I don't know how to deal with my mother - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 12-19-2012, 06:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have talked with my husband and other family members about this, done a ton of googling, tried to find similar situations posted by other people on online forums, but my mom still has my head spinning with confusion.

 

Okay, here is the back story, as succinctly as I can make it redface.gif. My mom lives in a different country from me. I'm pregnant and due in Feb with my second child and my mom wants to come and stay a few weeks to help out. The problem is that although she keeps telling me that I will definitely need her there, she has expressed in multiple ways that she does not enjoy visiting and staying with me. 

 

My mom claims that she is very stressed when she visits me because I have "so many rules." I have exactly two, and both involve DD: sugary treats and screen time are saved for the weekend. But the last time my mom came to stay, every single weekday, she would pepper me with questions like: "Can she have this pudding (for breakfast)?" "Can she have cake (half an hour before dinner time)?" Every single day. And I'd try to repeat as patiently as possible, "Let's save it for the weekend." Then one day, my mom and DD went out alone together and apparently had ice cream (DD let the cat out of the bag orngtongue.gif). If it had been a one-time incident, I honestly wouldn't have cared. But my mom had been driving me nuts with all her sugar-pushing, day after day, and this incident bothered me on several levels. I didn't get mad or make any comments at the time. But much later, I did write to her that it upset me that she couldn't respect my rules about my child and I felt like she was showing DD it was okay to go against my wishes, if she did it sneakily, behind my back.  

 

Since I wrote that email, this ice-cream incident gets brought up every week--by my mom. She says she feels like she can't relax when I'm around, that I made her feel so bad for taking her granddaughter out for ice cream, and that that one time she DID have ice cream with DD was the only moment she enjoyed of her entire trip visiting us. I honestly only brought up that ice-cream incident once. But now she can't forget it and makes me feel like I am persecuting her for it. I also ask her repeatedly why she feels she cannot enjoy her grandchild unless she is pumping her with sugar. What's wrong with reading together, going to the park, playing a game? 

 

My mom has since written me a ton of emails, explaining how hard it was for her to visit us in our foreign country. She tells me with a self-pitying laugh that she had nothing to read but DD's storybooks--because, yes, I live in a country where English is not the first language and you will not find English books at the local shops around my neighborhood. She's compared my life to that of living in "a tent in the mountains" because, surprise, we don't have English programs on TV either, so she had no form of entertainment in the evenings. But for some reason, the way she puts it, it's like I purposefully kept any form of English media away from her. Honestly, I don't even know what she thinks my motive for doing that would be. 

 

My mom has since accused me of being a controlling tyrant that she dislikes being around and that the place where I live is backward (because they don't speak English) and intolerable. But she is the one insisting on coming to stay to help me when the next baby comes. 

 

Can anyone understand why, as gently as I know how, I told my mom, "I truly appreciate the offer, but it doesn't sound like you really *want* to come. And maybe it would be better if we visited you, a few months after the baby is born." Now she is acting extremely hurt, as if I am keeping her from her grandchildren, and she thinks I don't appreciate her. 

 

I don't know what to think. I'm trying my best not to hurt my mom's feelings, but she keeps calling and insisting that she just wants to be helpful (i.e., "Let me come and stay"), while adding that it's not going to be any fun for her, she's only doing it for me. But the thought of her being here is starting to stress me out. I feel like it would be better for our relationship if she weren't here during what--if the first time round was any indication--can be a pretty emotional time for me (post-partum).

 

My husband and brothers all think I'm being mean and that telling my mom outright not to come is overly harsh. I feel like she is insisting on coming out of some misguided sense of obligation--or perhaps not wanting to look bad in front of her friends, since her concern about what others think is extremely strong. 

 

Please help me figure this all out! My mom just called me again and says she refuses to cancel her plane ticket because I might end up needing her in an emergency. My mother-in-law lives about half an hour away and I think it's more likely I'll turn to her, if I suddenly need help shrug.gif. But I get the sinking feeling my mom's going to somehow end up at my doorstep in February, whether I want her here or not. 

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#2 of 10 Old 12-19-2012, 07:39 AM
 
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Your relationship with your mom sounds very complicated and I am so sorry to hear that. I'm not sure if you are very young or if there is a lot of history of conflict between you. I want to just offer another perspective, one that comes from being many years further down the road than I think you are.

 

The memories and relationships that can be forged and formed between your mom and your children are of exceptionally high value. Perhaps of greater value to your children than the issue of sugar. When they are adults and, hopefully, still have their grandma, they will take to heart the relationship--the notion that she came all the way from wherever to where you are to be with them, to help nurture them. They may feel a little 'indulged' by her focus on treats and sweets and the wish to spoil them a little, in the way that most grandma's do. Luckily for your value system around sweets, she is not a constant part of their life or this may be a larger issue to focus on. Perhaps little harm will come from your child having some ice cream with grandma, even before dinner. It can be kind of fun (from a kid's perspective) to 'break the rules' with someone who loves you deeply, knowing that not so much harm will come from it. Your children will need your mom, as another person to turn to. You probably can't imagine a time when they might be teenagers and need another loved relative to turn to, to get some perspective on life, but it may be here before you know it. Also, we never know how long we will have our dear loved ones. Sometimes our complaints can feel suddenly petty in the face of a diagnosis of a life threatening illness or a sudden loss.

 

If your mom and you have a lot of unresolved conflict between you, perhaps if you sought a wise friend or a counselor to help you let go of some of your anger toward her, it might help resolve some of the conflicts you have now. Issues we have with our moms have a tendency to replicate themselves in our relationships with our own children, so there may be a greater reason for addressing this than the one you have at hand.

 

I am guessing on MDC you likely expected someone to commiserate with you around the sugar issue and parents/in-laws, and years ago I would have done just that. I am speaking now from a place from having unexpectedly lost both of my parents and deeply wishing my children still had them (now 17,14, and 8). They remember their grandma as someone so generous of spirit and so generous with her offers of treats and indulgences. They remember her with great, great fondness and they never felt that my rules at home were being undermined by her differing set of standards. They saw it simply as the way that she expressed love, especially since she didn't get to see them that often. My mother and I also had a complicated relationship, one that took a lot of work and I often had to make decisions on where to take a stand.

 

I have to say that I'd throw away all my "stands" on various issues that felt so very important at the time, to have her back.
 

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#3 of 10 Old 12-20-2012, 03:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by lauren View Post

The memories and relationships that can be forged and formed between your mom and your children are of exceptionally high value. Perhaps of greater value to your children than the issue of sugar. When they are adults and, hopefully, still have their grandma, they will take to heart the relationship--the notion that she came all the way from wherever to where you are to be with them, to help nurture them. They may feel a little 'indulged' by her focus on treats and sweets and the wish to spoil them a little, in the way that most grandma's do. Luckily for your value system around sweets, she is not a constant part of their life or this may be a larger issue to focus on. Perhaps little harm will come from your child having some ice cream with grandma, even before dinner. It can be kind of fun (from a kid's perspective) to 'break the rules' with someone who loves you deeply, knowing that not so much harm will come from it. Your children will need your mom, as another person to turn to. You probably can't imagine a time when they might be teenagers and need another loved relative to turn to, to get some perspective on life, but it may be here before you know it. Also, we never know how long we will have our dear loved ones. Sometimes our complaints can feel suddenly petty in the face of a diagnosis of a life threatening illness or a sudden loss.

 

If your mom and you have a lot of unresolved conflict between you, perhaps if you sought a wise friend or a counselor to help you let go of some of your anger toward her, it might help resolve some of the conflicts you have now. Issues we have with our moms have a tendency to replicate themselves in our relationships with our own children, so there may be a greater reason for addressing this than the one you have at hand.

 

I am guessing on MDC you likely expected someone to commiserate with you around the sugar issue and parents/in-laws, and years ago I would have done just that. I am speaking now from a place from having unexpectedly lost both of my parents and deeply wishing my children still had them (now 17,14, and 8). They remember their grandma as someone so generous of spirit and so generous with her offers of treats and indulgences. They remember her with great, great fondness and they never felt that my rules at home were being undermined by her differing set of standards. They saw it simply as the way that she expressed love, especially since she didn't get to see them that often. My mother and I also had a complicated relationship, one that took a lot of work and I often had to make decisions on where to take a stand.

 

I have to say that I'd throw away all my "stands" on various issues that felt so very important at the time, to have her back.
 

Hi Lauren, 

 

Thank you for your honest reply. I want to be honest too and assert that I definitely did not write this post to get sympathy. My mom and I have clashed all our lives and, after all this time, I still don't understand her and am at a loss as to how to deal with her. I totally appreciate the importance of her presence in DD's life, though, and I do realize how lucky I am that she loves my daughter very much. I don't think this means, though, that I should just acquiesce, every time she challenges or criticizes my role as a mother. 

 

However, all the accusatory and angry emails have actually been coming from her end--I thought I'd point that out since you seem to think I'm angry at my mom and have unresolved issues; I'm not and I don't. Although she does rub me the wrong way when we're together, when we actually are trying to work out our differences--in writing or on Skype--I think I do a pretty good job of staying calm and non-antagonistic. My mom, on the other hand, tries very hard to bury her hurts but then when they come out, they really do come bubbling out! And right now, it seems she's mad at me for asking her to respect the rules I have regarding DD. I described the no-sugar rule just to point out that I don't think I have *that* many rules and I don't think they are overly strict or hard to understand. But the fact that my mom keeps forcing me to explain the rule is a little frustrating. On the weekends, I totally let my her go all out and buy DD cakes and candy and ice cream. But she stayed for a month and I just didn't want DD having sweet treats every single day.

 

The same with my other rule of no TV on weekdays. My mom just kept asking if we could watch TV and acted like because I limited screen time to the weekends, she had nothing to do with DD and so she could not enjoy her time with her grandchild. 

 

So my mom is basically blaming me for ruining her month's stay and she is also unhappy with the place I live, the lack of English entertainment, etc. But she is hurt when I suggest that it would be better for us to visit her, rather than vice versa. It's not like I'm cutting off contact with her. I'm merely suggesting we meet at a place and time that would be less stressful for everyone and less detrimental to our relationship. 

 

I'm totally baffled as to how to proceed and would appreciate any advice on how I can get my mom to understand my point of view. 

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#4 of 10 Old 12-23-2012, 08:10 AM
 
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Considering your mom lives in a idffernt country and doesn't visit often, I would let her come and let go of some things. It seems like you assume she doesn't want to come and said so in the email, but she feels she really does want toc ome. It comes across as you don't want her, not she doesn't want to come. Ice cream is just not worth getting upset over. Think how you would feel if your doughter lived far away and didn't want you coming by to see the brand new baby, becuase she parents differently than you parented her. My mom cames when my babies were born and we don't do things the same, but don't get upset wiht it all. She lets my kids play on her iphone all day, I don't even have one. I was so grateful for any time my mom could amuse my toddler when I had a new born, and make sure meals were made I didn't care what they ate. It let me focus a lot more on the baby. Since 99% of the time your child doesn't eat sugary food, if there is one week of visiting with more TV and sugar than usual, it is not going to hurt. I think if the shoe was on the other foot, you would be pretty upset at not getting to see the new baby.

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#5 of 10 Old 12-23-2012, 08:10 AM
 
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Considering your mom lives in a idffernt country and doesn't visit often, I would let her come and let go of some things. It seems like you assume she doesn't want to come and said so in the email, but she feels she really does want toc ome. It comes across as you don't want her, not she doesn't want to come. Ice cream is just not worth getting upset over. Think how you would feel if your doughter lived far away and didn't want you coming by to see the brand new baby, becuase she parents differently than you parented her. My mom cames when my babies were born and we don't do things the same, but don't get upset wiht it all. She lets my kids play on her iphone all day, I don't even have one. I was so grateful for any time my mom could amuse my toddler when I had a new born, and make sure meals were made I didn't care what they ate. It let me focus a lot more on the baby. Since 99% of the time your child doesn't eat sugary food, if there is one week of visiting with more TV and sugar than usual, it is not going to hurt. I think if the shoe was on the other foot, you would be pretty upset at not getting to see the new baby.

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#6 of 10 Old 12-23-2012, 08:43 AM
 
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I think one way of dealing with it is to ask yourself 'what's the worst thing that can happen if I totally relax my rules while she is here and just let her have a great time (her way) with my kids?" What will you really be giving up? You say you are not angry with her and yet you seem determined to 'win' this battle.

 

I would write to her and say 'mom it is so important that you have a relationship with your grandkids that I have decided to totally let you be the grandma you want to be when you are here so you can have a good experience, and I will put my rules and opinions aside so you can feel more relaxed.' And leave it at that.
 

It might also be nice as a hostess to arrange to have some american movies and library books and magazines available for her while she is with you.


 
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#7 of 10 Old 12-23-2012, 09:14 AM
 
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Um, with all the adjusting your family and your daughter are going to go through with a new baby, I think it is important to stick to your normal rules and routines. I've got a 4 week old and a 2 yo and its been difficult at time simply because normal is now completely changed. If you add in lots of sweets and things out of the ordinary, I don't think it'll help your daughter.

However, it would be fun for your dd and your mom if you say "Monday afternoon, why don't you two go out for ice cream and then play at the park?". Make it a special date for just them, an really play it up. Nothing wrong with an occasional treat followed by activity. And with a new baby coming, I don't think you need to play hostess with English speaking things for your mother. Maybe just set out some books, dvds, or magazines or even better remind HER to bring some entertainment.

With a new baby coming, YOU need to take it easy. If she'll stress you out more than help, ask her to stay home!

Me: lady.gif Sarah, married to: geek.gif J, mommy to: happytears.gif C (8/10) and rolleyes.gif E (11/12)

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#8 of 10 Old 12-23-2012, 09:17 AM
 
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Basically, what she wants is to watch TV and eat sweets with your daughter as her bonding/sharing time. That is not going to change. You have to decide how you are going to handle it. Especially if she arrives in Feb. I know what it's like to have a strained relationship with a mother. My mother and I have barely spoken in years.

I would plan for her arrival, and buy some English books, the kind she likes. Maybe also some TV shows on DVD. They can be the old comedies like Dick Van Dyke, or something else that are adult, but also what you would be OK with your daughter watching (because grandma is bound to want them to watch together). Then, if she comes, announce that, as a special treat, sugary foods and TV will be allowed during the week. That takes it out of the context of your mother breaking your rules, making it less fun. Limit the amounts, of course.

I totally understand why you are suggesting you visit her instead of her visiting you. I would keep pushing for that, but plan for her arriving, anyway. She sounds like the type who would come not matter what you say. I just suffered through a similar visit from my mother this past October.

I wish you well! May it all go as smoothly as possible.
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#9 of 10 Old 12-23-2012, 09:01 PM
 
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I get it, OP.  It's not about the sweets and TV, is it?  It's about the fact that it feels like your mom is railroading you.  Everything is up for discussion.  You say "No sweets" and now she is obsessed with the sweets- pushing and pushing and pushing.  Same thing with the TV.  It's kind of like the forbidden fruit with your mom- once you said it was off limits, she decided that sweets and TV were the only way she could POSSIBLY have fun with her granddaughter. 

 

Plus, it feels like she is questioning your parenting abilities.

 

In the meantime, all you want to do is prepare for the upcoming birth of your child and stress out as little as possible!

 

I totally get it.

 

Not sure what to tell you, though.  If you can't avoid the visit (and maybe part of you doesn't want to- that's okay, too) I would just focus on letting go as much as possible.  Your daughter will not be harmed by tv, sweets, etc for a week or a month.  It's not right.... your mom SHOULD listen to you and follow your directives... but it doesn't sound like this is the hill you want to die on.  I don't blame you.  

 

You can either be right, or you can be happy.  You cannot and will not change you mom and her immaturity and her unwillingness to follow your rules.  You can only change how you react to her.  So decide to let it go and let her "win."  You will be the winner in the end because you will have preserved your sanity and gotten a little bit of help during a busy post-partum period.

 

Sorry you're facing this.  I wish you a peaceful third trimester!


Sleepy mama to Colin Theodore 8-12-08 and Trevor Arthur 7-17-12.

 

 

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#10 of 10 Old 12-23-2012, 10:35 PM
 
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When you think about having your mom there, do good things come to mind? Or is it the stress that stands out? What would she be doing that would be helpful? Being with your daughter? Cooking meals? Can you imagine her showing up and you tell her not to? It sounds like the stress of not being sure if you want her there or not is dominating, and then her saying she will just show up.any way makes you feel like you dont have a choice? If i was in that position, i would be veryupset to say the least. It doesnt sound like she would be open to spending the money on her ticket towards possibly hiring someone else to help you, but it might be better for your situation. Does thinking she will.not come give you relief? It must be very hard if you do not feel you have a choice and for me that would be unacceptable and would cause too much stress. Thinking of you..
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