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So, I'm not old (65, still working); married happily and self sufficient. Three grown children (all married, two with children) live within the same city. I've provided as much childcare support as I've been able to over the past 5 years. My ex (with whom my kids all have a decent relationship, I think) has recently been dxed with cancer. He's scheduled for surgery; I'm trying to figure out how to sub for the childcare stuff that he does. I was in our place of worship today with my eldest, with whom I thought I have a good relationship, although she can be dismissive of my way of looking at things (oh, mom, you always think it's a brain tumor". Well, having had friends with kids with brain tumors, it sometimes IS a brain tumor sweetie; that's a good thing to rule out). We had "words" today during services. She said her usual "you are SO passive aggressive" (the thing my ex used to fling at me) and after sitting with that for a bit I responded that this might be hard for her to hear, but her dad has a personality disorder and..... She shot back with, "hey, don't go there, you exposed me to an abusive a-hole for 18 years, just don't go there". So, I'm not in a good place re my eldest right now. Just wondering if anyone has any thoughts about this. I'm 64; daughter is 38, married with a 6 year old. My mom died this past August. Said daughter was the BEST support I ever could have imagined during that time.

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I think the poem that CM posted is so true. The seeing ourselves as others see us. I've always been surprised when people tell me how they see me cause I don't see myself that way at all. People always tell me that I'm so self-contained and cool as a cucumber which is not how I feel inside at all.

I always saw my Mom one way and it wasn't till she died and I was looking at old pictures of her of when she was a young woman that she looked different than how I had always perceived her. I think the trouble with daughters is they are always going to see their Mothers as 'their mothers" and sometimes forget that there was a whole lifetime when they were still just a twinkle in their Daddy's eye and "their Mother's" were people with hopes, dreams, ambitions etc. that had nothing to do with them and maybe, believe it or not, they still have separate thoughts, and hopes and dreams and ambitions that don't include them.
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Hey Barb: Not trying to fan the flames. Just curious. Daughter is pretty forthright about what an abusive jerk her father was throughout her childhood and teen years. You have observed that her father still nurses those traits. Is it healthy — or even appropriate — for him to have such an active role with daughter’s children?
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I don't really have much insight to offer at this time but just wanted to extend my support to you. Barb, you're a good person, a caring and supportive person, and whatever someone says to you, always remember what a good person you are.

As we travel through life, we sometimes have the benefit of smooth roads, of superhighways, but sometimes we end up on twisted, difficult to navigate paths. I'd like to think the challenges of the bumpy roads offer us insight, help us grow as a person, and sometimes that insight can't be shared with others until they're in a similar situation, or have the benefit of years of life, which is truly a lifelong experience.
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Thanks to you all. You cannot know how much you've helped put this into perspective and given me much food for thought. ((((((Hugs)))))))
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Not totally sure what's going on without having the whole picture, but it makes me think of a few things:

1) When one of my friends had to have open heart surgery to have a valve replaced, one of her daughters was very angry about losing her free babysitting and even stopped speaking to her mom for awhile. She continued to deny this was her issue, even after one of her sisters called her on it. Forced into a bit of a lifestyle change against her will, she became short-tempered with everyone around her.

2) When the same friend entered into a relationship with a younger man, two of her daughters (including the one mentioned above) suddenly started being WAY more sympathetic to their dad, who suddenly could do no wrong, and started spending more time with him.....even though he'd been a controlling a**hole to their mom AND was seeing a younger woman himself. My point - that there are different standards for moms and dads, and dads will almost always get more sympathy from daughters because they are our first loves, and also they are the men against which we compare all other men.  Moms are the women against which we compare ourselves.  (Many women are at their most critical in front of a mirror.)

3) I still don't understand why so many adult kids expect so much free babysitting from grandparents. Some of these adult kids can well afford babysitters, and seem to always find the money for things like getting their nails and hair done or having a spa day or going to fitness bootcamp, but not for babysitting. It sticks in my craw on behalf of my friends of grandparenting age, who are somehow assumed to have no lives of their own apart from waiting, lonely at home, for some grandchildren to look after for free.

4) When the prospect of losing a parent is near, it actually makes you angry, but that anger is confusing and you don't know where to put it, so you kind of put it everywhere. I am a little guilty of this myself, but I've seen it in my friends and my brother, too.

5) Sometimes when the prospect of losing a parent is near, it triggers something in you to get out all the things you haven't said yet - good or bad. Again, I am a little guilty of this myself, and have seen it especially in my brother.

6) When my mom announced to my brother that she was moving here to be closer to me, he started angrily bringing up stuff from his childhood, up to and including that he thought she abandoned him when he was a kid. Somehow my brother forgot that mom gave us both a choice when she left dad, to stay with him or to come with her. I remember it very clearly, and I also remember my 12-year old brother standing mutinously at dad's side that day, with his arms folded and his face all screwed up in anger. He clearly didn't remember how things really went down, and he was obviously carrying issues that none of us even knew about. Adult kids do carry issues - even misunderstandings - that their parents are clueless about.

7) I have a friend who describes her mother as "passive-aggressive." She means she has to "guess" at what her mother wants/needs. She finds it frustrating that her mother doesn't ask for help outright, but gives hints instead. But then when her mother does tell her outright what she wants/needs, friend gets annoyed and irritable over her time/energy being usurped. So sometimes I don't blame her mom for giving hints instead!

8) It is true that daughters will say things to their mothers that they wouldn't say to anyone else - and vice versa. We feel safer with family to say whatever comes out, because we know they still have to be our family. There is a particular dynamic between mothers and daughters this way (see #2).

9) 38 is not too young to be in perimenopause.

I don't know if any of this feels relatable or not.
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CM--you talking to me? I am not 'allowed' to stay in daughter's townhome as it is small-ish. They have a spare bedroom. All her sibs stayed with her during her first 12 weeks when she was so sick she could not function. IF I come to visit, I stay in a hotel. And rent a car. Plus which, she simply does not want me near her when she has this baby. She does have really bad PPD, but as her mom, I can handle that. She goes totally crazy for a few weeks. I know what to do with her. Dh has put his foot down and said it shouldn't cost me $2K to "help" my daughter after she has a baby. So, I can't and I'm not wanted. Just trying to keep tears at bay. I know the moment I see a pic of him (with D's MIL, who IS coming out for the birth) Imma gonna lose it.

I was at the hospital or home of every single new grandbaby--13 times over. Mu DIL never even lived close to us, yet as soon as the baby was born (she has 4) she'd be on the phone telling me to catch the first plane out.

Our kids know our love is unconditional. They abuse that. What can you do?? They're holding our grandkids hostage! :)
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She blames you for exposing her to his attitude  for 18years, but as an adult, she makes the choice to do all the holiday meals for him and maintain a good relationship with him. And now he has cancer Boy, it sounds like she’s got some inner conflicts with that relationship. It like she can criticize him, but if you criticize him, she rises to his defense.

Moms with the unconditional love end up being the lightening rod. Not fair, and hurtful to be sure. ((Hugs))
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😢

Lack of space? - in a growing family, maybe. Could you stay nearby somewhere?
D3 thinks she's an old hand at this baby business now and shouldn't need to rely on you?
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My girls (4 of them) love me to pieces. I know that. Doesn't keep them from chewing me out on the reg if they think I need it.

They all absolutely worship their dad. He is a good guy--and lived through Liver Cancer, an liver transplant, brutal TXes for 2 years after...and really never came back to us. He's crabby, ornery, depressed and does nothing but work and sleep. I can't count on him for anything except a paycheck. Yet, somehow, b/c daddy almost died, he gets the royal TX and I get chewed out when I don't meet their expectations of care for him. (He works, I literally do every single other thing to run our family).

The mother/daughter relationship is fraught with issues, even in the best of families. I am NEVER in the "good graces" of all 4 daughters and DIL at the same time. Somebody is mad at me. No advice, just let it roll. It's fine to feel hurt, b/c she was disrespectful and rude, but you love her and that is what moms do.

( I can add that my 3rd daughter is expecting her 3rd baby in 10 days. She's 3000 miles away. Am I invited to come out and help her and love on this new baby? No, I am not. I will meet him this summer IF they decide to come here for vacay. Now, that hurts, and hurts bad. I'm trying to be a big girl but my heart is just broken.) Let me add that with her other 2, I was at her house every single day for 3 months. Go figure.
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Also: so what is Ex doing in terms of childcare that needs you to understudy for him?
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Barb, Oldest daughters can be PITA's! Mine is no exception. When it comes to mom, they have no filters. I will never forget about nine months into my care for mom an argument with D1, not DD1, she was upset about MY relationships with twisteds. What business was it of hers. She was backing up twisteds and their feelings about me. I reminded her of all the help I had provided to her in caring for my oldest granddaughter, even picking her up from day care and later school so daughter could do her coaching after school. Her reply to me? "Well, you haven't done that in quite a while"! I was livid, we did not speak for about seven months after that. Those kids, the love of our lives, can be so darn hurtful, only because of the place we have for them in our hearts. What is it that we cannot establish boundaries with our children?
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Sure, about poppa dearest, but how did *you* make it happen???

Hm. I wonder if people call people passive-aggressive when in fact they feel some sense of obligation towards them and haven't met it to their own internal (and probably ludicrous) standard. You don't say anything - I expect because you would rather think of your daughters as busy but free agents, and don't wish to make demands on them - but she imagines, when she turns to beating herself up about it, that this must mean you're harbouring unvoiced grudges and unmet longings.

I get that, too. Plaintive hand-wringing about how she'd meant to come here for the weekend but they couldn't move house until Saturday. ??? She has a new job, in a new town, furniture to unpack and a boyfriend she likes. Why does she think I think she should spend her rare weekend off visiting her mother? - don't tell me, because she can hear me sighing from 300 miles away (no she can't! I'm not!).

We've got Paradise Lost all weekend on the radio, a new dramatised version. Milton's daughters never gave him all this grief (though I bet they really hated him)...

One of my favourite overheard remarks of all time was reported in Punch magazine in the late 1800s, after the curtain fell on Antony and Cleopatra; one lady audience member to another: "how different, how VERY different, from the home life of our own dear queen!"

Hugs. And speaking of King Lear - "sharper than a serpent's tooth, to have a thankless child..."
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Oh Barb,

Mother/daughter relationships.

I never understood my Mom’s thought process. We got along pretty good until a difference of opinion came up, then we were like oil and water.

Is it possible that the mention of passive aggressive just hit a nerve because Ex used to throw it around and just made you extra defensive? As she was maybe in your mind verifying Ex’s words?

Everyone these days throws around these mental health phrases.

Maybe she just threw it out there to get under your skin because she didn’t have another way to defend herself during the “words” you guys were having.

Adult kids. They really aren’t much easier than non adult kids sometimes.
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Barb,
Well, that must hurt. A lot.
Not to take daughter down, this seems true, what you said.
1) she is dismissive
2) accusatory, using hurtful words that your ex used.
3) She is angry, choosing a venue to bring this up where it could not be worked out between you. (Isn't that passive/aggressive?).

All that spells disrespect.

In my opinion, you should not need to be figuring anything out about subbing for childcare stuff. You can, instead, wait to be asked.

Your relationship with eldest daughter could use some work, if she is willing.
But I want to warn you, do not approach this from a desperate attempt to keep the relationship on her terms to put you down. In other words, don't take any crip. Handle with the care you are known for, and like MsMadge says, a mother's unconditional love.

You may want to learn more about passive/aggressive behaviors, and if you have some, correct that. I have not seen anything at all wrong with our beloved Barb on this forum.
I doubt you deserved her words. Her attitude has more to do with her, not you.

Take some deep breaths, relax. Give her awhile. Some space.

Wow, what is it about our adult children, what is it about our age that we should be rejected by our own?

Don't let her words take away from today Barb. You are okay to me.
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Oh, CM, her dad was and is an abusive ahole. I watch with horror at his home when she cooks seders, birthday dinners, Thanksgivings, at his behest. She and her sister ( who have a fraught relationship) jump to his every request.

I don't think I'm passive aggressive. I don't request anything of my kids. Really. This casually thrown out epithet today stuck in my craw. It's way ex, with NPD, constantly accused me of being. Just feeling kind defeated today.

Going to see Winters Tale this evening. No better antidote to one's own dysfunctional family. Other than King Lear.
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Snap, BB.

Daughter 1 (my D1, that is) is the kindest and best of people. I love her very much. She appears to think that I am the world's most feather-brained idiot and shouldn't really be allowed out on my own. She certainly assumes I am wrong about any given subject until proved otherwise.

It's a different thing from Daughter 2's thinking I am the world's worst fascist and homophobe. That I can handle, because D2 is my living spit and image and this is just payback. Although she really ought to be growing out of it by now.

is it a personality mismatch, do you think? - this dismissiveness thing, this dissatisfaction with the way you reason and assess?

The more you love someone, the more her opinion actually matters to you.

I expect DD would be horrified to think she had hurt your feelings, wouldn't she?

"O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
And e'en Devotion"

Robert Burns. If only everything came with a translation he'd be my favourite poet of all.

I twist in the wind over what D1 *wants* from me. What sort of mother would she find satisfactory, I wonder?

But what is all this about your exposing her to [what she said]? Some kind of victim-blaming?
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Thank you Madge, for that piece of wisdom.
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I think daughters sometimes say things they would never say to anyone else as all things considered - a mother's love is unconditional
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