Post # 1
Any bees out there have parents who just don’t get the whole wedding thing?
I just got off the phone with my mom after having a very emotional conversation about her non-role in all of the weddings I’ve witnessed so far (my older brother, my older half-sister, and this weekend my older brother’s second) as well as my wedding that I am just starting to plan. I became very emotional after asking my mother if she’s gotten my brother a gift yet, to which her response was that she thought I was going to help her. I sent her some links to really nice, inexpensive, meaningful gifts from Etsy that I took the time to find and she hasn’t been the least bit proactive about looking at them, using the fact that she needs one of my sisters to help her use the computer as an excuse. The wedding is two days away! Her next excuses were that she works full time and is living paycheck to paycheck. The whole point of me selecting those gifts is so that she doesn’t just go pick something off of the registry for under $20, which she would. When I asked her why she hasn’t taken the time to write a heartfelt note instead or ask if there is anything she could have helped with, she just says that it is hard enough for her to get through daily life because she has bad nerves and has to take anxiety pills and that she’s sorry that she disappoints us and that “life isn’t fair.” I just started sobbing, which made her feel bad as my mom is very sweet and tender hearted, but she has me exhausted!
I know that she is very emotionally fragile, she comes from an abusive home and hasn’t really had a good example as to how to be a mom but there are examples all around us! She never learned how to cook, how to sew, how to DIY things or do hair or makeup or dress herself nicely or decorate a house or any of those things because her mom wasn’t there. I went out and learned all of these things myself. She says that I am just a stronger person than she is and that I am blessed but sometimes I wish she would just try harder.
I really bummed to learn last night that my FSIL’s mom is the same way, and Future Sister-In-Law (the one marrying my brother this weekend) has been planning her wedding all by herself, except for what I’ve been helping her with (her bridesmaids are her daughters from her first marriage.) It is plain to see that she is completely over the moon excited about marrying my brother and joining our families and everyones’ attitude has been just kind of “meh.” I wish that my mom would at least make some meaningful gesture.
I don’t come from a family that understands the significance of giving gifts, so I get that part. I do, however, come from a family who understands the importance of putting in some elbow grease and making things happen for the ones you love. My grandparents were not well off but they cooked wedding meals in their own kitchen and had the receptions in their homes and hand-made dresses and borrowed jewelry and all of the wonderful traditions that my parents seem to be oblivious to. I know we are not the only brides whose parents just “don’t get it,” but I definitely feel like the minority. Anyone out there feel like they are totally on wedding island sometimes?
Post # 3
@sablemuse: This sounds to some degree less about “getting” or “not getting” wedding stuff, and more to do with the fact that your mom seems to be struggling with mental illness — anxiety for sure, and it seems like maybe also depression. Is it only weddings that she’s “meh” about, or other big life stuff? Depression can make it very hard to care about anything — she may or may not be able to “try harder.”
It sounds like you are not plagued with those issues, which is wonderful — by acquiring the skills you need to get along in the world, you are transcending some of the problems which often attend the children of mentally ill parents. Try to figure that she’s probably doing about the best that she can…and it seems that you and your Future Sister-In-Law will be in a really good place to support and bond with each other.
Post # 4
@village_skeptic: I agree with you. it definately sounds like your mum is suffering from some form of mental illness and I hate to say this and be harsh but converstaions liek the one you had on the phone with her and the pressure and expectations that you seem to be putting on her are not going to help the situation any.
Living with someone with mental illness can be just as hard as suffering from a mental illness but you do need to realise that what you mum needs is some compassion and not a mother telling her that her behaviour isn;t good enough.
Can you maybe take the time to google a bit on mental health and gather some facts and then maybe have a talk with your mum and raise the concerns re mental illness. Your mother might need the support to reach out and get help.
And if you don’t think/want that you can do this is there anyone else in the family that might be able to ask to support your mum?
Post # 5
I totally agree with the two posters above me.
You need to try to be a little more sympathetic to your Mom. You know she has a mental illness. It’s not like she just doesnt care. Unless you’ve struggled with mental illness, it’s really hard to understand how that individual is feeling. Usually they are so trapped by anxiety, and the fact that they are missing out on things that they love just further buries them in their feelings.
In the case of my wedding, there was question as if my own dad would even be there, let alone walk me down the isle. He suffers from social anxiety, and well nearly everyone said they’d be PO’d if he didn’t show up, I reminded them that he has a very hard time with large crowds. It takes SO much for someone with a mental disability to get past those feelings. Luckily my Dad did make it to my wedding, and had a good time!
I know how frustrating it can be to have somone with mental illness in your family, but unless you’ve been there yourself, you don’t know just how hard it is. I had social anxiety as a child, so I do understand the control the disease can have over your life, despite how hard you try to overcome it.
I would see if you can find some additional support for your mom. It sounds like she is REALLY struggling with her illness.
Post # 6
@sablemuse: OMG your mom sounds exactly like my mom. So “delicate” that you cannot even bring up the issues you have with her because it will make it worse! She sounds self centered and self absorbed, but when you have high anxiety like that you just don’t think about other people. They lack social awareness. I am so surprised at the similarities. Even the comments about “how she’s disappointed us” and “we must be stronger than her” are said by my mom too! My mom was also abused (by her alcoholic father) and it really is the culprit in all of these things you are seeing. What she learned as a child to cope with things, does not work as an adult or a mother.
My mom is not even coming to my wedding. After so much flip flopping back and forth, making a huge deal out of travelling, countless excuses, she’s not invited now (basically it’s an elopement with 2 witnesses now). She also confessed to my sister that she doesn’t find my wedding “a big deal,” or “understand why she even had to go in the first place” and “what’s the point in even going.” Very hurtful.
I told my mom that if her anxieties are so great that they are interferring with her daily life and her ability to enjoy vacations, family, and milestones in her daughter’s life then she really needs to get some professional help because she has to know that this is not healthy or right. She doesn’t take her pills regularly, but yet admits to feeling “great” and “normal” when she is on them.
I asked her to envision her anxieties in 10 years. Are they going to be worse? Is she going to get a handle on them at any point? What is she going to do differently?
I didn’t get mad with her, I didn’t tell her how disappointed I am to not have a mother who cares, who cannot rally for her daughter’s wedding but still wants to come out for a vacation instead. None of that would do any good. I try to be very unbiased in my replies. I have sympathy for my mom and her past, but when you don’t see any progress, or any desire to get better so that you can improve relationships with your own kids, you just bang your head against a wall repeatedly… you get very frustrated. I have considered therapy just to learn how to interact with my own mom.
She and I are not speaking at the moment. Read some of my posts if you want to compare notes on mothers.
Please PM me any time.
Post # 7
My mother gets the wedidng hting to an extent – but she sometimes upsets me because she worries about the costs (even if it is costing her nothing) and then criticises me for being ‘over the op’ etc etc. It’s hard because it hurts my feelings but if I talk to her about it she reacts completely unreasonably so it just isn’t worth it.
I am doing a lot of ym planning with close friends – can one of your BMs be your sounding board for this stuff instead?
Post # 8
Thanks everyone for your comments! Each and every one of you has had something supportive and informative to say and I appreciate that.
I am considering a bit more that it is mental illness, and yes it is hard to be raised by someone who really has to push to do normal every day things but your points make me feel quite a bit more compassionate.
Post # 9
@sienna76: That is so strange how similar they are! The social unawareness really hit the nail on the head. My family and I are really very light hearted about her behavior 98% of the time, it was just that one conversation (and my own stress) that put me over the edge. My mother constantly says things that are hurtful without realizing it or meaning to, like commenting on my sister’s weight (my sister is constantly in tears over it) telling my Dad how she just ended up with him pretty much by default (he still always tells her he is so in love with her) and yes, even nit picking peoples financial status when she knows nothing about it, like HannahL said. When I first moved to NYC with my fiance, she told me once over the phone “Now you know your dad and I aren’t going to travel to New York for a wedding.” We weren’t even engaged yet, she just volunteered that. It hurt a little but I know that she didn’t mean for it to, that’s just how she is. And for the record my dad said that they would definitely travel for my wedding.
Post # 10
I just wanted to mention that ever since that original conversation that I posted about, my mom has *actually* been trying to become involved, however minutely. She asks questions about the wedding (which are always followed up with some kind of comment like “see, I care about my baby’s wedding”) and I laugh with her about how badly she wants a pat on the back. When I mention something really simple that I want to do, like writing names on something she says “I could do that!” And we both laugh. So I give her credit for trying.
I am not saying things will continue to be this easy, but I am going to keep a positive outlook in case her anxiety gets worse and she finds herself unable to participate again. I just read about a bee who’s parents both died before the wedding, so at least I have them around I figure. Please continue to post if you are on “wedding island” and need to relate.
Post # 11
@sablemuse: I’m glad to see some positiveness from her! Even if it’s little it seems like it’s making you a little happy. That is so funny and sad that she has to say afterwards that she’s showing interest!
It’s so hard to accept how they are because have preconceived notions of how mothers should be. When they don’t meet those expectations we are hurt. I think more so when it’s your mother versus just a friend.
My mom started just now asking questions about our elopement. I think she’s trying to see if FI’s parents are invited and not her. She couldn’t make it anyway, she has no passport and it’s in Canada in 3 weeks!
I did confess to my whole family that I am so disappointed in them and their excuses about not coming out for an immediate family wedding. My mom said I was asking too much of them. WHAT? I flew out 30+ times in the last 13 years, was a Bridesmaid or Best Man in one sisters wedding, flew home and HOSTED a baby shower for each sister (which means I planned it remotely). I am NOT asking too much. It’s a freaking wedding!
She still wants to come out for a vacation though, like next month! I don’t know if this is her trying to reach out and be friendly, but I always had a hunch that if it were a vacation then yes, but add a wedding on to her vacation and she clams up and backs down.
Then I tell her I can only take off a Friday and Monday so we’d have 4 whole days together (she can fly in/out Thurs/Tues, but I canot take off more days). Then she said, “Well I might as well forget it then.” Why you ask? Because I won’t have enough days to tote her around to the national parks she wants to visit!