My Mom likes being mean.

Started by

Just found this website. Surely there is someone out there who also walks in my shoes. My mother, who is basically healthy, nearly 80, and lives one minute away from me with my dad, is one mean, spiteful person. She's always been that way. We've never had a relationship. I've come to terms with that over the years.

Mom has an amazing memory. She can remember things from decades ago. She also remembers every slight/perceived slight toward her, incident you did that made her mad, whatever. Nothing good, however. And most important, she holds grudges. She loves to. I just had a "wonderful" conversation yesterday with her where she went from an incident that happened a couple of weeks ago with my 7-year-old grandson to how selfish I am because my husband and I like to travel and if something happens while we are gone, they'll be buried before we get back, to an incident last Thanksgiving, and so on and on and on. She finally hung up on me.

But she said to me, "I do hold grudges. I like to. That's how I get back at people." I asked her if she ever would forgive someone, and she replied, "not usually. I can, but I usually don't."

My father is miserable. Something happened when they were newly married and she holds it over his head. She told me that one day, and he sat there and agreed. She's a miserable person. She's made my dad's life miserable. She wants to make mine miserable.

Physically, though, she is as healthy as a durn horse. A bit of arthritis seems to be it, although if there is more, she won't tell me. My dad's the same, but he doesn't have the memory she has. She's 79 and he's 81.

So technically I am not a caregiver yet, but it's coming, and I don't know how I'm gonna handle this. One day my phone will ring and my life will be drastically changed. If my dad goes first, my mom will have to move. She cannot stay in their home; it's too large.

Oh, and she hoards. I haven't been in their house in years. They don't want anyone in unless there's a plumbing problem and since my dh is a plumber, he gets to take care of the problem. So he's seen inside. He says it is unreal.

So here I am, an only child who is nearly 54 with my parents just a short walk behind my home. I have two adult children: a son and daughter. My son lives 45 minutes away, and my daughter, son-in-law, grandson (7) and granddaughter (1) live about a mile and a half away as the crow flies. I'm not a caregiver yet. But I know my life will become a living hell when I become one, unless my mom goes first. She's too mean, though, to do that.

Honestly, I'm surprised my dad hasn't pushed her down the steps. I hate to actually type that, but I've thought that so many times.

I suppose my question is this: how do I deal with her? How do I set boundaries? For the most part, I just don't talk to her. I can go weeks without speaking to her and it doesn't bother me. I do talk to my dad, but poor Dad gets caught in the middle a lot. I'm definitely a NON-CONFRONTATIONAL person. Just being near my mom makes my blood pressure go up.

Surely someone else out there walks in my shoes. I need someone's shoulder to cry on. My husband's is there, but he doesn't really UNDERSTAND. He's close to the situation, but she's not his mom. His mom was opposite mine: sweet and loving.

So I have a mean mom. Help.

40 Comments

This may seem harsh, but I think that you know your mother isn't going to change, you will be miserable, so wouldn't it be better to consider some alternative whereby you don't have to be her caregiver but that she finds a placement somewhere, whether it's in assisted living or somewhere else?

I think we women usually feel it's axiomatic that we're responsible for our parents, but given your mother's behavior, why would you want to endure further abuse?

You know you're not going to change her. Are you willing to spend perhaps years under the circumstances you anticipate will exist?

Give a lot of thought to whether you want to spend several weeks, months or even years in a situation which clearly upsets you now.

You say you're non-confrontational; your mother will exploit that, based on your description of her. You've become verbally abused and find it hard to challenge her if you haven't figured out a way yet. And there may not be a way. Perhaps avoidance is the key.

Sometimes you just have to distance yourself from the family problems. Find your strength to do this. Otherwise, you risk compromising your own physical and mental health.
Read Roz Chast's book. Find a therapist to talk to about this. You have a lifetime of damage to undo.
Oh, I know she won't change. I'm thinking that if Dad goes first, she'll have to move to a facility. She just cannot keep the house/yard. And, NO NO NO, she will not move in with us. Not going to happen. Never. My foot is down. Firmly planted.

But before then? Nope, not gonna happen til something happens to Dad.

I will have to find my strength. And I will have to not let her guilt-trip me. I'll just need a bit of assistance... because if this goes on for years, well, I don't know what will happen.
Does this author only have one book?
imo , dont make your dad out to be such a victim . if he has no guts he has effectively permitted her to abuse people for years . i dont mean that as a gender thing . if your dad was an abusive hateful person and your mother put up with it , it would be the same thing .
i just think theyre equally guilty .
put her in that nursing home you saw on 60 minutes , lol .. ( homer simpsons threat to g - pa simpson )
Unfortunately for Dad, he is who I get my unconfrontationalism from. (I don't think that's a word.) But honestly, I don't know why they didn't divorce years ago. They sure could fight when I was a kid. He has chosen to stay with her. I don't mean to make him sound like a victim. They still argue vehemently. She is just unrelenting and there is no changing her. I don't argue with her. It's useless. Usually she has such unreal comments that I am rendered speechless. Like her: I like to hold grudges comment. What do you say to that?

i think you know exactly what you're dealing with, are just looking for some support. you've found a good group of people here, generally supportive of everyone, respectful, kind and generous of spirit.
i would just hang out here with us unless/until you feel strong enough to go back into battle. sort of like giving up booze, i think you need to detach from all the insanity and focus on taking care of yourself for a while. there's no way you haven't been impacted by your family. it's important to be well yourself before you can help anyone else, meaning them. just by sharing your stories you help other people here who are in similar situations. welcome to AC.
Thanks! Support is what I'm looking for, or someone who is dealing with the same situation.
aint nobody givimg up no d*mn booze , dusty . he he he
Her dad has probably been at the receiving end of her anger enough times that it's easier to just do what she wants. My dad did this, as his objections just got him an new onslaught of Mom's anger. They were of a generation that just didn't divorce so they stayed together, despite the pain of it.
Sharonkay, you might want to read up on setting boundaries so you know how to. There's a lot of information on some of the posts here, regarding dealing with difficult parents. Two things - remain calm and in control with her. And disengage when she starts on a roll. You can't change her, but you can control how you respond and how much you take. You say you're not one to be confrontational but you will need to calmly, declaratively state your limits. I think guilt tripping is a terrible thing - to me, it's intentionally trying to make someone feel bad for your own end. But again, you can become Teflon and let the guilt roll on by. You should not feel guilty for going away with your husband or kids....this is normal and healthy. One thing that really helped me was thinking "do I do/say this to my kids?" The other is "if I did, how would my adult child respond?" When I asked these questions, it quickly showed me how dysfunctional my relationship with Mom was and made it easier to say things like "I'm sorry, but that's not possible for me to do".

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support