Dealing with an over the Edge Mother

Updated on September 09, 2014
M.M. asks from San Francisco, CA
13 answers

Hi my name is Syd. I'm 29. Living in Atlanta, Georgia. I have two girls, ages 6 and 3 1/2. I live with my parents. Long story short, I've been separated from a violent now ex-husband, the children's father, since March of this year and divorce papers are in process. I have a boyfriend and I'm very happy. The kids love him too but have only seen him a number of times that I could probably count on one hand. That's for another time. I'm going to evening classes training for Medical Assistant and I've been job hunting for as far back as I can remember. Now that you know the basics here's my question:
My mother has been giving me a hard time about my life in general. She's been nagging about how I don't spend time with my kids and when I am spending time with my kids she nags about how I treat them and tells me how to treat them. She's been nagging about how I don't need to go on interviews or temporary job opportunities and that I don't need to go to school. She's been whining about how I don't help out around the house when I actually do the best I can. She's been calling me selfish because I am always leaving the kids with her and running errands or going to doctors appointments or school or job interviews. The only time she thinks it's acceptable for me to leave the kids with her or at home with someone else is if she asks me to run an errand for her or if I have to take her to the doctor or if she wants me to take her shopping. No she does not have a drivers license. She's uneducated and doesn't work. She's not planning on improving on herself or changing since she's 63. I'm trying so hard to bite my tongue and not give her attitude but it's getting frustrating. My dad has been telling me "how's school?", "How's work?", "how was your job interview?", when my M. says "why were you late? I've been wanting to go use the bathroom for a while now but I can't cuz I'm watching your kids for you while you go live your life." She's my M. and I'm trying not to disrespect her and I try to be honest with her but when I do, she gets offended.
Please help me before I lose my sanity.

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So What Happened?

Yes I am new here. Here's some answers to some that are confused. My 6 year old goes to school and all appointments and errands happen then. I take my 3 year old everywhere, even to doctors appointments, yes with the exception of gyno.
I have an occasional job that fills my gas tank every week but that's it. I work 3-5 hrs a week cleaning a woman's 3 story house just for gas money and my job searches and applications and interviews are for nothing BUT minimum wage jobs (serving, cleaning, etc) and I'm still not getting hired.
I let my mother know all the time how much I appreciate her taking care of my kids when I go to school. I kiss her cheek good morning when she wakes up and kiss her cheek goodnight before I go to bed. I listen to everything and do everything she says even if it's obsurd just because she's my M. and not because she does me a favor for 4 hrs every weekday evening so I can go to school.
I clean my room and clean up after my I do the dishes and the laundry and tidy up all the time. When I have free time I do a little organization around the house. Free time meaning when I'm not studying or applying for jobs or ofcourse for my kids.
Social life? I don't go out with friends. I have no entertaining everyday activities. Everything I mentioned already is all I do. Bf? I barely see him. He's the most understanding person I met. He knows all im thinking about is getting my life together and taking care of my kids. All he gives me is moral support. Last time I saw him was Sunday to watch kick-off and a friend babysat because of everything going on with my M.. Last time I saw him before THAT was a month ago.
Please let me know if there's anything else that's unclear.

In addition to the above, I'd like to add examples of why I posted today.
Last night I bought some fast food for my kids and let them play in the play area at the fast food restaurant. They didn't finish their food so I decided to give them the option of actually finishing their food at home. The kids sat down and started eating. The younger one, who claimed she was still hungry, wasn't touching her food, while the older one was almost finished. My brother started a conversation with the older one while the younger one got up and started talking to him. I told her to sit down and finish her food and when I did my mother yelled at me for telling her what to do and to tell the older one to finish her food not the little one. I told my M. that she DID finish her food and that the little one was the one who didn't touch her food yet and she scolded me not to argue with her and just do it.
Here's another one. Last night at 2 am she wakes me up asking me where the kids "flash light buddies" are since the power might go out because of the storm. I replied, half conscious mind you, "I don't know." She says "oh why do I even bother???" And storms back to her room. I got up and looked for them, turned them on and placed them next to my kids.
Last one. This morning I wake up to my 3 year old running upstairs to her grandma and waking her up. I run after her whispering "shhh! Grandma is sleeping right now!" She yells back at me in a temper tantrum which wakes up my M.. My M. gets up and picks up the little one and asks me why I'm treating her so horribly this early in the morning.

Eta: Thank you so much to the several nice members who took the time to send me private messages about how to use this site by writing SWH or ETA instead of writing new posts. Now that I understand how best to make my posts the most accurate and informative, and how not to edit the original message, I'll be able to participate more effectively. Thank you all for your understanding and help.

More Answers



answers from Denver on

It's barely September. You've been separated from your ex-husband since March. Between March and September, there's 5 months, and you say you saw your boyfriend on Sunday, and about a month before that.

So your children "love him" but have seen him less than five times? They have experienced the loss of their father, and probably witnessed violence or arguments or at the very least, a difficult situation between you and him, and they should not be meeting your boyfriend and you should not be assuming that they "love' him. They couldn't possibly love him. If they met him, perhaps they could think he was a nice person, or a fun guy if he played ball with them or something, but that's not "love".

And it seems as if you may have some medical issues going on that you didn't tell us about? You're 29, and you don't mention that your kids have illnesses or medical conditions, yet you talk about doctors' appointments and gynecologist's appointments. A yearly exam at the most would seem to be normal for a 30-ish healthy woman, and healthy children also need a yearly check up or a well-child school exam or immunization. How many doctors' appointments are you going to?

If you haven't seen your "boyfriend" in a month, and you've only been separated from your violent not-quite-ex-husband for 5 months and you're not divorced, and you're not finished with your course work for becoming a Medical Assistant, then I suggest you drop any ideas of a boyfriend, stop any unnecessary appointments and doctors' visits, and simply study and stay home. If your older child is in school, and your younger child is with you, how can you "always" leave the kids with her while you run errands, especially since you say you always take your 3 year old with you? Something isn't adding up.

It sounds like your M. was a stay-at-home M., who's now in her 60s and certainly wasn't expecting to spend every evening taking care of two young children. Appreciate what she's doing and eliminate any boyfriend texts, calls and plans. Your M. is not "uneducated": she is married, raised a family, has a home, tends her home for your dad, and doesn't need to "improve" herself. She probably thought that she and your dad would be spending these years going out to a restaurant, playing card games with friends, knitting, reading, traveling, etc.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Your first priority is getting your divorce final and getting stability for your kids.
Sorry but this is no time for a boyfriend - ditch him.
You are living with your folks - be grateful for the refuge but you can't stay there forever.
If you go to night school, you should have plenty of time to work a fast food job during the day - or even a cleaning or a day care job (might get you a discount for your kids).
You work, you save, you get day care for the kids (don't be depending on your M. to do it all - the kids are YOUR responsibility), you get a place of your own (no living with or depending on a boyfriend) and you stand on your own two feet.
The only attitude you give your mother is gratitude for keeping you and your kids from being homeless.
You don't get to judge her life or how she lives.

You work 3 to 5 hours a week?
That's not even a hobby.
I held 2 fast food jobs after college to keep me in resume money until I found a job in my field.
I worked in high school for a season on a clean up crew for an 80,000 seat stadium - disgusting work - being hip deep in trash just DOES something for your view in life - but pushing a broom for hours at a time and running up and down all those stairs with bags of trash on my back was great exercise (my legs never looked better).
You can baby sit, work at a day care center, do custodial work, stock shelves, bus tables, bag groceries, do fast food, etc.
These jobs are always hiring.
If you're not getting them there's something wrong with the way you are asking/looking for a job.
If you're going to school (even at night) the schools career job center should be able to coach you in how to land a job.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Time to find another babysitter Syd, or take the children with you when you run your errands. If you're living with your parents, find your own place. Your mother obviously is not up for looking after your kids, so you'll have to make other arrangements.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

The "she's uneducated and doesn't work (at 63, you're 29 and don't work), and doesn't plan on improving herself" is ridiculous, obnoxious and irrelevant. Obviously she's done better than you since she has a home and husband... So I'd stop that attitude. I can see how she's likely tough to live with though if all this is true and it'd be great if she was easy. However, none of this is her fault. You're an adult as well and you're living off of and with your parents. I would ask her if she's unhappy with you guys there and let her vent if she needs to. Have you ever just sat down with her and talked? Ask her what you can do to make 3 people in their home ok for her? She likely is resentful and is striking out the only way she knows how. See if letting her vent and thanking her every day helps her attitude. Otherwise, you have two choices. Move out and support yourself and your kids or deal with it. End of day, this is her home and you're well past the age that she "should" be housing and supporting you and babysitting your kids so it is what it is.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

this can't be a serious post.
you live with your parents, your mother watches your kids for you all the time while you go to school and DON'T work (it's BS that you've been job hunting 'as far back as you can remember- i've never been out of work one day longer than i wanted to be. jobs are everywhere, they're just not all cake jobs) and you resent HER!?
she should kick you out on your little can.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Ditto everything B says. You need to say THANK YOU and stop your whining. You are living on their largess right now. Why do you need to leave the kids when your running errands? You can take them with you to everything except perhaps gynecologist appts. You say you have time for a boyfriend but don't have a job. My suggestion is you lower your expectations. Get a job at mcdonalds. At least for now it will give you some income to pay for a different living situation. As far as doing the best you can.... thats a bs response. You live in her house you should be doing the dishes, the vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms and dusting etc. Especially if you are not working. You should bite your tongue you need a place to live. I understand your mothers attitude. I had the same one for a while when my daughter moved her 3 kids into my house and lived here doing what it sounds like your doing. It drove me nuts. Didn't mean I didn't love her it meant she needed to start acting like an adult. If you are supposed to be home at 5 be home at 5 don't stop for coffee, cigarettes, food etc don't dawdle around get your butt home at 5 and say THANK YOU for allowing me this time to get through school, find a job etc THANK YOU for allowing me to live here with my 2 kids and disrupt your retired life. THANK YOU for feeding me and my children THANK YOU for babysitting while I am out doing what I need to just THANK YOU in general. You have no idea from your perspective out much it changes a parents life to go from only them at home to this new life of your home always being full.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

The point is you are living in her home. She gets to have all the power.

The circumstances that brought you there are sad, but this is the hand you were dealt and it is time to pick up the pieces and move forward.

So, if I were you? I would find the soonest date I could get my degree, certificate or whatever and write it down and put it above my bed. That would be my latest goal date to get out of there. Nothing would come between me and this date.

Then I would be asking the school for part- time jobs, extra credit, volunteer, etc when the kids are sleeping any thing to get me to that goal faster.

What about child support? Where is your savings? You still get a part of his income. Get it.

Get a job at night, as Christy Lee suggested.

Get more houses to clean, advertise at condo associations, in your local paper. Cut people's lawns, walk dogs, whatever and save every penny.

It is very hard to be an 'adult child' in your parents home. I get that. But use it for your motivation.

Practice saying, "Thanks M., I will keep that in mind". " thanks for letting me know M.." even if your tongue bleeds :-(.

You are a guest in HER house.

Best of luck to you

ETA: I think I would be emailing ChristyLee and asking for tips on how she did it, JMO

ETA2: if you were in a violent marriage, have you contacted a woman's shelter? There are resources out there to help you but YOU have to find them.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

First of all, kudos to you for leaving a violent husband and getting your children out of that situation.

Secondly, I get how frustrating it can be to have a parent criticize your childrearing. Sometimes parents figure that their kids are grown and on their now, so their job is done. It's hard for them to have their kids come back, especially with their own kids, and have to go back to childcare themselves.

Third, it's great that you are going to school. Medical assisting is generally considered a promising career.

I'm a little confused - you say there's a problem if you "leave the kids with her or at home with someone else" - does this mean that you live with your parents or that you live elsewhere and either leave the kids at your place or with her at her place? The other responses seem to have the feeling that you live with your parents and I thought that too, but this one line is a little confusing. You also say you are job hunting, but say your father asks you "How's work" - so do you have a job or not?

If you do live with them, I'll say first that your mother is being a little dramatic about not going to the bathroom. A 6 and a 3.5 year old can stay alone for a few minutes. It's also frustrating when you have different standards of childrearing.

However, beyond that, she has some valid points. You aren't interviewing 8 hours a day, and while you have work to do for your degree, you do that when all other mothers do their work - when the kids are in school or in bed. During the day, when you are not interviewing and if you are not working, you have to do a lot more with and for your kids. That means that they go on errands with you. Is it a pain? Yes, sometimes. Maybe often. I can't imagine that you have very many doctor's appointments and in general, unfortunately, kids go with you. The exception might be a GYN exam or anything where you need X-rays (like a mammogram) but you are too young to need much of that! So the kids go. You learn to take books and small games to keep them occupied. I can't imagine why you would have to do that many things child-less. If you organize yourself tremendously (which is a skill you will need as a medical assistant, a job that requires efficiency and accuracy), you can combine errands into one trip.

Housework - if you're in your mother's home, you do it to her specifications. Maybe your own room is up to you, but public areas are up to her standards. 2 kids make a lot of mess and use a lot of dishes and laundry - so those are your responsibilities. If you aren't working and you aren't in school during the day, I'm not clear why you don' have a lot more time to get things done. I imagine your oldest is in school, at least a half a day, so you can take the 3.5 year old out of your mother's hair. You can also teach both children the basics of tidying up their own mess. They can take their dirty dishes to the sink, pick up their toys (maybe put a bin or basket for each child in the family room to control the clutter, but they do the work), sort and match clean socks, help make beds, etc. Time to teach them to be independent - you don't want them getting stuck in a marriage that's unhealthy, do you? Now's the time to start!

If you've only been apart from your ex since March, I don't understand why you have a boyfriend that the kids "love"! I understand you may want to date and be treated nicely after being treated so badly, but you don't introduce a new man to children who have undergone such a big change and who have moved in with grandparents! And you don't push them or even think about them "loving" a new man! If the excitement of a new relationship is taking you away from your children and your responsibilities in your parents' house, then you are making a huge mistake. Your kids come first, and so do the people who are putting you up. You can, if your mother's house is picked up and the kids' laundry done and so on, have 1 date night a week, but otherwise your focus is on the kids and your education.

If you are working and studying and raising 2 kids, you have to learn to prioritize, to be way more organized and efficient, and limit outside distractions. Make a list with your mother of what she wants done in priority order, and set aside a schedule (working with her and your father, who seems agreeable) of when these things will be done. Maybe if your mother sees that you have a time to do them, she won't nag you so much about being late. I know you want your own time, and errands can give us moms some breathing space. But you aren't going to get much of that right now until you finish school and get a job (or better job). When your mother says you are living your life while she watches your kids, do you hear an element of truth in that? Are you out doing fun things (boyfriend, friends, activities) instead of being in the house, overworked, like the rest of us?

I think some re-ordering of priorities will help everyone.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I agree with Elena B. As a grandmother who is constantly being told "you have to take the kids" by her adult daughter, I get that your mother is probably resentful. Bet she warned you NOT to marry your now violent ex; that gives her more reason to be resentful - she tried to warn you; you did what you wanted; and now here you are with 2 kids in tow living in HER home.

Just do your best to understand that you have thrown a HUGE monkey wrench in her life and she is doing the best she can with it.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Reading on

First of all, please take personal information out of your post - it is irrelevant and identifying.
Second of all, you are living with her and using her for free babysitting. If you don't like how she's doing things or what she's saying, move out. If this is your only option, then you should be working and saving as much as you can to be able to pay for school and a sitter and an apartment. It may take a few years, but if this isn't working for you, then you do what you have to do to make a different arrangement. You said it yourself, she's 63 and she's not going to change. There's nothing anyone stranger on the internet can say to help change her.
And third, are you really only using her for job interviews and school? School is in the evening. Doctors appointments aren't every day. Are you really job interviewing like a full time job? Or is she complaining because in addition to those things you are in some way not really there for your kids when they need you or out with the boyfriend instead of with the girls. Seriously, in my opinion, a boyfriend is the last thing you should have right now. Separated only 6 months, the girls need 100% of your attention. This post sounds very contrived in an effort to get support, but I think deep down, there's a kernel of truth to your M.'s position that you don't want to acknowledge or admit. Seriously, if she's that awful, why did she allow you to move back in with her while you get on your feet? Why has she agreed to watch your kids? Why did you even choose to go there if she's that bad? Sounds to me like you're abusing the situation a bit.

Eta: amen to B! Said it much better than I.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

It's extremely hard to live with parents. It's HARD!!!

You should qualify for full time free child care while you are looking for work and/or going to college classes. Do not have her babysit your kids when you are in class or at the doc's office or anywhere. Go to school during the day, get free money to pay for it, take full time classes at college and move into campus housing.

So you are living in hell or close to it. I've moved back in with my M. a couple of times. I finally had so much that I went to a local women's shelter and begged them to let me come stay there just so I could have some peace.

Consider that your M. did raise you. She is human and she has faults. She wants to see you succeed but she also has a different life than you. My sister is older than I am, almost old enough to be my mother. She was raised to be a housewife, to clean like a pro, raise perfect children, always be dressed all the way to the shoes as soon as she woke up in the morning. So even though she runs an at home business and hardly leaves her home except for church she does her hair and her make up before she leaves her bedroom. She is dressed for the day even down to dressy cute shoes.

She wasn't raised to have a business or make a living but she has grown and does those things now. I was raised with a focus on what I wanted to do with my life, how I was going to contribute to society and stuff like that. My M. was a homemaker and an abusive horrible person. I hated her and do not miss her one bit since she died. I didn't even cry when she died.

So, the reason I told you this is because you have a M. who is a person and has been a M.. She has learned from her mistakes and sees others doing the same things she did and she knows how some things she'd do differently.

She knows that the big deal is spending time with the kids. She knows that you should be going to classes during the day and getting financial aid and perhaps even living on campus to go to school, if it's a full university, get FA and get an on campus housing apartment. All bills are included and you can ride a bike to school. Kids can go to child care during the day and school.

Life will be so much easier. You'll be home in the evenings and get to put the kids to bed and feed them dinner and all that. Going to school during the day is so much better for you and for your kids.

You shouldn't work while going to school either. I many people think if you don't have a job then you're a loser jerk but in all reality as a non traditional student you're going to have to work harder to get the same grades and get through the program.

I didn't work most of the time I was in college. I used my financial aid to go to classes and the money left over went to housing.

When I got to the top of the waiting list for low income housing I was able to switch in billing and I kept my apartment. My rent on campus was $42 per month. It had been $441, still with all bills paid, including a land line and cable TV.

So yes, there are some positive changes you need to think about and yes, you M. isn't stupid or illiterate. She's from a different generation and she has no concept of what you're doing. She won't know what to do with herself when her husband isn't there to take care of her.

Please just try to consider things from her point of view, it will help you incredibly to take a breath and relax. You are their mother and of course you get final say.

The sooner you move into your own apartment the happier you'll be.

If you're going to college consider doing it during the day and on a full university campus that has on-campus housing.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Try your local aging and disability resource center for a caregiver position. Caregivers are always in big demand.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

You really need to get out of that house. Go talk to the school and find out if they have any benefits that would get you some housing and daycare. And you shouldn't balk at low income housing either.

If I were you, I'd be trying to get a job ON CAMPUS. Perhaps you could get work study. Try to make it a job that you learn something while DOING - using the computer, cash register, etc. Not just one where you sit at a desk and study. You need some skills. You also should be using the school's job search services to help you with your resume, interview skills, getting recommendations of jobs, and help with your interview wardrobe. So many students have no idea how much help their school can give them.

You will have a really nasty-mouthed child on your hands if you stay with your mother. She is over the top and no matter how much you respect the fact that she is your mother, you must NOT respect the kind of remarks she makes in front of your children. She is also most likely bad-mouthing you behind your back.

You most probably understand what a mistake you made marrying the wrong man and having kids with him. Now, don't compound your mistake. Do what it takes to get out of your mother's house. You need to take some real time AWAY from her until she starts to miss those kids. And when she starts saying ANYTHING that is irresponsible of her, you gather the kids up and tell them it's time to go home. Strap them into their carseats, shut the car door and then quietly tell her that everytime she talks badly to you in front of them, questions the way you are raising or disciplining them, or anything else she has no business doing, you will take them and leave.

Sounds hard? It is. But if you don't stand up to your mother, your children will be manipulating you, punishing you, and being terrible for years to come. Your mother needs to learn her place. And you need to get out of her house so that she can calm down.

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