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Coming to terms with 'how it is'

(28 Posts)
Lavendermuscovy Mon 24-Nov-14 10:49:08

I am 50 years old, parents fit and active middle/ late 70s. I have 4 dc and I am heartbroken that my own mother, throughout my life, would never want to speak to me on the phone, never had a discussion/chat, never wanted to be in my dc's lives and whenever she has come round, has ordered my dc to do her bidding, criticised them, my home, me, has never been to see them in any school play/match/never taken them out, not even for an afternoon.

In these years I have formed other close bonds with friends and even their parents who adore my dc and so my dc do not miss having gps in their lives as they have such positive other role models.

It is only now though in the last few months that I have stopped my regular weekly phonecalls/updates to them as the penny has finally dropped: I remember my mother telling me she felt like killing me when I was ill with whooping cough as a child (she used to get angry if we ever hurt ourselves 'it's your own stupid fault') and throughout my life she would say 'never marry or have children it will ruin your life'.

She never once comforted me or told me she loved me but it is only now after all these years that this penny has dropped because my own dc are now mostly teenagers and I love them so dearly, I cuddle them and chat with them, we have a wonderful, loving relationship.

What I am trying to say that I am having difficulty come to terms with the fact I did not have a warm and caring mother and the difference between how I am with my own dc and how I was treated is so stark I simply cannot bring myself to want to contact her anymore.

The penny started to drop when I would ask them to come and spend christmas with us year after year (they have gone on cruises twice a year and always over christmas for 15 years now, the entire time my dc have been growing up) and then one year they agreed to, my dc were so excited to be having their only gps to come and stay!only for a few weeks later (and after the turkey had been ordered) to announce that they had changed their minds after all. Reasons? Our en suite guestroom and christmas meals would not be as high a standard as what they would get on a cruise.

The hurt and devastation I feel is raw.

Mishap Mon 24-Nov-14 12:52:01

Don't feel hurt - they are as they are and you cannot change them. Better that they and you get on with your own lives.

You have clearly established healthier relationships with your own children which is highly to be commended in the circumstances - well done. Enjoy that and leave your parents to their own devices. You do not need them.

annsixty Mon 24-Nov-14 12:52:11

You really do have to come to terms with the fact that things are not going to change There are several posters on here who will relate to your situation. I am one,although in my case my mother spent every holiday with us and did her very best to spoil them all. I know how harsh that sounds but it it a fact. Perhaps now the penny has dropped you will be able to move on, do not feel any guilt and do not try to make things better,it is up to them.

storynanny Mon 24-Nov-14 12:52:28

I really really understand how you feel as my mother is exactly the same. She is now late 80's and I am already feeling guilty that I will not be able to show grief when she passes away.
I am unable to understand why she had children at all. She does her best to avoid any interaction with my now adult children and finds the great grandchildren equally irritating. It isnt just her age, she has been like it all my life. My lovely dad sadly just lets her be like it.
I have recently read some books about narcsistic parents ( not sure if that is the correct spelling!) and lots of things rang true. It seems that my dad is an "enabler", whereas I assumed he was just taking the easy way out and letting her do what she wants.
Combined with what I am sure is OCD and being very bigotted, I can't imagine what would actually make her happy in life.
Re visiting. I remember being so hurt when my children were young and they were coming to visit us for one night only from their home 4 hours away. I discovered that they had actually arrived 5 days previously and stayed in a local sea front hotel and "really enjoyed their holiday". Didn't contact us or offer to go on an outing with us. On other occasions, when visiting they chose to stay in hotels nearby which is fine, except they visited us after 7pm and her first comment was always " shouldnt they be in bed my now". sometimes I kept them up deliberately to annoy her!
Enjoy your children and future grandchildren and put into practice everything you have learned from your mother about how not to be a mum.
She won't ever change as she will see no need to.

Nonu Mon 24-Nov-14 12:58:47

That is so sad Lavender, you are doing the best thing.
My warm wishes to you.

Mishap Mon 24-Nov-14 13:00:39

As I have said on another thread - ditch the guilt!

Our parents are what they are - some good, some bad, some just trying their best and failing. We cannot make them how we want them to be, so guilt is entirely inappropriate. We did not make them how they are.

I did not grieve hugely when my Mum died - I felt sad that it had not been possible to have a closer relationship with her and that her own life had been tainted by her bitterness; but I did not grieve in the way I did when Dad went. Neither did I feel guilty about not grieving. It was inevitable that I would feel as I did; and not my fault.

We have to accept what we cannot change.

Be thankful that your parents are not forever interfering and seem to want to get on with their lives in their own way - concentrate on what is good in your life - it sounds as though there is plenty of scope there!

GillT57 Mon 24-Nov-14 13:21:45

I know it is easy for me to say as I sit here but my honest opinion is that you should just walk away. You have a lovely family who are a great credit to you given the emotionally bereft background of your own upbringing. Don't phone, dont allow them to upset you. Putting it bluntly, it is your parents' loss as you are obviously a loving and kind person. Enjoy your family and turn your back on those who upset you.

littleflo Mon 24-Nov-14 13:31:15

So many of us here can relate to what you are saying. I wonder if ,for us older ones, it was the war years that created such uncaring, often cruel women. Like me, you have one for which to be grateful. She taught you how not to act when you became a mother.Your children and grandchildren an future generations will carry on the love you have shown them. A sure case of love triumphant over evil.

vampirequeen Mon 24-Nov-14 13:37:00

My mother is similar. She was badly treated as a child by a sadistic mother. In turn she was very cold and bitter towards me. Although I found hugging difficult I made a point of hugging and cuddling my children as I didn't want them to be like me. They have grown up to be very touchy feely and find it easy to show affection.

I like to think I broke the circle by forcing myself to do something which at first I found very difficult but very soon found very easy.

Is it possible your mum had a similar upbringing to mine and like me you have broken the vicious circle by being so warm with your children?

Teetime Mon 24-Nov-14 13:47:59

* lavender* and other friends here as I have posted before I also had a cold uncaring and at times vindictive and spiteful mother. My mistake was wasting my life trying to impress her and carrying out all her unreasonable 'orders'- don't waste your life. I wish I had told my mother where to get off.

glammanana Mon 24-Nov-14 13:48:53

Lavendar You have such a lovely relationship with your children and done such a great job I would feel no guilt at all,your mum is not going to change one bit so enjoy your children and get on with your life,do you have other siblings and does she treat them in the same way ? What do they think of her behaviour and how do they deal with it.
I was very lucky that my mum was very loving and caring when she was with me or my DCs but to be honest she never went out of her way to be over gushing as I don't think it was done in their day to show that loving emotion as we do now.

elena Mon 24-Nov-14 13:49:46

Some wise words here.

The feelings you are experiencing are a bit like grief - grief for the parenting you could have had, should have had and which is never going to happen.

Counselling might help.

A simple thing that sometimes seems to 'unburden' is to write a letter (without posting) to the person concerned - don't hold back. Or to imagine they are in a chair in front of you, listening to you, while you say what you need to say.

Whatever you do, it sounds as if you are now suitably angry rather than anything approaching guilty or self-blaming...and that's a good thing.

soontobe Mon 24-Nov-14 13:50:14

It is not you. It is not your fault. You have not done anything at all to warrant this. Nothing you could have done different would have made any difference. sad
This allies to your gc, your husband, your cat smileNothing you do will make a difference [it is sad even to write this].
The reason about that christmas is purely a made up one.

There appear to be a lot of people and posters like you.

soontobe Mon 24-Nov-14 13:50:57

applies not allies

kittylester Mon 24-Nov-14 14:02:26

Good replies here! I, too, can empathise with your situation. One of my brothers is so angry with our mother that he rarely visits her. I go because she is a sad old lady (still with the power to wound) and I want to be sure I've done the right thing.

Storynana I have never thought about describing my mother as being narcissistic and my father an enabler but I am going away to investigate.

I use my mother as a good example of how not to parent! She didn't speak to us for 6 years and, after the initial shock, the peace was lovely. You will cope. flowers

janerowena Mon 24-Nov-14 14:03:05

Mine too. I remember feeling devastated that she would never visit us, then discovered that she had been coming to our town every week to go to the opera! From 2 hours away! My stepfather let it slip. I asked her why and got a lame 'I didn't want to disturb you'.

You can't make someone do what they don't want to. FiL calls them cherrypickers, they only take what they feel are the best parts of life. My mother felt that raising four children was more than enough and wanted noting to do with any more, so all of her grandchildren barely know her. She always told us that she didn't like any children until they were at least eleven, and that between the ages of eight and eleven they were plain, gangly and irritating. I can remember watching my own DCs to see if it were true, but it wasn't. I remember looking in the mirror to see if I were plain, aged 11, luckily I had friends who reassured me but I'm amazed that we have any confidence at all. You are definitely not alone. I can't even make excuses for her, she had wonderful loving parents and her brother and sister are too.

Lavendermuscovy Mon 24-Nov-14 14:22:12

Thank you so much for all your helpful replies. I am new here, this is my first post and just hearing your kind words is very moving for me.

Interestingly, when I mentioned to my dad about my mother not wanting to speak on the phone he did not make excuses for her and it's as if, as I said before, finally the penny has dropped: she does not love me, never has and never will and I naiively never considered this until now. He has known this all along and has been, as someone else mentioned, the enabler .

What my mother finds important is sending cards. I am feeling empowered already by knowing from now on I will send cards to her from my children on the important days (christmas, her birthday and mother's day) and that will be it. I would not jeopardise their relationship with her and I never will, even if it is only the occasional visit or facebook 'like'.

I truly do have a wonderful family of my own and if I had taken drugs/been an alcoholic/been in trouble with the law I would somehow have had reason for my mother's treatment of me. But no, I don't smoke, don't drink much, went to university, worked hard, been married for 18 years, have my own business and it was actually my dh who kindly took me aside one day and asked why I was always cowtowing to my parents demands and criticism?

I need some sort of path to follow and guidelines to keep strong now that I have woken up.

littleflo Mon 24-Nov-14 15:14:05

This was such a good post. Until I joined GN I had no idea there were so many others like me. I have never spoken about my childhood because I thought that nobody would understand. Mother is 92 now and still tormenting me. I could never stand up to her because I felt guilty all the time.

Like you I have been fortunate in my own children, but I lost so many years to her nastiness. Some one told me once that we grieve for the childhood that was taken away from us. We can never get that back, but as adults we can break free. Howevev even if you cut down the visits, the inner guilt demon eats you away, because that is how you have been conditioned. Only in the last few years have I been free. Just wish I had not wasted so many years believing her opinion of me.

janerowena Mon 24-Nov-14 17:11:46

When my mother had friends round for morning coffee one of the main topics of conversation was purple hearts. I remember asking her what they were and she showed me. She said all her friends took them and they made them feel happier with their lives.

I think they had had such visions of how life was going to be so different for women after the war, and for young unmarried women it was. Then when they married it was all taken away. Many companies wouldn't employ married women. Family planning wasn't all that good. My mother took great delight in telling us we were all accidents.

She was a beautiful and intelligent and well-educated woman who never expected to find herself a parent at only 20, let alone to go on to have four, one every year - all while she was 'taking precautions'. She felt life was passing her by, and blamed us. Sadly my father also felt trapped, although he was more affectionate and caring than she was, he had affairs and didn't come home as early as he could have. He used to take me to Great Ormond St. hospital, as I had been quite ill, and thinking I was only a child and wouldn't realise what was going on, introduced me to his girlfriend! Needless to say, the atmosphere at home did not improve.

Crafting Mon 24-Nov-14 20:39:44

Lavender you should be so proud of yourself that despite having such an uncaring mother you have provided a loving home for your children. That is what is important in life. I am sorry you have been so hurt flowers

durhamjen Mon 24-Nov-14 21:15:25

Kittylester, that's my mother in law.
Now she's in a home and has dementia, but nobody wants to go and visit her. She had three sons and the two remaining ones visit out of duty as little as possible. One even said to me last week that they do it for her own good. She isn't nasty to me any more, but she is to them.
I visit her once a week as I live an hour's drive away.
She once stopped talking to her eldest son for six years because of a perceived slight to one of my sons. We knew nothing about it for years.

FlicketyB Tue 25-Nov-14 07:22:10

I am fortunate I had loving and caring parents, yet neither I nor my two sisters were ever able to build a close and intimate relationship with our mother, even though she was aware of this and felt its loss. Quite why we had this problem, I am never sure, but she had deep rooted security problems that went back to her childhood and the loss of her father when she was only 5. I spent many years trying to bridge the gulf - and never really stopped completely - but in the end I decided that it was never going to happen and that it was better to accept the relationship I had than yearn for the unattainable.

I am fortunate I did have loving and caring parents and returned that love and care, but the rule is the same. We do not choose our parents or how they relate to us. If you are as unfortunate as several OPs on this thread to have unloving parents it must be devastating, my problems were minimal in comparison, but it is not your fault. In the end the best thing to do is accept what the status quo is and move on with your life (a horrible phrase, but accurate). Lavendar, glory in the relationship you have with your own children and GC and, difficult though it is, accept what your mother is like, she will never change, it is not your fault. Look forwards not backwards

anniezzz09 Tue 25-Nov-14 09:18:49

Lavendermuscovy just wanting to add general sympathies to all those above and to encourage you to feel what a success you have made of your relationship with your own children. So sad for you and this kind of thing is always emphasized at Christmas. The people with truly happy, united families seem rare.

I sometimes explain difficult older people to myself in terms of what a bad time they might have had during and around WWII with losses and deprivation. Doesn't quite make up for the hurt though. I'd also echo what FlicketyB says about how losing a parent as a child affects you. And personalities too, as durhamjen says, perceived slights don't do anyone any favours.

Warm hugs sent your way. sunshine

KatyK Tue 25-Nov-14 10:31:35

I always got the feeling that my mother liked me least of all her children - she had 7, one little boy died at the age of 7 months which must have been dreadful for her. She had a terrible life. My father was a violent alcoholic who would verbally and physically abuse her and leave her short of money. This was in the days before there was any help for battered women. Her family were in another country and she could't have asked them for help and would probably have been too ashamed. I was rather ashamed of her when I was young, she looked a lot older than she was and had lost all her hair (poetic justice that I lost mine in later life too?). I wanted a younger, more glamorous mother like my friends had. In the past I have felt anger towards her for staying with such a man and giving us children such a horrible childhood. As I have got older I have changed my attitude somewhat. She was victim of circumstance. Her own mother had died young and I believe her father had been a bit of a tyrant. I can't say I every felt loved by my mother but to be honest I'm sure making your kids 'feel loved' never came into her mind. Her priority was trying to feed and clothe us and trying to dodge the beatings and abuse.

harrigran Tue 25-Nov-14 12:05:04

In the 40s when I was born I don't think parents were as demonstrative as they are now. You were as likely to get a clip round the ear as a hug. I am not saying I was neglected but I do not remember ever being cuddled by my parents and I was never kissed. When my father was old and in hospital I used to give him a hug and a kiss but never my mother.