How can I convey to my Mother that she is not welcome to be part of my children's lives? (very long, sordid details inside)
posted by dancinglamb to human relations (54 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, where to start on this one. My parents divorced when I was six years old, my father died when I was 10. My brother (35) and I (38) were more or less raised by my mother (68). It was anything but an easy childhood, and looking back it has become glaringly clear that she is dealing with an unmedicated borderline personality disorder (I've discussed her symptoms at length with psych professionals and they all seem to point in this direction).
My maternal grandparents were very, very instrumental in my brother's and my upbringing, as they knew just how undependable my mother could be. It wasn't unusual at all for her to have the highest of highs, where she would spend her paycheques (she always had jobs, but it wasn't unusual for her to get fired for, uh, not being cooperative) on things redecorate the house instead of paying for the utilities. So, we never knew if we would have electric or if the phone would be on when we got home from school. Then there were the occasions where she would spend entire weeks on the couch watching TV in her bathrobe surrounded by empty cereal bowls and ice cream containers. My friends kind of all knew that she was crazy, and their parents took pity on us. As such, we always kind of had open invitations to dinner at their houses, or knew we could spend the night if she was on one of her crazy/mean benders.
I moved out when I was 17, after I found out that she intentionally didn't fill out any of my financial aid forms for college. She told me that I didn't deserve to go, and that since I didn't save enough of my part time money from my jobs (I worked from when I was 15; she charged me $300/mo to live at home), she wasn't going to help me, either. She also forbade my grandparents from helping me. So, with that, I said fuck it, got a second job, and found a room to rent. It was several months before I even told her where I went. (My brother made it out of the house at 18 when he joined the military.)
So, needless to say, our relationship has been very off and on again. And it's been one where I've never had a problem telling her how I've felt. Sometimes the relationship would be great - usually much better on the phone than in person (I'm in NJ, she's in FL), other times, not so much.
She did come up for my wedding, and was mostly well behaved. Fast forward two years to my first daughter's birth, and I was very clear that I didn't want her there immediately. The first visit was three months afterward. It was somewhat stressful, in that I was completely undermined in all things parenting-related - but that's nothing surprising. Where I drew the final straw, however, was when she informed me that I was not paying enough attention to Mr. dancinglamb (because I wasn't ironing his shirts, but sending them to the laundry instead), or waiting at the door to give him a kiss and asking about his day. She kindly informed me that, and I quote, "There are many much more attractive women that would be happy to take much better care of him" and that I better get my act together. She, instead, would wait for him at the door with a very un-MIL-like hug and kiss (as if to show an example?!!) Um, yeah. OK. With that, I threw her out of the apartment. I also caught her with my engagement ring on, saying that it looked much better on her...
I think it was probably a good four months before I talked to her again after that. My second daughter was born two years later and I had some pretty serious complications after delivery, where I ended up in ICU for a week. Mr. dancinglamb was really freaked out, with a toddler and newborn home, and decided to call my mother. I told him that he really needed to think that one out, but he was in a panic. Wellllllll, really, really bad idea. Long story short, I got phone calls every day informing me that it was, "Such a shame that I couldn't be there at home, because I was missing out on how much my daughter was changing each day." Mr. dancinglamb, THE most laidback person I probably know, actually told his Mother in Law to Fuck Off. The morning I was discharged, I ended up in a screaming match on the frontlawn (nice scene, indeed), where I threw her out once again.
Two years later (I know, I know). She made all kinds of crying apologies, saying how much she wanted to change. That she was on meds! That she wanted to be part of the girls' lives! The girls were 2 and 4yo respectively. Mr. dancinglamb and I needed to go to Washington, DC for two nights for a family event (not kid friendly). My mother *jumped* at the opportunity to come up and stay with them. She had been reasonably normal on the phone for months. I told her that this was her absolute last opportunity to redeem herself and that I would hold true to my word. She yes'd me to death, promising that everything would be fine, etc. etc.
Well, it couldn't have gone worse. Apparently she wasn't on meds. Within 24 hours, she had downed three bottles of wine, called my cell to inform me that my kids were, "ungrateful little bitches" (yeah, at 2 and 4yo) because they broke snow globes she bought them, and that it was once again a demonstration of my failure as a parent. I had to have a friend come get them out of the house (we were 5+ hours away). My friend got there the next morning, my 2yo couldn't be found at first - but then was located sleeping in my bed. They hadn't been fed, or their clothes changed. My older daughter told me that Grandma had hit and kicked the dogs. The $200 I left for groceries was gone, but there was no food purchased.
I found out all of this from my friend as I was driving as fast as I could back from DC. All the while getting nasty calls from my mother. I informed her that if she was still in the house by the time I got there, to fully expect the police to be called. Her response, "You're a bitch, and you're over reacting." She was gone when I got home. My kids cried and didn't talk for a day. I didn't have any contact with her for 2-1/2 years.
My mother sent me flowers for my birthday in October. I called to say thank you. She more or less knew the vague details of my life thanks to my brother (he's in distant contact with her). She can't call my home phone because I have her numbers blocked, but she's been calling my cell. I've spoken with her three times in the past two months (her birthday, and Thanksgiving). She keeps asking to speak to the girls. They have no idea who she is. I don't want to open that door. I simply can't trust her.
How do I deal with this? I know it's easy to say she's a crazy motherfucker, how could you even *consider* talking to her, but it's not that cut and dried. I have three remaining family members left (my mother, brother, and my mother's sister).
If you're still with me after the epic saga, I appreciate it. I know it's drama at it's highest...