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Should I be upset that my mum hasn't come to see 4.5 month old DS2 ?- sorry a bit epic and long?

(10 Posts)
Theyfyouupyourmumanddad Mon 02-Nov-09 21:28:29

Would be very grateful for some objective views on problems I'm having with my mum, if anyone can make it through all this.

Have always had a tricky relationship with my mum. She split up from my dad before I was one. Had been a difficult relationship with some domestic violence. She remarried when I was four and I was treated pretty well by my stepfather, unlike my older brother who has a lot of mental health problems. I can be fairly stubborn and convinced I'm right and probably wasn't the easiest person to live with but she spent most of my childhood reminding me how much I owed her every time we had a disagreement. First, she would remind me that she could send me to live with my father, then when I turned 16 that she did not have to support me whilst I was doing A-levels. Whilst I was at university I got a full grant because my stepfather's income wasn't counted but, even though I didn't ask her for any money, she said she was doing me a favour by letting me live rent free at home in the vacations. All this spurred me on to put myself in a position where I wouldn't need to ask her for anything. I got a well paid job when I graduated 13 years ago and haven't asked her for anything since then.

She, understandably, feels very bitter about my father. I'm mixed race and she used to refer to my "paki" relatives. My father was only given permission to see us at my mother's house, which never worked very well and after my brother went to live with him when I was 9 contact petered out. When I tried to make contact again when I was at university, my mother got really angry and made it quite clear to me that I had to choose between the two of them.

I think she does lack empathy and seems to have a talent for saying exactly the wrong thing to me at any important time. I got one B and the rest As for both GCSE and A-level results and the first thing she said both times was to criticise me for getting the B. The first thing she said to me on my wedding day was where could she go to put on her stockings! When I told her DH and I were having trouble conceiving because of his low sperm count she said that she knew it would be DH's problem because all the women in our family were very fertile. I also feel that we have very one sided conversations. She doesn't listen to or remember what I say and frequently interrupts to talk about what she wants to. She also can't seem to countenance me having a different opinion on something from her without accusing me of "getting at her".

We have had a fairly up and down relationship since I've been grown up but started to get on better after DS1 was born (he's now 4 and was the only grandchild before DS2 was born). He liked her making a fuss of him and I was keen to let him have a grandparent relationship if he could. However, after two or three years things started to get tense again. She lives at the other end of the country and would come to stay six or seven times a year for four days at at a time, rather than just for the weekend, because she didn't want to pay for the more expensive train tickets. She increasingly seemed to take our hospitality for granted, particularly since we moved to a bigger house, doing things like inviting my aunt over for the day without asking us first. I was finding it difficult having her around and all of the bad childhood memories which I thought I had left behind started to bother me again. I think I did become increasingly irritable with her and critical of her.

This all came to a head last Christmas. She and my stepdad were keen to spend Christmas with us so they could see DS1 enjoying himself. They had come the previous Christmas and we had just about survived, despite her taking over my kitchen on Christmas eve to make a gingerbread house and being incredibly rude to the cousin I had invited over (she had given up her job because of a breakdown and my mum lectured her on how everyone needs to work). But last Christmas, I was 14 weeks pregnant and had just had the flu, so not at my best. I had my mum, my stepdad and my sister staying. Mum was her usual tactless self, doing things like telling me I was too cautious for not drinking, which wasn't the easiest thing for me whilst everyone else was knocking it back over Christmas. I ended up having a huge row with my mum on Christmas Day. She accused me of using her as a "whipping boy" and criticising her all the time and stormed out of the house. She returned in time for Christmas lunch which was tense and unhappy and then stayed for another two days without speaking to me but eating food I had cooked and downing lots of booze.

After they had gone I sent her an email which was intended to suggest a way forward. It apologised for my part, explained why what she had done had upset me, suggested ways in which we might get on better and suggested that she come and see us next time she was staying with my aunt so that she could see DS1 and we could try to patch things up. She never replied to that and every time I've spoken to her on the phone she's acted as though nothing has happened. I've tried to make an effort by phoning and emailing but she doesn't reciprocate. She has phoned once and emailed once since Christmas and, apart from sending a birthday present, has basically ignored DS1 whom she used to dote on. DS2 was born in June and she really has shown no interest in him at all. I've emailed photos and she has said on the phone that she hasn't had time to look at them (she's retired and does various liberal causes and an OU degree). DS2 and I were admitted back into hospital when he was 10 days old because he had lost too much weight and when I phoned her a few days after we had got out again she said that she hadn't phoned to see how he was because it cost too much money to phone during the day. I was struggling to work out if her lack of interest was because she is still angry post Christmas or if it's just because she is odd and wrapped up in herself. I then found out by chance that she had been in London for the weekend for another reason and hadn't bothered to come to meet DS2.

I know I probably ought just to let it go and not bother but it's difficult when it's your own mother. I can't help but feel really slighted that I have had a child and she hasn't shown any interest in seeing him at all. I would really also like the DSs to have some sort of grandparent relationship. DH's mum is dead and his dad is 80 and lives in another country so this is our only shot. DS1 was watching a granny on Tweenies the other day and said "I haven't got a grandma like that". He also said he missed her when I asked him, though may just have been saying what he thought I wanted to hear. But not sure how to take it forward. My mum doesn't seem to want to engage on why she isn't bothering with the DSs and I think any attempt by me to talk about it will be perceived as criticism. I think the only way to get her to see the DSs would be to tell her that I really wanted her to come and stay and to let her come and behave however she wanted to. But, seeing as she is still in her early sixties, I think that doing that would be setting us up for having a one sided relationship in which she behaves however she wants for the next twenty years.

Well done if you've read this far. It felt quite therapeutic writing it all down, even if nobody replies...

Chaotica Mon 02-Nov-09 21:35:59

TBH I skim read this. But she sounds like too much work for no reward. (My mum was a pia but at least she took at lot of notice of her grandchildren, much to everyone's surprise.) I know it's harsh, but I think you've done your best and I'd get on with life without her. Your DSs don't need someone who doesn't appear to care about them even if it is their granny.

Chaotica Mon 02-Nov-09 21:37:55

BTW - I think you should be upset. But don't beat yourself up about it - you're not at fault and parents can be a pain.

GroundhogsRocketScientist Mon 02-Nov-09 21:39:10

Honestly, i think you are best off without her. She sounds dreadful, and you deserve better.

Just because she is the only mother figure available, doesn't mean you have to put up with that.

Don't contact her, see how long she does go before she bothers... If she doesn't, then it's her loss.

junkcollector Mon 02-Nov-09 21:50:08

You have every right to be upset. She sounds very controlling and this behaviour is just another way to control you. Passive Aggression on a massive scale. It sounds like she loves drama and wants everyone and everything to dance to her tune. I think you HAVE to ignore her for the moment. Enjoy your 2nd baby and forget her for a while. I bet she'll come back when she realises your not bothered about her sulking. It's HER that's missing out, not you or your DC.

mmrred Mon 02-Nov-09 21:51:00

Honestly? Why would you want a selfish racist free-loading pseudo-victim anywhere near your beautiful DC's?

What would your life be like if she simply wasn't in it?

Does it seem nice? Then there you go. You don't owe her anything else.

TheCrackFox Mon 02-Nov-09 21:57:02

You wouldn't be human if you didn't feel upset about your mum's behaviour. However, the important thing to remember is that this isn't your fault. Don't let her rain on your parade (again, no doubt) and enjoy your beautiful baby. You are not responsible for your mum's happiness, if she wants to act like a twat then let her.

useful website explaining why your mum is so weird

PinkyRed Mon 02-Nov-09 22:11:50

Sorry you're having such a bad time. There are a number of threads on here about toxic parents and narcissistic personality disorder - I'm not saying this is the case with your mother but you might find it useful to see your situation in the context of others.

Your mum sounds like mine in a lot of ways, and tbh I have accepted that I have her in my life on her terms or not at all. In my case, I have decided that the guilt I would feel for locking her out of my life would be greater than the difficulties I have in pandering to her. It's a choice, and I don't know if it's the right one. I guess you have to decide for yourself which is the least worse outcome for you.

Hope you manage to find a way that works for you.

HansieMom Mon 02-Nov-09 22:20:36

My mouth fell open when I read the part about she hadn't had time to look at the pictures you had sent of your baby!

How about enjoying a relationship with your dad?

Theyfyouupyourmumanddad Tue 03-Nov-09 09:03:22

Thanks v much for replies. All very helpful and kind. I think I will just leave her be for a little while and see what happens. Things are still quite sleep deprived round here so probably not the best time to start trying to deal with difficult relationships. It is her loss because DS2 is gorgeous and very rewarding, lovely and cuddly and smiley.

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