August 21, 2019, 09:15:04 pm


"Welcome to -- 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."

New here and sad--it's complicated

Started by ekgrp, May 04, 2015, 03:28:43 pm

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I'm so happy to have found this forum. I've read the intro posts and feel and hope I do belong here. I wonder how many other new mothers will be joining this close to Mother's Day.
My daughter is now 31--and in so many ways I am just so proud of her. She is independent, works hard, has a very nice boyfriend--so what could be wrong? 
I miss her. I miss the connection we used to have.  She is always "so busy" that we rarely speak and even more rarely get together.  When we are together, I feel like things are strained and I don't want that.
I grew up with wonderful parents and we rarely fought or exchanged a harsh word.  When my daughter turned 12 or so I often said she "turned against me."  I was honestly shocked by how she would pick fights with me and not at all prepared for what was probably a few normal adolescence.  The years she lived at college were probably our best years relationship-wise.  We talked often, "instant-messaged" each other all the time, and laughed until we cried.  She never came home to live after she graduated from college.  She bought a home with her then boyfriend and started working and had and still has a large group of friends.  I have always gotten along well with her friends.  That boyfriend was one to share thoughts and feelings and they would often come to me for advice. I am a nurturing type of person and I loved that.  Then BAM! At age 25 she was diagnosed with cancer.  The first few weeks were horrific.  We went for 2nd and 3rd opinions together and I could not pull myself together. It seems each appointment brought worse news. I couldn't stop crying. I know now that she needed me to be strong for her. If I could take back my actions I would, but obviously I can't. I have apologized for that time.  During the year she went through treatment (mastectomy, chemo and radiation) my father was dying from cancer.  My daughter's boyfriend's mother was very domineering and ended up taking care of my daughter most of that time.  After chemo and before radiation my daughter and her boyfriend broke up but remained friendly.  My daughter is so unlike me in many ways. She is strong and stoic where I am prone to depression and anxiety.  We have discussed the fact over the years that I want to nurture her and she does not want to be nurtured.  I understand that I can only change myself and not anyone else. We have agreed that we are different and to respect each others' differences.  She is almost 32 now, with a different boyfriend, and healthier than she has ever been. I am grateful every day that her health is good and that she is happy.  However I felt a distance from her and have a hard time dealing with that.  She is often snippy and short with me. She will apologize later but can't seem to stop before acting like that.  I give her distance and am not overbearing.  I know I want more closeness than she does.  Last year Mother's Day was a disaster.  She had our family (my husband, our adult son who lives with us due to a significant disability) and her boyfriend's parents over for brunch. She was openly rude to me and I was beyond upset. Meanwhile she and her boyfriend's mother were getting along just fine. I left and broke down and did not speak to her for over a week. Finally we had it out and she apologized and we got a lot of "stuff" out in the open.  She said that she does not know if she will ever forgive me for crying those first weeks after she was diagnosed with cancer. I know I can't make her forgive me and I need to work on forgiving myself. I think that if she had children she would better understand my reaction. But there is more to it than just the cancer experience....she is short with me on the phone, rarely has time to talk or get together. I find myself feeling jealous of her easy uncomplicated relationship with her boyfriend's mother.  Again, I know I can only work on myself but I feel stuck. I'm tired of feeling like I walk on eggshells around her. Many of my friends have asked if she resents having a handicapped brother and she does not; we have discussed that and that is not the issue.  I have been working since last Mother's Day to have a happy and fulfilled life, but still, I miss her. I know she loves me and also know our problems might seem trivial compared to others.  But I just can't get away from this feeling of sadness and am not sure how to help myself......thank you for listening.


Welcome Grozer.  Thanks for reading the posts to make sure you see the flow around here.  I'm sure you'll do just fine here.

Reading through your post, from the outside looking in, it very much looks like your Daughter is a pretty reasonable person.  You have had discussions over what is bothering her.  She has given you the crux of it and I know you think there is more, but my guess would be that once a person has been hurt, any little thing a person does or doesn't do just becomes another brick in the wall.  Small things turn into big things because the big thing hasn't resolved itself.  She's obviously very hurt over your reactions while she was sick.  I will tell you from personal experience, when you are going through something and you need support, the worst thing someone can do to you is make it about them.  She obviously wanted you to be very strong for her, because internally, she was probably falling apart but putting on a tough outward appearance.  The last thing a person can do when they are doing everything in their power not to fall apart, is deal with someone else falling apart. 

Now, did you do that on purpose...well of course you didn't.  You said you are an emotional person and you were hurting for her.  You didn't do it on purpose, but you did do it.  You have apologized and now it is on her to decide to accept the apology.  From reading what you wrote, I truly think she will, given time and space. In the meantime, you asked how to help yourself.  You have to give her space and show her that you can be a strong person.  The only way she's going to believe your are sorry is for you to prove that next time she needs you to be strong, that you can do it.  At this point, with you being all upset over the relationship, she's still seeing that person that she feels let her down during her illness. 

You do that by enjoying life and finding happiness.  She is not responsible for your happiness and it sounds like you have put that burden on her.  Take that burden off of her.  Start doing things you love to do, without her, and find your happiness in life.  You deserve it and I would be willing to bet, once you show her that you can live a happy life and enjoy life, without her, she will want to join in and add to the happiness.

Many of us were so busy being parents, we forgot that we are people too.  Take small steps today.  Go do two things that make you happy!
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Thank you so very much for your thoughtful and indeed wise comments!
I honestly have worked hard, especially in the past year since our Mother's Day argument, to create joy and happiness in my own life.  I am exercising because I hope to live to a nice old age in good health if possible.  I've been volunteering in the community. I enjoy working on stained glass and other projects--things like that.  I am very much a "people person" and most of my close friends work full time (I don't work outside the home) so they are not available when I am. That's part of the reason I am pursuing volunteering.    My biggest fun passion is the flying trapeze, but it is seasonal, expensive and a pretty far drive into a city with tons of traffic, so I'm only able to go about 6-10 times a year.   This year I am going to make an effort to go more often because it fills me with joy and power like no other activity. 
My daughter knew of course I was upset about our dynamic last year after our argument. She shared that it upset her as well and that her friends often have conversations about this concerning their respective mothers.  Their "defense" is something along the lines of "I don't know why I'm short with my mom but can't seem to help it, and I wish it wasn't like this."  I agree that along with her eventually forgiving me for the "cancer incident," this is mostly on her and beyond my control. And I also realize that even if she is ultimately unable to forgive me,  I can't beat myself up over that. Only she is responsible for her action as I am for mine.
I have been very careful in not showing my sadness about our lack of closeness.  When she is rude I call her out on it (although she generally apologizes first) but think it is on her to stop before she is rude, when the rudeness is unwarranted.  Although I hide my sadness I'm sure it can come through in non-verbal ways, but I do the best I can. 
I think part of the issue is self-esteem; hers is pretty high (and justifiably so) and I've always struggled with mine. Again, I'm working hard on that.  But honestly, in our interactions, I don't think she views me as constantly upset about our relationship.  She has had some health scares after going through treatment and I was able to support her without making it about myself and felt I was strong for her as she needed. 
I'm not trying to defend either her or myself.  I guess my frustration lies in the fact that I've been doing all I can to be happy in my own life, and that she still puts up walls even though that first awful cancer week was almost 7 years ago.  A year after her diagnosis I finally met a "cancer mom friend" whose daughter was so similar to my daughter and my friend so similar to me. I remember so clearly my friend saying "I wish I could be more like her (her daughter) and less like me."  And that rung so true with me.  Sadly, this friend's daughter went on to develop metastatic (stage 4) cancer and it is understandably difficult to for my friend to continue our relationship as it had been--she needs much more support from other moms dealing with the fact that her young daughter will likely die sooner rather than later.  I try hard to be "there" for my friend but realistically know that I can't fully understand what she is now experiencing. 
I know I need to value my sensitivity because I think that makes me a good and compassionate person.  I think inner strength and building up self esteem takes years, but I won't stop working on it. 
I'm pretty sure I am more sensitive to my feelings now because Mother's Day is approaching and I want to do all I can to avoid a repeat of last year.  But it crops up many times during the year as well, and other than the things I'm already doing, I kind of feel stuck as to what more I can do to help myself and ultimately help my relationship with my daughter. 


You are well on your way then!  Flying trapeze?  Oh my...what fun. I'd be a big chicken!

Feeling stuck is the worst.  I get it.  Been there...done the t-shirt.  The fact is there is nothing more you can do to help the relationship.  Sounds like you are doing everything you can and it truly is going to be up to her.  That stinks, but we realize around here that we can only control our actions and reactions, no one else's.  It does sound like it's just a small clash of personality types.  You two are different on that so that's a hard one.  The best I can offer is that acceptance that she is how she is, and acceptance that you are how you are, is the biggest and what makes those relationships work.  She's going to have to reach acceptance too.  Hang in there.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Acceptance? But that's the hardest one!  ;D  I know you're right, though.  I think I'll stick around and soak up all the wisdom here. So glad to have found this forum!


Stick around and read some of our old stories.  You'll see that many of us here were where you are at today.  It takes time to get to that acceptance level but once you do, the world is yours!  :)
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Green Thumb

Try to detach from this distance with your daughter. I know it is hard, but until I let it go, I was so unhappy. For whatever reason, you daughter holds a grudge against you. My daughter does too.  She feels I am all about myself, but I am truly not. She is mean and I read a bit of meanness in your daughter's behavior. Perhaps not, perhaps she is more immature than you think and can't handle other people's emotions.  I agree she needed you to be stronger and not to make this about YOU and your loss when she was diagnosed. And it sounds like you have been somewhat dependent on her for your emotional well being, or your self esteem. Like your worth as a mother is your only worth. I would suggest you figure out a way to send her "I love you" gifts or cards. When you talk to her, and don't push it, let her lead the way, then just listen to her, ask her all about herself, don't mention anything about yourself, and praise her for whatever you can. I am now doing this with my two selfish ADs, and they seem calmer and happier around me, it is all about them. And you know, adult children are not our friends, they do not care about us like we might want, we are their parents to them, not friends. I didn't want to be friends with my parents at their age, so I think some distance and growing up on one's own is important. We baby boomer parents want our kids to be our best friends but this is not usually best for both parties. They need their own lives to  a certain extent, just don't be so mean and ugly and selfish!


totally understand what u are going thru.  dil just wants her family close and ds has gone along w/it.  when i keep pounding on the door yelling let me in they go into their own lil circle and ignore me.  so very hard - the silence is deafening.
each day is a struggle - and i sometimes slip up and call or email.  then i realize the sound of my voice in a message or my email showing up in their inbox is bringing them anger again and i am sorry i started knocking on their door again.
have to stay strong and do fun things each day.  i just keep praying that i will have some contact - hard to think it might be just the holidays when we live so close to them and i saw or at least talked to my foo every day when my kids where growing up.   each day is a challenge.  stay strong.


For me, acceptance followed examining my own expectations, letting go of many of them. No matter how reasonable they were, ( as Louise always says) they were mine and no one was obligated to meet them.  Once I got that piece,  acceptance became easier. I also think once I let go of expectations other than respect in communications, I gave off a different energy to my ds and dil. I was available to them when and if they wanted contact or time together, without a fog of discontent or resentment surrounding me. I began to have some fun on my own without them, and in time had fun again with them. Equal time with the other in law family  not happening, so I let it go. I stay away from facebook, so I don't have to see what I am missing.  I am able to put my energy into my own life and then enjoying what is on offer with 'the kids'. It took time and a period of close to complete cut off, yet now 4 years later, I do not think about the loss of trust in my ds, I just stay in the present and give myself the gift of peace, the smiles on offer, and focus on them when I am around them.  I let them choose the amount of contact as we live hours apart, and rarely do I call them since they never pick up anyway.  If I get a message, I do call them back. The more I backed off, the more they came forward.  I think if you do this it must be without overtones of manipulation, as that undermines the change with a hidden agenda which can further mess up already strained relationships.
I also urge you to take the time to read some of the stories of members here whose posts seem to touch you.  Their stories over years may resonate in yourself and you may see that through terrible pain, akin to the pain you feel now, can indeed come change and peace and happiness in your own lives.  It may not look like the life you imagined, yet never the less it is indeed life with joy and love and peace, without or with our dc.


I'm getting caught up after a few weeks incommunicado (darn wireless internet, rural living, etc!) I'm glad you found us, E!!

My DS is slowly coming back around, so there is hope. He suffered by being the sib of a disabled kid (my DDD.) It caused a similar reaction to your DD's towards you. He told DIL a lot of stories from his perspective & she bought in because it affirmed her agenda. So, I detached and gave them plenty of space. I didn't know what the outcome would be, but I knew I had to move on. DH & got busy on our own interests and projects :)

Now that DS is older he is understanding the pressure and stress I was under trying to help DDD & still keep up with his activities, my two jobs, etc etc during those years. I hope your DD will come around too.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb