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not to like my mother?

(64 Posts)
Grossi Mon 08-Aug-11 07:51:29

Can any of you help me to gain a bit of perspective on my relationship with my mother? I am sorry if this is a bit long.

My mother is 80 and lives alone in another country. She has very few friends and expects me and my sister to spend all our holidays with her. While we are with her she criticises everything. Only one of her 7 grandchildren and great grandchildren is acceptable to her. She claims the others are fat (you can see all their ribs), antisocial (because they try to keep out of her way) and, and, and…

She says she has wasted the last 40 years keeping her house for me and my sister to inherit. When we suggested that she could sell it, she dropped the subject.

We can’t do anything right. We chose the wrong men to marry, we cook the vegetables in too much water, we don't do enough around the house and garden, and so on.

She has barely worked in her life and all repairs to the house, kitchen gadgets, televisions and computers etc. have been paid for by me or my sister.

People say we should just cease all contact, but we don’t feel we could live with ourselves if we did that especially as she was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, although the treatment seems to have been successful.

What would you do?

JessM Mon 08-Aug-11 08:18:03

You don't say whether this is a contination of how she has been for a long time.
If there has been a change in personality that can be a sign of a psychiatric problem or altzheimers I believe. If she has always been like this but getting gradually more grouchy then it is a different case. Her way of trying to feel powerful maybe? You for your part sound like you feel powerless.
You could try telling her straight you are fed up with her criticising and going on at you. She will probably say she doesn't! Tell her that is how you feel and you are fed up with it and that people won't want to spend time with her if she continues. Then if you go to visit her and she starts, just tell her you are going now and briskly depart. If you do that a few times then observe the effect and review the situation.

susiecb Mon 08-Aug-11 08:22:48

I spent over 50 years of my life trying to please my mother and never made it - dont waste your life!

Grossi Mon 08-Aug-11 08:24:56

Thanks JessM for your speedy reply.

My mother has always been this way. Before having grandchildren, she picked on us and our friends.

I have walked out in the past (although it is more difficult now that I live in another country). I do think this has made her slightly more tolerant towards me than she is towards my sister.

Baggy Mon 08-Aug-11 08:31:09

I agree with jess. My mother is the same. It got so bad a couple of years ago that I decided I was never going to stay in her house again. (She lives two hundred miles away so a visit always involves a stay over). I also stopped answering the phone when it was her. I felt guilty at the time but her behaviour has improved and is now polite on the phone at least.

I think my mother's problem is that she needs a black sheep in the family. She likes complaining. It used to be my sister. Now it's me. My three brothers laugh but they do understand, and so do their wives.

Grossi Mon 08-Aug-11 09:19:04

Your mother sounds a lot like mine Baggy! She really loves to complain and will carry on until she can start a real shouting match.

She doesn't phone me any more. I have to phone her and I feel guilty if I don't.

Perhaps I need guilt managment therapy?

Grumpyoldwoman Mon 08-Aug-11 09:24:44

Ditto Susiecb........ I hardly think about my mother who died 9 years ago this month, and if I do it is never with affection...but I think about my father every day (he died 43 yrs ago)

Grossi ..she is never going to change now and if she is like my Mother..she will never think she is doing anything wrong. My mum would just have got upset and cried so much ...I would feel guilty. I guess that is why I took whatever she threw at me all my life.

I feel bad that I don't miss her. sad

Baggy Mon 08-Aug-11 09:47:29

grossi, yes! Guilt management. Or, even better, how to trash the guilt my mother has shovelled onto me all my life! I've done it. Try. Have a go! It is so liberating. I sent my mother a small birthday present in June for her 82nd birthday (it was a practical thing; her strength is her practicality) and she rang me to thank me and was quite pleasant. She didn't interrogate me as to my habits and values or anything!

It has helped to have brothers and sisters-in-law who understand. My eldest brother's wife has never invited my mum to stay at their house. They visit her and limit the length of the visit to suit them — usually overnight max! When their four kids were at home they would only go for day visits, even though it meant a three hour drive each way.

Baggy Mon 08-Aug-11 09:54:25

PS It was when my mother started criticising my daughters that I hit rock bottom. I suppose when it was "only me" I just put up with it because I'd had it all my life, but when she laid into my eldest daughter's approach to life (via me, naturally, for maximum hurt value) that I decided it was time to put a stop to it all.

That, plus her complaining about confidences I had made to her when my first marriage was breaking down. I couldn't believe — no, didn't want to believe — she could be so bitchy. But she can. She was.

So, if I ever have guilt feelings about her, I remind myself that she is (a) the most selfish person I've ever known, and (b) a bitch.

Oddly, I can do this now while still admiring her good qualities.

susiecb Mon 08-Aug-11 09:54:53

Grumpy dont feel bad about not missing her this kind of behaviour is emotional abuse- my mother used tears but also illness as a weapon, she also had eating disorders which manifested themselves every time she had eaten at my house or with me or anything I suggested she might eat. I cant remeber a single aoccasion where my mother showed me affection or an affectionate gesture. Dad was lovely and cuddly though but i am very good at cudling the garndchildren not so good with grown up hance cant do the Mwah mwah thing - there are worse things though.

Grossi I hope this isnt weighing you down too much sometimes if you leave a little gap bewtween visits/ contact things improve a little? Best wishes

Baggy Mon 08-Aug-11 10:05:17

susiecb, wow! My mother also uses illness and eating disorders as control weapons!

jangly Mon 08-Aug-11 10:05:36

Reading this thread I find myself identifying with the grumpy mothers! sad
Probably not quite so extreme but definitely a bit.

I think jess's reply was very good. I recognise the need for a bit of power. shock

Baggy Mon 08-Aug-11 10:07:50

jangly, you surprise me. Really.

susiecb Mon 08-Aug-11 10:10:23

Baggy dont let her get away with it- its manipulative and abusive - easier said than done of course!
My mother believed strongly in the afterlife and often said she would haunt me so I take great pleasure in having conversations with her where I say all things i should have said in life. I expect she is reading this the old witch!

jangly Mon 08-Aug-11 10:11:45

Perhaps there's a bit in all of us. You just have to try really hard to keep it under control.

I think I have put a bit of guilt on my daughter. For not living close enough for me to see my grandsons every day. Ridiculous! I know it!

And I could be a tiny bit jealous of her. shock She is so capable, outgoing and generally fantastic. I'm not.

I would never involve my grandsons though. They are my Golden Boys.

jangly Mon 08-Aug-11 10:12:50

She still texts kisses to me though.

So it can't be that bad, can it?

jangly Mon 08-Aug-11 10:13:34

Oh God. How did this get back to me again!


grannyactivist Mon 08-Aug-11 10:45:50

My mum is 82 and I do love her. But in truth, sometimes because of circumstances outside her control, she wasn't a very good parent when I was younger and I needed to become independent at a much younger age than most children do. I have worked very hard, all of my life, to see the good in her, to admire what I can, - and to try to understand what shaped her. For many years my mother's closest friends didn't even know that I existed, and when I returned to my home city as an adult with my husband and children her friends were astounded to discover that my mother had another daughter. In fact she first introduced my husband (she thinks he's wonderful) and then had to explain he was married to her hitherto unmentioned daughter!
I am fortunate though, that my mother is, in many ways a sociable, generous, practical woman. I am of the breed that have brought up my children very differently to my mother and she appreciates that I've done a really good job. We have a telephone relationship mostly as I live many hundreds of miles away, but I visit once a year for a few days and this suits us both. My mother treats me a bit like the cuckoo in the nest I've always felt myself to be. smile

Baggy Mon 08-Aug-11 11:18:10

jangly, I don't feel any need to have power in my grown up daughters' lives. I have enough trouble just powering my own life! hmm

kittylester Mon 08-Aug-11 11:32:09

I recognise my relationship with my mum in lots of these posts and, as I've said in a previous post, didn't have contact with my mum for approx 6 years. It was very liberating but I still felt I should be there for her and, when she really needed someone, it was me she turned to. I always promised myself that I would have it out with her and try to get to the bottom of why she disliked me so much but she now has alzeimers and it's too late. I get so frustrated when I think of the things she has said about me, and to me about others, that were just not true and I know I will never know why. As my daughter says "Gggggrrrrrr" angry

jangly Mon 08-Aug-11 11:46:37

I think I have a strong need to be top cat!!! grin blush

She does still love me though, so it must be alright.

I bad.

jangly Mon 08-Aug-11 11:47:41

Lets face it. I am top cat!

I am the matriarch.


Grossi Mon 08-Aug-11 12:32:21

Thank you for all your kind and helpful replies.

It is strangely comforting to know that I am not alone even though I don't know any of you in real life!

grannyactivist Mon 08-Aug-11 12:35:24

jangly I love you, but I'm so glad you're not my mum! You are baaad! grin

jangly Mon 08-Aug-11 12:44:12


But I'm a good granny. smile