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problems with my mother (stupidly long, sorry)

(15 Posts)
monkeyfeathers Thu 13-Aug-09 21:58:10

(Advance warning, could be very, very long).

This week has been the worst week I've had for a very long time. I'm currently pregnant with my second child and I was due on the 11th (so I'm now 2 days overdue, and completely fed up with it). I now live a long way (at least a 6 hour drive) from my mother.

DS1 is now 9 but for the first 5 years of his life I lived with my mother (had him young, was on my own, etc, etc). They've always been very close but the truth is that my mother is very overbearing and has always tried to take over somewhat and I'm pretty sure she sees him as more of a son than a grandson. She's been very generous over the years (financially and with childcare) and, while I am very grateful for this, I do feel that she has tended to use this generosity (and the fact that, up until a year ago, I couldn't really afford to say no to her) to get her own way and control things a bit.

She's been very generous in buying the OH and me stuff for this baby too. Partly this is because she gave away pretty much all the stuff that we could have reused from DS1 so she felt guilty about that, but she's also bought other stuff. We haven't at any point asked her to buy us anything and it is actually quite difficult to stop her. She's always going on about how she has the money and she likes being able to spend it etc (she did struggle financially when I was growing up, but now her and my step-dad are well off). She also says that when she's old and hasn't got as much money she knows I'll be in a position to help her out (and I would, even despite all the crap of the last week).

I also have a younger sister (who is 27, so now actually that young). I do not get on with her at all and I find being in her company (even for short times) very difficult and stressful. There are loads of reasons for this (which I won't bore you with in any detail) but as a summary I could say that she has a very thin veneer of charm that very easily slips to reveal her true character, and it isn't nice at all. Although, in all honesty, I think I find the (very fake) charm even harder to deal with. She's also lazy, deluded and feels entitled to the world on a plate (she's got no job, or any intention of getting one in the foreseeable future, and lives off my mother and step-father, for example).

Anyway, my mum and sister have been out visiting my step-dad for the last 5 weeks or so (my mum is a teacher in Scotland, so she spends all her holidays abroad with my step-dad, and my sister just goes along for the ride). The plan (into which I had absolutely no input and was basically just informed about) was that my mum would come back slightly earlier than usual and stay with us so that she could look after DS1 when I go into labour. My MIL could also help with this (and would have if I'd gone into labour early--MIL is really) but she lives a 2 hour drive away, so it's kind of handy to have someone here in case we need to go quickly.

2 weeks ago my mum phoned and said that my sister was flying back that Friday. Then she asked if I wanted her to come and stay with us. I responded with a very vigorous 'hell no', and my mum got really annoyed with me because my sister was standing beside her while she asked. I have no idea why she was surprised about this since she knows I don't like my sister (even if she can't accept it) and it would mean that the OH and would have been stuck with my sister (who OH does not like either) hanging around our house and we'd have to have paid for everything for her and entertained her for an indefinite period of time. Based on what we've learned since, it's obvious that they thought there was nothing unreasonable about her doing this for like 3 or 4 weeks. I don't think saying no was in any way unreasonable, particularly given that we live in a small 3 bedroom house and have nowhere for guests to stay. Having said no to an extended freeloader house guest, I thought that was that.

So my mum arrived on Sunday. To be honest, OH was not at all happy about having her come to stay with us especially as she'd given us no idea of how long she was intending to stay. But (for all the reasons outlined above and others) I didn't really feel able to tell her to leave or anything (because of what's happened since, OH now understands that being all grumpy with me/putting pressure on me to tell her to leave etc put me in an impossible position). Shortly after she arrived it emerged that we were in for another, explicitly not invited, house guest. Apparently my sister was 'devastated' after the phone call and spent the 'entire night' crying about it (this in itself shows how completely deluded and detached from reality my sister is). So, without speaking to me or anything, my mother and step-dad (who is, if anything, more indulgent of my sister) decided that they would change her plane tickets so that she would arrive yesterday and come to stay with us along with my mum. Given than my mum was going to be sleeping on the couch in our (not very big) living room this seems all the more ludicrous.

My mum told OH about this in the car and he's indicated that I was not going to be happy about this (as obviously it's hard for him to tell my mother that he's not happy either, especially since she treats him like he's incidental to everything rather than my partner and the baby's father). My mum replied with something stupid along the lines of 'oh we've just got to get them together' and had clearly resolved not to come out and tell me properly and just to force me to put up with this. She spent the next few days making all these comments about how my sister had presents for us and the baby and saying how she would buy us an expensive baby rocker thingy 'from my sister' etc (all in front of DS1, so I couldn't say anything). She also didn't actually tell me when my sister would be arriving. Basically, it was very obvious that she was buying stuff and using DS1 (who seems to quite like my sister and I try not to compromise that) to force me into a position where I couldn't say anything without looking ungrateful and nasty.

All the while, I was getting increasingly stressed about all this, as was OH. On Tuesday I had an appointment with the midwife (where she found quite a lot of ketones in my urine but I have no idea why) and she arranged for me to have a sweep next week/talked about when they'd think about inducing etc). OH and I resolved to tell my mum about the ketones and also lie and say that my blood pressure was too high and that I needed not to be stressed etc. In fairness, the midwife did express horror when I told her about our house guests problem and would probably have instructed me to lie about this anyway (I'm sure my blood pressure would have been much, much higher if OH hadn't spend the whole day looking after me and trying to relax me before the appointment). Amazingly, my mum just replied with 'oh that's normal at this point', so I got a bit grumpy and snapped that it was most definitely not normal or in any way desirable.

Yesterday morning my mum announced (she tends to announce rather than discuss plans) her plans for the day, which ended with how she would be going to pick up my sister. I was not at all happy about this (I really can't cope with her at the best of times, but especially not in crowded conditions while I'm pregnant and overdue). I went upstairs, lay down and cried a lot (not for the first time this week--loads of crying seems to have been the defining experience of my life since my mum arrived).

So OH snaffled DS1 away to play some video games and asked my mum to come up and talk to me. She asked if I was OK, so I said 'no' and explained that I could not (and cannot) cope with my sister being here. Rather than being reasonable about this, my mum got all arsey and said that her and my sister would go and stay in a B&B. She started going on about how my attitude was terrible and implying that I was some kind of dreadful person and how my sister is 'all I've got' etc, etc. (More background information: my dad is an alcoholic and emotionally abusive so when I had DS I decided that the best thing would be to have no more contact with him, which meant that I had to cut off contact with that entire side of the family--I liked my cousins quite a lot, but I don't regret this as it was the right decision for both me and my son). She also started going on about how I was putting her in an impossible position by forcing her to choose between her daughters (which is clearly complete nonsense--I don't have the time or energy to play these kind of games, and frankly wouldn't bother because all past experience tells me that my mother would always take my sister's side).

OH tried to speak to her and sort things out but he quickly discovered that she was being completely unreasonable and also that she had clearly decided in advance (before she even arrived here) that I was 'the bad guy'. She started going on about how this wasn't about us having no space and needing not to be stressed etc, but that it was 'typical' of me and how I was such a dreadful person and selfish and awful etc etc. She also added 'well, there's no way we're staying after Sunday now' (which amazed OH, as she must have been planning to stay for weeks!).

So I spent the whole day (and today) feeling awful and OH has had to look after me and try to get me to believe that I'm not a bad person, or being unreasonable about any of this (he's not been entirely successful in this). He's really angry with my mother, and insists that she's being emotionally abusive, controlling and unreasonable. Intellectually, I can see that he's right, but I still feel awful. Also, I'm now absolutely certain that this baby is not going to come out until after they leave (and it will possibly require persuasion). Before my mum arrived I was getting loads of the right kind of cramps and they were getting progressively more like sustained labour before she arrived; as of yesterday, they've ceased entrely. Frankly, I'd refuse to come out in this atmosphere too if I were him!

My mum asked OH if she could take DS out for the day today, so I had to text her to say she could (but also to make clear that we weren't asking her to look after him, she was simply welcome to have him for the day if she wanted to). I also clearly and rationally explained my position. Summarised: she created this situation and she knew that it would upset me, but she decided it was alright/more important to upset a pregnant woman just because my sister wanted to be around when the baby is born (which clearly isn't some kind of right); that my priority right now needs to be my baby and my family; that this should never have been about my sister--it's OH and me that are having a baby and it's supposed to be an exciting and happy time for us and DS (who is totally excited about being a big brother); that no one actually said that my sister couldn't see the baby, just that she couldn't come and stay for as long as she wanted--she could quite easily have come down for a day or two after the baby was born and left again with my mum; that we're very grateful for all the help my mum has given us but that doesn't give her the right to dictate everything.

All I got back was a very passive aggressive text saying that she's upset about 'what my attitude says about me as a person'. She did take DS out and is going to take him out again tomorrow (OH and I are sending him with more money than we can really afford so that she can't try to assume any moral high ground), but it was a difficult and uncomfortable handover. My mum and sister are both very good at faking and pretending everything's fine, but I really don't have the energy for that nonsense (I feel genuinely awful: exhausted, sick, generally dreadful).

So now we're left with a horrible, uncomfortable situation and I have no idea how to make things better. In all honesty, I don't think there's any going back from this. Her actions, attitude and the things she's said have made it very obvious that she does not care about what's best for me (in fact, that she's quite happy to purposefully and knowingly set out to upset me when I'm feeling vulnerable and to put my sister's wishes before mine no matter what the circumstances are). And it seems that she doesn't even like me at all; it seems she simply tolerates me for the kids. To be honest, I've suspected this for years, but it's not a nice thing to have confirmed. She also clearly has no respect for my OH at all, and doesn't seem to have noticed or value everything that he does for me and DS (because she hasn't noticed that I do have him and that he's been the only one that seems to care about looking after me in all tis--actually no, the PILs have also been very supportive). I actually feel like I've lost my mother, since I don't see how I can trust her again.

Sorry, that was long. I guess I just wanted to get it off my chest.

knockedgymnast Sun 16-Aug-09 20:56:31

OMG, that was an essay and a half monkeyfeathers

I had to have a cuppa inbetween reading grin

It seems to me that both your mum and your sister are callous. Has she forgotten that you're about to give birth? Why would you want your sister there who, by what you've said, doesn't particularly like you anyway?

I would put them both on the back-burner for now and concentrate on the arrival of your baby. Your sister and mum obviously have too much time on their hands.

Good luck X

deste Sun 16-Aug-09 21:11:18

I dont think you will be having your mum for long, the schools in Scotland start next week. Surely she has to go back for that. Stop thinking about your mum and sister and start concentrating on the birth. By the way I have the same space between mine (9 years) and it was brilliant. Best wishes for the baby by the way.

traceybath Sun 16-Aug-09 21:25:26

You are heavily pregnant and overdue and therefore entitled to be as grumpy/hormonal/irrational as you like smile.

However from your post i do wonder if you're overthinking things a bit. If you imagine how you'd feel if your two children ended up hating each other i'm sure you'd be upset and perhaps try to 'bring them together'. Granted not exactly the best timing on your mum's part though.

It sounds like your mum is trying to do the right thing but she's just going about it rather insensitively.

Of course i'm probably totally wrong and your mum is being deliberately horrid. But i do think that when heavily pregnant (i had dc3 3 weeks ago so still fresh in my mind) i know i have a tendency to introspection and being irrational.

So concentrate on just getting through each day, look forward to your new baby and just ignore the mum/sister problem for the moment.

Good luck!

Dominique07 Sun 16-Aug-09 21:35:57

Do you know what - my mother is a teeny tiny bit like this - I just try to keep my distance and we meet up once every few months and I spend a few days with her at a time.
She can be very deluded too, and rude to my partner, but since its my mother i feel like i might as well put up with her once every 3-6 months.
I bet you'll all meet up again and you and your mum and your partner might have to just grin and try to paste over the cracks.
Focus on what is most important now; you.

toomanystuffedbears Sun 16-Aug-09 22:01:39

Hello monkeyfeathers

First, congratulations on the pending birth of your son. I hope the birth goes smoothly for you and the dear lo, if it hasn't already happened.

And trust your OH. He sounds like a good sort of man and you are lucky to have him on your side.

"On your side"-with regards to your mom- not...imho your mother sounds like one of the narcissistic types who require things to revolve around her. The excessive spending, announcing rather than asking, suddenly bringing sister when specifically said that was not a good thing, being totally dismissive about the fact that you are about to give birth (!!) all kind of suggest this.

Like you don't exist; then when you wish to manifest the condition of your being an independent intelligent individual-she lays on the guilt trip ("I only want what's best for you").

Power plays plain and simple. I think "giving birth" is a ripe target for these people who presume others could not possibly be competent. Of course a mom with a new baby needs help; the over functioning superiority complexes are to be the savior. And damn us if we don't fall to the ground and kiss every one of their toes! angry

As I was reading, I was thinking that you & OH should bug out to a B&B! grin That she suggested she should! Yes, great idea, she is so kind to understand that you will appreciate her help (do not use the word NEED) but you also (now use it) need your space. It is setting a sort of boundary. She needs lots of boundaries. Your OH can help out tons with this wink (he exists too).

Try your best to put her out of your mind and relax. She will do what she will regardless, and you know it. You simply can not give her your attention right now. Push her and your sister (just roll your eyes at her, nothing need be said) in to the extreem periphery-way, way to the side.

If you and OH really need her help, financially or child-care, then you need to find some coping strategies that do not include you feeling degraded.

If you do not need her help, then why hesitate to tell her?
At least tell her to "back off": let her know she is being "overbearing" and you just can't deal with it now. You will call her shortly after the birth and that is a take it or leave it offer.
Tell her to go and maybe wink you'll invite her to the Christening (if appropriate-sorry didn't mean to presume blush).

dizietsma Sun 16-Aug-09 22:23:33

UGH, how freaking selfish of your mum and sister. I have dealt with a similar situation and can totally relate.

Clearly with your first kid the boundaries were necessarily a bit less defined than they ought to be. Your mum sounds quite controlling and seems to be afraid of losing her control in your life and children with this next kid. Hence the power games with your sister when you are in an extremely vulnerable state.

You are going to have to draw some boundaries, make them crystal clear, stand by them and let her have the tantrum that will inevitably follow. Ideally you need to explain how she has overstepped the mark, what you expect from her in future and how things with this kid will differ from the last. You may also want to explicitly tell her that she doesn't buy the right to tell you how to raise your kid or live your life. If she is unable to give without expecting a kind of compliance in return, you will have to stop accepting her gifts. Also explain that you expect her to treat you partner and the father of her next grandchild with more respect. You might as well get it all out of the way at once!

She wont like it I'm afraid, not one bit. I suspect she'll throw a fit all through your birth and newborn stage, so for the sake of your own sanity you may want to cut her out until the baby is a few months old and you feel strong enough to cope with her BS.

I would suggest that after you lay it on the line, tell her that her behaviour has caused you such grief that you no longer feel you can be around her until some time after the baby is born and things are more settled for the sake of your and your baby's health. Make sure she understands that it is her behaviour that has pushed you to these drastic measures, and you would very much have like the support of your family at this time, but she has let you down so badly there is no alternative.

There will be a family shitstorm. Let you DH deal with the calls etc, get him to calmly back you up.

Rope in the PIL's to pick up the slack, concentrate on yourself, your baby and your family unit. These are the things you need to focus on, not your mum, sister and their self-centred drama.


monkeyfeathers Mon 17-Aug-09 00:31:18

Thanks everyone (and sorry about the essay - my job requires me to write at length and it's hard to curtail that). The baby still hasn't made an appearance and things are still a mess, but I'm just keeping my head down and waiting for everything to be over (which is clearly not how the OH and I were hoping we'd feel about the birth of our child).

Unfortunately my mother has not gone. She must've taken some kind of unpaid leave from work or something, as she'd've needed to leave today. Apparently, she's booked another couple of nights in the hotel with my sister. I don't think they want to leave without seeing the baby, probably because that would mean they wouldn't see him for ages. I really don't feel that I could cope with just telling them to go, and I don't want to be accused of preventing them from seeing the baby etc.

She's been taking DS out every day with my sister. We feel obliged to let her do this but it means that we hardly get to see him (she's been picking him up in the morning and dropping him off close to his bedtime). We have made it clear that she is not doing us a favour in this (indeed, we'd actually like to spend some time with him), but I don't want to fuel her notions that I'm being selfish and awful. The drop offs are extremely uncomfortable though; she's been standing on the street outside our gate when she drops him off and making falsely cheery conversation. I'm not up to (or willing to) play the game though

There is obviously a lot of family baggage involved. As far as my sister goes, insofar as I can tell she doesn't hate me; I just cannot cope with being in her presence. She's incredibly difficult to be around, horribly delusional and very, very selfish. (Without being in any way qualified to say so) I'd say it was pretty safe to say that she has at least one personality disorder. The worst thing is that my mum enables her, makes excuses for her, etc, etc. All my life she's gone out of her way to shield my sister from the consequences of her actions and personality. On the surface, she can appear to be very charming but it's a thin veneer and far from the reality of living with her.

I really do need to go about properly (and firmly) redrawing boundaries with my mother. She has always been very controlling and manipulative and it's really hard to unbreak 28 years of simply keeping quiet and going along with things so as to keep the peace. I did tell her (by text message) that it was now abundantly clear that I can't rely on her and that any help she does offer comes with the expectation that she can control everything, which isn't at all fair on me.

Hopefully the baby will make an appearance soon and they can go back to being hundreds of miles away, so we can just concentrate on being a family. I'll worry about how to sort out the family crap when I'm ready for it. For now, the task is really to get through the next week.

monkeyfeathers Mon 17-Aug-09 00:34:40

Also, part of the problem is that one of my sister's current delusions involves being some kind of spiritual 'earth mother' who is wonderful with children. She's also incredibly jealous that she doesn't have a boyfriend (actually a husband as she's desperate to get married) and isn't pregnant. This all (apparently) gives her some rights over the birth of my child.

dizietsma Mon 17-Aug-09 01:18:13

Yeah, see your sister and mother are making this whole thing about themselves. Sister wants to be an earth mother, your mother wants a victim role as a form of manipulation to control your behaviour. You don't need this right now. It's an unnecessary distraction at best, actively harmful at worst.

It's very hard to unlearn the ingrained behaviours of family dynamics, which is why I'm suggesting taking a break from this until you are feeling stronger. A tough step I know, understandable that you find it a hard step to take just now. Just remember you can always walk away from it. If it all gets too much, you can cut them out.

sayithowitis Mon 17-Aug-09 09:39:50

As far as your DS1 is concerned, could your DP tell your mother that you both want to spend a day (or more) with him alone as this will be the last time it will just be the three of you and you want to spoil your DS1 a bit before the baby arrives? Even if it's only one day at least you will get a day alone with him.

It sounds very much as though your mum and sister are aonly cocerned about themselves in all of this. How dare they give you added stress at this time? I do understand that you don't want to stop them seeing the baby etc, but I am afraid that if this was happening to me, my DH would by now, be telling them very clearly to back off and to wait for the phone call inviting them to visite the newest family member. You are an adult and are entitled to make decisions about who you see and who you don't. If your decisions don't fit with their plans - tough!

Hope all goes well with the birth! smile

ipiratethief Mon 17-Aug-09 09:51:00

put your foot down. tell them to go, that you can't take the stress.

How dare she just fucking invite your sister to YOUR home, when you'd said no.

I am totally shock

Your oh needs to tell her too.

bethoo Mon 17-Aug-09 10:07:11

this is my mother! though she favoured my brother and now i have a ds she is always comparing him to my brother and even giving him food she only gave my bro. every thing that comes out her mouth has an underlying meaning to offend me. but hey ho i live over 300 miles away so dont have to put up with it like poor you. at least your mum would visit you, mine wont travel down yet she will travel down to see my brother who lives less than 50 miles away!
anyhoo i am sorry to hear how stressful this can be and being hormonal can make things hundred times worse!
i am 20 weeks pregnant and find that email contact is enough for me!
chin up and try not to let her get to you, i know it is hard but try.
all the best for the birth. x

Leeka Tue 18-Aug-09 11:19:21

Why don't you have a proper chat to her, not by text message, and not when your sister is there, and tell her how you feel?

If you want to spend time with your son, then tell your mum that. If you don't want your sister to visit, tell them - or get your husband to. You seem to be assigning all sorts of thoughts and feelings to them without them having said any of them.

Just talk about it, and don't over complicate.

2rebecca Tue 18-Aug-09 14:11:56

I agree with telling your mum if you want to spend time with your son. It's great she is in a b&b but you could just tell her that you are spending time with your son the next day or morning or whatever and she and your sister are free to go off sightseeing or whatever. If my son goes out with grandparents I don't send him with loads of money. Grandparents treating kids is normal, you need to relax a bit on that issue. Spending money on someone doesn't mean you own them, and can just be a sign of affection. You should never feel you have to let your son go off with relatives. You didn't invite her for this indefinite stay after all. How come your sister doesn't have a life of her own (job, friends etc) to get on with and just follows your mum around like a lap dog?
Talking to your mum with your sister not there might be helpful.
In general I'd do what you want and let your mum and sister hang about the hotel if they wish, but not feel the need to give them your son as entertainement if you don't want.

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