Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dealing with Mom

Yes, Yes, Yes! You guys totally got where I was coming from in my last post. About not telling and trying to enjoy the pg. And I really do want to enjoy it. I know that nausea and swollen ankles are not fun, but just like life itself, we have to bear the difficulties and try to enjoy the daily wonders and blessings.

I guess I was thinking about the "not telling" part because I have a sister who discloses virtually nothing of her life to family. We all live in different states, spread across the country, so communication is by phone or email. My mother thinks that it was inadvertence that my sister let it slip during a phone call that she had planned a 2 week trip to England/Ireland. She left 2 days ago. She apparently had no intention of telling anyone where she was going, how long she'd be gone, the flight she was taking or how to contact her in the event of emergency. Now at least we know which countries she is visiting and how long she plans to be there.

My mother said to me, "I don't know why your sister feels she has to be so secretive."

I know why. It's because our mother can't simply be supportive and encouraging - or at least acknowledge our choices as adults if she can't bring herself to be supportive and encouraging. No. She has to comment, advise, ask annoying questions and say things to make us feel uncomfortable and sorry we said anything at all.

I reminded my mom about the time, so many years ago, when my sister was a teenager and had her first job. One day my sister went shopping and came home with a package of new underwear. Mom jumped right in and asked, "What did you buy? Why did you buy underwear? Don't you have enough underwear? I thought I just bought you underwear at the start of the school year? What happened to those underwear? I don't know why you would buy underwear if you don't need it. Do you think you need more underwear? How much did you spend?"

And on it went. I mean, it was ridiculous. I said, "Mom, for crying out loud, she bought a $5.99 3-pack of underwear. Why does it have to be such a big deal?" When I reminded mom of the story, her comment - even now - was, "Well, I just wondered why she bought underwear."

This is how our mom is - whatever the situation.

My sister's reaction has been simply not to disclose the facts of her private life. That way she avoids all the unwanted harassment. As for me, I tell my mom enough to keep her from asking about other things I'd rather not discuss.

It's not the kind of relationship I wish I could have with my mom, but it's the only one I'm comfortable with.

What's so kooky is that our mom herself was not close with her parents and kept her own life private from them. So you'd think she would understand a little better about not prying and nagging. I guess she is not able to recognize her own behavior as being so similar to her parents' behavior.

Anyway, when I think about telling my mom about what we've gone through in connection with our IF - the testing, the clinics, the monitoring, the drugs, the embryos, the travel and everything else - I know her first question will be "my God, BWUB, how much did all of this cost?!" and then she will freak when she hears the answer.

I'm 43 years old and I'm still not quite sure how to deal with my own mom. I love her. She did a lot for us kids as a divorced parent in the early 1970's when being a divorced woman was not easy. I know she means well and I know she loves us. I also know we can't change other people, we can only change ourselves. I guess I need to be brave enough at some point to be able to tell her what it is I want from her, what I need from her, and what I don't want and won't tolerate from her. That ball is in my court, and I hope someday I have the guts to make the play.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting kind of relationship! I thought I would have always wanted a mum-friend. The kind you could tell her about your first kiss, the boys you liked...but nope, that wasn't the kind of mum I got either! She used to mock my feelings for boys when I was in school, it took very little to learn NOT to disclose anything in that field. But as I grew older my mum has remained the adult she was then and now I am closer. She suffers not knowing what my sister is going through (bad break up with a boyfriend) and doesn't know the full story. In my case, being far away helps a lot (remember her comments on my weight gain when I was home last?? I couldn't believe she was soo insensitive!). I don't know if your relationship can ever change, i think it's more likely you'll adjust more and more to the way she is and keep doing whatever your are doing that makes you feel better. Love, Fran

Lorraine said...

Okay, someday maybe we should start blogs about our unfortunate relationships with our mothers...

My mom is similarly nosy and judgmental and lacks the filtering for what the rest of us would consider "normal"in terms of being involved in someone else's decisions.

I will NEVER tell her about our fertility treatments, because I know that if we ever have financial issues she'll say "Well, you spent it all on that IVF..." or if I have any health problems she'll tell everyone that "This probably because you took those IVF drugs..."

My mom has some wonderful qualities - for one thing, she is incredibly smart - but her personal skills are disastrous. I try to do what you do - give her enough details about a certain subject so she doesn't start pestering me about the things I'd rather not discuss.

Luckily, my dad is easy to talk to and incredibly kind and insightful, so at least I have him - and my wonderful stepmother - who really are everything I could ever ask for in terms of family. I love my mom, but it's not an easy relationship.

I know it won't change, but I have learned how to manage our interactions so that at least it isn't quite as disastrous as it has been in the past. We can get by fairly well as long as I keep my eye on the boundaries that I need. Otherwise - yikes!

NoodleGirl said...

Very interesting! This is like mom a therapy group.

I have not told my mom a lick about even wanting to have a child, I wonder sometimes if she thinks we just don't want any, even though I'm already 38. But unlike the dysfunctional too-many-questions moms, but mom won't ask. Mostly my sisters and I don't say anything because my mom is a glass-half-empty stress case. If you have a problem, she will internalize it and you find yourself comforting her and worrying about her, regarding YOUR issue. I quickly learned as a kid that it was much easier to deal with things myself and not tell her anything, and it continues to this day. Don't get me wrong, my mom is great, I know she'd do anything for me or my sisters and she's made the most of a tough life with a deadbeat husband (now ex) and serious financial troubles at times. I really admire her. But I don't want to make her life harder by internalizing my bad stuff, so I only tell her the good stuff, and with that she's not usually the first I tell anyhow. For better or worse, she's just not my go-to gal.

Now, my in-laws are another story. We don't tell them because we'd never hear the end of "Are you pregnant yet? Are you pregnant yet" desperation. Plus, their inabilities not to blab everything to the entire extended family. Equally frustrating, but much less dramatic dysfunction.

It's an interesting topic - someone should write a book about IF and family dynamics.

K said...

Sounds like you've got a lot of company on this one! I have been both your sister, and you, and now someone else in terms of the relationship with my mom. I have no siblings, so mom doesn't have anyone else to focus on besides me and dad. However, growing up, sex was a 3-letter word and medical problems were taboo too. So IF is a double whammy if you ever had one. Depsite all this, I opted to tell my mom a few months ago simply because I was having difficulty functioning and being myself and needed some slack cut (which I got). And now she reads my blog, something I'm sometimes not comfortable with, but decided to go for the wtf on it anyway. I think she's realized it's easier on me this way, and she doesn't have to ask so many questions, and that any adverse comments would revoke her privilege. I hope that helps you, in some way. But boy do I sure hear ya on this one...

Anonymous said...

Good luck dealing with your mom - I'm sure she will be thrilled about the pg in some fashion. At this point my own mom knows nothing about our ttc. She thinks we are done, and I won't say anything different until (hopefully!) we get pg.

My mom would not endlessly question me, but we would be endlessly scrutinized behind our backs with every member of the family. Worry worry worry. So my brother knows, and my dear aunt (dad's sis). Families are so funny. Sometimes I really want to tell everyone and just not care - but especially because of the DE I don't want to do that. If we go ahead I am toying with the thought of telling people (everyone) about the IVF part, just because it is so hard to be secretive and I'm so tired of it all, and I really don't care what they think. Who knows what I'll end up doing!

Good luck, at least it gives you something to think about during the early part of your pregnancy!

stillhopeful said...

I've been so lucky to have a great relationship with my mom as an adult. She's very supportive, I tell her almost everything and never regret it. She gives great advice, but also knows when to just listen. And this is after putting her through hell being the most awful, rebellious teen (drugs, smoking, drinking, curfew violation, brushes with the law - all before age 16!). Luckily I still managed to get A's, go to college and straighten myself out.

But what you describe reminds me a lot of my DH's relationship with his parents. He holds back a lot from them, which I never understood because they seem great to me (and treat me very, very well). But after a few years of observing, I can see what he means, and how their judgement and questioning of him can really take the wind out of his sails.

It's a hard situation for you, I'm sure. But the fact tht you can see this behavior in your mom and and what it does to your relationship with her will help you to be different with your child.

Mad Hatter said...

Ah, yes, my mom is a big preoccupation of mine, also. I carry around a lot of worry and sadness about her because her health is not good, and I've even thought about telling her about everything I'm trying to do to get pregnant, but I hold back because I don't trust that she won't tell other people that I don't want to know.

I know how hard it can be to not feel safe to share certain details about your life with your mom. It sounds like your instincts are good - to "zip up your parka" as someone wise once told me. Do what you need to do to surround yourself and your pregnancy with as much positivity and love as possible. You are in control of a lot of things - how you tell your mom and what you tell your mom and who is there when you tell your mom. And the funny thing about moms is, as much as we think we know what they're going to do or say, they can sometimes totally surprise us in the most wonderful ways.

Sandra D. said...

I find parent relationships so complex. My mom is one of my best friends, but when we talk about fertility stuff, she gets really weird and I have to tell her I don't want to discuss it. I think she just really wants me to get preggers, but it's stressful because she'll send me emails about what could be wrong with me etc.

I think if you can set boundaries with your mom, you'll probably be much happier and more relaxed abot things - but it's definitely hard to do. And I don't think you necessarily need to tell her about everything you spent on the IF treatments. Maybe you can round down? :-)

cindyhoo2 said...

I can certainly understand the responses both you and your sister have toward your mom. That endless second-guessing (ie. unintentional joy-sucking) is brutal. I have no sage words of advice... just the hope that our children will NEVER feel the need to have such conversations about us!

BTW; there is still a baby in your belly. :)