Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mama Drama

I haven't really written about my trip to my parents last week. There is a reason. I didn't know what to say. I still don't. But it is troubling me so much that I know this is a good place to get it out in words.

For those of you that have been reading for a little while, you might remember this post, where I explained about my sister's engagement and how it was hard for me to get excited because she was going to have a destination wedding - to which our family was not invited. My sister and my mother have a decidedly complicated relationship. Until recently, I would have described my relationship with my mother as excellent. But in the past few years, there have been a few events that have shaken that strong foundation. She was not really a fan of my husband (for unfounded and illogical reasons) and was not pleased when we married. The day of my wedding, she refused to watch me put on my wedding dress. She went around telling people that the marriage wouldn't last three years.

She was less than supportive about our miscarriage problems and quest for a baby. But she said that a lot of that had to do with her concern for my health and well-being. I tried to understand that, as a mother, it was hard for her to watch me go through the emotional and physical hardships.

You might remember this post, where my mother's reaction to Will being a boy was decidedly less than enthusiastic. When I called her on it, she said that after the baby was born, she would "get over" her disappointment at his gender.

I have kind of learned to accept that my mom's personality is what it is. And as much as she has hurt me with some of her recent actions, she is still my mother. I feel as if I had a wonderful childhood and I am grateful to her for the large role she played in that. She was a stay-at-home mom and sacrificed a lot for her children. Yes, sometimes she hurts me, but I have felt as if she is ultimately there for me when I need her and that despite her outspoken nature, she loves me very much.

What I haven't written about is that after Will was born, my mom had what I can only call a nervous breakdown. It's really too much to write about here that won't bore you, but to sum it up, she didn't want to see Will after he was born and was so depressed and agitated that my father considered admitting her to a pyschiatric hospital. This was all on the same day that we got home from the hospital, and it was so upsetting to me that I think I kind of blocked it out. I was on so many painkillers and the natural adrenalin of having a new baby, that it was kind of easy to pretend that it hadn't happened.

She did eventually get her act together and my family came to visit, but then she seemed to have precious little interest in holding the baby. She was acting more herself, but still seemed a bit "off." I had so much going on that I couldn't focus on her problems and, after talking with my Dad, he promised that he would handle it. Over the course of the next few weeks, she seemed to be more her old self on the phone, asking about Will and offering parenting tips.

This was one of the reasons why I wanted to make my trip home last week. I didn't feel as if my mom had a chance to bond with Will and I thought it was time to reintroduce him to his Grandma. I thought if she had a chance, things would be different.

Remember, this is a woman who sends e-mails to my dogs - and calls them her granddogs and her house Camp Grandma. She cooks for my dogs, makes them Christmas stockings, talks to them like they are people. She loves babies and I was really looking forward to watching her be a wonderful, doting grandmother to a non-furbaby.

When we got to my parents' house, I was surprised to see that she seemed ill-at-ease with Will. She has raised three babies and yet, didn't seem to know how to hold him, diaper him, or comfort him. When he cried, she would stare helplessly at him, and make no effort to calm him. At one point, she was holding him while he cried and started crying loudly back at him (not really crying, just making a crying noise right in his face). At first, it startled him out of his cries, but then she kept doing it and it scared him into a horrific wail. I grabbed him away and he immediately burrowed into my should and shuddered.

It was hard for me to watch this, but I wanted to encourage their interaction. I thought that if she held him a bit more, she would start to respond differently.

Until, on the second day of my visit, my mom told me that she feels no bond to Will, and certainly not the love she had been expecting to feel for him. This broke my heart.

She justified it by saying that she is still parenting (my little brother is 15) and not as emotionally ready to be a grandparent as others might be. She said that since he looks nothing like me (he is the spitting image of my husband as a baby), she feels no instant attachment to him.

I was angry and told her that she had better be very careful because she had just had her third strike. I told her that as much as I love her and do believe that she was a good mother to me as a child, this wasn't about her and me anymore, this is about Will. I cannot allow him to be exposed to someone who doesn't treat him well. And I am concerned that if she would say and do these things in front of him now, will she change her ways when he is older?

I am obviously very sad about this. It makes me feel that I cannot trust my mother around my son if I am not there. I don't believe that she would intentionally hurt him, but her lack of physical care for him makes me fear that her inattention could inadvertently cause him harm. My father was wonderful with Will, and her behavior seemed to improve when she was around my dad, but my dad works and isn't always around.

I don't know what to do, my heart aches. I do hope that the future will bring a better relationship between my mother and Will, but I never imagined that I would be facing something like this. I don't know how much of it is my normal mom, with her normal outspoken ways, just throwing a bit of a hissy fit because I had a baby with a man that she still doesn't like much. Or how much of it is truly a psychological problem that I really believe the has.

I think my mother needs help, but when I suggested that, she flatly refused. She doesn't think talking to someone will help and hates the very idea of taking medicine (she won't even take Tyle.nol for a headache). My dad also seems to be burying his head in the sand about this, saying that she isn't as bad off as I am making it and has lots of times when she is "normal." While I agree with him that there are times when she is the same old mom, the times when she isn't right are alarming.

I just don't know what to do.


Fertilized said...

Katie- this is just awful... AWful... and undeserving.

I am so sorry. i am going to send you an email instead .. the comment would be too long and personal about mothers.

Jen said...

I am so sorry. That really isn't fair to you or Will. I hope this is something that gets worked out. (And not by you, this isn't your issue.)

soapchick said...

That is absolutely awful and I'm so sorry you are going through it. Will is so precious, heck I would bond with him and I don't even know you IRL. Honestly it sounds like your mom has some mental illness going on. That is not normal behavior nor normal feelings. I hope she gets some help. I hope you feel better by talking about it as well. Take care and hug that beautiful boy.

Anonymous said...

Oh Katie, I'm so sorry. How are your brother and sister about Will? I think you're on the right track with offering that she might need help. The blessing in disguise might be that she isn't close enough to you distance-wise that you have to see her all the time. Maybe some time will heal whatever wounds she seems to have, unfounded as they may be. I've heard of new grandma's rejecting the title of "grandma" because it makes them feel old, but this is something different. *hugs*

Mel said...

Katie, this post absolutely breaks my heart. I have mama issues, too, but I could not even fathom something on this level. You have every right to feel all that you do, I would imagine most people would feel that way!!! I hope it gets better in time, I really do. Until then, you guys are in my prayers.

Jen said...

Wow Katie. That is absolutely heartbreaking. I think that you are right that you mom needs help. Her response to becoming a grandparent just makes no sense at all.

Rachel said...

This sounds like a really awful situation. I hope that it improves quickly, or the rest of your family encourages your mother to get help. But for now I just wanted to write how reasonable and supportive you sound after watching the situation - I'm sure that your entire family will appreciate the effort you are making in the future.

Nicky said...

My thought, on reading her behavior, is that your mother is having a really hard time coming to terms with her own aging. Especially if your brother is still young and in the house, she's probably so focused on being a mother that she can't quite face becoming a grandmother. Some people really flip out when presented with concrete evidence that they're aging. Might also explain why she had a hard time with you getting married. I'd try to find time to sit down, just the two of you, without Will around, and tell her what you wrote here -- that she is (not "was", but "IS") a great mother, you love watching her dote on your dogs, and you think that she's going to make an awesome grandmother. See what happens.

Anonymous said...

It breaks my heart to read this, it really does. How could she not look at Will and fall in love with the miracle that he is?

I do think Nicky might be onto something. There is obviously something she isn't prepared to deal with, so ignoring the fact that her daughter has a child is easier than looking at things directly.

I am sorry you are dealing with this. It just isn't fair. I hope she comes to her senses soon. For her sake. She has no idea what she is missing out on.

Joy said...

I don't have the words but wanted to give you a big *HUG* He's a doll and doesn't deserve that behavior, especially from his grandmother.

I definitely hope your mother changes her mind and gets help!

Polka Dot said...

I am so sorry you're going through this and I wish I had words of wisdom that would help. Please know I'm here if you ever need someone to talk to.

Debby said...

Oh this just breaks my heart. I'm sorry you have to be going through this.

Laura said...

Hi. I'm sorry you have to go through this. It sounds as if she has some obviously psychological issues that she needs to deal with. She should probably she a regular MD too, perhaps she has something medical going on as well. Whatever it is, you need to protect yourself and Will. I hope things work out for the best, and soon.

Tina said...


My mother has never seen my DS and doesn't even know I'm pregnant again. My grandmother saw DS once, and only because I forced the visit. She wouldn't even be in the same room with him and didn't want to hold him. That's when I finally realized, in my situation, I was no longer a part of their family. Not that I ever was, but that it was time for me to stop trying.

I am so sorry you are going through it too.

BrownEyedGirl said...

Katie, I'm so sorry that things didn't change as you had hoped once Will was born!! I have no words of wisdom or anything...just big hugs and love!!!

Kim said...

I wish that I had something insightful to say. What a sucky situation overall. My only advice is to keep doing what you're doing and remember that their relationship dynamics are up to her, and not you. You can't force something, as much as you want it to be so.

Kathy V said...

I am so soory that you had such a sad a frustrating experience between your mother and your son. I have no words for you. Hugs to you as this will be a difficult time. Hope she changes her mind soon and starts loving on your son and works through her problems with your son and husband. I am so sorry you had to go through this. Hang in there.

Samantha said...

That is so difficult - I wish that I had some good advice for you. I hope that your mother will get some help, as she seems to need it, and that she'll be able to accept Will in the future. I would be in absolute tears if my mother ever said anything like that to me.

Amy said...

Prayers and hugs....can't even imagine! I didn't know all the detaiils, but I am super sad. I'll call you later!