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Boxed memories. Advice needed.

(32 Posts)
Razzmatazz123 Fri 30-Aug-19 10:39:06

I am a bit shocked that after 6 years my mother is suddenly reaching out to my children. Perhaps because they are both adults now? She is a year out, my daughter just turned 19 and my mother never even spelt her name correctly let alone remembered her birthday without prodding. It was quite an emotional evening last night. A parcel came addressed to both children. My daughter still lives with us, and my son was so curious he came straight from work. Inside was my entire childhood in pictures. My son thought the pictures are strange, because he has a million pictures of his little daughter on her own, but there was not a single picture of me that did not contain other family. I am sure those pictures exist. There were things I had made her as a child (not many, she hates clutter) and a few of the mothers day cards I have sent over the years. There was also a letter stating that she has money saved for them if they contact her, but only her email (the same I was ignored on). No address or telephone number. My son said they should get the money and use it for us all to have a nice meal or day out, but I don't feel comfortable with that and my daughter doesn't want money that in her words, she has to jump through hoops for.

So here is where I need advice. Both my children have no interest in these pictures. I do have pictures of myself growing up from my father. Definitely no interest in the cards and gifts I made. They think I should throw the whole lot away. There is a big part of me that wants to keep them even though they weren't sent to me. Thoughts?

sodapop Fri 30-Aug-19 10:44:46

Interesting that your mother is getting in touch now Razzmatazz perhaps she has her own problems.
I'm not sentimental and don't keep things so maybe not the best person to ask. I would keep a few of the photos which mean the most to you and dump all the rest. It's up to your children what they do about the money but I tend to agree with your daughter.

March Fri 30-Aug-19 10:49:08

Keep them if you want, your Daughter has made her mind up, it's up to your son.

The only problem I see is that she's threw the bait, if one of you take it, that's communication open then. There's most likely 101 conditions to the money too if it even exists!

Feelingmyage55 Fri 30-Aug-19 11:02:08

I would give her a “chance” unless the estrangement was due to something totally unforgivable (abuse of some kind). However if the estrangement was due to differences of opinion or expectations it seems reasonable to reach out and could be interpreted as a apology rather than “jumping through hoops”. I would probably cautiously try reconciliation - softly, softly and see where it goes. Maybe she see things differently now. As the cliche goes - “hindsight is a wonderful thing”. No rush to decide after six years but in a few days you have more idea of how to proceed. The contents feel like an apology to me and the money - all sounds like the response to advice often given on here to estranged GPs so maybe accept it in that light?

Razzmatazz123 Fri 30-Aug-19 11:02:36

Thank you Soda, she has her he'd on straight. That didn't occur to me March! I can't imagine someone who bemoaned every pound for a birthday present, saving money for them. I used to have to go with her to choose their presents and she would give me a small budget in the first shop we went to and insist each had the exact same amount. She would complain about money and let me pay for lunch because she was struggling so much, then 9 times out of 10, drag me to all her favourite expensive shops for all the things she apparently couldn't live without like 4 new outfits, perfume and a necklace. Next time I saw her she would have a bag of her old clothes for me that would fit me "if you lost a few pounds" even though we are different heights and builds and my weight is healthy. If I ever expressed any money worry I was apparently putting her on a guilt trip even though I never asked her for a penny. It was exhausting.

Razzmatazz123 Fri 30-Aug-19 11:08:13

Feeling she was emotionally abusive (physical when I was young until my father started asking questions about bruises) and my children were witnessing it. The last I spoke to her was in an email saying that for us to have a relationship I needed her to apologise, stop telling lies to my family and alienating them from me and come with me to counselling to build a better future relationship. She did not respond. I tried 3 times with help from my therapist.

Razzmatazz123 Fri 30-Aug-19 11:11:43

I'm in bits today, I wasn't going to go organise my classroom til Monday, but I might go and make a start.

wildswan16 Fri 30-Aug-19 11:14:22

The box - I would put at the back of the cupboard. You can decide about it in a few years (if you remember it is there). It also means your children have access to it if they want. If it is still there in five years and you've never looked at it - chuck it.

The money - I was once in a similar position and actually tore up a four figure sum cheque. I could not concieve of anything I would want to use it for knowing where it came from. It felt sooooo good. However, it is your children's decision.

March Fri 30-Aug-19 11:20:23

I think the money is abit of an easy way out. If she was that sorry or wanted that much of a relationship a letter would of been better but the word 'Money' pricks at your ears and gathers interest. Seems fishy to me.

Sara65 Fri 30-Aug-19 11:26:29

I’m estranged from my mother, by my children never have been, I see a lot of similarities though,

For what it’s worth, I’d steer clear of her, she’s already upsetting you. What your children do is up to them.

Feelingmyage55 Fri 30-Aug-19 12:08:58

In the light of your further posts razz I apologise that my comments are way off the mark. I hope I have not added to your upset.

Smileless2012 Fri 30-Aug-19 13:42:34

If your AC are happy for you to keep hold of photo's etc until you know whether or not you wish to keep some or all of them as has been suggested, put them away somewhere until you've decided Razz.

I understand that it was sent to them and that makes it their decision but as long as they aren't looking at the things your mum has sent, I don't see why they'd object to you hanging on to them for the time being.

If they are OK with that my advice would be to take some time before throwing everything away. Once you've done so there's no going back and it would be a shame if you acted in haste only to regret it later on.

Regarding the money, if your son does want to have what his GM says she's been putting away from him as this makes you feel uncomfortable, tell him that you don't want to be involved in the spending of it or in receipt of anything it purchases.

It must have been a shock and I'm sorry that this has upset you but perhaps there was an inevitability that this might happen one day once they'd become young adults.

Razzmatazz123 Fri 30-Aug-19 21:53:51

Please don't worry Feeling, I know you were trying to help.

Well another interesting evening. My son came after work again. He emailed his grandmother this morning, told her respectfully but loud and clear that he did not wish any further contact from her and did not want her money. He said his primary reason for doing so was so she wouldn't accuse me of withholding the parcel. She replied almost immediately saying that I had brainwashed him and he did not know the real me. That he would regret making this choice one day. He thought this hilarious. Which at least shows it isn't stressing him out too much.

Both of them said that the contents of the box are rightfully mine anyway and mine to choose what to do with. So we looked through the pictures and I have kept the ones that feel good, my daughter said I should only keep what brings me joy, some Internet article she read or something lol. We kept the things I made and threw out the cards with the rest of the pictures.

My daughter had an interesting thought, she said if these pictures get passed down, our descendents one day won't know anything was wrong, they will just see pictures of the people they come from and we can label the backs with their names. I like that idea.

GoodMama Fri 30-Aug-19 21:59:25

It sounds like you have raised two rational and kind adults Razz, congrats on excellent parenting! smile
Now that all that is behind you I wish you a lovely weekend with your delightful son and daughter.

annsixty Fri 30-Aug-19 22:04:00

You have made a wise decision.
Don’t keep anything with less than pleasant memories and bin the rest.
Your AC can make their own choice about contact or possible inheritance.
That is their decision.
Money left with conditions is just not worth it.

Smileless2012 Fri 30-Aug-19 22:05:36

I'm really pleased that you found some photo's you wanted to keep and the things that you'd made Razz smile.

The saying that the camera never lies isn't true; sometimes it doessad.

Razzmatazz123 Fri 30-Aug-19 22:29:29

It really does Smile. I'm glad to be back at work next week, hopefully life can go back to normal and I won't have so much time alone with my own thoughts

TwentyTwenty Fri 30-Aug-19 22:39:24

Razz, I’m sorry that you are going through this. I don’t even know what to say, except that it seems as though you have a good handle on it, and your adult children are supportive of you. I hope you’re well.

I know a box is coming our way when my 8 yr old is grown. I’ve also been told that it will contain ‘the truth’ of what an evil, cult-involved hateful father I am, and how I harmed both my daughter and my parents by my behavior. It’s my mom’s last-best-effort to harm my family once again.

I can only hope that our box event goes somewhat as ‘well’ as yours, in that my daughter will support me likewise.

Razzmatazz123 Fri 30-Aug-19 23:01:12

It's tough Twenty, I've had a lot of thoughts about not deserving their support, that somehow maybe I am crazy and have imagined it all. Those thoughts aren't logical in the face of the evidence to the contrary. When your box comes you will be in a much much stronger position than I am I hope. I have tried so hard not to have my children hold me up in this and I am worried they aren't handling it as well as they appear. If anything though it has been a bit of a bonding moment for us. My daughter actually stayed in on a Friday night and we got a takeaway.

BradfordLass72 Sat 31-Aug-19 02:37:38

Razzmatazz123 It seems she hasn't changed! Used the offer of money as bait but your dear little fish didn't bite!

TwentyTwenty actions speak louder than words and if your daughter grows up with a loving Dad, why would she believe someone who, it seems, is a total and not very nice stranger telling her lies?

I seems 'a box will come' is just another way to have something unpleasant hanging over you year by year.
Please don't let this nastiness spoil your life.

If you have any form of contact, why not inform Mom that if a box comes, you'll make a bonfire of it - unopened.

Madgran77 Sat 31-Aug-19 08:45:55

Razz your AC are wise and kind and fair! Keep moving forward and put this episode behind you. One good thing comes out of it ...the fact that you have seen your AC support you with understanding and kindness. flowers

Sara65 Sat 31-Aug-19 08:48:50


Sounds like you’ve come to a good decision, and your children sound delightful, supportive and level headed.

In my circumstances there will be no need of a box, as my older two children were adults, and my husband took the youngest to visit, so no secrets.

I have absolutely no desire to have anything to do with my mother ever again, but I wish her no ill. I think she may have been a better mother to a different daughter, and I may have been an easier daughter with a different mother.

TwentyTwenty Sat 31-Aug-19 09:22:06

Thanks Braddord, and I agree 100%.

Lying boxes are the least of our concerns.. Quality family time is a daily practice in our home.

Fortunately, I work from home and I’m able to spend lots of swimmingly, fun, exciting, creative time with my daughter. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and we have a lot in common..

To your point, mom’s telling me about it was exactly her attempt to threaten me long term with the fear she hoped it would bring over the years....

LOL, what a good laugh..

LostChild Sun 01-Sep-19 22:09:36

I found your post looking for stories online! I got a memory box from my estranged mother . I don't think mine wants me back though as everything she sends me seems designed to push me away. I have been struggling to cope with my box.

Please read no further if you are uncomfortable with talk of sexual abuse.

The letter talked of her regret that she did not help or support me when I told her that I had been sexually abused by my grandfather when I was a teenager. It was slightly more than a lack of support though, she told me not to tell anyone or they would think I was dirty and disgusting. So I felt unable to get support from anywhere. Anyway, there were lots of bits in my box from when I was little. A lot of it was labelled and it was all very carefully organised. In one of the envelopes was a picture of my abuser holding me as a baby. To clarify, this was my grandfather on my father's side and they divorced when I was tiny. There was absolutely no other pictures of my father's side of the family. Not even of my father so, I do not believe this picture was added by mistake. I expect she would say it was.

I think the sexual abuse and her lack of support may be the reason she is telling people we are estranged. Things like that were swept under the rug back then and people probably accept it without thinking too badly of her.

It's very much not the reason we are estranged, although it one of them. It took me a long time to get over it. My mum used to like to bring it up every time we were alone for a birthday meal (for me) and tell me all about how much she regretted it. She didn't seem to have any room for how I felt about the whole thing and she didn't listen when I begged her to stop bringing up. There are a 1001 reasons why we are estranged but she never listened when I tried to tell her what they were, just denied, deflected or turned it around on me and how horrible I was young etc. When I tried to talk to her for one final time because I couldn't take it any more, she accused me of telling my dad my stepfather was beating me age 8. I tried to tell her that, my grandfather had put that in my head. He probably wanted me living with my dad for easier access. She said "IF that happened, why didn't YOU do anything about it. I think that was my final straw. Still not why we estranged overall.

I have had an email as well telling me it was my dad's fault I was abused as it happened when I was visiting him. She is absolutely obsessed with it and never got me support even years and years later. Never said I should get counselling or support when I was crying because she brought it up yet again. I think she truly did it just to hurt me.

I think the right advice here is just to keep the bits that make you smile, that is what I did x x x

Smileless2012 Mon 02-Sep-19 10:37:00

It looks as if it is your mother who cannot live with her guilt for what your GF did to you. Her shame and guilt that this could have happened to her D being the reason why she didn't want you to tell anyone.

Victims of child sexual abuse believe themselves to be dirty, disgusting and even responsible for the abuse, no matter what age they were when it happened. This negative picture they have of themselves can very sadly for some, stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Blaming your father for the abuse being able to take place is another example of how her guilt has overridden her ability to do what should have been done for you.

Unless parents knew that their child's abuser was an abuser than they are not responsible for what happened. That said, what loving parent wouldn't reproach them selves for not knowing and not seeing any signs when their child was suffering in this way.

You haven't mentioned your father apart from the your mother blaming him, so staying with your mother what she is guilty of is not supporting you fully. She listened at the time and believed you; some parents can't even manage to do that, but failed to find you the help you needed.

By making you believe how negatively you'd be viewed by others had you told someone else, she deprived you of seeking the help you needed at that time to help you deal with your trauma.

You say there are 1001 reasons for your estrangement but from what you've posted it seems to me that it's your mother's inability to come to terms with not just what was done to you by your GF, but the fact that this man was allowed to 'get away with it' because no action was taken, and no support was given to you at the time, or since.

TBH I can't get my head around the photo of you as a baby in the arms of your abuser. Was that her way of saying 'it wasn't all bad'? Was that because that's the only way she wants to remember the relationship you had with your GF, because she can't face the reality? Or is it as you feel, just to hurt you?

For what it's worth I don't think it was done just to hurt you. Her obsession is fueled by her guilt for failing you as your mother by not realising the abuse was happening and then not doing what should have been done when it was discovered.

It's never too late for counselling and maybe some would help to clarify your mother's behaviour and enable you to move even further forward with your life.