When I decided to invite my mother to my baby shower after 13 months of estrangement, I underestimated the myriad ways she would become a once again force in my life. My mom’s way of dealing with conflict is to re-write history to suit her then sweep it all under the rug. This has played out over and over in my life. Have a blow up and pretend it didn’t happen. No resolution, no meeting of the minds, no agree to disagree. Just keep up the pretense that all is well without ever having an honest dialogue about anything.
In addition to now calling and emailing regularly (I never answer her calls to my cell or home phone and if I am going to respond, which is rare, do so with an email), she came over a couple of weeks ago unannounced and uninvited (after I specifically told her not to come over) and, when I didn’t answer the door, she proceeded to try the handle and LET HERSELF IN! That led to an unpleasant exchange as I worked to usher her out of my house and our yard but without causing a scene. She thinks she has the right to impinge upon us. It is an age old argument dating back to my first apartment. So, for some 25 years I have laid down boundaries (do not come over unannounced, call and get confirmation it’s OK to come over before you do) and she has ignored them. And, you would think our recent (and in my mind continued) estrangement would prevent her from taking her chances, but, no.
She had surgery on Monday and as a result of her impending surgery was somewhat frantic to come over to hold the baby (hence her coming over unannounced). I kept putting her off but finally acquiesced after my husband and I decided he would be present for the obligatory baby holding while I went to work out (YAY (both for not being home and for working out)). Only, she came an hour late, just as I was getting home.
The visit was relatively benign but there were some things that struck me as odd. She really wanted my older son to read to her. They were alone in his room and she was trying to cajole him since he was unwilling. I intervened a bit (and shouldn’t have) and he eventually read to her. And, I realized after that she was evaluating him (she was an elementary school teacher for 30 years) and comparing him to my nephew. It was creepy.
At some point she casually said that she had had “a lovely conversation with J yesterday, talking about being grandmothers to these boys”, J being my mother-in-law. It surprised me that A) she would proactively reach out to her after ignoring her during her recent visit here and ignoring all J’s attempts to reach out over the last year and a half and B) that the conversation was lovely or even close. I decided to reach out to my MIL and, when I got no response from her for three days, I knew, KNEW that it was not good. Turns out, she wasn’t even going to mention what she refers to as a “bizarre” conversation because she didn’t want to upset or stress me. But, I pressed her, and she called me last night to relay how the conversation went. Some highlights:
- My mom’s tone from the get go was angry. She lashed out immediately upon my MIL answering, and admonished her not to interrupt her.
- My mom conveyed how hateful I am, how I’ve destroyed our family, how no one could imagine what its like to have me as a daughter.
- She said that abruptly and for no reason, last Spring, my husband and I decided we didn’t want to be part of the family any more.
- She recounted her version of event after event over the course of my life to illustrate how ungrateful, unloving, ugly, and mean I am.
- When my MIL tried to interject, my mother told her to “be quiet, I’m not finished!”
- When my MIL tried to tell my mom that life’s too short, that she should just enjoy her beautiful grandchildren and then went on to expand upon some of their traits, my mother said, “Do you know why her children are so great? Because she got to PICK THE EGGS”. Yes, my mother reduced my children, her grandchildren to some kind of science experiment and that I (unlike my sister) benefited in having designer babies.
- My mother told my MIL to stop posting nice comments on Facebook because it makes her look bad.
The conversation went on for the better part of an hour. ONE HOUR of my mother throwing me (and my husband (can you imagine my mom speaking ill of my husband to HIS MOTHER?) under the bus as a way to garner some kind of support, to turn my mother in law against me, to get validation. But then to tell me, the very next day, that it was a ‘lovely conservation’? It is absolutely lunacy. She made her break from reality a long time ago, but it is shocking that she would reach out to someone outside of our family in an attempt to rope them in.
I’ve been reeling ever since. Not that this is anything new. Not that she even involved my mother in law. Not that I believe one word of it. But, I am left to figure out how to contend with it now that I opened the door a crack. Hell, my dad has called here half a dozen times with updates on the surgery and her recovery as if A) I care, and B) we haven’t been estranged all this time. He, too, has drunk the Kool-Aid.
There is no confronting her, no opportunity for rational dialogue, nothing to be gained in communicating with or even knowing her. I must completely back off our relationship again, this time without a catalyst, and close the door to communication. But, the damage is done, again. She makes me feel bad about myself. It serves as a constant reminder that the single most important relationship in ones life is with their mother. I make note of it every single day.