Boundaries with Mother(12 Posts)
I'll try to keep the backstory brief but I don't want to drip feed.
I'm 35, a SAHM, and have a 18 month old DS with my long term partner. Generally nice steady and secure life and nice home, which is what I've always wanted, no real problems. I'm fortunate.
Backstory is my mother is a drinker and has been since I was a child. Divorced from DF, and hads drunk 2-3 nights a week since I can remember. I spent a lot of time when I was small making sure my DB was sheltered from the excesses. When she's sober, she fantastic and she is a wonderful Grandma. DS adores her. When she's drunk, she's a nightmare. After many years of rows, drunken incidences (she'd start a fight in an empty room when drinking) which have been so bad police have been called both me and DB set out very clearly after the last time (when I was heavily pregnant, not there luckily but it involved DB) that if she's had a drink she was not to contact us. She used to call and send nonsense texts constantly, being quite abusive. We've both tried lots of times to get her help and support her, but such efforts are always met with 'I won't be told what to do'. She never drinks in our presence, and is not permitted to drink in our homes.
She comes to see DS every weekday after work, which is fine and she's great with him. She also babysits (very) occasionally of an evening, and would never ever drink around him.
My problem is, she's started to contact both me and DB when she drinking again. It's crept in slowly, and wasn't particularly abusive until last night. When she calls and I can hear she's drunk (to be honest I can tell when she's had just one drink after all these years) I get off the phone quickly telling her I've told her not to ring me when drunk and I ignore texts. She is going through a stressful time because my DGM is ill in hospital so she has daily visiting there and DGM is highly infectious so she's not visiting me at the moment in case DS was to catch anything.
Last night she sent me and DB (on a joint group message we have) messages accusing us of not caring about DGM because neither of us had called her that day to see how she is. Now, we've both been calling every day for long chats but we hadn't yesterday because I had my hands full with DS being a pest for bed and DB was working late. She was clearly drunk and was just horrible. I did actually reply, politely telling her she was out of line and that I was very annoyed and left it at that. DB has seen her today, and said she acted like nothing had happened.
It's starting to get to be point where I want to go LC or NC, but I feel bad because of DS. They have a great relationship and as I said, when she's sober she's generally great. The only other thing - another boundaries issue - is that aside from the weekday visits she turns up at my house unannounced at weekends when she knows I've asked everyone not to do that. I hate it. Everyone else respects this and calls or texts first, but not her. She is the exception apparently, and gets really huffy when I say 'it's not a good time, we're just off out' or the like.
I've recently recovered from post-natal anxiety which was bloody horrible but counselling was great and I'm feeling very much myself again . She doesn't know, I never told her because it'd only be one more thing for her to throw in my face as an insult when she's drunk. Through the counselling I've learned that a lot of my problems (which were triggered by a very traumatic birth and DS having health and feeding issues - he's fine now) have roots in me being very much a 'protector' as a result of past experiences which went into overdrive when DS arrived. I've been told firm boundaries are a must for me and I agree - but my mother just has no respect for them. Whenever one of these drunken rants occurs and I see her the next day, she acts as if nothing's happened. When I mention it (and I always do) it's brushed off.
Sorry that was longer than I intended! Thanks if you made it to the end. WWYD?
I think you should put in whatever appropriate boundaries enable you to have a sane, healthy, happy home.
When your mum is overwhelmed emotionally she will turn to drink but it is not your responsibility to manage her emotions. Don't respond. Find a neutral way to check on sick relatives that bypass your mum.
I think it is very risky to let her babysit.
She would never drink around DS. I do truly believe that. She babysits at my house and drives home after. I also don't really ever have any wine in (that's all she drinks, we don't drink it) and we're only ever gone for 2/3 hours for dinner or something while DS is in bed.
Never in a million years would I allow her to babysit if I thought for a second she'd drink whilst responsible for DS. Never.
How did you get her to respect your boundaries before? Could you do that again?
Personally I tend to use ‘timeouts’ for my ‘D’M (who isn’t particularly nice sober tbh, but pulls the woe is me gaslighting crap if you call her in it).
So if she crosses a line I ignore her for a week. I agree it’s harder with DC as you feel guilty for them (not that I would ever let mine babysit).
@gandalfspants We both (me and DB) told her we'd have nothing to do with her if an incident like that occurred again. My DB didn't speak to her for nearly three months, he only resumed contact and buried the hatchet when my DS was born.
Yes, DS loves her. He hasn't seen her for nearly a fortnight because of DGMs illness, but he keeps kissing and stroking a photo of her. I've facetimed her in the morning sometimes and he goes wild and runs to the door looking for her. So I do feel bad.
Just remember that the safety of DS always comes before your mum's feelings.
I could have written this! Almost mirrors my life... up until I went VERY low contact in my mid-20s.
I moved away and now only see her once to twice a year. My mental health is far more stable as a result.
Yes, I know that @Movablefeast. My DS's welfare comes before everything. There is no risk to him at all.
@Dauphinoise moving isn't an option, we've found our forever home and I love it here. Do you still get phone contact?
Your boundaries with her for yourself and DS still need work. IMO it’s not a good idea, or beneficial to you or DS, for her to see DS anywhere near so frequently or to babysit (have sole charge) for him, ever.
Even when she’s not actually drinking her alcoholism affects her cognitive skills and judgment: she is an unsuitable carer.
I had to put boundaries on time with DC / never babysitting in place with a close relative with an alcohol problem, whose behaviour was/is better than your mother’s. The “fear obligation and guilt” were all there in spades, but the DC and their safety come first.
Not the key point of your post, but if you’re not married and don’t have indpendent wealth you are not “secure” as a SAHM, financially and legally at least. It’d be adviseable to seek paid work and/or get married.
DS spending so much time with his grandmother, who is likely to behave erratically and be ill due to her alcohol problem, wasn’t beneficial to him IMO.
Much better for him to have much less frequent contact.
Yes dumbledores we call each other occasionally, maybe once every couple of months. But I will only speak to her during the day, before she's got steaming drunk.
Several years ago she used to constantly call me late at night to be verbally abusive when she'd reached that certain level of inebriation (And then like your dm, act like nothing had happened the next day). One night I'd completely had enough and shouted at her to stop contacting me until she'd got professional help for her alcoholism ...she was in denial about her problem (and still is) and nobody actually dared say the word 'alcoholic' to her. She didn't appreciate me having "the audacity" to say that to her so she cut me off, and forced the entire family to cut me off too. I spent a whole year basically exiled from the family and labelled "a liar" "disrespectful" and "dirty mouthed".
It wasn't the first time I'd been cut off like this for speaking my mind (because everyone else was too afraid to), and usually I'd be the one to have to go crawling to her to make peace. But this particular time I figured being cast out was better than putting up with this shit forever more.
So I didn't go crawling back, and I managed just fine. It took her a year to finally crawl back to me (well, she sent her boyfriend! And there was still no apology). I made up with her, in a fashion, but decided to keep it LC.
After that she has never called me drunk late at night ever again. Letting her see that I didn't care if we went NC, that I wasn't prepared to put up with it any more and that I wasn't going make peace with her and keep accepting the blame for her problem, made her stop. I think moving away and going LC has made her see that she can't continue to abuse me and get away with it
However she has never sought any help for her issues. She sees any form of mental illness as "pathetic" and "weak". Some people just simply won't accept help, and you have to stop banging your head against that brick wall and concentrate on your own life.
That sounds sadly familiar @Dauphinoise I see why you say you could have written my post yourself. Thanks for sharing, at least it's not just me. I'm glad you're in a place that you're happy with now.
@Dozer I'm not vulnerable being an unmarried SAHM, and I'm happy with my situation. That's not what this thread is about. Very unromantically we had a trust deed drawn up before we bought the house years ago at the same time we sorted out our wills, life insurance etc. We have significant equity in the house 50% of which would be mine if we split and sold as well as the amounts we each put down as a deposit which were not insignificant either. I have full access to all of our day to day money and savings.
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