Grandmother puts forth little effort to be a part of my life or my children's lives!

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-02-2013
Grandmother puts forth little effort to be a part of my life or my children's lives!
21
Fri, 08-02-2013 - 4:39pm

don't really know how to keep this short, but I will try my best to compact it and still include all of the information.

The back story is... my parents divorced two years ago after being married for 42 years! I understood the decision... my mom's.  My dad was an alcoholic, she had cancer, he was emotionally abusive, she was going through a tough recovery after being in remission. During my mom's illness, from diagnosis until now, she has had a friend.  I don't know how to explain this relationship without it sounding weird, but I will do my best. This girl was in her teens when she and my mom met. My mom taught the high school sunday school class at her church.  My mom felt bad for this girl ( we will call her J) because she didn't have a very good relationship with her own parents who were divorced. So, my mom did a lot with her... took her out to eat, had her over to the house, took her places, etc. J was living with her own grandmother at the time. When my mom got sick I was living out of state.  I went home with my daughter to be there for her that summer. During that summer J helped watch my daughter when I went to visit my mom in the hopsital. We got along really well and I loved her! After my mom recovered my Dad was still acting like a maniac and drinking more than ever. When my mom and J came to visit for Christmas, my mom decided that she had enough and told my dad who was still out of state that she was filing for divorce.  My mom and J found a place to live together because J didn't want to live by herself and my mom didn't feel comfortable living by herself.  She also didn't want to move out of state to live with me and my family even though I had offered.

Fast forward.... My dad sobers up, goes through therapy and after a year of VERY difficult conversations with him we now have a healthy father daughter relationship. My mom on the otherhand has limited interaction with me. She went from calling and talking to me every day to calling once a week, to hiding things that she was doing with J from me. She was supposed to move out to the same state as me and my family to be closer to my two children, but has decided now that she is going to stay where she is and live with J. She didn't feel comfortable living in the same state as her brother....because she feels like he talks to my dad too much and it would be uncomfortable for her. She hasn't communicated with my dad for 3 years... since she told him she wanted a divorce.

My mom and I have "talked" about how I feel that she has replaced me with J and doesn't want me as a daughter anymore. Her response (condensed because they were text messages and it would take forever to write word for word) was that she chooses to have J as a daughter just like she chose to have me as a daughter ( I am adopted). She said that she can be a mother to both of us.  I told her that I wanted to have just her come out for Christmas because I feel like it's always her and J and I never get any time with just her.  I never got to talk to just her on the phone or spend time with just her. She responded with it was either her and J for Christmas or neither of them... so she didn't come.  Instead she and J went to the beach. She didn't call or text on Christmas to talk to me or the kids... my birthday is the day after Christmas... she didn't call or text.  I had to text her after new years to ask if she was even still alive. I told her I would like to talk to her on the phone and her response was... not comfortable talking on the phone.. too emotional. I have tried to talk to J and told her that I feel like she took my mom away from me.  She has her own mother, father, sisters, grandmother, etc . and now she has my mom as well.  She didin't understand how I was feeling at all and said she feels like my mom is her mom too. She is always caling my mom Mamma on her facebook page.

BTW- my mother has no idea what is going on in my kids lives.  She has no idea that my son is talking, that he just had surgery, that my daughter is excited to start kindergarten, that either one of them has been sick, or had something exciting happen to them. She has no idea what is going on in my life.  I can't call her and ask for her advice when I'm upset or happy about something. She only talks to the kids when she's on skype, never me.

I don't know what else to say.. It's exhausting and emotional writing all of this. basically now our only communication is when she or J texts me on a friday and asks if they can skype with the kids on the weekend. That used to be every weekend, now it's only once a month if that. I feel like she doesn't understand how this is making me feel, but then again maybe she just doesn't care.  I continued to let them skype with the kids because I didn't wan to be accused of not letting my mom have a relationship with her grandkids.  Is this a relationship though.  My daughter who is 5 won't even stay by the computer to talk to them.  My son who is 14 months old has no idea who either one of them is. I just got a text from J (who I have tried to explain all of this to and got no help) asking if they could skype with the kids this weekend.  I haven't heard from either of them for 3 weeks.... the last time they skyped with the kids.

I have been looking everywhere for a forum for adult children who are going through this same thing, but it's all for parents who are estranged from their children and don't want to be. I'm in the exact opposite situation.

I'm just so emotionally exhausted from this. Every time I get a text asking if they can skype I want to text them back and say no. Is that wrong?  Should I just continue to let them talk to my kids on skype and that's it?  Or do I cut all ties?  I just don't know what to do.  I would appreciate some feedback.  My husband is beyond useless when I try to talk to him about this.

Thanks is advance... S

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999

I can see from what you wrote that this is a very painful situation for you--it sounds slimilar to when parents get divorced and then one of them has a new partner and the parent puts all the attention to the new partner and ignores the kids.  The thing is that you can't control your mother's actions--she's basically told you that J is her new "adopted" DD & you have to take J along w/ mom--so I guess your choice right now comes down to can you accept that J is going to come along w/ mom--I mean, you said that you liked J before, right?  She's not a horrible person to be with or someone who's abusive to your kids & stuff like that.  So I think giving your mom the ultimatum that J couldn't come to your house kind of backfired cause I'm sure that you hoped your mom would consider the family ties and choose you--but she chose J instead.  I don't think you should just cut off your kids from them either.  Maybe it would also be helpful for you to talk to a counselor about this.

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006

Wow, this quite the scenario you have going on here.

I would say to go ahead and let your mother continue skyping with the kids.  How that will play out over time, I don't know.  But I don't see how saying no is going to benefit anyone. 

I can only guess here, but maybe a combination of surving cancer and getting a D is just so life changing, that your mom is going through some kind of phase, or greiving process, or something along those lines.  Because this whole situation is just sort of odd.  Nothing wrong with her befriending a young lady that needed a mother figure, but the distance she has put between the two of you is quite interesting, to say the least. 

I went back and re-read your post, and I caught when you asked your mom to talk on the phone, she said "it was too emotional for her."  Do you have siblings?  Do have aunts or uncles you could talk to?  I wonder if the guilt of the D is one reason why she has put this space between you, and J has, in essence, filled that spot for your mom, emotionally.  Not saying I understand it, just trying to put some puzzle pieces together. 

I doubt it is a concidence this escalated during her remission and divorce.  Wish I had more to offer.  I hope some others chime in.  I am curious what your other family members think of all of this. 

Serenity CL making a second marriage work

Serenity
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-08-2006
I am so sorry that you are dealing with this painful situation. One lesson I have learned in my life is 'the way things are now is not the way they will be forever'. Your mom could turn on J and come back to you just as easily as she seems to have cut you out of her life. If you want her to know what is going on with your family, then you could email or write to her each week, just news, not asking for anything or expecting anything in return. This might help her remember what she is missing. And I would never mention your father...some people need people to 'choose' and maybe she is one of them. Also, give yourself permission o feel however you feel about tis - sad, angry, disappointed - but know that acting on those feelings with your mother or J. could backfire. You cannot change how they behave, only how you respond. I would continue to let her Skype with ypur kids as long as the time is convenient. And (this might be a wildly inappropriate question) but is there any chance She and J are actually in a relationship and she can't tell you that? wishing you peace. SJ
Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998

This sounds like a really difficult situation to deal with.

Like the previous poster mentioned, could your mom and J be partners in a romantic sense? Emotional partners and maybe physical partners? That's really what it sounds like from your description, and would make sense that your mother doesn't want to spend the holidays away from her etc. If you consider them a couple, and J as a partner instead of a surrogate daughter, would it make you feel less abandoned? Would that help you to accept J's constant presence? 

Funny that J is the one that initiates the Skype contact with the kids. I would continue to let them Skype so your mom and J have some contact with your kids and your kids know what they look like. Eventually it may end, possibly the kids will resist or J and your mom will get tired of it, so put up with it for now. Do you talk to them during the Skype sessions?

Is there any way that you could go to where your mom lives so you can have a face to face visit with her? You may need to see them together and get to the point where you can talk freely about what is going on...although if they are partners they may not be ready to come out to you or anyone else; or maybe other people know and your mom is trying to protect you. And you need to work up to the conversation about how you feel replaced or abandoned. Texting as the main form of communication is really lacking, so much gets lost without tone of voice or visual cues so I think you really need to talk in person about such important and emotional issues. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-02-2013

I have one brother, but she has cut ties with him as well... although I don't blame her.  I don't speak to him either.  He is a terrible person who continually threatens everyone in our family.  As for other family members, she is close with one of her brothers and his wife, but they don't talk to me now.  The other brother lives here in Colorado where I live now and she doesn't talk to him anymore because he told her that he thought her choosing J over me and my family was wrong.

My other Aunts and Uncles on my father's side all think she's crazy for acting this way. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-02-2013

I have one brother, but she has cut ties with him as well... although I don't blame her.  I don't speak to him either.  He is a terrible person who continually threatens everyone in our family.  As for other family members, she is close with one of her brothers and his wife, but they don't talk to me now.  The other brother lives here in Colorado where I live now and she doesn't talk to him anymore because he told her that he thought her choosing J over me and my family was wrong.

My other Aunts and Uncles on my father's side all think she's crazy for acting this way. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-02-2013

Happy- I don't think it's an inappropriate question.  Actually you aren't the only person who has asked me that.  My dad is absolutely convinced that they are in a relationship.  I don't think it's that kind of relationship... I think it's a mother daughter relationship, but who knows.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-02-2013

Elc- I don't think they are involved romantically.  There is a huge age difference.  I think it's like 45 years.  My mom is almost 70 years old. I don't think it would make me feel any different now if I knew they were partners instead of my mom just replacing me with her.  She would still treat me the same way.

I think it's funny too that J is always the one initiating contact on skype.  My mom made a big deal of saying that she didn't want me to keep the kids from her.  I have never kept the kids from her, that's all her doing now that she doesn't make any effort to know anything about them. When we are on skype the DO NOT talk to me.  In fact I'm always holding the computer or the phone so they can see the kids. My son is always trying to ram the computer with his cars and my daughter is usually back and forth playing with things on her own. They don't interact with J and my mom on skype very much.  It's mostly just J and my mom trying to talk to them and my kids just doing their own thing.

My mom lives in OHio and I live in Colorado so I don't think we will be seeing each other face to face any time soon.  The last time we were together was about a month after my son was born when she and J came out to visit. During that time I tried to make time for just she and I to be together, but it was ALWAYS J there doing whatever we were doing. ALWAYS!

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-02-2013

I want to say thank you to everyone who is talking to me about this.  I really feel like I've been on my own island trying to deal with this on my own. I'm so frusterated, hurt and angry.  I am really tired of feeling this way.  I feel like most of the time I'm o.k. with it.  I've come to terms with it, but then I get a text from J asking if they can skype that weekend and everything comes crashing down again. 

An update on this weekend. The kids aren't able to skype because we are going out of town.. I guess I was feeling snarky, to I texted J back saying that we couldn't skype this weekend. She said o.k. maybe another time and I replied with a ... yeah maybe, in what... another 3 weeks? That's how long it's been since either one of them has texted to see if we could skype. Basically, we got into it and I told her that I think it's funny that my mom put up such a fuss about having contact with the kids, but only sees them on skype once a month... or only when it's convenient for her. I said that she has no idea what's going on in their lives good or bad.  My son just had tubes put in his ears and she has no idea! She replied that they have lives too and it's a two way street.  I said... oh please that the last time I tried to say I wanted to talk to my mom on the phone she said no.I said that she could call me or text me any time to see how they kids are doing.  J only replied that she would text next weekend to see if THEY (both) are ALLOWED to skype with the kids.

Good Grief! I feel like I'm trying to talk to a brick wall.  I feel like everything I say they don't listen to!!!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-03-2011

Hi, 

I know exactly what your going through and it feels like hell. Your husband is probably a great guy but doesnt know how to respond to all the rejection your feeling, your mom is acting so strange and out of character and you have to compete for her time and you have no real support or love shown to you from her or the J person. I know this sounds like its possibly the worst idea, but I will give you my advice based on my own experiences. Firstly, just to let you know, you are NOT ALONE when it comes to having fractious relationships with grandparents. NOT EVERY G/P wants to be with a GC and get to know them well. Not every GP cares if your child has an ear infection or if your daughter starts school. I know its bizaare to think this, but its true. My own MIL ( who lived like 4 streets away when my kids were babies and toddlers) used to tell me that she is their GM. not their nanny. Thats when I stopped her asking her if she wanted to baby sit the kids once a month on a Saturday night. She would NEVER offer to do anything for them, she was only interested in seeing them if her and GF would get invited for a dinner or BBQ. So I figured what comes around goes around, invited them for BBQ's and dinners and saw them at the chidlrens bday parties. Now shes an old lady and lives alone as FIL passed away and I only see her when it suits us, I generally treat her the way she treated us. 

I think you need to start taking care of yourself and stop wishing and wanting things to be different and hoping things change. THe only thing that will change is your reaction to your mom and J. What happens if you stop contacting them for a while ? You said that you feel a better and then J sends you a text message to let you know that she will skype you and then you fall apart again. 

Your kids dont actually care about their non existant relationship with their GM right now, but what they do care about is how their REAL mom feels about life right now. 

When my kids were that little, i joined playgroups and parent committee groups at the local kindy and met lots of other moms. Some have amazing parent/ GP relationships, and then there are others like yourself and like me who basically brought up their own kids with very little influence from GP who didnt really want to feature in their lives. Im not saying my Inlaws didnt love the kids, but they loved their own life more than they wanted to spend time with their Gkids, so what happened next is really the interesting part. 

Becuase I didnt get the love and support from real GP's, I got it by being loving and supportive to my friends kids and they in turn were lovely to my own kids. So now I have some incredible friends, I know their kids well, they know mine and as the years have gone by, we celebrate each others special occasions together. I got used to not having GP who didnt care, and you know what, they got used to leading their own lives independantly. I dont feel guilty for not taking my MIL to the doctor or for organising meals for her, she never assisted me. But when my friends need to go to hospital or they have a crisis, Im over there in a flash. 

I also have siblings who treat me like I dont exist, and I feel the same way about them as i do my MIL. 

Ive worked out you cant be everything to everyone. You can be everything to your kids though. 

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