my family and I want harmonious relations!

GrapefruitMoon Tue 05-Aug-08 12:39:48

When nephew was a bit younger I used to get cross at the "poor SIL" comments. Ok she is a single mother but she is living with her parents who are very helpful and the other set of grandparents have him overnight at least once a week... My dh worked long hours at the time and I had no family in this country.

And even now, they came to visit lately and there were 3 adults clucking around nephew (PILs and SIL) whilst I was left to deal with my three on my own hmm

I think you are right that people get stuck into a way of thinking/acting and do it automatically after a while. I guess our lot are used to all looking out for nephew when they go out for the day and do it on autopilot without noticing that I might be grateful of some help...

wannaBe Tue 05-Aug-08 13:09:01

I think this is quite common where one child is more independent than the other.

I am very independent, my sister on the other hand seems to need a lot of support. Consequently she practically lives at my parents' house and she sees them several times a week. But I see my parents maybe every few weeks, even though they live the same distance away from both of us.

I know my parents would do anything for me, but I think my sister definitely takes priority. On occasions I have invited them over for sunday lunch for eg and my mum has said that they probably can't come as dsis will want to be round at their house with the kids etc.

On the one hand I am sort of ok with it, as I think that that level of involvement by my mother would absolutely do my head in, wink, but on the other hand I do sometimes find it hurtful, because I genuinely believe that my mum just doesn't have that depth of feeling for me that she does for my sister sad.

Although I do wonder if she actually realizes sometimes. The other day she pointed out that I never visit my sister. I replied that she never visits me either, and that there's never time to visit her, as she's either at work or at parents' house. She didn't have a reply to that.

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