Relationship Question.

My relationship with my mother is shallow, at best. We don’t argue or fight, but we aren’t close. She doesn’t practice her faith, while my husband and children are striving wholeheartedly to be holy. In my marriage, we have put our family first, immediate and extended, while my mother continues to place other relationships ahead of her children and grandchildren. She criticizes our lifestyle to others, and has openly shared her dislike of my husband and his family with others. She is not a bad person, and I try to be understanding of our differences and wants in life, but still, it hurts that my children aren’t getting time and love from their grandmother, and I’m being forgotten as a daughter.

For over a decade I never once brought up any of my feelings regarding this situation, because I feared confrontation, but at the same time, resentment has been building. I am always respectful, but I am getting to the point where I become so upset with her flippant attitude toward her children and grandchildren, that I am often left upset and hurt for days after any encounter with her.

There are many small situations, but for example, I have been alone in the house with our five children while my husband was gone on business, and once we had flooding, and another time a 8hour power outage, and my mother made plans after I told her about the emergency (she had a hair appt once, and other time dinner with a friend going through a divorce that “needed” her), and I was unable to get any help with the kids or cleanup/contractors. It was terrible, and I really needed her, and only ask when I REALLY need something, but she had better things to do.

There is a huge part of me that wants to sever the tiny threads that remain of the relationship, purely for my own stability, and rely on prayer alone to heal it. But I always feel that my feelings and hurt need to be pushed aside while I tolerate the relationship out of respect and honor to my mother.

I am considering spiritual counseling for this situation, as I want to proceed correctly with the right balance of following my faith, while respecting myself as well. I’m simply asking now to get an idea of what how much is reasonable to tolerate from a parent?

First let me say how sorry I am that you have this weak relationship with your mother. We all long for a warm, loving, nurturing mom. Thankfully we ALL have one of those if we just start the relationship with Mary. But as for your earthly Mom, a wise man (my husband) once told me that we can never change another person in any way, BUT, if we change our expectations of that person, they can no longer hurt us. Your mom will probably never be the person you would like her to be, ever. So stop expecting her to do those things a loving mom would do. If you EXPECT her to not care if you have hardships, if you EXPECT her not to be involved in your children’s lives, if you EXPECT that she will put others needs in front of yours . . . she can never hurt you.
But the real benefit of this is once you begin to see the real person instead of what you wish she was, you can actually begin to love her more. Put away the childish dream that she will be your loving hero and accept that she is a woman with flaws and deficits. Pray for her. Teach your children to pray for her. Be kind and polite to her and always let her know what is going on in your life and ask her to attend, but don’t expect that she will be there. Pray for her, pray for her, pray for her. In time, you will actually love her and be able to stop resenting her for what she is NOT. I’m sure she has good qualities, and you will learn to appreciate those without the glaring flaws occluding your view. Love her even though you may never like her.
Find that older woman in your parish with the qualities you appreciate and begin a relationship with her. Many times if her children (if there are any) are separated from her by distance, she will appreciate your company. Get your nurturing and advice from her. And always remember the example she set and make sure that it is never repeated in your family (sounds like that isn’t happening). We can often learn more from a bad example than from a good one. God loves you.
I’ll be praying for you and yours.

Roserph65 has put this so well.

You do need to stop expecting your mom to be beyond what she is. When you do that - you give her powers over you that can only devastate you.

You don’t have to sever your relationship - you just need to tone down your expectations.

when you pray - pray that you can learn to accept her as she is.

Thank you for your words, you have said a lot here. I have coped enough with the situation to not wishfully hope that she will change or magically turn into a selfless person, but I am still dealing with my response to her actions, and being hurt by the very large things when I needed her, or the small things that ended up hurting me deeply. Finding a balance between being a loving daughter and allowing myself to be trampled on is tough. Trying not to care, and to expect nothing will be huge challenges.

I have witnessed miracles where strained relationships have been healed by Christ, so I will continue to pray for her, as well as the grace for me to accept and be okay with where things stand.

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