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I'm not even sure how to ask this question...Just like a lot of us, I grew up with a childhood I wouldn't want to re-do...any way fast forward 60 years ( ugh) I finally figured out I wasn't alone, there are tons of us out there dealing with horrid situations of a nasty, miserable to the core mother.


If you read a lot of the threads we are in our late 40's, most of us are 60! Seems like there is an entire generation of us who are dealing with the ramifications of angry hateful spiteful mothers. Was it in the water? WW2 issues, they all can't be born with dementia!? Were they born with mental illness? Was this a social environment learned behavior? How did this happen?


When/where or why did narcissism become a way of life back then? How was it ok?


That pretty much set the stage for the rest of it, don't even ask about teenager time. I couldn't go to college, I was gonna get knocked up and waste the money. Then I met and married the " drunk, the loser"- we are married 40 yrs. He has bad legs, thusly "the drunk" walk and the loser twist. I then had 2 kids- should have had only one-"SHE is just like her father", my son walks on water in her eyes. So ya, ok, by now you get where I am going...but where did this generation of parent come from? Why did the men stay?

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I had MANY friends who had wonderful, loving mothers. I also have many friends who are close to their MIL's. I myself am a MIL five times over. I love my Inlaw kids almost as much as my own.

I think that we don't talk a lot about functioning families on these boards because..well, they're FUNCTIONING. No drama. No tears.

I am so angry at my MIL today I have worked myself into a migraine. When I let her get to me, I lose.

I have already decided that I WILL NOT be seeing over Christmas. There are no plans with her and I will bow out of anything that includes her.

Does that make me a bad person? Don't know, don't care.
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bettina Dec 14, 2018
No, it makes you a migraine free person.
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Children of these types of parents have become caretakers and enablers to the point that we do not take care of ourselves.
I am 58 and have come to the realization I spent most of my life trying to make my impossibly narcissistic mom happy and me unhappy.
I went to therapy to learn boundaries and that is impossible with her in my home.
I found a good home for her and she is going there next month.
I deserve to have a life, so do you my friends. Take it now before you loose any more of it.
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Davina Feb 7, 2019
Good for you, Sandra21. That could have gone on forever but now you have the next 40 years to live it up!
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To add more to this discussion.... women decades ago pretty much lost their identity. Vast majority were only known by their husband's name.

While doing my family tree, I was able to find a ton of old newspaper articles about the women in my family. Vast majority were know by their husband's name, thus there's a photo of Mrs. Xavier Bishop and her sister Mrs. Milton Smith visiting their mother, Mrs. Orville Kenny.

A relative back in the 1930's who I knew had her Ph.D in physics but it took some major digging to find one article that even made mentioned of such a degree. Her husband also had his Ph.D in physics but that was always mentioned everywhere.... [sigh]. Even upon her death, no mention.

Even obituaries wouldn't include a women's given first name, pretty much the "Passing of Mrs. Augustine Smith". When it came to family trees, was this the first Mrs. Augustine Smith or the second Mrs. Augustine Smith?

And yikes, those female relatives who died as "spinsters" which sounded so foreboding, but the word bachelor had a more accepting meaning.

Another issue, in an obituary I was able to match a person's sons due to their full names, but not the daughters.... which daughter belonged to which husband???

Thus, those women who were ahead of their time, were pretty much unhappy with that current way they were recognized by society. If our elder female relatives are still pretty clear memory wise, ask them if they could change things back then, what would they have liked to have seen.

Ha, I remember back when the bank wanted my husband's ok for me to get a credit card. Forget that, I eventually found a credit card company that would take my employment into consideration.
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cwillie Dec 13, 2018
FF our family trees mention a lot about when the male relatives arrived from Germany but absolutely nothing about the women unless it was included as wife and children. Gotta wonder who all these young men married when they got over here.
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I'm not sure we are the first generation with awful mothers - I think we are the first generation that doesn't buy into the daughters-as-slaves mentality. My husbands aunts all cared for their moms or in-laws slavishly while the grande dames rang the bell and made more demands. The families were large and there was usually one daughter - usually the youngest - that was groomed from childhood that she was stupid and only good for playing fetchit for mama. even the kind old ladies had a daughter or daughter-in-law that did for them - even if they lived in assisted living.

I am far too selfish and prefer my work, my husband, my son, and my interests to be the slave. Definitely I help but only things they cannot do themselves or hire someone to do. So I say no to washing windows, doing laundry, and bringing in groceries but yes to helping them with insurance, claims, on-line applications, kind of the paperwork hell. And it has gone very much unappreciated by the elder men and women in my life. And their peers tut-tut over me and how selfish I am. Long ago I grew a thick skin. I would rather them bad mouth me and be angry than me knuckle under the never ending list of demands and resent doing it. Like my therapist said often to help me set boundaries "someone is going to be angry in this situation - why is it always you?"
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bettina Dec 13, 2018
--" I think we are the first generation that doesn't buy into the daughters-as-slaves mentality."

--" there was usually one daughter - usually the youngest - that was groomed from childhood that she was stupid and only good for playing fetchit for mama."

--"cared for their moms or in-laws slavishly while the grande dames rang the bell and made more demands."

Yep, I think you nailed it. This ugly relic from the past still plays out in many
families. I think the scapegoating dynamic is either the conscious or unconscious (hopefully) wish to have a servant entirely at one's beck and call. Although, I remember my ex H's toxic family's older aunties laughing openly about how their nieces slaved for them. 

Perhaps in the past this grooming process was a terrible but necessary
reality for parental care in large farming families. And it occurs to me
that the past generation understood well that caring 24/7 for the sick
and infirm is a full time job. Having a job and family too is impossible.

It is quite clear that many of us have parents who fully expect us to sacrifice our own lives and well being for their care. While they themselves abandoned their own parents, or else paid them a few visits annually in
the NH. They knew if they stuck around they would lose their own
life, family, career, etc in care. How infuriating is it, that parents, who
abandoned their own, want us to sacrifice everything for them. Even though
they abdicated their parenting role as well?

Our parents generation didn't have the insane work demands after
modern appliances became the norm. Our moms were probably the only
generation of women who could viably sit at home without doing any work,
either inside the home or outside. I wonder how many of these
narcissistic divas were born out the the fantasies being sold to women
by TV and marketing. It's as if they all thought they were owed a movie
star lifestyle. And us daughters were the recipients of their failed efforts
and frustrations.
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I'm going to try a different take on this than some of the other answers. At this point in our lives it be better to look forward rather than back. You are not the person your mom thinks you are. You are the person that you and the people who love and respect you think you are. Do what you have to do for your mom, but make sure you are living the life you want as much as possible. You can only control and change yourself, you cannot control or change her. Best wishes. Just know that I know exactly what you are talking about.
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AT1234 Dec 18, 2018
Excellent.
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Maybe it's just as simple as this site is a welcome relief to those living in a nightmare of sorts .. catering to the whims and unreal expectations of the elder they care for .. and so they go seeking like minded peers/support.

Maybe those that are living the life of a c'giver . to someone eternally grateful and compliant and appreciative .. they never land here.
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GingerMay Dec 13, 2018
Dorker "Maybe those that are living the life of a c'giver . to someone eternally grateful and compliant and appreciative .. they never land here." I agree with you. Those in pain or struggling are the ones to go looking for answers and hopefully, fortunately we find them. I continue to be comforted by so much that is expressed here.
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I think family dynamics and dysfunction and never talking about or seeking help for issues kept the dysfunction being passed on, at least in my mom's case.

I found out when I was 30 that she endured horrible abuse at the hands of her uncles. She had always said some bad things happened, but never talked about it until she was in the hospital after a diabetic coma. I don't think she remembers, but at that time she did tell me what she went through and named her abusers. She just out of the blue starting talking about her childhood and then telling me some things that were very disturbing. I don't know why, except maybe she had held it in for so long that she needed to get it out.

Her mother resented her for being female. Her mom lost her dad to a heart attack at age 8 and the way she talked she blamed her mom. HER mom was like mom, very needy, clingy and parentified her from the stories she told. Grandma doesn't like women because of this. Mom has two brothers and mom is the only girl, and her mom has always treated her horribly but worships the guys, despite one being a drug addict who won't work and the other being abusive with severe anger issues. Her mom sweeps any and all issues under the rug. It's like, let's not talk about abuse. If you even mention there is a problem, not only is it denied and ridiculed, there is something wrong with you for even suggesting such a thing. Follow the status quo is the name of the game. Needless to say, I am considered a black sheep because I refuse to stay silent.

It was a few years back when I was going through some things with my own daughter that I started going to therapy and finally talking about things to try and work through the dysfunction in my family. I wanted to try and break the cycle.

I think mental illness and personality disorders are to blame too, but some of it is definitely influenced by growing up in a dysfunctional environment. Mentally I don't think mom ever really grew up.
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anonymous828521 Dec 13, 2018
Very very true. Well said FrazzedMama.
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Wow--
this post hit a nerve with me...my MIL is such a PITA....I've had to deal with her total hatred of me for over 44 years. DH? He doesn't see/hear it..just asks me to please be "nicer" to his mother.

Last night we had some errands to run, one of which was to take her her b-day gift (which I had bought, of course..and wrapped).,,,and I usually beg off of going to see her in her home as I feel trapped and she will be so nasty to me---out loud now, filter is GONE...DH just SITS there like a post. But we also had another place to go after, so I went.

Well, MIL had created some "need" for DH to come to her home. It was an excuse to get him to come see her for her b-day as he had forgotten it.

We get to her house, and his sister is there--she'd fixed the problem already..and she is preparing to leave. MIL walks SIL to the door and says (none too quietly) "oh, sh&t, can you take "B' with YOU. I don't want her here". I am STANDING RIGHT THERE!!! SIL has the grace to look embarassed, but, damage done.

So I get to sit there for 90 long minutes while MIL ramps up about whatever, basically, what a terrible life she's had and how I never understood--etc.

I DO NOT get why she has to pick at me like a scab.

Dh has never ever stood up for me,. Never, not once. The he has the audacity in the car on the way home to say "I HATE taking you to see mom. It's like sitting on a powderkeg", I just looked at him and said "I was a COMPLETE angel. She sat there and picked at me and criticized me up down and sideways and you JUST SAT THERE. " "Oh, I hate confrontation. You need to figure out how to handle my mom".

No, sir, i need for your mother to not be in my life. I was in tears and felt about 12 years old again.

So, NY resolution. Zero time spent with the old bat. She hates me (has told me many times) and why do I put myself in a situation with someone who HATES me?

Dh doesn't like to see his mom, it's a grim duty for him.

I also don't get why this WWII generation seemed to have created so many monstrous Narcs. MIL had it hard, everyone did. She is angry at the world--and nothing ever makes her happy.

I do have to laugh b/c she always says I am too young to "understand" the horrible pain her life has always been. I'm 62. I get it.

And she is going to freaking live forever.
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SueC1957 Dec 13, 2018
Hey Midkid,
I can completely sympathize with you on your husband NEVER standing up for you. My ex never did either. We were married for 30 years-(together 35) and I knew all along that I'd have to fend for myself. When he would not be on my side when our son was being selfish and spoiled and calling me swear names, I knew it was the end.
Ex told me, "To get respect, you have to give respect." I wasn't disrespecting my son--he was disrespecting me. So what ex said didn't even make sense.

If I were you, I would refuse to visit the old battle ax again. There is no reason you have to put up with this abuse. Sit in the car with your cell phone, knitting or crosswords until your hubs has had enough of her.

Obviously, your hubs can't tell his mom to lighten up on you so its best if you never cross paths with her again.

I know how much this betrayal (from both of them) hurts. You ARE a precious person who doesn't deserve this type of treatment. Forget their feelings and take care of yourself.
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struggling1, ah a different time, a different era.

Back in the 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's, there weren't all these modern devices to help with house cleaning. My Mom used a ringer washer and had to hang wet clothes on an outside clothes line [dryers weren't the norm]. Microwaves weren't even invented for home use. Usually a family had one car, and Dad used it to drive to work.

I noticed "Mom's job theory" not too long ago when my Dad had a heart attack. Mom refused to believe it, and got angry if I or anyone else said it was a heart attack. Mom felt like she wasn't a good wife if her husband got sick. What would the neighbor's think???

Dad didn't mind all of the "house rules" as his man cave back then was his workshop which he had in the basement and also one in the attic. Dad was pretty handy around the house. He was always inventing something.

One thing I also noticed when I was younger, Dad got to retire.... but Mom didn't. Dad could enjoy doing things he liked, but Mom still prepared 3 meals a day, did the laundry, did the grocery shopping, and waxing the floors. Wait a minute.... this isn't fair !!

Even in my generation [70 something] and probably with some women younger, when it comes to the holidays, who does the vast majority of the work? Who buys the Christmas cards, address them, write letters to enclose? Who does most of the family gift buying, buying the wrapping paper, doing the wrapping, and doing the mailing? Who decorates the house? Who does most of the baking? I remember my ex always wondered why I was so tired at holiday time? Hello, his contribution was buying the Christmas tree... [rolling eyes].
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pamzimmrrt Dec 12, 2018
FF I am 60 and I still do the bulk.. you are so right! Hubs gets the "man gifts" from Cabelas and such.. and I get the rest.. LOL
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I think that many of us had mothers who lived through WWII and then the 50s and 60s. My own mother ditched my awful father in 1953 and then worked very hard indeed to bring up me and my sisters. Most other women of the same age at that time didn’t work outside the home. Life may not have been all that wonderful for them, but it didn’t involve the trials of working for difficult bosses etc etc. So now we have elderly women with rose-tinted spectacles about how great it was for them in the past, and as their children we are putting up with them now because they are living so much longer than women of their age and class survived in the past. They think that someone has to make it as nice as it used to be, so it has to be us.

If you read as much historical stuff as I do, it is frightening to find out how quickly social norms can change. For example, in the 1930s there was a huge shift from breast feeding to bottle feeding because ‘then you know what they’re getting’. Dietary norms have changed just as quickly in other ways, from ‘go to work on an egg’ to a vegan diet, and social norms have done the same. The only way through all this is to sympathise with how things have changed, but function on the basis of what is reasonable now. Good luck to all of us!
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Countrymouse Dec 14, 2018
Ahhhh! - "go to work on an egg" came from the novelist Fay Weldon, showing early promise back in the days when she was a mere wage-slave copywriter.
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