My Mother Makes Me Nuts!


#1

Not quite sure where to begin with this. I don’t want to write a book here but just tell this in a nutshell, see if anyone else’s mother is like this and curious how others handle this type of thing!

Basically my mother has always had a kind of depressed nature. On top of it though, she can actually say quite mean things. Just quite snide and hurtful at times.

My parents don’t really have friends or do anything like hobbies, etc. They have been married about 57 years and do everything together. They are both mid-seventies.

Before I go any further, let me say that I really love my parents. They can be quite fun in the right mood and we’ve always been close, my mother just takes it to the extreme with what she expects though. I have even encouraged them to move down here to our neighborhood (although I’m sure they won’t and I probably need my head examined for suggesting it. I guess I’m glad they didn’t go for it after all.)

My mother has always been clingy with me and my sisters. Wants to talk to each of us every day, wants us to visit often, live close by, etc.

For years we all lived within a few miles of them where we grew up. My nephews included. Six years ago, my husband, son and I moved about 20 miles away. I love where we live, we just got a loan for our house, live in a nice area and everything we do is down here.

I don’t visit my parents all that often because lots of times I feel uncomfortable with them. They can be very critical, etc. and it doesn’t encourage visiting. I also have one vehicle which needs many repairs and guzzles gas. I don’t feel well a lot of the time. I have fibromyalgia, arthritis, diabetes, etc. You name it. I just don’t feel like going. They are always welcome to visit us and they know that and do visit from time to time.

However, my mother manages to work it into every conversation (and we talk daily!) that I don’t visit enough. Today she said she feels like she doesn’t even have a child since I moved! 20 miles!
I think she is also put out because both of my sisters have moved also but they can’t be more than 6-7 miles away from her.

Today I told her what about people whose kids move across the country and they only see them once or twice a year. She informed me that just wouldn’t work for her. No kidding??? I don’t consider it her decision to make. She may have to adjust because at some point my husband and I want to move either to England or Mexico. She will probably disown me.

My husband moved here 7 years ago from England and hasn’t seen his family since. We talk to them a lot by phone but no one is guilting us on their end!

Then she told me today that she went wrong by making her children her life! (Is she for real?) I think we would all be happier if she hadn’t made us her life. We don’t want to be her sole focus. It is completely suffocating. She will leave rude messages on our answering machines if she hasn’t heard from us and not calling her back is not an option because she would be sure we were dead!

She said she should have been out at the Eagles or the VFW or whatever having friends and having fun. Well, I’m sure we all wish to heavens she had! Would have made our lives easier.

Okay, I’m sure you get the picture. Any suggestions? She uses guilt and manipulation to get people to do what she wants and of course she does manage to make me feel bad and I’m tired of it. Why should I feel bad for having my own family and my own interests? I really believe they would have been happiest if none of us ever married. They are critical of all of our husbands.

She is not Catholic by the way. I think she is sometimes a bit put out that we are. My nephew is also Catholic. She seemed to accept that better when he converted. However, she is wise enough not to bug me on that subject because I will quickly put her in her place because being Catholic is one of the most important things in my life and I will not listen to anything negative on that topic.

Thanks for listening and any suggestions! Oh by the way, I am 41 and my sisters are in their 50’s! Just makes me laugh to think of it.

Amie


#2

The key thing to remember is that you cannot change her you could only change yourself. My mom makes me nuts in different ways.I would start with not takeing the bait and playing the regular game. also see if you feel guilty for a legitamate reason or not. Pray for her, be kind, loveing and tolerant. In my case my mom does not a a spiritual life so I feel true compassion for her try looking at your mom with compassion instead of annoyance(might not be the right word) Some one told me if you want someone to stop pushing your buttons, then remove your buttons!


#3

I feel kind of sorry for your mom. Here she is, in her 70s, with nothing but family in her life (at least, in her mind), and she is terribly afraid they are all leaving her and moving on to other places. That must be very scary for her; especially since you and your sisters have waited until she was elderly before deciding to take charge of your lives. She’s doing the guilt trip because, obviously, it has worked in the past to keep her loved ones near, which is her priority. And now, in her old age, it is not working. Yes, she must be very frightened, very angry, and very confused.

Now (before you come after me with a flame thrower :wink: ) I don’t think you should put your life on hold or give in to the guilt trips. I do think you should deal with her with compassion and understand that the problem has been at least partially caused by your own (and other family members’) unwillingness to deal with her as an adult long before it reached this point. Find out what her concerns really are and alleviate them (is she afraid of being alone, what will you do if your father dies? is she afraid of just being old and lonely, how will you keep her in your life? is she afraid of health issues, how will you keep on top of that?)

I’m not unsympathetic to your situation (although it sounds that way, I know). I am an only child. My mother is in her 80s and lives, alone, half a continent away from me. And she knows it would only take a phone call and I would be by her side before the day was done – and have someone there within minutes, if needed. The best thing I did was get her an email system (one that only does email and internet via the television, nothing fancy), hooked it up, got it running, and taught her to use it. She hears from me every day via email, and I hear from her. If not – I make sure everything is okay even it it means calling the neighbors or the police. She needs that security to know, if anything would happen, I really am there for her – even across the country.

Good luck . . . I hope if you are patient with your mum, you will find she is more accepting of your needs as well.


#4

Well, I am sure I need to practice compassion here. I do appreciate the reminder of that because it is the best option. Same with removing the buttons. I suppose I need to let the comments roll off of my back like water off a duck. Perhaps it would be best to just ignore them and continue the conversation in another direction. Not sure about that yet.

However, I know intellectually that I have no reason to feel guity. Like I said, we do speak on the phone every day. I do enjoy talking to her most of the time. I am just tired of the snide comments. If she specifically needed something or my assistance, I’d be right there.

I could actually live without talking EVERY day. I pretty much do that for her sake. I could talk every other day of a few times a week to suit me but on the other hand lots of times I do just enjoy chatting with her.

It’s just the snide comments that take the pleasure out of it and create tension.

She does know that any of us would drop anything and be there in a moment if we were needed. She also knows that she doesn’t have to worry about being alone either. I know it would not be the same as having my dad there if he were to pass away but she would certainly be welcome in any of ours homes if it came to that. Or even living close to any of us. Our whole family is very close, probably too close if you ask me.

No flame thrower to you IrishAm. I just think of course you don’t have the whole picture here and how could you because you’re only getting what little info that a complete stranger has conveyed on a message board but we haven’t really let her keep us from doing things or just recently started taking charge of our lives per se. We all enjoyed living where we lived, close to them, etc. It’s just that things change and circumstances have all lead to our moving to different places, still a max of 20 miles. Not exactly an overwhelming distance. Not a day goes by when they don’t talk to one or all of us.

We really haven’t confronted her over this in a big way previously out of respect. It’s just that she has really gotten to me this week and to my middle sister who is extremely peeved over her snide “messages”. I don’t even dare tell my sister the latest comments because I don’t even want to add fuel to the fire. That’s why I’m here talking to impartial observers! lol.

I think if she expressed it kindly as in “Oh, I miss you,” etc. then I could certainly understand it. I tell my own son sometimes when he is gone a lot that I miss him but I never ever expect him to sit home with me or change his life in any way. He is young and should be having fun and making his own life.

It’s only natural to me that when someone gets too clingy my first instinct is to just create some distance.

It’s just the mean hateful way she goes about it and the attempts at guilt but I am definitely keeping compassion in mind. Like I said, I love her dearly but just feel she is ruining the closeness we have with this nonsense.

I will definitely pray about it too. Much more contructive than getting mad. It’s just that my initial reaction today was anger and indignation.

I have even thought how would I feel if it were me getting older and thinking I only have so much time to spend with my son, etc. but dang it, I sure wouldn’t try to get closer to him by making him feel bad for having a life.

I really feel that she is using us as a crutch and an excuse not to have any interests or hobbies. I have suggested everything under the sun to her as a way to occupy herself and her time but she is interested in none of it. I actually feel sorry for my father because he is there all the time with no escape. She is really the type of person who for years (it is nothing to do with being older because she has always been this way) who has just made up her mind to be unhappy. It is basically like she is bored and thinks it’s up to us to entertain her.

My dad loves her dearly, would do anything for her, revolves everything around her and still she is not happy. Their house is paid for, they have a nice life, are in good health for their ages and still the complaints never end. That’s why it seems as if she chooses to focus on the negative. It makes me want to run in the opposite direction. Surprised I haven’t moved to the other side of the world instead of the other side of town.

Amie


#5

Amie - Tell her what you have told us. How much you love her. How hurt you are by her comments. How much you love her. How frustrated you are. How much you love her.

That’s what you have told us, very convincingly. Now tell her – tell her until she listens. And then keep telling her. Old habits are hard to break; especially for old people. She may never change; but she will know you love her.


#6

I think you’re doing the best that you can.

BTW, counseling is a good way to help take what you know in your head and take it to heart. If you have the means, you might think about finding that. It could really help you in your relationship with you mom.

For instance, if you don’t want to call right back, you might tell her ahead of time that there when there will be days that you’re not going to be calling right back, and then do it. She has as much control over you as you give her. She has as much control over your dad as he gives her.

If you do call her every day, then you might decide that you do it because you love her, and not because of her guilt trips. When Jesus said, “turn the other cheek”, didn’t he mean that you refuse to let power control you? If she heaps on the guilt, then you might decide either to ignore her because it is right or to give to her without regard for what she guilts you to, because that is right. Even now, don’t you do what is right because it is right? That is an act of love for God, not just your parents! If someone presses you to walk a mile, and you decide to walk two, this is what Jesus meant. What you give, you give out of love. You make it obvious that your generosity wasn’t forced. Likewise, when you refuse to be dominated by a show of power, there is no sin in that. If the person decides to whack your other cheek, too, that’s on their head. “Let me bury my father”…“Let the dead bury their dead”…this means that even family doesn’t come before doing what is right. It may not be that you need to do a single thing differently. You may only find that the grace to do it can come from deciding to look at it differently.

These aren’t the things you should do. These are things you might decide to do. It is in your power, though, to make everything about your relationship with your mom into something that is ultimately about pleasing God. Actually, I think that is what you already do, only you might not give yourself credit for that. A counsellor or spiritual director might really help you do the right that you do without beating yourself up for having done it. Or not having done it…because right now, you’re in a damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don’t situation. To come to see that you choose what you choose for all the right reasons, to ask God and thank God for the strength to do it: that might be the ultimate way to make these lemons into lemonade.


#7

Yup my mom acts very much like your mom. I get comments if I don’t call every couple days like “We could be dead and you wouldn’t know it.” Sometimes I tempted to say “I’m sure the police or the neighbors would call.” :wink: My parents are in their seventies too. It has tapered off some. I’d day for the first ten years of my marriage I talked to my mom just about everyday. (Not necessarily because I wanted to talk to her everyday.) If she couldn’t reach me she would sometimes resort to calling my friends because I obviously had to be dead or injured if I hadn’t called in two days. She also has said many times she waited all day for me to call. As if she couldn’t pick up the phone and call me if she wanted to talk or had a question.

My mom has also made comments about what she should have done instead of devoting her life to her children.

I recently discovered my mom has Paranoid Personality Disorder. I am certainly not saying your mom has this. What you have discribed is not anything as extreme as what I have experienced. The fact that you said your mom doesn’t really have friends as well as some of your other comments made me think it might be something to look at. Here’s a link about it. nvo.com/psych_help/paranoidpersonalitydisorder/
I don’t endorse the site, it just gives a very good decription of what PPD is.

My brain is kind of fried tonight. I have gotten better at dealing with my mom. I’ll try to think of some things that have helped and come back tomorrow to post them.


#8

life is to short for fussing and fighting…Beattles.

I mean really how much more time do you have together?
Tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

Look I go through the same thing with my mom.Her and dad moved four blocks down from us and she still leaves nasty messages on my voicemail about me not calling or not coming over.

She has 7 brothers, 4 sisters, 4 children ,15 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren and numerous friends.Yet I’m an *** for not calling daily. Yes she can be down right rude using profanity and guilt trips. The only thing I can control is how I respond to her. Love the sinner hate the sin and all that.:wink:

I feel that God is giving me the opportunity to practice patience:shrug:
Though I don’t know why.Maybe He is preparing me for something in the future?

Pray long pray hard for yourself.
You need strength to endure you need sanctifing grace, you need the Eucharist.
Feed your soul and stay strong.
This is our cross that we have to bare.
You are not alone.
My mother drives me nuts too.:console:


#9

My Mom was similar, though not to that extent. But she had a lot of hobbies and clubs, which was very nice for her and for us.
It’s your mother’s choice not to go out and do something interesting for herself.
One thing you could do is tell her that the negative comments make you feel bad, and you don’t want to hear them any more. Then whenever she makes one after that, it’s the end of the conversation. Negative attention extinguishes the behavior.
If you make your position clear, she would soon stop making mean comments, or else your phone conversations would be very short.


#10

As I am about the age of your sisters, and with parents about the same age as yours: Ignore what you can, deal with what you can’t ignore.

Everybody used to consider my dad’s opinion about EVERYTHING. The fact that he changed his mind in midsentence had nothing to do with it. The fact that he was too often an abusive bully scared each and every one of us.

Over time, instead of everybody running around worrying about what Daddy wants, they look at him, acknowledge what he said, and pretty much go on doing whatever it is they were going to do in the first place. I mean, what he’s going to do? Spank us? Beat us? Yell at us? All three of my brothers can now hold him down with one hand. I can easily sit on him and probably squish him. So can one of my three sisters. It is laughable! We can smile, say, “Yeh Dad” and go on our merry way, sometimes chuckling as we exit. It is a WONDERFUL realization.

My point: You are not a little girl any more. There is a lot you can ignore, because what Mom thinks just doesn’t matter. If you move to the UK, what can she possibly do to you? Contact Heathrow and tell them not to admit you? Call the Prime Minister and tell him that she prefers you to live in the US? She can fuss, she can fume, she can not talk to you, but really, if you choose to move, there is **nothing **she can do.

How’s that for a feeling of power?:slight_smile:


#11

Burbs, you crack me up!!!

:rotfl::rotfl::rotfl::rotfl::rotfl:

Thats kind of the way I do things too… yeah mom… and on my merry little way…


#12

Well, Burbs realized how nice the quiet was when she didn’t talk with her extended family, but when she realized the majority actually missed her- she learned to make concessions. :o One of them was not paying attention to Dad.


#13

I’d take the time to call her, it takes what - 5 minutes to call her and say “hello, mom, love you” and chat a bit? If it is too much to do it every day, set a schedule that will work into your life. I think once a week is the minimum. It won’t be long, she will be gone and you will really miss picking up the phone and talking to her.


#14

Okay, happy ending to the whole story. I called my Mom today just as if nothing had happened and we had a nice chat. Then she called me later in the evening to see if I’d received an email from her. She sent it to an old email address. She had written to me to apologize and I did get it. It was very sweet.

At any rate, we do have a basically good relationship and I’m sure I was overreacting the other day as much as she was. She has promised not to do the guilt trip and I’m resolved to be more understanding even if she does. None of it is worth having hard feelings between us and I’m unfortunately all too aware that we never know how much time we have together.

I told her to please not feel bad and that I love her and my dad, etc. I think we have reached new ground and even if it happens again I will take everyone’s advice and practice compassion. I’m sure she’s put up with plenty out of me over the years too.

Just wanted to thank you all and let you know that we have a happy ending.

Amie


#15

You are her child. She cried when you went to Kindegarten. Cried when your throat hurt in the middle of the night. Cried when you graduated. Cried when you left home. Cried when…and so on…and so on.

Should she manipulate you? No. I am sure that is frustrating. Aging parents are frustrating for many reasons. She will probably become more frustrating as she ages. We all will. I’d bet you were frustrating as a toddler too - all those years ago when she was caring for you.

Should you try to see her often when she only lives 20 miles away? Absolutely. She is your Mother. Should you call her every day, or every other day…knowing how much she longs to talk to you? Absolutely.

Honor her. Why? Because she is your Mother. Speaking from experience, I would do anything to have mine back…


#16

When you marry, you leave your home and cleave to your husband. Your family is your primary responsibility. Anything or anyone who detracts from your ability to be the best wife and mother you can, must be addressed.

Your mother is NOT doing this manipulation out of love but out of fear. I know, I have a similar family. You need to pray earnestly and consistently about this. You need to set limits with her along with logical consequences as you would for a small child. That is her emotional developmental state. She’s not being a parent to you, she’s being a drain.

When you set these limits, she will feel relief. She desperately needs to have someone be in control and in charge. She is not in control, she’s flailing and scared. Once you cowboy-up and be strong, she will calm down. It worked for me. I saw my folks for the sweet children that God sees. They are innocent and sweet. They aren’t the mature adults I thought they were when I was little. They are wounded and fragile. Now that we are both adults, I can see them more clearly and set limits in our relationship.


#17

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