A vent about my mother -and a little guilt


#1

Ok. So I am my parents only living child. And their marriage has been on the rocks pretty much since my sister got sick with cancer more than 20 years ago. My dad actually bought a second house to have some place to go to get away from my mother nearly 10 years ago. He spends about 3 to 4 days of the week at the “other” house.

Today I took my mother to the doctors -she wanted me to come instead of my father. My parents have been fighting (nothing new) so I got hear all the way to the doctor and in the waiting room what a lousy person my father is. My dad picked up my daughter from her homeschool classes and met us at the hospital -then left to go to the “other” house.

After her appointment we went back to my parents’ house and I stayed for a while and got hear about what a lousy person my father is for several hours except when Dancing with the Stars was on. Then I only had to listen to it during the commercials.

My mother has too much pride to discuss these things with anyone else -including her only family who all live out of state. So I half listen (it’s the same thing over and over and over) and offer it up since she is lonely and has no one else to talk to.

The things is all the things she complains about are are reflection of what she did to me as a teenager. To back track after my sister died my mom pretty much lost it. She became a very cruel, nasty, unhappy person. I left as soon as I could (got married at 18) but my dad has had to live with her all these years.

He is endured things such as being called a Nazi because he is from Germany (my mother is Italian), she’s blamed him for my sister’s death because some how my sister having terminal cancer was his fault, insults his family because he grew up on a farm instead of in a classy city like she did, his job wasn’t a real job because he was just a pencil pusher (a senior engineer for Chrysler) etc. So after years of tolerating these attacks, my dad is no longer very nice to her. I see that -he’s not abusive just does what he wants, doesn’t really care what she thinks, comes and goes as he pleases. She doesn’t drive more than a few blocks from home so she gets stuck at home when he leaves to go to the other house.

She complains about feeling trapped, how he controls her, criticizes her the list goes on -the things he says to her are nearly verbatim of what she said to me as a teenager. A small part of me thinks what comes around goes around, you reap what you sow -which makes me feel guilty because I don’t want my mother to be miserable. She’s nearly 80 now, she lives with so much regret, so much unhappiness and the thing is she’ll probably die that way.

You can’t give her any kind of advice, she just wants marriage counselors to “fix” my dad -as in make him do what she wants, she embraces the martyr role -no one has suffered as much as she has etc. Anytime I try to give her encouragement as far as options to improve she says she’s too old if she was younger it would be different. She misses her family and the"good life" they lead. She’s so into material things as is most of her family. I got to hear how she thought she’d end up in a mansion by marrying an engineer. Instead of “this” as she looks around in distain. “This” is a nice 3 bedroom ranch, in a good neighborhood.

I live in a mobile home and my husband works a factory job and doesn’t make a quarter of what my dad made before he retired. I could care less about material things and I’m proud of my husband.

Sometimes I just so frustrated with my mother because she can’t see the good around her. I repeated about sixteen times today “The only person you can change is yourself.” I get the “wait until your my age”, “you can’t understand, you haven’t suffered like I have” etc.

So anyway, that was my lovely evening. I don’t expect anything to change. I pray for my mom (and dad), there’s always hope ofcourse. There’s still that tiny part of me that remembers the countless days I spent locked in the bathroon sobbing because of her cruelty- feeling alone, trapped and unloved and I that tiny part sees some justice in her circumstances. That ofcourse makes me feel guilty. It is what it is I guess.


#2

How very sad that someone can get to 80 and be bitter, nasty and generally miserable with life. Obviously your mother does not like herself because this kind of behaviour comes from deep within, not the circumstances she is in. Is she Catholic? Does she have a faith at all? Does she have many friends? If she had friends, I doubt they would put up with such a negative person for too long. Maybe someone else can give her advice as she wont take it from you.
You must feel very helpless in this situation if she won’t do anything to make herself happy and she just drives your father away.
Sounds like she does not know what to do to make herself happy. Does she read books?
Could you get her a good spiritual book to read?
I think it is terrible that someone could die in this state, what a waste of the beautiful gift of life that God gave us. I will pray for your mother, seems like it is the only thing you can do. Pray for her conversion and/or salvation.
She’s very blessed to have a daughter that cares enough to be there and listen.


#3

You are really a good daughter - better than I would be if I was in that situation.

And you have made me very aware of how blessed I am - I am going to give my mother a big hug when I get home from work this morning.

I would try one thing though - everytime you leave your Mom’s house, when you are saying good bye to her? Say, “And thank you, Mom, for all your sacrifices over the years. You will never know how much I appreciate everything you have done.”

I bet she’ll be so shocked she’ll be quiet…for a minute…


#4

My mom is Catholic although she really doesn’t understand the faith very well. She just recently started coming to church with us fairly regularly. Otherwise she went to the parish I grew up when the mood struck her to go which was how I was raised.

She likes my parish because it’s more traditional and reminds her of the churches in Europe where she grew up. She sometimes misses because she and my dad play cards with friends on Sunday evenings occasionally (which is when we usually attend Mass) but this last time I called to ask her if she wanted to go she sheepishly said they were going to play cards but she was going to ask them to change card night to a different night in the furture.

Most of the neighbor friends she had when I was growing have moved and her friendships are always very superficial in nature. She even brags about her family never talks about problems just happy things. She has a brother who has 7 children two have died as adults and she’s not even sure which two. My cousin divorced his wife after a year of marriage and I had been sending Christmas cards to them (as a couple) for years after because no one would tell us he was divorced -until he fathered a child with another woman.

She is is also very friendly and charming to “outsiders” unless she is so badly into one of her “episodes” that she just can’t help herself.


#5

LSK I should try to say that to my mom. It would take a lot for me to do it. I can’t even get her warm fuzzy cards because she makes jokes about it knowing that is not how our relationship is. Not to mention, even though I have forgiven her, it’s very hard to forget to bad stuff. My mother told me when I was 13 she wished my sister had lived instead of me. I was a very sick baby and she did sacrifice a lot but so much of that is tainted with ugliness that came later.

Everytime I really need my mom emotionally she’s never been there. When my boyfriend and I broke up in highschool I was heartbroken and she said (right after I walked in house and told her) “I told you he’d get sick of you.” (He wasn’t that sick of me because he ended up being my husband.:stuck_out_tongue: )

My when my husband’s grandmother (who was dear to me) died as a result of a car accident. Instead of being supportive she screamed at me for not calling her in time to give her a chance to come see his grandmother before she died. She’s screaming at me at the hospital over the phone after they just disconnected life support. And she screamed at me when we went to go pick our daughter whom she was watching on the way home from the hospital. Didn’t offer my husband any condolences, just screamed about how nobody ever thinks of her.:confused:

When my sister died she ranted over the years and still does now at times how I wasn’t there for her nevermind that I was 13 and was greiving myself.


#6

Ahhhh the joys of geriatrics. I see this stuff all the time in my clients and their families.

I have told the children in your situation that you need to sit the parent down and say “I love you very much, I appreciate all the things you have done for me. However, for my own sake, I cannot listen to this any longer. You need to speak to a therapist. I will no longer be a party to (insert whatever the chronic complaints are about). I love dad very much as well, and hearing this stuff doesn;t make me see him any differently, but it makes me see you differently,”

Speak to her PCP before hand and get a referral and an appt with a therapist so she has no excuse.

Follow through on the threat of not listening. When she starts in again, remind her what you said. The redirect. If that doesn;t work, you say " I love you mom, but you know my feelings on this, I’m gonna go home/take a shower/read a book/ make a phone call/go for a drive/ take a walk, and come back later when we have both cooled off and we can talk about something else.

You have to set boundaries, and her putting you in the middle of your parents marriage is not good for anyone.


#7

Dear me. I guess it’s true that old age doesn’t mellow some people very much. How sad that your mother missed out on so much because of her own bad attitude. You sound like a kind, and loving daughter.


#8

Thank you for the advise. This is not about geriatrics. My mother has been this way for a long time. I can not make my mother see a therapist. Her doctor is a jerk, I went with her this week and met the woman. She has complained about this woman for 3 years and yet doesn’t change doctors. She keeps saying she will but she doesn’t. This is the story of my mother’s life complain, complain but do nothing to change it.

I did go to counseling several years ago w/ my mother. Although it changed nothing as far as my mother’s behavior it helped me a lot on how I view my mother. It helped my not to take what she does personally (at least most of the time.)

I could do what you say and then she’ll have no one. I actually have said similar words it changed nothing. She will not see a therapist. She would be enraged and insulted if I went over her head and spoke to her doctor like she is some feeble minded person. My mother may be a lot of things but she is not a child -this problem has nothing to do with her age. She’s a fiesty little Italian woman. I do leave/hang up if she begins attacking me (verbally) or if really becomes too much.

I can not change my mother, and I know that. I could walk away, I could not listen to her and maybe I would if she was twenty years younger. But depite her not being senile she is nearly 80. I offer it up so when she leaves this world she will not feel completely alone. I have a happy marriage, and dear close friends I can count on. I have so much more than she does. Even though it is stressful sometimes, I’d rather be there than her feel completely alone. I know it sounds nuts. But she is my mother, and she has no one else.


#9

#10

I said it before and I will say it again - you are a good daughter.

My mom is Italian too - though American born - and had a sister (I will not tell you what her nickname was among the cousins because if I do I will have to go to confession and I work graveyard and can’t go until Friday night…stop laughing) who reminds me of your mom.

Her son, my cousin, started doing the “Thank you so much for everything you have ever done for me, Mom” every time he left her house after one of those wonderful visits like you just described. It got her to be quiet for a minute - long enough for him to leave - and allowed him to feel a lot better about HIMSELF. He knew, he told me, that no matter what he was being a good son. When she died, he had no regrets and knew definitely that all the troubles were her problem, not his, and now she could just talk it over face to face with The Lord.

I will suggest one other thing - prayer to St. Margaret of Costello. If that woman could love HER parents, we can love our parents…my dad was the big dummy in my life but I did get to see him return to The Church 10 days before his death.

hang in there, honey bunch…you are loved.


#11

I know you are trying to be helpful and it so kind of you. Just this last visit I urged her to go to couseling. She was complaining about my dad and wants them to go to counseling. He has tried in the past (several times) but my mom is so good at putting on the “poor pitiful me” front to counselors and making my dad out to be a demon he stopped going.

She said what is the point of going if he won’t go. He’s the one with the problems, he’s the one that needs to be fixed. When I went to counseling as a teenager, my mom completely did not understand the point of family therapy. She said the counselor just needed to fix me.

Over the years I have tried everything under the sun -suggestions, advice, urging, imploring etc. She either turns on me and gets viciously angry or blows me off by saying I don’t know what I’m talking about wait until you get to be my age. My mother is not the old lady bingo type -she likes Broadway and Pavaratti -not crafts and bingo. (Not that there’s anything wrong with crafts and bingo.)

The counseling I went to several years ago (as an adult) helped a lot. Even the counselor, after trying with my mother for quite a while, said at this point in my mother’s life she is just not willing to change, that she is not capable of change. (My mom has been through a lot -she lived through WWII with the Nazi invasion in Italy, her father and sister died when she was little -it’s a long sad story.)

What’s helped me the most is realizing it’s not my job to try to fix my mother’s life or her marriage. I have accepted this is the life my mother choses to live. I can not change it and she won’t. So I listen -sort of, sometimes I actually put the phone away from my ear for a while or pray in my head while she rants.


#12

I feel for you. I think you are a wonderful, caring daughter. I couldn’t do what you do.
When my mother gets on my nerves and starts telling me what to do, I just laugh and let her chatter go in one ear and out the other.
I am sorry your mother is so miserable. Does she go to Mass?


#13

God Bless your heart!

Pray for her. She really needs your prayers. Pray for you, too, so that God can give you enough patience towards her and so that He may help you guide your mother.


#14

I can’t even believe your mom would tell you that you have no idea what it is like because you have never suffered. I mean, I’ve read your posts. You’ve been through a lot, and kept a really good heart through it all. Do you think it is possible that your mom is totally lacking in empathy and only views things as they relate to her? Kind of sad. Sounds like your dad is doing the best he can do at making a miserable situation at least somewhat tolerable. Your mom just does not sound like she has any interest in seeing the bright side or being happy. Where do you think you picked up this ability?


#15

I’m adopted.:stuck_out_tongue: Really I don’t know. God has blessed me with a very resilient personality. My mom says after my open-heart surgery when I was eight family would come visit in the hospital and ask how how I was doing and I would always say “Fine.” She used to call me her “fine” girl. I am a glass half full person. A friend whom I grew up recently said “I don’t know how you grew up to be such a happy, well-adjusted person.”

I think you are right about my mom not being able to view things except in relation to herself. When we went and picked up our daughter after my husband’s grandmother died and she was ranting and raving I said to her "Mom (hubby’s name) just lost his grandmother today on his birthday*.* She replied “You know I lost someone too.” In reference to my sister who had died 19 years earlier. I told her today is not about you.

I really think she has a personality disorder of some kind. Her sister also is a very “difficult” person.


#16

I read the whole thing ( had to shorten it on here)and you sound like me: too worried and involved with your mom and dad—and your mom chews your ear like my mom chews mine. I am sorry to say it has caused me some MAJOR depression in my life because I am used as a sounding board for ALL of my life since i was 12. I have learned through counseling that I have to take care of my needs first, and she is responsible for hers.

They have different problems with an alcoholic mid- aged son (my bro.) who lives with them and does not work—they are nearly eighty also. they bicker. The fighting is like going back in a time machine to when I was 12 yrs old—and so help me if I go often enough, they draw me in, and treat me** just like **when I was a little girl. It’s like Mama’s Family, with the spicier version from the Carroll Burnette Show (remember???)–no the watered down Mama from the sitcom. I don;t even want to describe it further—it makes my stomach turn. God help me.

You feel torn, I imagine as I have and still do, between wanting to be a “good daughter”, and follow that 4th commandment well. So that means you listen to constant complaining and put-downs of your father. The complaints have worn at me and made me feel desparate for escape–almost desparate for death. They make me angry at her for using me as a friend instead of letting me go… it does not help to give advice to your mom, I bet, if she is like mine. My mom has NEVER spoken to me for honest advice, but just to use me as a sounding board—to complain in self-pity and anger. if I ahve told her one word as to how I feel, i do NOT have a right to feel dpressed, well because i just don’t go through what she goes through—My mom does not accept that her complaining has hurt me terribly–enough to drive me nutso:banghead: . Honestly.

So I take care of myself first now. I am middle aged, and I can’t leve feeling guilty taht I can’t fix her or my dad or my brother. i have a family to take care of that needs me alive. I am sorry to say all this—I will pray for you tommorrow and when I go to the Blessed Sacrament.

Ps: Thanks for the chuckle when you mentioned Dancing With The Stars. When my mom sees her Spanish novellas, it’s about the same thing. Thank goodness for those times of relief.


#17

Wow, Lisa your mom does sound just like mine. And the way they fight and treat me like a kid too.

The thing about never really wanting advice -absolutely true.
Before my dad got the second house she went through this episode where she ranted about needing to get away from him, wanting her own condo. Everytime I saw her for weeks she went on and on about having her own condo and needing to be alone and have peace.

Finally after listening to it for the 100th time I offered to help her look for a place. Well she flipped. “What you expect me to live alone at my age!!” She went on and on -ripping my head off for expecting her to be able survive on her own.:rolleyes:

Thank you for your prayers, I will pray for you too.


#18

Hey Lisa where did your post go? :confused:


#19

I agree with OldAgeGuru, not because of your mom’s age, but because she needs to be told that certain conversations are unacceptable (YOU SHOULD NOT TOLERATE THE TALK ABOUT YOUR DAD). And yes, you should follow through, she complains, you leave. At first it will be tough, but in time she’ll learn to stop complaining about your dad to you. And you’re right, it isn’t about age, it’s about misery.

My step-mom is misearable for many reasons and for years complained to anyone an everyone who’d listen about my dad (my dad’s no angel, but he does have many good points). Eventually (when I got past my “I don’t like my dad” teenage phase) I became sick of her complaining because I finally saw the good that my dad was doing (wanting a family dinner each night at 7 wasn’t a huge request for a man who works over 60hours per week, but she managed to never get started on cooking until 7 or 7:15 because she was busy with things that didn’t pertain to the marriage and family, etc.). Well, a few years ago when she was crying to me about something my dad did (oh, that’s it, wanting dinner on time and she thought the horses were more important) I simply said, " Well, he was right. Your obligation is to your marriage first, not horses." She continued to try and explain why she was right and I wouldn’t hear of it. She ended up crying (because I was defending my dad and not feeding her complaints) and hasn’t complained about him to me since. Yes, our relationship is different, but it isn’t based on negativity anylonger.

Stop the complaining cycle. Still visit your mom, but when it starts to turn to complaints, leave. You’re not being a bad daughter by doing this (actually you’re being a good daughter because you’re honoring both your parents, not tolerating complaints about your dad and not allowing your mom to complain about your dad, instead of harming both). Honoring our parents doesn’t mean to listen to complaints constantly about one, it means doing what is right for the dignity of both based on the situation. Are you honoring your father when you listen to your mother? Is your mother forcing you to sin against him?


#20

My father is well aware of my mother’s rants. We are all quite accustomed to this behavior, it’s been going on for a very long time. I don’t think I’m dishonoring my father. I don’t take what she’s says seriously and I don’t get involved. I still love my father as much as I always did and it hasn’t changed my view of him at all. I have always been closer to my father and mother is very jealous of that.

I’m not forcing my mother to do anything. My mother doesn’t reason like normal people. I could talk until I’m blue in the face (and I have when I was younger) it changes nothing, it stops nothing. My mother will not stop because I tell her to, don’t you think I’ve already tried that 100 times? This has been going on for over 20 years. I have 16,000 different ways to change the situation -my mother will not change, she refuses to.

I have two choices -cut her off from my life or put up with the ranting/venting. Since she is nearly 80, I chose the latter. She has high blood pressure, diabetes, heart trouble, chronic emphysema, asthma among other ailments. I have a happy life and a great marriage. I have dear, close friends. God has blessed me so much so I chose to sacrifice a little peace of mind and give a little back. I don’t want to have regrets after she passes away. At least when she’s gone I can say I did the best I could.

God Bless.:slight_smile:


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.