September 23, 2019, 02:59:22 am

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"Welcome to WiseWomenUnite.com -- When adult children marry and leave home, life can sometimes get more complex instead of simpler.  Being a mother-in-law or daughter-in-law can be tough.  How do we extend love and support to our mothers-in-law, adult children, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, and grandchildren without interfering?  What do we do when there are communication problems?  How can we ask for help when we need it without being a burden?  And how do our family members feel about these issues?  We invite you to join our free forum, read some posts... and when you're ready...share your challenges and wisdom."


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Messages - Stilllearning

31
Hi R!  I think we all know about those visits to what I now call "the abyss" because once I let my mind take me there it sucks me right in and steals everything good from my life by filling me full of self pity.  Of course I deserve better, of course I did everything I could for my DS, of course he should want to bring his children by to see me, of course he should remember me on Mother's Day and other special days but he didn't.  For years I spent my time in the abyss, talked to everyone about how horribly my DS/DIL were treating me and everyone agreed.  Everyone felt sorry for me.  Eventually everyone wanted to avoid me because it was all I could talk about and think about and it made me into a wet rag (you know, a party killer).  I couldn't blame them, heck I wanted to avoid me too! 

Then one day from the bottom of the abyss I decided that I deserve better.  I worked hard to get to where I am and I deserve to be happy so I looked around and found the things in my life that make me happy.  I found my DH. I found my other DS.  I found my sister.  I found my hobbies (camping, canoeing, hiking, and recently I tried zip lining!).  I started enjoying my life and every time my mind wandered toward the abyss I would force it away by thinking of something I enjoyed.  I adopted sayings like "No news is good news" and "Not my circus, not my  monkeys" and I said them to myself every time I thought about my DS's situation.  It took a long time, but eventually I got strong enough to stay away from the abyss and eventually my DS figured out what I knew about my DIL.  He had his own lessons to learn and he honestly could not learn them with me interfering because he blamed everything that happened on my interference.  Once I was out of the picture he had to blame the proper person and since I wasn't there........well, you get the idea. 

There does come a point in our children's lives when they have to take responsibility for themselves but they have blamed us for every thing bad that has happened to them.  The only way we can get them to accept the blame is to step out of the picture.  We are Moms, stepping out of the picture is very difficult for us.  It is the last big lesson that we have to teach our children, like pushing them out of the nest.  Some of us are lucky enough to have them come back, some of us are not.  Our job now is to be happy.  We finished parenting now we can live our lives for ourselves.

Good Luck!!!
32
Welcome P!  Since you haven't posted the rest of your story for a couple of days I thought that I would just jump in and share a thought or two.  When my sons got to a certain age (mid to late teenager) they started to pull away.  Of course I knew that eventually they would pull away but they still had so much to learn!  My eldest (the one who eventually drove me to this site) moved out of the house, got involved with a woman who was so obviously wrong for him it was unbelievable and proceeded to marry her.  I tried to point out his mistake but that just drove him farther from me.  The more I tried to fix things the worse things got.  My first posts here probably sound very much like yours.  I was sure that I was loosing my son forever and I was heartbroken and desperate.  It was all I ever thought about and all I ever talked about. Thinking back on it I am amazed that my DH stayed with me because I was no fun at all.  He did get to the point where he would not talk to me about it.  Men feel a need to fix things and there was no way to fix this.  Anyway I think you get the idea.

I tried so hard to hold on to my DS.  I talked with him and tried to reason with him but every time we talked he told my now DIL everything we said and she got more and more hurt and more and more determined to win (like we were fighting for control of my DS, go figure).  Anyway nothing improved until I just gave up.  One day I sat down and asked myself why I was trying so hard to be with my DS when I no longer enjoyed his company.  Being around him made me uncomfortable and sad.  I wanted to be around the son I remembered, not the person he had turned into.  So I stopped.  I stopped calling him.  I stopped texting him.  I stopped trying to get him to remember me on Mother's day or my birthday.  It was not easy but I knew I had to.

So how did I stop?  I started thinking about myself.  I started using all of my efforts to make me and my DH happy.  I started saying to myself whenever I thought about my DS "No news is good news".  I started planning fun things for my DH and I to do on special days when I knew I would be hurt by my DS's lack of attention (Christmas, Mother's Day, etc.).  The more I focus on making myself happy (which all mothers stop doing when they have children) the better my life has gotten.  It took a lot of work to turn my thoughts away from what I now call "the abyss" and for years I would occasionally slip into that quagmire of self pity and woe.  Yes I deserved better, yes I was mistreated, yes I had done a good job of raising my DS, yes my dreams of a close family were gone but more than that I deserve to have these later years of my life be happy.  Enter the "no news is good news" slogan.  I also used the "not my circus, not my monkeys" saying when I heard things from family members about what my DS/DIL were doing.  It took years but now my DS is visiting me often and I am getting to know the man he has become.  I am proud of him and I now enjoy his company again. 

So for you I offer this saying to think about:
"What you focus on expands" so focus your attention on the good things you have.

You did a great job raising your sons in very difficult conditions.  You did the very best that you could.  Now it is time for you to enjoy your life.

Hugs from all of us!!

 
33
My sister has always said that if my Mom was invited to a lavish banquet and there was a rotten apple in the corner marked "guilt" my Mom would put that on her plate and eat it.  My Mom is gone now but I do believe that my sister is right and that the trait she described is just the way good mothers are.  If our children are angry we are sure that we messed up somewhere and caused that anger.  If they react poorly in social situations we are always sure we could have done something sometime differently that would have changed that particular trait.  We should have given them a car or we shouldn't have given them a car, made them pay rent or not made them pay rent, kicked them out of the house or not kicked them out of the house.  The truth about the matter is that there is no such thing as a perfect parent, and honestly there is no such thing as a perfect child.  Every adult who leaves the hospital with their first newborn believes (incorrectly) that they can "do it right" and if they are like me they find out pretty quickly just how difficult parenting is.

I got tired of eating that moldy apple.  I did the very best I could when I raised my children.  They are doing well, not in jail, and they seem happy with their lives.  Now they have their own lessons to learn.  One of those lessons for my DS/DIL was that they are responsible for raising their own children.  I am a grandmother.  I do not discipline very much.  I give in.  Parents have to toe that line of discipline and if they don't hold their own they will pay their own prices.  One of my grands is quite a handful.  She gets her personality mostly from my DIL and I am finding that difficult to deal with so, by and large, I am declining all baby sitting 'privileges'.  Yes, I sometimes feel guilty but I remind myself that I deserve to enjoy these golden years and it is my option to add only the things that make my 'golden years' better.  Now I see the grands when my DS brings them over which happens fairly frequently.  He helps me look after the grands and he and I get some time together as a bonus.  I am really enjoying these visits and this new phase of my life. 

You deserve to enjoy your life!  You worked hard, did your best and now it is time to let your DD/SIL figure out what raising children is all about.  It is often about giving up the 'date nights' and birthday parties that only include certain ages.  Why are they leaving their children out?  Once my children were born they were included in every celebration that our family had, period.  There were a few times when we got a babysitter, but honestly not many.  I asked my Dad to help when the children were sick but by the time I got around to having children my parents were too old to keep my children for long.  I made it, and so will your DD.  Volunteering for one night was, in my opinion, very generous.

Good luck!!
34
Welcome,L. We ask all new members to go to our HomePage and under Open Me First to read the posts placed there for you. Please pay special attention to the Forum Agreement to be sure WWU is a fit for you. We are a monitored Website.  Also, you might want to pick a screen name that is less personal so others who come here will not know who you are.

Wow!  I really have no personal experience to give you because I have never offered to keep my grands five days a week.  I work at a daycare five days a week so that I won't miss my grands so much.  I tell people that it is like being paid to be a grandma and it is!  Maybe you could find a job like mine?  At least they appreciate me and if I am sick the daycare covers for me.  Oh, and I can get a vacation!  Sounds to me like you could use a vacation.  Have you had one of those recently?  After all they say "absence make the heart grow fonder"

Anyway the one thing that we have advocated over and over is that once our children are grown our parenting job is done.  Now I can start spending my life doing things I enjoy.  Planning trips and volunteering or working at the day care.  I am retired but I found myself depressed if I stayed at home because my DH was still working and there was no human interaction all day long.  Now I work for a few hours every morning (it is only part time) and take off when I want to (mostly).  My life improved so much when I started focusing on making myself happy instead of worrying about what I could do to make my relationship with my DS/DIL better.  Actually the relationship with my DS improved also. 

Good luck!!
35
My point was (and is) that my life did not change until I stopped trying to figure things out and started living for myself.  My DS had to figure out what mattered to him  and I was just fortunate to find out that I was on the good side of that equation.  I did have to be prepared to be on the losing side before I took that plunge.  Perhaps you are not quite ready for that change.

It was quite refreshing to find myself on the sidelines......

Not my circus, not my monkeys....
36
Hi Frustrated.  I am so sorry that you are faced with such an untenable situation.  I felt about the same way about my DS.  I went to the hospital with chest pains and was admitted from the ER and my DS could not even come by to give my DH a ride home.  Both my DH and I were livid and we certainly let my DS know.  Things did not change for us until I finally realized that I did not even enjoy my DS's presence because he felt like visiting us was an imposition and my DIL was texting every 5 minutes about when he was coming home.  She even went so far as to set a frying pan on fire on the stove and then call him to come rushing home.  It was ridiculous!  Anyway like I said one day I stopped and asked myself why I was struggling so hard to be around someone who made me so uncomfortable and mad.  I realized that my life was better (yes, better!) and happier if I did not include him or expect him to participate. 

The next thing I figured out was that some holidays (Mother's Day, Christmas and such) were going to be difficult to manage without noticing my DS's absence so I started planning things.  There was one Thanksgiving when my DH and I decided not to have the big feast on Thursday because the weather was so wonderful.  We went canoeing on Thursday and I cooked on Friday when it was raining.  It was really liberating to realize that I could just shift the celebration around, Christmas did not have to be on December 25th.  So I started making plans for important days and letting my DS know what they were.  I stopped expecting him to show up (I knew he did not want to be there anyway) but I would tell him he could come if he wanted.

It was the most amazing thing.  Once I stopped pulling on him he stopped pulling away.  It was like I had been part of the problem by constantly demanding he change things.  I only had control over myself so the only way I could change the situation was for me to change the way I looked at things.  I started reciting my three mantras:

1) No news is good news
2) For things to change first I must change
3) What you focus on expands

I started practicing changing my focus.  When I thought about my situation with my DS I would tell myself number 1 and then work on changing my focus from that horrible situation to something that I enjoyed (like planning a camping trip).  My relationship with my DH was the first to improve.  He was so tired of trying to fix the impossible situation with my DS and so tired of watching me hurt without any way of making it better.  I never realized how unfair I was being to my DH until after it was over.

After a few months of loving detachment my DS realized what he was missing and has slowly moved into a better relationship with my DH and myself.  We are now seeing my DS and grands every Saturday (for the summer) and everyone enjoys it.  My DIL gets the day off from being a Mom, my DS gets help watching the children and I get the hugs and squeals that make my heart smile and brighten my life. 

I know that I was fortunate with my eventual outcome but honestly when I pulled away it was out of desperation.  Things had to change, one way or the other.  I could not go on in the same way.  Period.  Quite frankly if it had turned out that I was estranged from my DS I think I would have been OK.  I just could not put up with being treated that way any longer and with the help from the wonderful women here I found my way of stopping the abuse.  After all no one can hurt my feelings  if I don't let them, right?

Anyway Frustrated, I feel for you and I hope you find a way to recover your former self from this horrible situation!  Hugs!
37
Woohoo Bookworm!!  Sounds like you have really turned a corner.  Keep up the good work and by all means post if you need to feel the support of our wonderful community but remember that we are all boosted by your success stories!  You have made my day!
38
Bookworm I am so glad that some of what I said made sense to you!  There have been times when I sat where you do now and cried because it felt so good to know someone else understood how I felt.  That is what this site is about!  Now if I could share some sayings that I have used to help me continue to improve.......

1) For things to change first I must change
2) No news is good news
3) What you focus on expands

It has been a long journey for me and I still sometimes travel to the edge of what I now call "The Abyss".  The longer I work on it the easier it is for me to turn away from that quagmire of self pity.  Life is good and way too short for me to waste it worrying about things I cannot change.  Good Luck!!
39
Welcome Bookworm!  We ask all new members to go to our HomePage and under Open Me First to read the posts placed there for you. Please pay special attention to the Forum Agreement to be sure WWU is a fit for you. We are a monitored Website.

When I "closed the purse strings" I found that my relationship with my DS changed.  Once I affirmed that he could do it on his own and did not need for me to buy all that stuff he felt like the adult he was and not like my DS when he was around me.  I now have an adult to adult relationship that I would not have if I had continues to step in and buy things because I was implying that he could not manage on his own without even knowing.  I had a need for him to need me and I was feeding that need by buying things I knew he needed.  Sounds strange but it was true.

When I started living for me, doing things I enjoy, planning trips for special days (Mother's Day/ Birthday)and sharing my plans with my DS things changed too.  I think my DS felt relieved that he was no longer responsible for making me happy.  I was (and am) happy anyway.  Funny thing is that happy people attract happy people and since that change in me I find more happy people around me.  Life overall has improved in ways I did not even imagine and it all started with deciding that I had done my parenting job and now it is time for me to enjoy my life regardless of whether my DS/DIL were a part of it or not.

Good luck!  More later, right now I am running late for work!
40
I don't know but it sounds like you might be able to find a book club that you would enjoy.  Try asking at the library or with your friends.  If you start not being there all the time then maybe your DS will appreciate the times when you are there. 

Oh and those days when you feel so low are what I call "the abyss".  It used to suck me in and the longer I let it guide my thoughts the worse I felt.  When I felt myself slipping over the edge I would have to force ably pull my thoughts to a topic that brought me joy.  I spent a lot of time planning camping trips and making lists of things to take camping but maybe you could spend some time on something you love.  It does not have to be expensive, just enjoyable and it needs to take some thought to do.  Bird watching?  Supporting your favorite political candidate?  Protesting some wrong in your area?  Helping at the homeless shelter?  Volunteering at the hospital?  Something that gives you a purpose beyond your adult son and shifts your attention from your troubles. I took up photography and it really paired well with the camping and gave me some pictures that I can look back on.  Anyhow I think you probably get the idea.  You spent your life raising a wonderful child and now that energy you put into parenting is available to you and you can choose to use it to make your own life more fulfilling, more joyful and more challenging and in the process you will be teaching your DS that there is life after parenting.  Now the only way we can teach is by example.  I am 61 and I went zip lining for the first time this spring.  If I can do it so can you!!

Good luck!
41
All of us (except Luise) started exactly where you are and some of us return regularly because we remember how good it feels to find this site.  I am so glad that we have helped you!  Over time focusing on yourself will become easier.  Women tend to put their all into parenting and trying to stop focusing on our children actually takes some practice.  At first I had to force myself to stop thinking about the subjects that would draw me down the spiral into what I now call "the abyss" .  Now when the thoughts pop up it is simple to label them as 'not my problem' or 'no news is good news' or whatever label takes them from the forefront of my thoughts and places them on a back burner (or out of mind completely!).  The good news is that once you start changing the focus of your thoughts to the good things, more good things happen.  Congratulations on starting your journey to the good life (or at least the better life).

We welcome everyone to come often and reply to posts from other people.  Everyone finds meaning in different things and I am sure you will be able to help someone with your insights.  Just posting makes you think about things and can shift your views over time lending a new perspective to your words.  If you read my posts over time you will see what I mean.

Good luck!!

PS.....I edited your post to remove your signature.  We prefer that everyone here stay unrecognizable to people who may pass through.  Luise is the only person who uses her true name.
42
I had issues when my eldest gained his freedom.  I had no problems letting him move out of the house but once he got out he started making all kinds of (in my opinion) bad decisions.  He quit school and used his "school money" for supporting himself and his now wife.  He quit his job (which paid very well for one without a college degree) because his then girlfriend talked him into calling in sick often enough for his boss to tell him to go home and decide if he wanted the job or not.  He got engaged, he married and then they got pregnant.  The whole time I was going 'wait a minute!!' but I was completely ignored. 

He quit calling and he quit noticing special days like my birthday and Mother's day.  He quit visiting.  The more he pulled away the harder I tried to convince him not to.  I tried everything, even going to counseling with my now DIL where I was told that I had "separation issues" and my DIL was totally supported and heard (while I was forced to be silent).  The entire ordeal was incredibly one sided and unfair.  Although my needs were small they were obviously not going to be met.

It was around that time when I found this website.  I will never forget the relief I felt knowing that there were others out there who knew how I felt.  It was the wise women here who told me that my son was an adult and my parenting phase was over.  He had his own lessons to learn and his own mistakes to make.  Now my job was to enjoy my life.  You can read my past posts to see how I went about that but the one thing for me that sticks out about your posts is that you are not enjoying anything.  You have spent your life making his life as good as you possible, don't you think it is time for you to concentrate on you?  I do!

Please read our archives, they are loaded with suggestions on how to change your focus from him to yourself.  You deserve the best and we all want it for you!  Good luck!
43
Welcome, L. We ask all new members to go to our HomePage and under Read Me First, to read the posts placed there for you. Please pay special attention to the Forum Agreement to be sure WWU is a fit for you. We are a monitored Website.

As Luise has said before, we are not a site that hands out advice.  We offer excerpts from our lives in the hopes that you might find some useful information from our experiences.  That being said I have never been in your shoes but I have felt like the other FOO got more time with the grands.  Actually they still do but I don't mind as much.  What changed?  Essentially I did.  I realized that my DIL's FOO was basically taking care of my Grands for my DIL during the week.  My DIL is bipolar and usually has a migraine or some other malady that leaves her in a dark room in bed.  I don't want that kind of responsibility.  I want to be able to enjoy my grands, not provide daycare for them so I guess I am no good for helping you there either.  As I sit here I wonder what would have happened if every time I said something about the other family getting more time my DIL had pulled out her calendar and asked when I wanted them.  "You want them next weekend?  They can do a sleepover.  Do you want just one of them or both?"  I think it would not take long for me to realize that I could have them whenever I wanted, just let her know.

The awkwardness with my MIL hung around for years.  I never felt looked down on but I never felt really close to her either.  It was when my mother died that I grew close to my MIL.  I did not have my mother to call for advice anymore so I called my MIL.  It changed my entire relationship with her, so much so that she told people for years that I was her daughter.  I loved that lady so much and it hurt me so badly when she died.  What a lucky woman I was to have two wonderful women in my life! 

Does your DH have one favorite food that he got growing up that your MIL could show you how to make the way he liked it?  Biscuits? Cornbread? Pancakes?  Chili?  Anything that lets your MIL feel appreciated the way you want to feel appreciated by her.  I know I have always been happy when my sons ask for a recipe and I get it t them ASAP.  However I have to admit that I am pretty sure my Grandmother on my Dad's side gave my mother a bad recipe for her rolls because she did not want my mother to be able to cook them.  I think that is sad but I know it happens.  I got two different recipes for her rolls, one that works from my cousin and one that flops from my Mom.  I think that says much more about my grandmother than my Mom. 

Good luck and I certainly hope you can work out a way to be close to your MIL!!
44
Wow Frustrated, your post brought tears to my eyes!  I am so happy for you!  Yipee!!  Thanks for sharing!
45
Greetings MrsGinger and welcome!!  I moved your topic to a more appropriate area of the website where you will hopefully get more feedback.  We ask all new members to go to our HomePage and under Open Me First to read the posts placed there for you. Please pay special attention to the Forum Agreement to be sure WWU is a fit for you. We're a monitored Website. Thanks in advance!  Also you might want to change your profile name to one that is less recognizable so others who might roam through will not know who you are.

There are many of us who have had issues with our DILs and I am one of them.  My DIL is also bipolar and that does make the situation even more difficult since everything I did was amplified and vilified and spread around her entire family.  People I hardly know are out there thinking that I am the worst person on earth. I found that there was absolutely no way for me to fix it even though I tried for months, cried much of that time, and came close to ruining my relationship with my DH.  I finally gave up.  It was not easy and it did feel like I was abandoning my DS.  The only way that I could give up was by stepping back and realizing that I no longer enjoyed my DS's presence.  When I was around him I was constantly worried that I would make things worse so I could not be myself.  It was just horrible and I suddenly wondered why I was constantly wanting to be around someone who made me feel that way?  So I stopped.  Yep.  I just stopped and starting working on the relationships I had that made me happy.

It was a wonderful time of transition.  Yes, it hurt when I thought of my DS and yes, I missed him, but I finally realized that the person I missed was gone and he was not coming back.  The person I missed was the son who listened to me and obviously loved me and , well, evidently my DIL resented my DS being that person so he could not please both of us.  I cannot fault him for choosing to please his wife, that is his job and my DH showed him how to do it for years.  My job was to focus on the things that made me and my DH happy.

It was difficult but every time I thought of my DS and his situation I told my self two things:
1) "No news is good news"
2) "What you focus on expands"

So the more I turned my thoughts from the hopeless situation with my DS to the promising relationship with my DH the better my life became.  Eventually, when I became a non issue in my DS's marriage, my DS was forced to look at his marriage for himself and he is gradually realizing that perhaps he chose poorly.  Whether they stay together or not is none of my business but he visits now and I am getting to know the man he has become and I am exceedingly proud of him.  The son I knew before he got married is gone but the man he turned into is incredible.  It was essential that I distance myself from my DS to allow him to mature enough to take the reins and responsibility for his life into his own hands.  It took a lot of trust and it hurt so much but it made a huge difference in his life and in our relationship.  Now he and I are two adults who love each other and any comments I have are looked on by him as just suggestions which is perfect.

The biggest thing (and the hardest thing) was to manage to disengage and trust that I raised a son who was smart enough to handle his life his way and learn his own lessons.  My job of parenting is over and I have no real influence over my DS's life.  Life goes on and at least for me it gets better!

Hugs from all of us!