General Question

Lulu4500's avatar

Should I reach out to my mother or not?

Asked by Lulu4500 (162points) March 9th, 2017

This post will be long, so pardon me for the read. The actual question is short, but the background information is what is making me pause in my decision making.

Background: So a lot has gone on in the past six months, ultimately ending with my parents getting a divorce. Since it started (and part of the reason the divorce is happening) my mother has essentially cut herself off from her family. I understand her not wanting to speak with my father, but she has in a way extended the silent treatment to everyone else at least in her family life. She has not called her parents, doesn’t talk to her aunts or cousins, and I haven’t spoken to her in weeks. She refuses to tell anyone who specifically she is staying with, or even where. She only told us the general city area she is in. Every time that we have spoken, it has been because I called her and not the other way around. Even then, our conversations have never gone over 5 minutes as she always says she is so busy and doesn’t have time to talk. Apparently she works 12 hour days every day (even though she supposedly only has a part time job) and that’s why she says she never really has time to talk. Our few conversations while short, have been relatively regular and pleasant but never about anything important. The only person she actually calls and on a consistent basis is my little brother, who is in college and has kind of always been a momma’s boy. However, her lack of communication with everyone else is not his fault so I hold nothing against him. Essentially, she’s living a life we don’t know about.

At this point I had decided to let her do her own thing, she’s grown and eventually when she wants to come around she’ll come around. I was sick of being the one to always have to chase her, while she’s being inconsiderate of how any of the rest of us feel. But the issue is, I am in the middle of planning my wedding; a wedding that she has not ONCE asked about or as offered to help with. While everyone else in my family has donated money, lended support, or has just asked how everything was going, she seems not to really care.

While I don’t really need her help with planning, I am at the stage where I am ready to start looking for “the dress”. I feel like this is really important, and normally is something that involves close women in the family, the mother, and my best friend. However, I haven’t been talking to her and she doesn’t seem to care…..I really want her to be there but at the same time I feel like I’m being petty for not wanting to say anything to her about it or ask her to come. This is a big deal to me and I’m hurt that she hasn’t even asked to be involved. I feel like it’s her job as a mother to you know, BE a mother and offer to help me look for dresses. I’m not sure what to do and wanted some opinions on if I should ask, or if I should just go with my grandmother, aunt, and BFF.

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36 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Your mother has demonstrated her lack of interest in having you and your family in her life. To the extent you do not know her reasoning (or if she has a medical reason), I would not reach out to her after one last message to her.

I would recommend you communicate something like:

“I would treasure your participation in my wedding and my wedding planning, but it requires your being in my life and being an active party. You have to initiate as much as I do. If you cannot do that, I will not initiate conversations. You are always welcome to reach out to me, and I will respond. But I will not be the one to try to start conversations. The choice is yours.”

And then be steadfast. It is a sad situation, but you need to care for yourself.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Thank you so much for coming to us with your situation. I appreciate your sharing.

First, your hurt feelings are completely normal. It is normal to want your mother to care about the things that are happening in your life.

Let me also add that we readers do not have any information about why your mother has chosen to cut herself off from her husband and her children except for one son. It seems like a drastic move on her part, and I am imagining that it required dire circumstances to take such a step. With that in mind, I have to add that she may not be able to be emotionally present for you during this important time.

When talking to her, perhaps you could explain your hopes that she would be emotionally involved in planning your wedding. Maybe that’s a better tack to take that simply announcing that you want her to help you choose the dress.

However, if you have reason to believe that she would not be a happy participant helping you choose the dress, then protect yourself. Don’t spoil your important memories with unpleasant people even if it’s your mother.

Now that I think about it, that’s what I would say. Think of what you need to do to enjoy this important time, and after that, think about how you can talk to your mother. Once you know how you want to deal with yourself, then you can decide how to deal with your mother. One way to approach her might be to ask if she could show happiness for you in this time of your wedding. If she says she is actually happy for you, then you can think about inviting her to participate in choosing the dress.

It’s too bad you don’t have a gay uncle to talk to. We’re the best at choosing dresses. :)

elbanditoroso's avatar

Quick answer: No. Don’t reach out.

Mom’s main issue is with her ex-husband. She has chosen to to divorce herself from the rest of the family.

Waiting for her to come to her senses is a waste of your time, energy, and emotions.

tinyfaery's avatar

Sounds like she is trying to hide something.

As a person who has a seriously f’d up family, do not waste your emotion or time on someone who does not care to reciprocate.

She might come around and she might not. Don’t put your life on hold.

Patty_Melt's avatar

There are a bazillion what ifs and maybe thats involved here.
As the mother of grown children now facing divorced life, a whole bunch of scenarios could be possible.
Maybe she has long felt tethered, and has decided that for the time being she wants to live out some freedom, make herself her main focus.
Then again, she could be feeling she failed at life, and is grateful to know you are apparently steady, solid, and moving forward. In that case, she may feel that ber being around could somehow wreck things.
Whatever the case, she is living through a HUGE adjustment.
Were the two of you close before the divorce?

nylascotia68's avatar

Hello, First I wish for you great happiness in your upcoming wedding and marriage. As a Mother it would take a lot and something terribly life altering for me to consider ever leaving my children’s lives. Not even divorcing my husband would cause that. So it does look as something dire has occurred to make her choose this path. I will make no speculations.
Perhaps she would feel uncomfortable suddenly becoming involved and simply does not want to cause any further upset to you or your family and Father in specific.
I agree that you may want to extend one last olive branch to her, you could even suggest that the two of you have lunch and talk about your wedding. If she is receptive to that and it goes well, then maybe just one dress appointment with only her could ease your sadness and allow for you to enjoy this wonderful and hectic planning phase. Again I wish for you only joy and happiness and do not apologize for the length of your question that is what this community is here for. I hope this answer helps in some way.

Lulu4500's avatar

@nylascotia68 thanks for your well wishes! I guess it’s hard because last month when I talked to her, I suggested we get counseling together or something. This divorce has been hard on us and our relationship so I wanted her to know I wanted to work on it. She makes excuses and says “oh yeah I want to do that too” and says she’ll look at her schedule and stuff but none of that ever bears any fruit. She’s very unreliable when it comes to meeting up and sticking to plans. Always been that way, but even worse now. But maybe since that was like 5 weeks ago I should try again?

@Patty_Melt We were close-ish? I’m closer with my dad, but I definitely used to talk to her and see her way more often than I do now. My family thinks part of it is jealousy of my life. Regardless though, I understand her wanting some freedom but not even calling her late 70 yr old parents even to just check on them I find selfish you know? Like, my grandmother got surgery and my mom didn’t know until way after the fact because she wasn’t talking to anyone. I tried calling her before it happened to tell her but she never answered the phone.

@tinyfaery yeah my grandparents (her parents) say the same. It feels like she’s not telling us what is really going on and after 6 months of waiting we’re all kinds of tired….it just hurts because while our relationship has never been ridiculously close, it’s still been better than this…

@Hawaii_Jake I’m fighting back and forth with myself because for the longest in this situation I was constantly trying to reach out and maintain our relationship to no avail. I kept breaking down and crying, it affected my sleep, etc. When I stopped calling and let it go I felt SO much better. However, this wedding planning thing is getting stressful and bringing all these feelings back. I want her to be involved, but it’s like I want her to WANT to be involved. And I can’t control that :( but oh my god I WISH I had a gay uncle!! Would help so much. Unfortunately, I have a small family and not many young people in it so I’m doing a lot of stuff alone.

@zenvelo That message is well written, though I guess it would hit better in person than through a text. I may try that

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Lulu4500 Take care of yourself first. Breathe and release. Make yourself a cup of tea.

BellaB's avatar

Hi @Lulu4500.

Your mother’s first priority has to be to take care of herself.

Yours is to take care of yourself. Get on with your wedding planning.

When/if your mother is ready to be in regular contact with you, she will. Don’t wait for it. Try not to have expectations of her. She’s got her own stuff to get through, don’t add yours to her stack.

You will be starting a new family with your partner. Stay focused on that.

janbb's avatar

@Lulu4500 Like the others, I feel sorry for what you are going through. I, too, have lost living family members. I was going to suggest that you write her a letter expressing your feelings and your desire to have her with you when you buy your dress rather than either calling or texting, but it sounds like you don’t have an address for her. Does your brother have one? If not, I would send a text after writing it out beforehand so you say what you want to say.

Here’s another thought, could your brother perhaps act as an intermediary just to tell her how much you would like her participation? Perhaps it is not feasible but he is not a child and maybe can help.

If all else fails, bring the people with you whom you know will enjoy it and send a wedding invitation to your mother, hoping she will come.

And keep talking to us. We can help support you with our caring.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wait…has she been like this your whole life? My heart hurts for you, by the way. So, so sad. I don’t care how old we get, we need our moms.

Lulu4500's avatar

@Dutchess_III well, we used to talk more often but I wouldn’t say we were best friends or anything. She’s always kinda been unreliable and cared more outwardly about my brother. The divorce just exacerbated those behaviors she already showed potential to have. My dad used to tell me it would get better once I became an adult but if anything it got worse. She says it’s because she always knew I would be fine and that’s why she never really paid much attention to me as she did my brother (a teensy bit autistic, but not majorly so). I sometimes feel that’s just an excuse though…..Being successful independently doesn’t mean I want to be loved any less.

@janbb thanks for your concern and support. It has been a tough time for me; everyone in my family has commended me on being strong, but hasn’t been there the times I’ve had breakdowns in my closet…....anyway, even he doesn’t know where she lives but I do hope that maybe he can talk to her for me. He’s back in town on spring break so I’ll go visit him and talk to him about it

@BellaB I suppose I understand she’s going through her own stuff, but I would think that wedding planning and talking to her child would be a source of positivity – not more problems. She’s divorced herself from everyone, not just my dad

@Hawaii_Jake yeah I’ve been on an aromatherapy kick lately lol

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

How long ago was the separation/divorce? After I separated from my first husband, I withdrew from a lot of relationships. I needed time to heal. I think I was quite probably depressed but was unaware of how depressed I was. I didn’t want to burden people with what was happening to me. I felt very lonely, quite unsure and somewhat lost. My children lived with me and so I had to look after them and I did and I was glad they were there, and I was studying so I had to go to university, but I lost contact with a lot of friends and pushed away family members.

Perhaps your mother is just trying to find her way in her life now. Perhaps she’s still hurting or is suffering from depression. Don’t stop reaching out to her. She’s your mum. In time, hopefully, she will make it through whatever she’s dealing with and will either reconnect or perhaps you will always have a less traditional relationship. If you want her to be involved in your wedding, tell her that. If you want more contact, tell her you miss her. I don’t know why your parent’s marriage ended, but perhaps she feels to blame. Perhaps she feels somehow unworthy of your attention. Give her time, and don’t give up on her yet.

Lulu4500's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit it’s interesting to hear your perspective. It helps me understand a little more. I guess it’s just that on the flip side I’ve been let down by her so many times and have already tried to reach out… is difficult to know when is the time to stop or do I just keep risking getting my heart broken?

Patty_Melt's avatar

@Lulu4500, from what you’ve said thus far, I get the idea she is nursing her wounds.
Try not to feel too upset over your lack of closeness.
It is a fact that many people find out after they have kids that having kids wasn’t the right thing for them. If that is the case with your mother, then kudos to her for sticking with you through your childhood, and doing her best.
Then too, some personalities just click better than others.
It does sound like she cares about you.
I think, just keep on the way things have been going. Make a special photo album from your wedding, include some pictures of preparations, trying on various dresses, looking at flower arraingments, etc.
There may come a perfect time for you to give it to her, and go through it together.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Lulu4500 Aromatherapy is my life! Lavender on everything!

Actually, that’s just a bit of camp. I wear jasmine and black spruce essential oils. They help me have a clear head.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

And there is truth in your concern @Lulu4500. My own children have little to do with their father for exactly this reason. They kept reaching out (and for different reasons than mine), he kept letting them down. His needs came before theirs. In the end, you have to decide whether you can keep investing in your relationship with your mum. I wouldn’t sever ties completely (and I tell my own children this), but keep your interactions to a minimum. Send cards on her birthday, send her letters. Ask her if she wants to chat on the phone, but expect nothing. You can’t make her interact and you do need to protect your own emotions. I’m so sorry you are going through this.

As much as I know I withdrew after my separation, and I regret losing some friends from that time, I also see it from my children’s side. I worry that their relationship with their dad is so damaged. My advice to them is keep the doors open, but don’t keep putting your heart on the line. Don’t expect more from their dad (or your mum in your case) than he/she is likely to want to give. Just be open to her interaction when she reaches out. Try to keep your resentment under control and I know that’s a very big ask. Sending you a hug. You’re going through a difficult time.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My mom left when I was 19. I was away at college. She expected me to move to Washington after her, which was 2000 miles away. Well, I didn’t want to move! And I didn’t. I know how you feel about wanting your mom but I can say my mom showed great interest in me, my kids and my life, even though we only saw her a few times over the ensuing decades.

I guess you need to just….cut her loose, but with the understanding that you’re there if she ever wants to try again. You’ve tried and tried reaching out, and it just isn’t working. Just let it rest for a while, but keep the lines open. I mean, don’t cut her off, don’t ignore her calls, just don’t reach out. See what changes.

Bless your heart.

JLeslie's avatar

I would invite her to go dress shopping, and tell her you would love for her to come, but understand if she doesn’t. Just leave it at that, let her decide.

My mom didn’t help me with anything for my wedding. She lived in a different state, but I think if I had asked she probably would have come to help with some of it. My feelings weren’t hurt, and I think part of the reason was she didn’t want to be controlling about the wedding. I wish she had, because I was young, and I think if she had participated, some of the details that I feel I screwed up she would have known better about.

Sounds like your mom is really going through something. I know you’re disappointed, and probably worried too, it’s understandable, but right now I suggest lowering your expectations to fit with what seems to be the reality right now.

You are an adult, she doesn’t have to pull all her shit together and take care of you like if you were a small child. Women sacrifice their life and sanity all the time for their children, but once the kids grow up, hopefully the mom can fall apart a little if they need to, and not have to take care of everyone else.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That last bit was not fair, @JLeslie. She isn’t asking her mom to “take care of” her. She just wants her mom in her life. Like I did at that age. Like I’m sure you did too, at that age. Hell, I wish she could be in my life at this age today.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I think it’s great that she wants her mom in her life, but maybe her mom needs a break. I said I think the OP should ask her mom to go dress shopping. I’m hoping her mom will want to go.

I don’t know the OP, I make no assumptions, but I know a whole bunch of people who are constantly disappointed and angry that their parents weren’t good enough parents. Sometimes that is very valid, but sometimes people have expectations that just cause themselves sadness. They carry into adulthood to an extreme that I just don’t understand.

Like my friend who was staying with me for a few days. Her mom forgot to call for her birthday, and my girlfriend practically went round the bend crying, getting drunk, it was nuts. Her mom is a good mom, flies in to watch her grandchildren so her daughter can take vacations, they are in touch regularly, but the misstep was a huge trauma. Same girl her bio dad, who she has a close relationship with didn’t go to her wedding. She did the wedding in Europe, and her dad had a very big fear of flying, which was well known. She was angry and disappointed for years about it. Maybe he was disappointed she did a wedding in Europe when it would be obvious he probably wouldn’t go?

I just think the OP should ask her mom, a genuine invite, and then if her mom says no, let it go. I went dress shopping alone. I took my fiancĂ© with me one time, because when I showed him the type of dress I was thinking of he said he didn’t like it, so I brought him to see some dresses on me. In the end I went again, alone, to another shop, and bought my dress. I never missed my mom during shopping for a dress. I never had the expectation of shopping for wedding dresses together. If she had been in town I would have been happy for her to come with me.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You mean shopping for the wedding dress? It probably wouldn’t hurt to straight up ask her if she’d like go with you, instead of waiting for her to offer, and suggest a lunch afterward. If she comes up with an excuse not to, it’s going to hurt, but then you’ll have your answer.

My daughter-in-law’s mother was utterly disinterested in her daughter’s wedding, but she’s weird. I tried to involve her so she wouldn’t feel excluded. I called and asked her if she had any plans for the veil. She said, “My daughter doesn’t wear hats.”
I was like, “What??” I mean, that’s what I thought to myself.
Then she said, “Well, she’s been married once before and that didn’t work out so why should this one work out?” It kind of got my hackles up because this was my son her daughter was marrying, and he’s a great guy.
In the end, I did everything I could do to help them, by myself. She did nothing. Nothing at all.
She wasn’t going to come, then she decided at the last minute to come. She was still in her Target uniform. She complained about everything.

BellaB's avatar

@Lulu4500 , the reality is that weddings/wedding planning are not a source of joy/positivity for everyone. Invite your mother to participate, then drop it. She’ll either be interested in being involved or not. It really isn’t for everyone, regardless of temporary emotional stresses.

Enjoy yourself for yourself and your partner.

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Lulu4500's avatar

Don’t know if anyone cares but I have an update.

Not too long after I asked this question, I did one of the things that was recommended and talked to my little brother about it. He saw my mother the next day and brought it up to her. When I saw her a few days later, she asked about if I had started looking for a dress and that she’d be happy to go to shops with me (so I assume my brother was very specific). Ultimately, I didn’t have to ask anything. Also, she took him to where she is staying, so we have a better idea of where she lives (still no address yet).

She’s doing better now. A week or so after that it was time to invite our families to see our wedding venue for themselves. I called to invite her and she actually came! She also went out to lunch with me and my fiance after the visit. While we haven’t had any “deep” conversations yet, she has actually texted me some (about the wedding) and we have been able to actually speak on the phone to each other once a week. Granted, she’s trying to take over details of my wedding, but it doesn’t irritate me because I would rather have her around to get on my nerves than not be around at all lol. So overall she has come a long way and I’m so thankful for everyone’s advice!

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Great to hear. Thanks for the update !

Dutchess_III's avatar

That is good news @Lulu4500 ! Thank you for sharing.

BellaB's avatar

That sounds nice. Good progress @Lulu4500 !

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Good to hear this @Lulu4500. Enjoy planning your wedding with your mum’s help (even if she is a bit annoying at times).

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