She is not a typical mother. She doesn’t care about my kids. She never visits my house unless I invite her. She never says: “It has been so many days, why don’t you visit us?” She is selfish and she always thinks that, whenever I want to visit her house, she will have to make food. I always ask her not to make food. My siblings are also selfish; they never want to do anything. They are just living their own lives. By the way, I am the first born, so I feel obliged.
What is the best way to celebrate her birthday because none of my siblings care except one brother? I feel like next time I will just visit her unannounced, give her a gift, and leave. One more thing: I have two sisters — the one who lives near my mom who does not talk to me and one who lives in Canada. My mom is always praising them in front of everybody, but she’s not praising me. I don’t think I have a place in my mother’s heart. I am sick and tired of her attitude. I tried to sit down and explain to her about her unfairness, but she started fighting with me. I do not go to her house that much and try not to call her too much because she drains me. Please advise. — Tired of Mom’s Attitude
This is more than what to do for your mom’s birthday, no? It sounds like there’s a LOT of baggage here — much of it sounding pretty self-created on your part — but I’ll get to all that in a minute. First: your mom’s birthday. Clearly, she just wants to go out for dinner. Why is this so hard? She doesn’t want you to cook, she doesn’t want to cook, she doesn’t want anyone worrying about hosting and cleaning up and all of that — she just wants someone to take her out. Just because she complained about getting sick at the one restaurant that you took her to last year doesn’t mean you should never take her out anywhere ever again. She has expressed that what she wants is to go to a restaurant for her birthday, so, for the love of God, quit with all this ridiculous drama, ask her what restaurant she wants to go to, make a reservation, and go. If she gets sick or she complains about something — well, she picked out the same restaurant, so that’s on her, I guess.
But, as we know, this isn’t really about the birthday. This is about you feeling like you don’t matter to your mother and making a big stink about whatever you can to try to get some attention from her. I can’t quite understand what it is she’s doing that’s so terrible. She doesn’t drop by unannounced? Most people would be happy to have a mother who respects boundaries and calls first before stopping by. She praises your sisters in front of you? Ok, I can see how that might get annoying, but she’s proud of her kids. I bet she praises you in front of them, too. She gets tired after cooking a dinner on her own birthday for her kids and grandkids when all she wanted was to be taken out to a restaurant? Normal. She asks to be taken out to a restaurant for her next birthday and you shoot her down and suggest a potluck instead? At whose home? Hers? So she has to prepare to host and then clean up afterwards? Take her to a damn restaurant!
Ok, sorry, I said we were going to move on from that, but really, I just can’t get over how you’re making this birthday thing all about you and using it to highlight what you feel are gross injustices in the way your mother treats you. I don’t see the injustices. Nothing that you’ve mentioned here sounds unfair or cruel or cold, except maybe your idea to drop by your mother’s home on her next birthday, unannounced, with a gift that you’ll hand her before quickly leaving. Come on, grow up! You sound like an 11-year-old who’s jealous that her mother is giving too much attention to the newest baby.
Stop with the passive-aggressive bullshit. Tell your mother that you love her and that, if it’s possible for her, you need her to express her love for you in ways that are more compatible with your love language (more frequent visits or phone calls, verbal expressions of love, asking about your children, praising you to you and telling you she’s proud of you). Recognize that these expressions may not come naturally for her and be extra appreciative of any effort she makes.
Ask her if she knows how much you love her and whether there are ways you could more clearly express your love so she understands what’s in your heart. Maybe for her, she would like for her wishes to simply be honored. Maybe, when she asks to be taken out to a restaurant, and you’re all, “Nah, we’ll just bring a bunch of food to your house,” she feels the same way you do when she fails to “drop by unannounced” — like you aren’t loving her the right way. Maybe there’s all this love between you and it’s just not being expressed in ways either of you fully appreciate or even understand. So, let her know what you need and ask her what she needs. And LISTEN. Listen to her. She may be your mom, but she’s a person just like you are. She experiences disappointment and sadness and feeling let down, too. Your relationship isn’t just HER responsibility to maintain. You have to put effort in, too. You have to act with love, as well. In reading your letter, it’s difficult to see where you’ve been doing that. You whine a lot about all the ways she’s let you down, but you mention very few things you’ve done to try to appeal to or celebrate her. Your mother-daughter dynamic is no longer one between an adult and a child. You are both the adults now. Start acting like one.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.