It’s Complicated.

October 2, 2012 at 9:34 am | Posted in Cheese with that whine? (aka rants), Crazy Talk (aka: Therapy), My life, Parenting | 15 Comments

My relationship with my mother is…

… well. Complicated.

There’s a closet inside me somewhere which is stuffed to the brim with the baggage of 36+ years from our relationship. I go through periods where I’m mostly okay with the injuries she knowingly AND unknowingly inflicted on me over the years.

There are periods where I wish she and my father lived close by, because they’re amazing grandparents and Lucky really seems to dig them.

There are other periods where I feel as if it would be so much easier to just sever ties.

Since my parents moved to Texas, we’ve seen them only once a year. Maybe twice, if there’s some family event.

And my mother has taken to making lame excuses as to why she can’t travel. For the past couple of years, it was her “allergies” (which, honestly, as a mother of a kid with life-threatening allergies? Her food sensitivities that she takes to the Nth degree piss the everloving shit out of me. Shut up about your alleged “allergies” already). That’s been remedied, apparently – she has been eating more foods on her 3 page list of “unallowables” and, holy cow – it doesn’t seem to be bothering her anymore! Wow!

She mentioned that she might not be able to make my cousin’s wedding this past June, because she’s not a good traveler anymore, her allergies make it awful. And when I got mad, and told her she was being ridiculous, she and my dad drove to DC (with a huge cooler AND a microwave in the back of the car, because she didn’t know what she’d eat otherwise). But she was there, and we got to spend an extra day with them, and Lucky LOVED it. I did too, actually.

This summer she actually told me that she’d LOVE to come to Massachusetts to visit, except there’s never a good time of year, because the Texas summers are so hot that 75 is “freezing” to her and she can’t possibly visit if it’s that cold.

So it’s becoming clear – if we want Lucky to have a relationship with his grandparents, it’s our responsibility to go see them.

Or meet up in Florida at Christmas, which we do every year at my grandparents’ condo.

That’s a given. We’ll all be in FL – Lucky will get to see them at Christmas.

Except.

My mother texted us kids this weekend that they’re not making it this year.

Why? She’s having surgery on her THUMB. Next week.

And apparently, she can’t possibly miss physical therapy for a week at Christmas.

Nevermind that my sister and BIL might have finalized my new nephew’s adoption come Christmas.

Nevermind that it’s his FIRST CHRISTMAS with our family, and maybe it’s, you know, IMPORTANT to establish a relationship with him.

Nevermind that Lucky hasn’t seen his grandparents since June, and every time we get together, it takes him some time to re-establish a relationship with them, because we don’t see them enough.

Nevermind that throughout my childhood and teenage years all I heard was how irresponsible I was, how I didn’t care about anyone but myself!

I’m sorry, who’s being selfish here?

When I texted back Why no Florida? my mother called me right away. I was too angry to speak with her, so I let it go to voicemail.

She wants to tell me in person why she can’t make it, of course. She wants me to call her back.

I can’t. I’m sick of her lame ass excuses for not making important family gatherings.

Right now, in this moment, I really don’t want to talk with her ever again.

I’m sick of her self-involvement – all she talks about it her ‘health issues’ anymore. I’m sick of her refusal to see the real reason for not traveling; she’s too afraid of being in a world where she has zero control. I’m sick of listening to her lame ass excuses for not being there for her grandson. I’m sick of her choosing herself over people who might actually NEED her – my new nephew being one of them.

I’m tired of all the years she made ME feel like I was the one who was wrong, who needed to change, when it’s HER issues.

She made me feel so awful for so many years. And I’m just starting to see – it was HER.

Not me. HER.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it. Even writing this out, I have the sense that I’m being irrational and overreacting. I mean, it’s just a visit to Florida. What’s the big deal, really?

But I’m so SICK of her excuses. So tired of seeing her selfishness in action. I want to scream at her, punch her, make her realize that it was HER issues that made me feel so fucking bad about myself.

Clearly I’m angry at her for something OTHER than her inability to travel right now. I’m angry at her for all the years I suffered, thinking I wasn’t good enough. I’m angry that she’s so self-focused, she’ll never SEE that.

Charlie tells me not to do anything rash, to remember that she’s my mother and even though I’m so angry I actually HATE her right now, it means I love her, too.

What I DO know is that I cannot pick up the phone and call her until the worst of this anger has passed. It won’t be good for anyone.

And in the meantime, I keep reminding myself this.

She’s human.

She’s flawed.

So. Yeah. It’s complicated.

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15 Comments »

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  1. I know. I know. My mother always has some ridiculous excuse why she can never come to see me or my kids (you know, her *granchildren*). And why it’s never convenient for us to visit her.

    I seldom get angry, so it just makes me sad.

    But, at least in my case, it’s not complicated at all.

    She just doesn’t care that much about us.

    • That’s how I feel, too. Like she doesn’t care enough to come visit. But she loves it when we come to her, and she’s SO good with Lucky. *sigh*

      • My children really don’t have grandparents. I hate it, and scarily enough, the ONE grandparent that wants to be a part of their lives–is my mother. Who I am estranged from. But damn it–she moved out here from Indiana. And so, I struggle with my own issues with her and make sure she sees her grandkids. She is the only one who cares. And it saddens me cuz my dad–he just doesn’t care. (On the other side, my MIL always makes excuses not to visit–and my FIL, who we all feel would LOVE his grandkids–well, he is dead)

  2. Wow, I soooo identify with this. I have very similiar experiences with my mother, but lately I have come to a conculsion with the help of my therapist. I cannot control anything my mother does or doesn’t do, all I can do is control how I react to it (which I’m sure you know), but I really focus on that and repeat it to myself all the time! It actually helps a lot. I also have come to realize that my FAMILY is my husband and I, and my mother and sibilings are simply my family or origin, this helps me reframe what I expect from her (which is basically nothing).

    Another thing my sister and I do is we really focus on creating happy, fun, family memories amoung ourselves with our spouses and her children. We get together as often as we can, we go on family camping trips and have family cookouts etc. Since we get along great and like being together, we take control of the “family” and do these things together without my Mom. We aren’t excluding her because the things we do she is not “able” to do (mostly because she chooses to not be “able” similiar to your mom).

    I fear that my children won’t really have any grandparent relationships at all, but all I can do is offer them loving happy memories, and from the sound of things you and your sister can do the same with your family. Does your sister live close to you?

    P.S. I’m over the moon at your positive beta news. Please cross your fingers for me, I’m in beta limbo and should know by friday if my pregnancy is good to go or not.

    • Jen – fingers crossed!!

  3. My in-laws moved far away and now it’s a pain to get them to visit. I was talking to a friend who has her own mother issues, and she said she tries to think of it this way: How often will she want her kids to bring grandkids to visit? That’s how often she will take her kids out to visit, even when it’s a hassle, because that’s the example she wants to set for her own kids.

    I can appreciate that idea, and it’s what keeps me going when we have to put the kids on a plane and fly far away to visit a house that isn’t kid friendly.

    • I like this idea. Makes it easier to spend the $$ on plane tickets. And keeps it framed more like what *I* want to do, rather than letting her control things.

  4. I just spent the weekend with my future DIL and her mom pulls the same shit. The wedding is next week after being engaged for 15 months. Her mother texted her yesterday and asked that they move back the rehearsal by one hour because she might be late. Seriously. There is absolutely no reason she can’t get her ass in the car an hour earlier to be there on time. No other committments are standing in her way. It’s just a “look at me, I’m important” powerplay intended to shift the focus from her beautiful, sweet daughter who is in the spotlight.
    The term Mom is not applicable to all who have children.
    I find it ironic that we all have people in our families that if we weren’t related, we wouldn’t choose them as friends.

    • I often think this way, too – if we weren’t related, there’s really nothing keeping us in a relationship. Ironic. And I’ll bet you’re going to be a great MIL to your future DIL.

  5. There are a lot of women who are better suited to grandmotherhood than to motherhood. I would possibly put my in-laws in this category, and I’m sure SIL #1 would put her own mother in this category. Her own wedding was a series of complications because of her mom’s inability to focus on her daughter for just one day. My other SIL’s parents are a trip, too. And I see that it does create this constant uncertainty and frustration and, really, a lasting hurt. It seems like always standing on a fault line. D.’s parents were pretty negligent — they didn’t yell or hit or anything; they just didn’t really pay attention. As a result he has an inferiority complex and can be a little needy at times. It sucks to have a self-centered parent. Not saying that the kids need to be the absolute center to the exclusion of everything, but they need to know that they do matter!

  6. SKYPE!!!! Once a week every week at a set time and too bad if grparent misses it.

  7. I think older people have a tendency to become increasingly set in their routines and prefer to stay in familiar environments. Interpersonal dynamics aside, this seems to be a common theme in interactions with both my parents and my in-laws. I’m a bit older than you with older parents who are now retired. On a good day I can laugh about how incredibly busy they seem to think they are with their unscheduled days of unlimited flexibility, but at other times they just seem very self-centered. I vow that I will be different when I’m their age, but I’m not so sure I will be.

  8. I was nodding the entire time I read your post. My mother is not a good grandmother. She likes the idea of being a grandmother, but can’t act like one. Form vs function. When she used to come to visit, she’d smoke on the porch and read, take naps & barely interact w/ my child. I think she misses the cuddly baby who was content being held & I think she also still wishes he was a girl so she could make cutesy outfits for him. Now she can’t come visit overnight b/c they have “babies” who need attention: 2 puppies. If we want to see them overnight, we have to go to them, which is loads of fun with a 3-year-old who is afraid of dogs.

    And I’m tired of feeling like she resents me from growing up and moving away, not staying 5 years old. She never calls, yet reproaches me when I don’t call.

    Sorry to vent and bitch on your post about your mom, but your post really resonated with me. The older she gets, the more narcissistic and bitter she becomes. I struggle with the guilt of being a “good daughter” and feel like I should make the opportunities for D to see her. And then it occurs to me to wonder if she ever struggles with the guilt of being a “good mother.”

  9. I marked this post so that I would come back and comment. I know you are aware of my estrangement from my parents stemming mostly from my mother’s narcissism. Therapy helped me realized what a chronic problem for me her narcissism was growing up and how I was a convenient target of blame. I really thought, though, that once I had a child, her focus would shift from trying to control me to wanting to forge a new relationship with my son. It saddened and angered me when that was proven to not be the case. My mother simply can not get out of her own way enough to have a healthy relationship with my son. And, while this saddens me greatly because I would like nothing more than for him to know his maternal grandparents (who live 3 miles away), there is nothing I can do about it.

    It is so lovely that when your mother is with your son, she is good with him and I am sure that influences what you choose to do/not do in your own relationship with her.

    But, yeah, sometimes we have to let go of the fantasy picture of how we thought things would be and deal with the reality. You mom is likely never going to come around in a way that is satisfactory to you, so, you have to find a way to manage your expectations of her in a way that benefits your son, if that is what you want to do.

  10. UGH I’m so sorry you have to experience this.

    My mother lives about an hour away by car, and she is hardly ever here. She claims it’s because she doesn’t want to get in our way, but I’ve never said anything like that to her, and when I ask her point blank to come, there is always something else she has to do: go out to lunch, get her nails done (yes, really!), etc.

    I wish our parents could be the people we want them to be instead of who they are. But the only thing we can do is protect ourselves and our children as best as we can.

    xo …


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