Wednesday, 17 December 2008

What can I do with her?

I'm in need of a little therapeutic outpouring.

I dread Christmas, and have done for many years. All because of my mum, because it's at Christmas that she can be at her worst.

Not sure where to begin or how to explain about her, but in a very emotional way she is extraordinarily controlling. She always gets her way and this has dominated (and plagued) my life.

It all goes back to her childhood. She had a lovely first six years being spoilt rotten living the life in India. Then she was sent to boarding school in England and forgotten about (at least that's how she sees it). An alcoholic mother who did forget pre-arranged meetings didn't help. My armchair diagnosis is that my mum is in constant need: she needs to feel loved, needed, appreciated and secure and she tries to ensure this by making sure people say things and behave in a way that makes her feel this way.

Myself, my sister, husbands and children are all paying for this aspect of her past and her present personality. We are all railroaded into paying her constant attention, 'thinking of her' at every moment, catering for her every need (woe betide those who put children first), praising her cooking, home, thanking her for her hospitality or help as if we couldn't have done without it...and so on.

For Christmas this year she has made my sister go to Bristol to collect her, take her to Somerset where she will spend five days, then I have to collect her from Somerset, take her to her home in Bristol, then to my house in Hampshire where she will stay for five nights including New Year's Eve. I have not offered this, she just asked and assumed. If I make out it's difficult she gets huffy, pointing out that she's taking us to the theatre (OH WHY did I agree to it?).

My problem is that she expects all this. I would probably happily offer to do some of what she wants, if she didn't always impose it on me. Not once has she noted that it may be a bit much to ask, that maybe my husband would not want his mother-in-law in the house all that time, that maybe we might have made other arrangements.

I have three other people to think of - not least my husband who is very unhappy about this. She will effectively take up most of his leave time and he finds her difficult at best. But once again it is all about her feeling wanted and needed and having the Christmas she wants. Trouble is - it's not what any of us want.

I feel furious that she's put me in this position again (for the nth time in my life), very very sorry for my family who deserve a relaxing break, incredibly resentful for being forced into this, but, as usual, powerless to do anything about it .

If I confront her about this a massive scene will ensue, with lots of tears ('how can you be so hurtful?") on her part. I know, because that's what always happens. I also know that she is 78 and will never change (because after all, it is me who is being 'selfish'). I feel thoroughly depressed and oppressed.


Flowerpot said...

Tricky situation given that she's used to getting her own way. I suppose you let her have her own way and have a bit of peace or you tell her to get stuffed and to stop being so selfish and never hear teh end of it. Dont envy you that one...

She's like the wind said...

What a difficult and awkward time for all of you, it should be a time of relaxation and enjoying each others company, but at the same time you don't want to cause upset. I hope it goes smoothly! xx

ADDY said...

Damned, if you do, and damned, if you don't. You are in a difficult situation. My instinct would be to tell her how difficult it is for you and that now and again you need to do things for your own family hub without her. It's not putting her second, but just putting them first for a change.

On the other hand, she is 78 and you may not be doing it for much longer anyway and it would be a shame to cause a rift in your relationship and then regret it. If she weren't such a primadonna, she would understand your feelings. I am so thankful my mother is not like that. In fact she is quite the opposite, almost falling over herself not to get in the way and be a nuisance.

Mean Mom said...

I'm sorry that you've been pushed into such a difficult situation. I would probably do the same as you're doing to keep the peace, I'm afraid, though I'm not suggesting that it's the right thing to do. I understand why you do it. I hope that things don't go as badly as you expect.

If you really want to avoid this situation, next year, then why not try and think of some way out of it, now? Perhaps you could try a compromise, such as she stays with you for less time, because, you're doing something else over New Year, for example. She needs to be thwarted before she gets the chance to do this to you, next time.

DAB said...

Sorry but can't offer you any words of wisdom. But I do send you a (((HUG))), hope it helps TFx

Anonymous said...

Not selfish at all. It must be incredibly hard for you to have to put up with this inconsiderate behaviour from your mother. Unfortunately I doubt there is anything to be done apart from a few strong words about her being intrusive and demanding and it causing a rift between you and your husband.

I put up with my late fil's demanding, inconsiderate, selfish, arrogant bla bla bla behaviour for six years which I know doesn't sound a long time but as he lived with us it felt like a lifetime. If my marriage hadn't been as strong as it is, I am sure Jim would have split me and my husband up. And he wouldn't have thought twice about it.

Good luck, take care and keep smiling.

CJ xx

Annieye said...

Your post struck a chord with me. I have a mother-in-law who is very difficult. But it is much, much worse now I have lost my own lovely mum. I know it sounds awful but I resent my mother-in-law for even being alive when my kind and gentle mum had to suffer cancer.

My own mum used to say that when you have a family of your own, you must always put your husband and children first and everyone else should take a back seat. I think it's good advice.

Stinking Billy said...

wee mob, you have to realise that her condition is just such a common one, and stop banging your head over it. You cannot persuade or change her, it's your cross and if you do not bear it with dignity you will never be happy again. How do I know? Don't ask. x

Searching Soul said...

Your post evoked mixed feelings in me.

I empathize with you as an independent daughter who wants to live my life on my own with my to make decisions without worrying about hurting my 78 year old mom's feelings.

I also empathize with your 78 year old mom who is surely lonely and sad being alone every Christmas.

Looking from both perspective I would say that loving takes a lot of sacrifice. It would be easier to understand our mothers if we put our feet in their shoes now.

A 78-year old mom may not spend another 10 Christmases anymore. Who knows, this may be her last.

It's painful and sad to move aside some pieces in our present lives just to accommodate someone who sacrificed so much to keep us alive when we were still helpless little tots.

Never regret nor despair about your situation. You are not alone. In the end, our selfless gestures will always be paid by our own children some 10 or so Christmases from now.

Mid-lifer said...

Well, as always, she got her own way. We would never allow her to be alone at christmas and she never has (and never will be) but its all the other things she demands aorund that without a thought for the impact it has on us (quite apart from causing massive tension between myself and my husband).

I collected her, and we drove her home on New Years Day. However I was a mad as hell and on day one of our time together had a massive blow out with her. Right or wrong, I said that I would have willingly done many things for her had it not been simply expected of me. All I wanted was a simple 'would it be too much to ask' a recognition that she might be asking a little bit much, that she might be imposing on my husband's leave time.

I just hope that I never put my own children in such a difficult position myself. I'd rather be on my own than invited out of obligation (and as a result of my own demands). But then, at 78 I may feel different. I hope not.

Natalie said...

I am living this life, It is depressing and oppressive and poor husband too. All too common I'm afraid. Hugs to you and yours.

Penny Pincher said...

Hello Mid-lifer.
I'm a bit late to this discussion but perhaps a belated comment can help you to cope for next year.

OK - your mum is 78 - she could die soon. As could you or any of your immediate family. Your mother could go on for another 12 years demanding this kind of attention.
I think you should break free in 2009. Can you not save up to go away for a Christmas/New year break so that you are unable to have your mother visit during that time or for you to act as taxi service. Work out the cost of your time and the fuel etc to take her from here to there. Then give her a similar sum of money towards a taxi.
If she remains at home alone there are plenty of organisations that have Christmas lunches and entertainment for elderly people. Talk to the local Age Concern/Help the Aged or Social Services to find out what is available.

Can you not arrange to come to some 'pact' with your sister that in future you will each take it in turns to have your parent for the winter holiday while the other has her for Easter. That way you'll each get a break at Christmas on alternate years.

Tell your Mum now that as a family you're planning to spend Christmas skiing (or with a large group of friends and their children)so you want to put plans in place so that she is not left alone at Christmas .
Once it is organised you could always say that skiing holiday had to be cancelled due to finances (?)but be sure to leave alternative arrangements in place. Try and organise something that whe would hate being involved in if she was staying with you - break free.

There could be every chance that she will be less demanding once she knows you are able to enjoy yourself without her. It could make her more appreciative when she does spend time with you in 2010 and 2012 and again in 2014.

So she had a tough time when she was young. At 78 she should be able to get over it. Life is tough for everyone in one way another. Don't allow her to use this emotional blackmail.Your first loyalty should be to yourself, spouse and children. Good luck