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the mother from hell

(60 Posts)
Silverfish Sat 05-Apr-14 21:24:50

Is it me or just the ageing process but my elderly mother 83, is such a tyrant , she never used to be like this, worked all her life and as a widow is comfortable financially. she has niggling health problems but goes out almost every day and has lots more friends than I have. The problem is she is so controlling, she lives in the same street and watches my car come and go and if I'm home early from work she is on the phone to see why Im back. she is kind hearted and has helped me out financially but if she gives me help she demands to know what ive spent. If I talk about redecorating she will say there is nothing wrong with what I have. I own a clothes airer that she gave me 20 years ago and I dare not replace it as she caught me throwing it out and gave me such a lecture about waste. I had a man friend and I used to have to sneak him out in the morning with a blanket over his head so she couldn't see there was anyone in the car. It has got so bad now that if I buy a magazine I have to hide it as I will get a lecture on wasting my money. She says no-one should buy new as we are all just upping profits for greedy manufacturers, her house is full of hoarded clutter that I hate. I just don't like to go to see her now as I know I will get into a fight over something Ive done. ~Anyone else got this problem

MiniMouse Thu 10-Apr-14 13:03:55

Aka As you say, it doesn't sound like a recent medical condition, but there could have been something that triggered the change 20 years ago that hasn't recurred. My mother only had the one incident and lived incident-free for years afterwards, but the effect on her personality was permanent.

HildaW Thu 10-Apr-14 15:53:26

Isn't it amazing how hard wired we are to look up to and love our Parents. Took me 40 years to realise my father loved no one but himself (another story). With anyone else other than a parent you would have run a mile by now.
Silverfish - try not to let it upset you so much, your Mum almost sounds scared, that's often why people lash out. Try to let her criticisms wash over you if you really do not want to confront her. However a calm......'look Mum I love you but........ etc etc' might have some effect.
Does she really have no idea she upsets you? If she does it knowingly then I am not sure she will change. You will just have to smile sweetly and turn a deaf ear. I'd not recommended not visiting as the guilt that develops can be even worse.

On the other hand if she is doing all this knowingly and is still trying to control the way you live your life then you just might have to state your case along the lines that, Yes she is your Mother and yes you do love her but NO she is not to tell you how to live your life. If any visit becomes a battle just calmly say you are leaving but will be back. Try to step back from the emotions she arouses in you - if you can stop feeling judged (and she has no right to judge you) you will feel more able to smile and ignore it.

dorsetpennt Sat 12-Apr-14 23:19:09

If you can't tell her to leave off, as you are an adult - a granny I presume - then take more drastic action. You say you live in the same street ? Move . I'm not being flippant but something or someone has got to give. Has she controlled you all your life? Why is it that we accept really bad behaviour from a member of the family but we wouldn't from say a close friend. Why does being in a family give people carte blanche to act like total tyrants. If a friend acted this way you'd tell them to sling their hooks. However, you are letting a little old lady rule you. It's ridiculous it really is , I'm going to be really honest here and please don't take it as an insult as I don't mean it to be BUT grow a back bone and tell your aged but not infirm mother to behave herself and mind her own. You'll feel better for it. You never know she might respect you for it - if she doesn't who cares? Remember she probably needs you more then you need her.

ginny Sun 13-Apr-14 08:18:30

My M-I-L ( who I get along with reasonably well) has already told us that she will not be very good at living on her own. F-I-L is becoming frail and has heart problems. I hope it is not a omen of how she thinks things should go. We are happy to visit, and help out where we can and include her or both of them in family gatherings but this thread has shown me that we will need to set boundries and expectations. Something that is best done from the start.

Aka Sun 13-Apr-14 08:31:24

I think there's a world of difference between a bullying old woman and one who is about to lose her husband Ginny. I'm not suggesting you should take your MiL into your house but I do think you should be reassuring her that her son and his family will be there to support her through this transition when her life-time partner is no longer in her life.

ginny Sun 13-Apr-14 08:53:31

Aka That is exactly what we will and are doing. I was simply saying that she has already made hints about how she wants things to be done. I have health issues of my own and other family to consider. Both of them are visited regularly by us and our daughters and welcomed into all our homes.

Aka Sun 13-Apr-14 08:59:20

Sorry if I've misunderstood Ginny smile

Elegran Sun 13-Apr-14 08:59:49

Every situation is different, Ginny so do not assume that your MiL will become a nagging pest and take over running your life when she is widowed - and who knows, it may be frail FiL who is left to your tender mercies.

The best thing is to mentally put yourself into the same position as the person you fear is going to become a burden and an irritation. Just what is their life like, or what will it be like? What would you need in the same circumstances?

Imagine what it is like to be them. Has their world been turned upside down recently, and the ground shifted beneath their feet by losing one half of their life with the death of a long-loved partner?

Are they having difficulty planning their own life and in need of support and companionship while they reconstruct? I know that it is not easy, and I am only 75 and in good health with a loving family.

Do they need a support to help them through problems or a whipping-boy for everything that is wrong in their lives?

Do they have a full life, with a lot of stimulation and contact with other people, as well as you?

What is their health like?

Elegran Sun 13-Apr-14 09:05:10

Crossed posts, Ginny.

If I were you I would start making plans now for MiL's future (talking to her about it, of course) If you feel that living with you is not on, then could she live somewhere where she gets companionship when you are not vising her?

If you are actively making constructive suggestions - and being honest but not brutal about loss of space and freedom - you could work something out between you. If you leave it as vague hints, you could find yourself in an emergency situation and making hasty decisions that everyone will regret.

ginny Sun 13-Apr-14 09:09:42

No problem Aka I probably didn't explain my thoughts very well.

It is a difficult situation. We, of course will give as much support as possible .What we don't want to do is to is start on a course of doing too much for our or her good. This leads to resentment which we don't ever want to feel towards her.

jinglbellsfrocks Sun 13-Apr-14 09:22:18

I think the replies in this thread have got a lot to answer for! So mean and selfish. Silverfish hasn't got a problem. She has got an ageing mum, living independently from her, who is probably lonely and afraid of dieing. Silverfish is a grown woman herself and should be able to look after her own needs, and those of her mum, in a grown-up manner. I am sure she can, and probably will. It will take some sensitivity and compassion but no doubt Silverfish has those things in abundance.

The replies and proffered advice on this thread have obviously given out completely the wrong signals to others in similar situations. hmm

ginny Sun 13-Apr-14 09:22:20

* Elegran* All your points are very valid and we have thought about them.
I think F-I-l would be a lot easier to deal with. He would be happy in a small flat near us so we could visit and help out but would accept outside help .
They live a very comfortable life in a large bungalow with large garden at the moment . M-I-l (dare I say it) is a bit of a 'snob' and I can't imagine her doing the same.

I'm sure we will work thing out when the time comes but they are not people who will easily have these types of conversations.

jinglbellsfrocks Sun 13-Apr-14 09:23:31

I find the comment "can't you just break the clothes airer" quite upsetting.

Stansgran Sun 13-Apr-14 12:05:35

It's called lacrimae rerum isn't it? I had a pair of handmade leather riding boots given to me by my mil(they were hers) which symbolised the really odd relationship with her. I didn't ride, they didn't fit and I was regularly asked about their welfare! She also gave my DH a furled umbrella and a briefcase. Two objects more alien to his lifestyle you would have difficulty finding. They take up space you can ill afford or are just a tragic reminder how incompatible you are

HildaW Sun 13-Apr-14 13:12:17

Silverfish asked 'has anyone else got this problem?' therefore she views her situation as troublesome. People have given their thoughts and made some comments. Some may be helpful some may be not. At the very simplest level she has at least had a bit of a vent, and that might be sufficient. Its a bit harsh to judge peoples motivations when they say things on here about a very emotive subject. None of us really fully knows what is going on 'behind closed doors'. If we feel a piece of advice is unhelpful its not a bad idea to say so but we should step back from judging unless we really know what's happening.

jinglbellsfrocks Sun 13-Apr-14 13:17:07

Surely you could say "no thank you" and explain why, in a pleasant smiley manner? confused

Haven't a clue what mac... whatever means. Sorry. smile

jinglbellsfrocks Sun 13-Apr-14 13:17:32

Please don't rush to explain.

jinglbellsfrocks Sun 13-Apr-14 13:19:11

I think if we are going to act as agony aunts, we should do so responsibly. Otherwise we could make a bad situation worse.

Ana Sun 13-Apr-14 13:31:48

I don't see how 'lacrimae rerum' is relevant to the OP's problem at all! confused (having Googled it)

Stansgran Sun 13-Apr-14 13:36:41

But JBR you are a sensible person and if someone returned your 20 year old clothes airer with a smile and a thank you you would probably have said oh just when I needed it back or I'll take it straight to oxfam but Silverfish is saying that her mother feels that she has to input so much into her life that she can no longer dry her smalls as she wants but as her mother wants. Too many she in that.
I had neighbours who used to check everything I put in the bin and "rescue" things . I imagine the same thing is happening. My imagination may be getting carried away.

jinglbellsfrocks Sun 13-Apr-14 13:53:03

I can't go into the little details of someone's life like that! grin

The overall tone of this thread is reminiscent of a Mumsnet "I hate my mum" thing. Not good. Especially when we are getting old ourselves!

ginny Sun 13-Apr-14 14:40:11

jinglbellsfrocks Nobody has said they hate their Mum or any parent. I presume you have no elderly relatives that you have to take into account or they are all lovely reasonable people. I can assure you if they are not or even if they are and you are willing to do what you can, there are problems.

annsixty Sun 13-Apr-14 15:02:38

I posted earlier on this thread and repeat if you havn't lived with a similar problem it is very difficult to understand.I was an only child and my father died when I was eleven. After years of being told what sacrifices have been made and how much was done for you ,and believe me,as a child you do not stand up to this, it is very hard to suddenly change .I did it by moving away and visiting regularly but leaving it behind as I waved goodbye.

HildaW Sun 13-Apr-14 15:06:29

No one is saying anything about hating their parents......what opened this discussion was a very genuine sounding cry for help over a difficult relationship with an elderly parent. Difficult relationships between children and parents, of any age, exist and cause a lot of pain and anguish. What would bother me moreis if people did not come on here and open up about those difficult relationships.

I would be the first to say I have had a very long standing and heart wrenching time coming to terms with my own father (as have my two siblings, so its not just me). Having a bit of a rant on here about the annoying, confusing and sometimes downright mad making problems we have with our relations must be allowed to continue, we cannot go around assuming that it does not happen and its far far better for someone to get stuff off their chests and then pick themselves up and carry on coping....that the dire alternative of them taking more drastic action because they feel they are the only one on the planet who has parent who drives them up the wall.

MiniMouse Sun 13-Apr-14 15:56:50

I think one of the issues is that it's because we don't hate the person that we are involved with. If they were hated it would be easier to walk away or make a stand. It's precisely because deep down there is a love/bond that makes it so hard.

I was an only child and grew up being very controlled by my mother and then by my ex-husband, it's almost as though we're brainwashed into putting ourselves and our needs and feelings at the bottom of the pile - until we reach breaking point. I agree with annesixty that unless you've been in this situation it really is very hard to understand just how deeply it affects you. You are either wracked with guilt because you do something about it, or you end up in a crisis situation because your own health breaks down.

Only Silverfish can decide . . . . .