Gransnet forums

Ask a gran

My mother doesn't make any effort.

(19 Posts)
BattyOldMaid Thu 15-Feb-18 20:14:21

Hi, I'm new here. I have been trawling all over the Internet trying to find out why my mother is behaving the way she is towards me. I keep encounting "No Contact", even though I'm not the one that is doing that but she is, which means I can't find any information about parents being estranged with their children.

To keep things brief, I'm a middle child, the only girl. I'm married and have three children - 15, 13, 10.

My older brother is an alcoholic, he has been married twice - one daughter with each wife (21 and 4). He is now living with my mother after splitting up from his current wife.
My younger brother is also married with one child - 19. He says he feels like I'm the only family he has, so I am assuming my mother has gone No Conatct with him too.

I only found out three years ago, I upgraded my phone and found the old SIM card didn't fit into the new phone, so a new SIM (same mobile number) was used. Which meant the only way I could contact anyone was for them to contact me first. My mother text me 9 months later, not to enquire why she hadn't heard from me for a while, not to ask about her grandchildren, just to say a packet had been sent for my eldest sons birthday. The next text from her was 6 months later to say a parcel for the children Christmas had been sent. Prior to this, it was always me initiating contact, asking about her, her sisters, my children's progress at school etc etc. Her replies have always been "oh I see" or "okay". I tried Face timing her thinking it would be more intimate than texting, but got hurt in the process. She was full of praises for my alcoholic brothers daughter, bad mouthing his wife - going through a rocky patch, and completely disinterested in myself and my children. Not just that, she freely tells me at any given moment she wishes she had aborted me.

The only thing I can think of is that she is annoyed by the fact that I refused to help her when she asked for advice on how to deal with my older brother. All advice previously was not taken on board, the police advice, the social services advice and the solicitors advice was not heeded. What else could I offer?

I've tried to think as honest as I possibly can about whether this situation is my fault - hence trawling through the Internet - I'm gutted that grandparents who clearly would love to establish a relationship with their grandchild are being denied for a slight fault or for no rational reasoning, but here I am desperate for her to have some bond with my children.

My counsellor told me that I've done all I can, the only option is to leave her to 'get on with it' and focus on my warm and close relationship with my children.

My eldest son says he wants nothing to do with her, we invited her onto his Facebook contacts when he was legally allowed on and she never once messaged him privately to ask about him, how he was or just to say 'hello'. I asked him if he ever messaged her, he said he had twice to thank her for the birthday gift and Christmas but decided not to bother anymore after she had clearly read it but not replying.

My question is this, why is she doing this? I can understand her being angry when I couldn't help her anymore in regards to my alcoholic brother leaching off her and being abusive, but to involve my children?

Whatever my faults are my children shouldn't be used as pawns. Why does she continue to give gifts but not talking to them?

I have repeatedly invited to stay at my house for Christmas/Easter/half terms - she simply says "no". She hasn't asked me to go and stay with her, the last time she did, she practically told me to book into an hotel, stay away from her house until 5pm and leave before 8pm - because there's too many of us (5). Yet my older brother when he was still with his wife was allowed to stay at hers, all day, anytime. There were 7 of them! And she couldn't stand any of the wife's 3 children from previous relationship, nor could she stand the wife.

My husband did everything for her, as I have, yet this.

I really do believe it was refusing to help her out when my brother was being abusive towards her, but as I said, what could I have done when all advice from myself, younger brother, his wife, my husband, the police, social services, her counsellor, doctor, her own sister went in one ear and out the other?

but then again - prior to this, when I was at her house visiting - she lives in Newcastle while I'm in Wales - she would be on her phone 24/7 texting my brother (who was living in Bristol at the time). She did the same thing when she stayed at my house years before, preferring to text him back and forth than talking to me or my children. My brother says she initiates contact most of the time - I don't know why it was always me getting in contact for the last 18 years. I wonder if she resented the fact that I moved a long way from home? But still, it's not my children's fault!

gmelon Fri 16-Feb-18 01:24:46

I am sorry you have had no replies for your problem.
My mother was the same, she could not be bothered with me at any time in my life and then ignored my children and any family life.

My sister, her only other child, remained childless and was her favourite. My mother constantly lamented that she had no grandchild from my sister. She forgot the three grandchildren she already had.

Over thirty years ago my mother moved 7 hours drive away from me and my tiny children to be near her. This was even though my sister hardly spoke to her.

As I get older I realise that some people are a hopeless case and I do not speak with her, she is 86 now and in poor health.
I never found out her reasons and now come to realise that there could be no acceptable reason for such neglect of me and my children.

I found myself able to write her off as a nasty , selfish, spiteful person and wasted no more anguish on her. This took many years and many unfathomable hurtful actions from her.

My sister died two years ago , she was only 56.

This left my mum alone in life which is in my opinion where she deserves to be.

She now tries everything to get back into my life and into my adult childrens lives but its self serving as she now is alone and her life is near the end.

None of my children even know her. None of their children even know she exists.

My advice is to look forward and not backwards . Your children will grow up and you will become the Grandmother. Your place in life is assured and you have so much ahead.
Your family will change dynamic and it is so interesting and rewarding.
Forget her.

Christinefrance Fri 16-Feb-18 07:11:40

We sometimes look for reasons where there are no definitive ones. Some people just behave the way do because of their own issues not something we have done.
I would not waste any more time trying to resolve this one, your children have your support and that is what is important.

M0nica Fri 16-Feb-18 08:24:42

I think Christinefrance is absolutely right. Your mother is enjoying the power over you her behaviour causes. She knows how much you want her to love you and your children and gets a frisson of power every time she plays you off against your brother. She is like a puppet master knowing the you will respond every time they tweak the strings. It has got nothing to do with you and the best way to deal with it is to ignore her.

You have a family and loving children. Many children do not have a full set of grandparents for all kinds of reasons and they grow up to be happy balanced people. My DH had no grandparents. Three were dead and the fourth had remarried, had a second family and had no interest in his grandchildren. DH didn't miss what he had never had.

Make the most of what you have, put your mother on the periphery of your life. Stop seeking her approval, and enjoy life

DotMH1901 Fri 16-Feb-18 11:26:44

Battyoldmaid - I feel for you - I had a similar situation with my mother - I am the middle one of three with an older sister and younger brother. My mum always wanted a son so when he was born he was the focus of her attention. I was hospitalised as a toddler and, according to my Mum, they were told I was likely to die during the night. My parents visited next morning and my Mum told me that 'it was like I was a different child'. She used to tell me that she believed her daughter had been swapped for an abandoned child that was on the same ward. Every little difference between me and my sister was held up as proof of this. I had my children before my sister yet when my sister's son was born Mum said to me it was so nice to have a grandchild. My Dad had died before my sister had her son and Mum used to go on about how sad it was he had missed his only grandson, yet I already had a son. Yet, when Mum decided to sell up and go and live with my sister it was my husband and me who moved her furniture, cleaned the old house from top to bottom (her kitchen was dreadful, I found maggots where the cat food had been pushed under cupboards and stuff) and cleaned the rented house she went to until my sister was ready to have her. When, after two years, my sister finally gave in and Mum was getting ready to move again we came back to do the moving for her and again I cleaned the rented house from top to bottom. All I heard was how wonderful my sister was for having her - my sister meanwhile had not cleaned the rooms Mum was having and, when we arrived with the first lot of Mum's furniture was having a complete meltdown shouting she wasn't staying if Mum came and bundling my nephew into his coat! I never told Mum and, luckily, by the time we went to collect Mum herself my sister had calmed down although she had gone to her side of the house and didn't come to speak to Mum until the next day. Still Mum sang her praises every time I rang to see how she was getting on. Many years after Mum died I did a DNA test with my older half sister (from Dad's first marriage) that came out showing a more than 50% match - so at least I know my Dad was my Dad! My half sister asked me if I thought Mum was have been reassured - but to be honest I think she would still have been adamant I wasn't her daughter and that the test was flawed. I think you have to decide whether you want to keep in contact with your Mum or whether that would be more stressful than not having contact with her at all - I chose to keep in contact with my Mum despite her attitude towards me as I did love her and didn't want to have any regrets when she passed away but I know that wouldn't work for everyone.

BattyOldMaid Fri 16-Feb-18 12:53:28

Thank you everyone ☹️

I'm just numb after reading your sensible comments, I can't believe I have arrived at this stage, where I'm actually at the end of the road with nowhere to go, but back to where I've come from.

We had a family discussion last night 'on the table'. Growing up with our parents arguing my husband and I didn't want to sort Hingis out that way, so 'on the table' is where we talk about issues and attempts at resolving them.

Husband and eldest son have said what you all are saying. My middle son stunned me with the fact that he doesn't care if he never sees her again because like MOnica says, he doesn't miss what he never has.

I'm just so sad. My maternal grandparents were brilliant and I'm gutted that my children will never have that kind of rapport. Husband says we have been more than justbparents, we have been their grandparents, aunts and uncles too.

And MOnica - the more I think about what are saying about power thing, the more I think you're right. My older brother has always 'needed' her, emotional support, financial support, etc whereas if she using this tactics to make me 'need' her then it serves no purpose at all but alienating all of us.

It hasn't kicked in, the fact she couldn't possibly love me. I couldn't do this to my children as I love them all dearly, it's going to be a long hard journey going through acceptance and then possibly grieving for a mother I never really had.

I had asked my older brother to look for and send me photographs of me growing up, and photos of my dad too. He died when I was 16. My older brother says there are quite a lot of him and my younger brother but very few of me. He had asked my mother why, she says she never had enough money to developed pictures while I was growing up - but...how come there are pictures of my brother when I was clearly around, ditto for younger brother. I'm so stupid not to have seen this.

BattyOldMaid Fri 16-Feb-18 13:04:53

Dot - I empathise fully. Even living in Wales, my husband and I drove up to Newcastle to sort out her mortgage. Clearly she was advised wrong about repayments and faced massive 'final payment' bill. My older brother at the time was leeching off her and gave her so much stress she nearly had a heart attack, yet, she tells people my brother is her rock and helps a lot and utters no word of thanks in our direction.

I suppose that's the unconditional love you give your parents. It's causing me pain and I feel ultimately I will just be too sad and lose focus on everything else.

I'll keep the door open, I've reluctantly deleted her number, so that I can't text her. I don't know when I'll next hear from her.

Ramblingrose22 Fri 16-Feb-18 17:29:10

BattyOldMaid - I have only just seen this thread and I feel for you.

I am the youngest of three girls and my late mother never showed me any affection. My sisters sucked up to her even though they knew her failings but I couldn't bring myself to do that.

It is not unreasonable to expect a parent to protect you and care for you so your mother's nasty behaviour will always be very hurtful and feel like a kind of rejection and abandonment.

She once offered to have a talk with me to discuss our differences but I didn't want to hear her blaming them all on me and I found her and her controlling nature so repulsive that I didn't want to be reconciled with her either.

When she died I was glad to be spared any more cruel remarks and even wrote letters to her that I read out loud at the graveside telling her what I thought of her.

More recently I have come round to the view that her hostile behaviour was due to her being angry and embittered about her unhappy childhood and the privations she suffered in her teens and twenties. Finding an explanation has has helped me a lot.

As your mother is still alive, I think you have to come to terms with and accept the fact that you can never have a happy relationship with her.

I know it's hard and gut-wrenching and not what you deserve but I think you should protect yourself from further hurt by cutting her out of your life and concentrating on your own family.

I wish you well.

Luckygirl Fri 16-Feb-18 18:18:12

Mother/daughter relationships can often be troubled. My Mum freely admitted she had tried the gin and hot bath treatment when she found she was pregnant with me - so, not a good start!

I am sure she did love me, but things were strained, as she certainly never told me that! - and cuddles were off the menu.

However, after she died, one of the carers in the home she was in, told me that Mum had said to her before she died that she did love me. Pity she told the wrong person!

Luckylegs9 Fri 16-Feb-18 18:26:48

Have you ever sat down with her and just asked her, why!
If she just doesn't want you, nothing you can do do but accept it, see her when you feel the need to. Enjoy your life with your own family and let her get on with it. I would however tell her why you are backing off.

Synonymous Fri 16-Feb-18 20:24:26

BOM I am afraid that there is nowt so queer as folk! You seem to have lovely relationships with the rest of your family so do treasure those and try to leave the others behind. None of us need sour relationships in our lives and neither can we force people to love us or behave in any particular way with which we would be happier. Be kind to yourself and your own people who love you. flowers

BattyOldMaid Fri 16-Feb-18 23:27:28

RamblingRose - I sympathise, I think my mother resented having children, she told me once she only married my dad to get away from her controlling mother. Back then, young women couldn't get a mortgage, especially if they were single. No one forced her to have children she didn't want though! I like the idea of writing a letter, if anything it should be a cathartic experience.

Lucky girl - my 15 year old has gone through the terrible teens, my god the stuff that came out of his mouth, yet it's unthinkable for me as a mother, to utter vile comments like she has. As an adult we have to rise above it. Its something I cannot understand how a mother is capable. Yes, it's a tragic shame she told others but not to you.

Luckylegs - if I remember correctly, I do recall a few times confronting her for belittling me in front of her friends in town. Her reply was "so" then "drama queen". I had to leave school after my father died - worked part time while in college to bring money in. My younger brother at 12 was shell shocked yet she stayed in bed until 3pm each day not working because she was 'grieving'. She kicked my dad out two years before, and was going to get a divorce!! The remark she made to her friends in front of me was "oh she's a lazy bitch". I did ask my younger brother what I could do, he says the same as husband - just move on. I'm aware his wife and my mother had a massive falling out as she tried to get my mother to see how she was 'strutting around' as if she had one child (older brother) when clearly she had another son to consider. Apparently my mother told her 'he's my baby'. I don't know what was said or anything as I only heard this from one side.

Synonymous - I'm going to have to toughen up and do that. Going to give myself some time to wallow in self pity and then try to snap out of it and move forwards. It's a crying shame as she is missing so much. I guess it's her choice, no doubt somewhere down the line of time, she'll believe it was my choice.

I can't believe that there's nothing I can do. I'm hurt, angry, confused, gutted but I'll never feel worthless. I won't give her that.

Caroline123 Sat 17-Feb-18 01:19:49

I have a close relative like this.
She's cut all contact with me and my brother and her own only daughter.
She said to me when we were speaking that my brother and her own daughter had let her down ( in some small way,I think) and said if people let her down once she cuts them out. I said that was unfair,as she'd let me down on more than one occasion but I kept in contact,and people you love do let you down from time to time. Non of us are perfect, not even her.
Sad to say 6 months later I get cut out,no letters, phone calls, no new address when she moved.So I must conclude I let her down.
I'm too old to go chasing after her anymore,so I've written her off now, not that she knows,but I feel better for it!

123flump Sat 17-Feb-18 10:43:17

DotMH1901 that is so sad. I have a friend in a similar position, she was taken straight to SCBU when she was born and her mother became convinced she wasn't hers. Madness as she looks like her sisters twin. Her mother always dismisses her and her children. It has damaged her confidence so much. I hope you are OK.

mumofmadboys Sat 17-Feb-18 11:17:00

BOM if your mum is rude to you please tell her firmly that it is unacceptable. You would do this with your kids so do the same with her if she cannot act like a caring adult in her relationship with you. I wish you well

Synonymous Sat 17-Feb-18 14:46:17

BOM yes I think that is the only way and don't confuse the issue with your own feelings either, she clearly does nott feel or respond as you do so do not equate her with you. Some people like to use a form of control over others by doing things they know will upset and enjoy thinking of the effect and consequences of their actions on the lives of others. Undoubtedly she knows you well enough to know that you just might be feeling all the things you say so don't give her that either. Do not wallow in self pity as it will not help you at all - things are just the way they are so turn your back on them. Plan out some lovely things to look forward to doing even if it is just a trip out on a sunny day taking a flask with you. Start a new project, a new class or make some phone calls and/or write some letters to some old friends or relatives. Do not even mention 'you know who' again and agree with those you love not to talk about her again. Spring is on the way! Moving on ...... smile

blue60 Sat 17-Feb-18 17:54:25

I know it must be hard, but looking back will probably not bring you the answers you seek. The only person who is suffering is you and I suspect she would like to be fought over. It it she who demands attention, good or bad, and uses rejection as a spiteful tool to use whenever she wishes.

It will take some time, but I would suggest focussing on the life you have made for yourself with your own family, and enjoy what you have achieved personally. A pat on the back from yourself is worth more than anyone else's. Instead of a no contact approach, use less contact as a way to protect yourself and give yourself time to heal and breathe.

Take each day as it comes, and if you find yourself asking the question why, which, by the way, you will never really know or understand, then take a step back and see the positives in your life.

Surround yourself with people, things and thoughts that make you feel good. Start from there, and I hope you will feel better about yourself. xx

Millie8 Sat 17-Feb-18 19:47:15

I really feel for you. My Mum died when I was 2 and I have so often thought how nice it would have been to have a Mum but would rather be in my position than yours.
Some women cant forgive a child for causing a difficult birth or not being the gender they want. Perhaps the child was not conceived in a nice way. Mothers can be jelous of a girl child, being more attractive, having more oportunities than they did etc. Or cant be controlled the way some sons can. Perhaps she is jealous of the close relationship you have with your own children and your husband, the list could go on.
I dont think you can change her now and are not likely to get a reason for her behaviour or see things change. Its easier said than done but your own family is what matters and you have tried very hard to mend things, so accept what you cant change (thats part of a prayer I think) dont let her win and bask in the love of your own family.! I wish you well.

BattyOldMaid Sat 17-Feb-18 23:21:34

Thank you to each and everyone of you who has imparted a lot of wisdom. I doubt she will ever change - I understand - now - when my Nanna said she was a difficult woman.

Had a lovely evening out with my family today, with husbands daughter from previous relationship. Husband last saw her when she was 4, she made contact with him 18 months ago and she's 20 now. So our family has gotten bigger 😊

I won't waste any more time on 'she-who-must-not-be-named' 🤐 She could have so much more to receive - alas...