Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Posted by Anonymous.

I feel like an orphan

It started slowly. Somehow the experience of my having children pushed us further apart instead of bringing us together. When I struggled for two years with infertility, you repeatedly told me it must be God's will for me not to have children. But when I got pregnant, you were ecstatic. And then came the sonogram that the baby would be a boy and some of the air went out of your enthusiasm. Still you ran out to buy one of everything to setup for the baby at your house, even though you lived two hours away and we’d never spent a night at your house in my entire married life. And you came when he was born, camping out at our house for two days while I was in the hospital. But you couldn’t respect my choices when they were different from yours. When I struggled with breastfeeding you urged me not to waste my time since you had fed me formula. When my husband decided to go back to school and stay home with our baby, you belittled our choice and his efforts. You destroyed your relationship with my mother-in-law, a woman you’ve called a friend for over twenty years, because anytime you ended up at an event together you had to hog the grandson and pretend he loved you best. You put on a huge phony act about being the world’s greatest grandma when others were around and when left alone, you observed your grandson playing from your chair, rather than deign to interact with him. You stopped calling to check in on me and when I would call to check in on you, our conversations were never more than five minutes before you were trying to get off the phone. It got worse three years later when I told you I was pregnant again. Why would I want to have a second child? You did fine with one. And then you grew hopeful that this baby would be a girl. You became convinced. I still remember the flat tone in your voice when I called to tell you that there would be a second grandson and how quickly you got off the phone. At least you showed up when he was born.

But things have gone seriously downhill from there. When I had gallbladder surgery just five months after baby #2 was born, the woman who drove out in the middle of the night to pick me up from college when I got sick, spent the day packing to go on vacation. Granted it wasn’t emergency surgery, but scheduled a couple weeks ahead. I’m sorry the surgeon couldn’t do it when it was convenient for you, especially since your mother-in-law’s unexpected death (my grandma) had screwed you out of your scheduled vacation the previous year. So my mother-in-law showed up and watched my children and then brought us all home to her house a mile away from yours so that she could help my husband take care of me and the boys while you and dad drove an hour away on vacation and shopped in outlet malls for a week. So please understand why it angered me when you showed up for my husband’s emergency appendectomy the next year - taking precious time off of work – and made the whole day about you and how you almost died years ago when your appendix ruptured. Just what I needed to hear as my beloved was under the knife.Thank God he ended up being fine.

We had managed some repairs to our relationship and you had eagerly expressed a desire (without being asked) to take a week off of work when hubby and I started planning our two week overseas adventure for our ten year anniversary. I was delighted; things were finally turning around with us. I planned our childcare carefully, with mother-in-law taking the other week off to balance things out. And then four weeks out, after we’d paid the last of our non-refundable monies for the trip, you casually mentioned in a conversation that you wouldn’t be able to get out of work after all. In fact you would be unable to help babysit at all because you hadn’t put in for the time off from work and other folks had taken those days. Friends, neighbors and other relatives stepped in to help mother-in-law balance her job and our kids for the entire two weeks. When you heard my son mention to someone months later that he had stayed with mother-in-law while we were gone you quickly corrected him that you had helped out. I’m sorry that at five he forgot how you borrowed them two afternoons and fed them dinner once.

Then there was the phone call a couple of months ago when your sister died unexpectedly and you told your whole family that I’d be glad to officiate the funeral on a certain date without asking me. Nevermind that you scheduled her funeral for my birthday, it was four days before I was moving with two kids and both hubby and I were changing jobs. And when I had the gall to say no, that date didn’t work for me and offered up three other dates as alternatives (since she was being cremated), you tried all kinds of guilt and manipulation and crying before hanging up on me. And bless you for having father call me back later and pretend he cared before laying on more guilt. And that line about how ungrateful I am and how I would have dropped everything and done a funeral for husband’s family if they needed something was just the icing on the cake. My aunt wanted me to officiate at her funeral and would never have approved of your tactics, and I’m angry that you went ahead and held it without me, telling my cousins that I was too busy to be bothered. I do appreciate that you at least called to acknowledge my birthday and I know I sent a thank you for the birthday check I received in the mail.

Two weeks ago I needed surgery again, a biopsy to check for breast cancer, the disease you successfully fought off nine years ago. I was scared because I've had a lump before and know that our family history of cancer only heightens my risk. But this time I was smart. I decided not to get my hopes up that you would be there. I knew that you were already taking the week prior off of work to entertain company for your birthday and catch up on errands and dr visits. So we made plans to have mother-in-law show up and care for the grandchildren. When you politely inquired the night before if we needed you, we told you not to worry that we had everything under control. Imagine our surprise when you showed up at the hospital as we were leaving because you had called mother-in-law’s cellphone and realized she was in town. Sorry father let the cat out of the bag later - apparently you had arranged to take the day off of work and told them that you were coming to take care of me; yet you had intended to spend the day at home relaxing from all the company you had entertained the week before. I certainly didn't mean to ruin your day off. Mother-in-law went home after you showed up because she didn’t want to intrude. Only she didn’t realize that you would take off before I actually needed you. You sat around all day and watched me sleep and then packed up to go home leaving me groggy and nauseated alone with two kids after hubby had to go in to work for two hours. Since my surgery I have heard from you exactly one time when I called to tell you my pathology report was clear and I am fine.

Most days I feel like an orphan. I have no parents unless you need to whine about your life, or need me to do something or want to drag out your grandchildren for some special occasion to show off to your friends. You always lamented the relationship you had with your mother - a constant tug of war - and swore that you would never treat me like that, that you would be different. And you were right. You have become very different. You hardly bother with me at all.


Anonymous said...

I've been disappointed by my mother since my kids were born, too. She's all wrapped up in her own life, and we don't really seem to matter to her much at all. But it's not half as bad as your situation. This post actually made me feel a little better about my situation, so, um, thanks, I guess.

I am so sorry that you're going through this. Maybe you should look into narcissistic personality disorder - it sounds like your mom has it!

Hayley said...

I'm so sorry. I agree with the Anon, about the narcissistic disorder. It's possible. It's also possible that some people just aren't meant to be parents, or they believe their job is over when their kids move out (which is PARTLY true, but not to the extent that she takes it!)

Hang in there. Sounds like you have a pretty cool mother-in-law. Also- glad your boobies are in the clear!

Anonymous said...

I totally know what your saying. It is hard to give up and move on because we want to believe in our family. For me, I finally have given up all hope. I am not saying you should... just saying that I was where you are and I decided that I will not let the way they treat me make me feel bad. It is THEIR LOSS!! Anyone who misses out on two grandsons a son-in-law and a daughter, VOLUNTARILY will have regrets at some point in the future.

Anonymous said...

I want to start off by saying in no way am I defending your mother. But the first commenter stated her mother is all wrapped up in her own life. I must say I love my daughter with all my heart, but I have enjoyed my "freedom" and "childless" house very much. I don't drop everything all the time just because she wants something, but nothing close to your mother.

My first grand daughter was born almost a year ago. We were there at the hospital the whole time. I was the 3rd to hold her. My husband calls me a baby hog. Don't care. My daughter and I usually talk everyday and try for supper at least once a week. Mostly so I can hog the baby, I'm selfish that way.

I can't imagine not being there to hold my daughters hand if she was hurting or share in her joys.

I myself have a wonderful mother and feel so sorry for you that your own mother has not been there for you during the important times in your life and the difficult ones also.

Giving up on a relationship with your mother would certainly save alot of wasted energy you have put into trying. I don't know if doing that would make you feel any better. It sounds like she would probably blame it all on you anyway.

I hope you do take some comfort in the love and support you have gotten from your mother-in-law. Remember, someone can be your mom without having given birth to you.
I truely hope you can find some peace.

Good luck and hugs.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes the best option is to just walk away. You have a husband and children that love you. Your husband's extended family is there for you. Stop beating yourself up (unless you secretly enjoy the drama because it's something you can complain about) and walk away. Focus on the people that ARE there for you.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to say that I know exactly how you feel. I am dealing with the same situation with my mother. And I agree with one of the other comments that this may be an issue of narcissistic personality disorder. I came across an article about this disorder recently and felt like it described my mom to a T. Though if I ever mention to my mom that she doesn't treat me very well or that she's selfish, she acts like I'm the one that has the problem. She has always been very selfish and has always put her feelings above others. As a child, I didn't realize it because she put the blame on me most of the time when there was conflict. To this day, she continues to mention how awful I was as a teenager...even though I was basically a good kid. I definitely wasn't a trouble maker. But the problem was that I began to realize at that age that my mother treated me like crap and I began to stand up for myself and become more independent. But she'll never admitt to being selfish and self centered. My mother has also let me down when I've need her the most. I had my wisdom teeth removed while I was in college so she offered to make the 2 hour drive to the town I lived in so that she could take me to the oral surgeon and then take care of me afterward. However, what really happened was...she drove me to and from the surgery and picked up my prescriptions but once we got to my apartment and I was laying on the couch, she left to head home. I was heavy drugged up and couldn't even get in a standing position and there was no one else home...so when I had to go to the bathroom I had to crawl on my knees. Also I had foot surgery a few years ago and I've had 2 c-sections...and in none of those cases did she EVER come take care of me or take care of the babies for a while so that I could recover. Luckily my husband is great and my in-laws are ALWAYS available to help out when needed. I also felt that my mom would be a much better grandparent than she is but she has greatly disappointed me in that area. First of all, she critizes everything I do when it comes to my kids AND she never seems to find time for either of my kids...and she only lives 10 minutes away and only works a part-time job for the school system so she has summers and holidays off. But still she has no time for her own grandchildren. One thing that has really bothered was something that my mom said when I had my first child. She came to visit me at the hospital after I gave birth and instead of being happy for me and being happy to have a new grandbaby, she said "I'm so jealous". And she meant it...she wasn't kidding. She was jealous of me having and baby since she can't have anymore. What kind of mom says that?!?!?!?!? It really made me feel awful. And she is constantly making me feel bad if anything good comes my way. If she doesn't come right out and tell me she's jealous, she acts jealous and says things like "I wish I could do that", etc. I feel like I can never tell her about anything good in my life. It has really hurt over the years to be treated this way by my own mother...but it hurt SO much more once I became a mother myself. Because as a mother, I put my children first and ALWAYS wish the best for them. I can't even imagine ever being jealous of my children or ever treating them the way my mother has treated me. So with all of that said...over the last few months (after the birth of my 2nd child) I have been separating myself from her. Because I can't find any peace with her involved in my life on a daily basis. I still see her and we still get together on occassion but I don't go out of my way to call her or to visit with her. I just can't...for my own sanity and for the sake of my children. I feel that eventually they will begin to see that their Na-Na doesn't treat them so well and they will have their feelings hurt too and I will never let that happen. I can honestly say that I feel like an orphan too. :( Maybe you can take solice in knowing that you're not alone.

Anonymous said...

The orphan here. Thanks for your comments. It is nice to know that I'm not alone and that I'm not the "crazy" one. I haven't yet reached the point where I would feel comfortable cutting my parents out of my life, but as my boys grow up and they begin to realize the disparity in how their two sets of grandparents deal with them, I just might. And I stay involved, not because I love the drama, for outside of a couple of close friends and my husband and his parents, no one knows this side of my folks, but because something inside me still hopes one day they'll realize what they are missing out on. But I'm learning to adjust my expectations, grieve the loss of what I thought our relationship would be like and accept the reality of what is. And all of that is made easier by the presence of my wonderful in-laws for whom I am so thankful! They are a huge blessing in my life. I've known them since I was 4 years old and they treat me like the daughter they never had. Thanks for listening.

Anonymous said...

Preach, sister. My mom is the same way. My mom had a horrendous relationship with my grandma, an alcoholic who I"m pretty sure physically abused her. My mom was happy, yes, happy when she died. My mom never physically abused us, so there's a step up, but our relationship is..welll...less than ideal.

My mom loves to see my kids...for about a half hour from the comfort of her easy chair. Then she's done. Yet she's upset that my kids like my MIL (who actually interacts with them) more than her.

My mom said "bummer" when I told her my first child was a boy. I spent 10 minutes trying to convince her a boy was as much fun as a girl, then thought, why the hell am I doing this?

Just in the past few months, my husband came down with an illness that landed him in the hospital and then bedridden for weeks at home when I was 9 months pregnant and had a 2 yr old and 4 yr old. She called about a week after he got home to find out how he was doing. No offers of help. When we moved 3 weeks after I had a c/s with my third baby, no offers of help. I swallowed my pride (I rarely ask for anything from her) and asked her to come to our new house to help us unpack, she said, "no, I don't know how to get there." I said I'll give you directions. She said "no, its too confusing." TWO WEEKS AFTER WE MOVED, she offered to come up and watch the kids so we could unpack. Hello, I unpacked two weeks ago. Btw, my inlaws cancelled a paid vacation so they could help us move.

I have had some serious health issues in the last year or so, and once took the younger ones to the doctor with me, which is a few blocks from her house. Afterwards, feeling awful and nauseated, I stopped at her house and asked her to drive me and the kids to preschool to pick up my oldest, and I'd pay for her to take a cab back. She said "no, I have a lunch date." I managed to hold it together to pick up my oldest, then vomited for the rest of the day. My MIL drove two hours to my house that afternoon to take care of us for two days.

Every major milestone in my life (getting married, going to grad school, kids) has been met with "you know we aren't going to pay for that, right?" As if I have EVER asked the woman for ANY money since I got my first job at 14. Never have I received a "congratulations, I'm proud of you."

For reasons I don't understand, I am the problem child. My sisters smoked pot, came home drunk in high school, snuck out. I had zero social life in high school and had my first drink in college, have married a wonderful man and provided her with 3 beautiful grandkids, but my mother still refers to me as difficult.

She criticized my abusive college boyfriend for 8 years, but when we broke up and he was stalking me, and I requested that she stop having any contact with him, she gave him my new phone number and address. I know this because he told me so and she sent him emails addressed to both him and me, but she accused me of spying on her by logging into her email account. WTF??

Anonymous said...

ha, I wrote a book here....continuing from above.
After I broke up with the abusive jerk and brought home my now-husband, she ignored him when I introduced him, and turned to me and said that my ex had told her she could have the cellphone he had bought for me. Um, hi, new boyfriend standing right here? He can hear you?

She once offered my sister some clothes after my mom lost weight--she said "oh, these are too big on me, I'm just swimming in them like they were made by Omar the Tentmaker. They'll probably fit you."

I could go on and on and on and on with more stories, but you get the picture. My biggest fear in life is that I will be like her. Many years of therapy have taught me that her actions are not my fault...but its hard not to feel like I somehow caused her to act this way. (And she encourages that feeling---if only I weren't so difficult, she wouldn't have to act like this.)

I am lucky in that I have a wonderful husband, and married into a wonderful family. I am much closer to my MIL than I am to my mother.

I have very very very low expectations when it comes to my mother. In fact, I expect to be disappointed. I tailor all contact with her around not inconveniencing her--I never stay at her house, don't visit longer than a few hours, ask for nothing. I treat her as I would any casual aquaintance--I would never presume to ask for a ride to the airport or babysitting from a casual aquaintance, and same for her. She's coming to eat dinner at my house and asks if she can bring something? No, please, don't trouble yourself. If I say yes, then I have to listen to what a hassle it was to bring creamer to my house. For weeks.

Whoa. Didn't think that was going to be so long. I still have some anger issues, obviously.

I wanted to try and give some advice...but I've run out of steam here. I try to take the good, leave the bad. My mom is very crafty and makes awesome baby clothes, blankets, etc. I specifically ask for those sorts of presents. Other than that, I try not to be surprised or hurt by her actions, always figuring that she will be focused on herself and what is most convenient for her. I plan for what I think she will do based on what is the least amount of work for her.

Hugs. You're not alone.

Anonymous said...

I feel like you wrote this about MY mother. I thought when I had a baby it might bring us closer together but instead I feel like we are even further apart. At least I'm not alone...