Need advice on dealing with my mother.

Brandy - posted on 09/14/2010 ( 7 moms have responded )

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So, my mother moved in with my husband and I back in January. Her boyfriend unceremoniously kicked she and my brother out onto the street on New Year's Day. She stayed with us until the beginning of August, when I finally got up the nerve to ask her to leave. She had begun seeing her boyfriend again, and doing things that were really getting on both mine and my husband's last nerve. She wouldn't help around the house any more. She had quit a regular job, through which she was able to help us a with a little $50 a week to begin driving him around so he could work. She was supposedly earning more money from him, but we didn't see any of it but for one week. She would leave my 15 year old brother who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome with my aunt or with myself so that she could go off for nights at a time with her boyfriend.
Everything was adding up, and I finally asked her to leave. She didn't take it very well. She told me not to contact her again "unless something devastating happened to myself or one of the babies." When she finally came to get her things a week later she brought the cops into it. She tried to stage pictures suggesting that we damaged her belongings while we packed them and moved them to the back porch. My husband didn't take that too well. She refused to let me or any of my other family members have any contact with my brother. She thinks I am trying to take him from her. She was going to leave him with me at first when she moved back in with her boyfriend, though.
Anyways, my question is, should I even make an effort to keep her posted on how Jacob or Jonathan are doing? Should I bother inviting her to the baby shower or to the delivery? I'm afraid of the stress that will cause on me, but she is their grandmother. I don't know how to handle this. I have already forgiven her, because I know that she is a very troubled person, but I don't know whether I should involve her in my sons' lives and risk exposing them to her behavior. I'm afraid they'll think it's okay to act that way.
Please help.

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Ivy - posted on 09/16/2010

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I have a lot of issues with both of my parents, so I can relate to your post. I'm an only child, and strong-willed and independent, but I had years of trying to break free from my parents' attempts at controlling me with money and manipulating me emotionally- right up until 28 years old when my son was born. They had money, so it was not about taking advantage of me in that way, but rather about trying to control my life choices and making me feel incompetent because I had different values- I chose to work in social services and not be a banker like my father- and to live in the city and use public transportation rather than saving up to buy a fancy car- and to leave an unhealthy work environment after seven years so I could go back to school to do something I really valued and would make me happy- basically just by treating me like I was worthless and incompetent because making lots of money like my father did was not my one and only goal in life. They would force- I mean force- like screaming matches with me if I said no thank you and calling me ungrateful and a brat and I'd never amount to anything-if I didn't want for instance their two year old (ie nearly brand new) car I could not even afford to pay the insurance for (and that I'd have to pay them back for in installments I also could not afford).

I am all about respecting other people, and I appreciate that my mother had it hard raising me (my father was a tyrant and emotional abuser of the both of us, and physically beat our family pets in front of us a number of times -and my mother was- and still is even though they are both home all day, retired- like a slave- cooking and cleaning for him and working full time and doing all of the childrearing too) and she was the only one who was kind towards me growing up, albeit inconsistently- (when I tried to quit basketball in third grade to try out for swimming instead my father told me he was not my father anymore and could never love me! when I went crying inside the house my mother told me to quit being a baby!) but as an adult I would not be treated like a piece of trash in my own home just to show my parents respect. My father was cruel and continues to be towards her. She is also at fault- she chooses to let herself get treated like a discarded dog (no offense to dog lovers, I'm an animal lover too) so that he'll buy her things and keep her life materially comfortable. She has mental instabilities herself- she cannot ever hold down a job or keep friends for more than a few months at a time- I ended up following in her path all through my teen years and it really destroyed my life for years. Habits are indeed passed on by example, and I was taught to swing in dramatic displays, acting compulsively and impulsively based on emotions rather than thinking things through first- because that was what was demonstrated as normal to me by my mother. And she always had my father's income to rely upon to buy her things to make her feel better when she lost yet another new bff. But when I didn't choose to find a man to support me, and I acted so unstably I did cause problems in my own life by quitting jobs, alienating friends etc. The thing is my parents never noticed that I stopped acting like that ten years ago and they don't take even the smallest amount of responsibility for how they played a part in the codependent yucky process.

The point I'm trying to make is that it took becoming a mother myself to begin to really see what to me is unacceptable behavior that my parents both exhibit towards other people and myself. I didn't want my son to have those examples- to learn to treat women with zero respect or like slaves as my father does towards my mother and myself- or my mother's crazy mood swings which lead to life altering decisions every three or four months (for 30+ years!), getting close to people really quickly then deciding to never speak to them again weeks or months later. So I tried setting boundaries with them, which worked out ok since they lived two states away. But when they came to visit last year (my son was not yet two) I worked so hard to provide a nice place for them- rearranged my house and since there was only one bed- had myself and fiance sleeping on the floor in one room while they had the bed in the other room- and yet my father swaggered in and starting treating my fiance/life-partner/co-parent like crap, ordering him about to cook food in a different way, to go wash the car at 7pm after an 11 hour workday and not any dinner because he was going to go help us look for a new (used car) and didn't think doing it in the morning was "acceptable"- yelling at myself and my child- ordering my mother to go get him kleenex every time he needed to blow his nose!- I laid down the law and stood up to him- I told him he had no right to talk to myself or my fiance like that - especially in our own home! nor to demonstrate such sexism in front of my son- and my mother walked in and turned on the water works, told my fiance that I was a spoiled brat just looking for money (I never asked them for anything! they tried to force me during this visit to agree to let them buy a house in the location of their choosing that they would then live in with us and we'd pay them rent until we'd paid off the house- essentially trying to force us to live with them and buy a house from them! when I said no thank you, we were fine renting and if we ever wanted to buy we'd work towards that on our own and they said I was spoiled- is that backwards or what??) and then they walked out and didn't speak to me for six months. The next time they did, it was in email form, to blame me for "keeping them from having a relationship with their grandchild and with (my fiance)" as if I had thrown them out or done anything to prevent them from contacting them. A few months later my mom sent another email- she was clearly on her "up swing" and said she loved me and she was working on forgiving herself for trying to keep the peace too much when I was a kid (what any of that had to do with the way they were actually acting only a year prior- I was 30 yo, not a kid!) and was waiting for my forgiveness. She never even apologized! I ignored her strange tone and just responded telling her she could certainly visit with her grandchild if she comes to town but I would not be able to be coming down to her state. I told her I was not comfortable having my son with both of them without my supervision because of my father's sexist and emotionally abusive behavior (my fiance feels VERY strongly about this point as well) and she hasn't spoken with me since. I don't blame myself for protecting my son through boundaries- if she and my father cannot accept those boundaries, it isn't my job to put my son in harms way for their sake. I'm now expecting my second child in a few months and they don't even know about it because they've not contacted us. Sorry this is so long- just wanted to give context for my opinion- which is that your duty to your kids' well being and a good example comes before duty to dysfunctional mothers or fathers. Best of luck to you!

Laura - posted on 09/16/2010

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I have been thinking on this subject since I read your post, I didn't want to throw myself into an answer I didn't feel would help you. I have had many many problems with my family in the past, it was actually me getting pregnant with my son that brought us back together, this really has nothing to do with this though. I am mearly trying to let you know I don't understand the exact problem you are facing.

But I can in another way, not with my mother but with my future FIL, he is very ill and my hubby and I have had lived with him for the first two years of our relationship, we never had money, never had food, never really had anything but constant shut off notices. We moved away from him when we came to Maryland. But he had major surgery done and ended up being in induced coma for 7mths, after this we felt guilty that he was in Upstate NY without us. Sooo needless to say about a year and a half ago he moved down to Maryland to be with us. There have been nothing but problems since! He has wounds that wont heal, and serious medical conditions that require constant care that we cannot give. He pays half the rent, but that is about it. He is on a set income, his SSD, and two retirement pensions. He makes only 200 dollars less than my fiance and by the end of the first week of the month his money is gone and generally his bank account is overdrawn. I understand the money issues! This problem of his means that his son ends up supporting him throught the rest of the month. Sometimes I wish I had the courage to do what you did and tell him to "GET OUT OF MY HOUSE" So I am unsure still as of what to do about this myself but it's really really rough, we've been in shut off status with our light bill for the last I want to say 6 months!

As far as not know what to do about allowing your mother to be around your children, I would be cautious, she is not allowing you to see your brother...my thought would be why let her see the children? There has to be a friendly comprimise somewhere right? If you are going to let them see her make sure it is supervised! If you do not trust her not to instill her behavior on them if she begins to act up leave. Make her understand that there is a reason for this. Unfortunately I do not know how your state works but I do know that in most states there is such thing as "grand parental rights" Which make it so they have a right to see them. Look this up be informed on your states view on this!

I hope that this at least lets you know you are not alone in this hardship, and that hopefully some of the advice helps!

Laura

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Jessica - posted on 09/21/2010

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That was a messy situation you went through with your mother . But the right thing to do is at least invite her to the baby shower , @ least it doesn't look bad on you that you didn't invite the grandmother of the child . If she shows up & behaves inappropriate , It will only look bad on her & you can pull her aside and ask her to leave . If things get out of hand , call the police to help you with the situation (since she's practically done the same to you) .

Naomi - posted on 09/20/2010

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i guess as a parent it is our job not to expose our children to anything that can harm them both physically or emotionally so i would keep a distance, allow her to approach you for communication.

for your brother, if you think he is in a bad position you could contact disability services (i am in oz so may be different) for advocacy on his behalf.

i'm glad you can forgive but doesn't mean you need to keep the troubles close to you trry to keep at arms length so you don't get stressed out. love sometimes means being tough too.

best of luck. :-)

Jane - posted on 09/15/2010

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i wouldn't. my grandmother was an alcoholic. luckily, my mom and uncle had two wonderful grandmothers who stepped in when they were 9 and 8 and took them away from her (this was before Child Services existed). she would take them to the bar w/her, make them wait in cabs or leave them at home while she drank. she got married again when my mom was 14 and had two more kids. it made my mom a nervous wreck - so much so that she showed up at her school to tell the principal she had to drop out so she could take care of her little sisters. as soon as she turned 18, she ditched her full scholarship to college, rented a room at the YWCA and went to work. ALL of her money went to literally, feeding and clothing her little sisters, paying the bills at their apartment and being sure that they were in school and healthy. when my grandmother would call our hosue, my mom would say, "have you been drinking?" she would then either hang up or start a conversation based on my grandmother's answer. it sounds harsh but you have to protect yourself from some people in your life. it's not for a lack of trying to get my grandmother sober that my mother had to draw some deep lines in the sand. there are just some people who aren't ready to be helped. it sounds like your mom falls into this category. if you did end up w/custody of your brother, it wouldn't be a bad thing for any of you.
but you need to take care of yourself and your family. your kids don't need to grow up w/this type of behavior around them. it is your mom, but sadly, sometimes parents cannot be what you need them to be. you've given her a lot of chances. she's going to be upset no matter how things get handled. she probably gets upset w/a lot of people who cross her path in life. sadly, you are not an exception. but you are now a mother and need to be the best one you can be w/the most support that you can have. i don't doubt your husband has had it, it's his family and she's screwing w/it.
i would let your brother know that he always has a safe place to come to, tell your mom you love her but you need to take care of your family. when she has gotten help, you would be happy to meet her for lunches someplace, etc. i don't imagine it will be easy by any means, but it's something you need to do for yourself and your family. there is nothing you can be doing any differently, it all has nothing to do w/you. she's got issues and she's had them for a while and for some reason(s) other than you.

Jessica - posted on 09/15/2010

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Brandy... I agree with Alison 100%... Also you need to realize that it is not your responsibility to fix this or to look after your mother for that matter... As far as your brother is concerned I am very sorry to hear about his condition and that your mother is keeping him from all of you... I have to say that she is one very sad individual to keep him from you because she is mad about you asking her to leave... I don't blame you one bit for the decision you made with asking her to leave and you shouldn't blame yourself either... I have never had this problem myself and I can only imagine what it is doing to you emotionally... The best thing I can tell you is hang in there and just remember that you did it for yourself, your hubby/marriage, and most importantly your boys... That is the most important thing for you right now especially since your son is only 8 months old and seeing this now he would most likely think that it is okay for him to act like she does since she is a "big person" and is acting this way... For me that would be my biggest concern is how it effects him more than how it effects my marriage... See your hubby is grown and can decide for himself what is right or wrong but your son can't yet... I hope this helps... TTYL... Joy

Alison - posted on 09/15/2010

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You need to do what you have to to minimise stress on yourself. Being blood relative does not give anyone (even a mother) to behave in such a way.

It will stress you out, put a strain on your marriage so don't do a thing. If she is ready to contact you then make a decision on where to go, but I would suggest you look after your family and thats all

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