Ask Amy: New mom is frustrated by her old mom

Dear Amy: My mom and I have had a bumpy relationship ever since my parents got divorced about 10 years ago.

Instead of finding healthy ways to cope, my mother blamed me (and my brother) for her unhappiness during a time when we were trying to get on our feet as adults.

We slowly worked things out and talk by phone a couple of times a week.

I am currently in my early 30s and in the last trimester with my third baby.

Sadly, I lost my first baby at birth, but I do have a toddler at home now, and my mom is back to her old tricks.

She indirectly blames me for her loneliness, even though my husband and I have offered to help her move closer to us (she refused).

She’s started leaving me passive-aggressive voicemails about having to “schedule” time to talk with her daughter (which I do).

I now have health concerns related to my pregnancy. The stress is terrible. I have suggested that she find a therapist, get some fresh air, make a new friend — but she seems to spend a lot of time napping, now that she’s retired. She calls me “disrespectful” for making these suggestions.

I love my mom, but I hate that she always jumps to conclusions and blames me for avoiding her, when really I’m just busy chasing my 2-year-old, heavily pregnant, and not feeling well.

Am I in the wrong here? Should I be making more of an effort to speak to her?

— Stressed Out Daughter

Dear Stressed Out: Given that — of the two of you — your mother is the one who seems to want more attention, the burden should be on her to figure out how to get it.

Do you reward your toddler for throwing a tantrum? No — you convey: “We can talk after you’ve calmed down.”

Your mother sounds depressed, but my main concern is for you. This is an extremely important and stressful time in your life, and you should prioritize your own mental and physical health — and that of your children.

I agree with the idea of scheduling chats with your mother. This allows you to (hopefully) block out some time and prepare yourself to talk and listen. If you can reach out or take a call from her at other times, then do.

You have made a number of (excellent) suggestions to your mother regarding ways she might cope with her depression and loneliness. She has rejected everything, but all of these ideas are strategies YOU should employ to cope with your challenging mother.

In the meantime, think about the “hooks” she dangles: “I’m lonely.” “My unhappiness is your fault.” “You’re disrespectful.”

You might practice ways not to bite when she offers these hooks. Try, “I’m sorry you’re unhappy.” “That sounds hard.” “I love you, mom. I hope things get better for you.”

Dear Amy: Should I approve a false obituary going out on the internet? My serial cheater elderly dad moved in with his (my age) girlfriend and divorced my mom (who was dying of lymphoma).

Dad showed up at our mother’s funeral and announced he was engaged to his girlfriend!

He has now sent around a copy of an obit that says our mom was survived by her “husband.”

He also demanded that I lie about other things.

Within months of our mother’s death, he had married the girlfriend and none of us kids showed up at the wedding, so they screamed at us.

We were told to “straighten up and fly right” and from now on send Mother’s Day cards to her because we now have a NEW mother.

We kids are all adults!

I truly feel brain dead.

Should I just shut up and fake all the lies for family unity?

— Grieving

Dear Grieving: No. You shouldn’t fake anything.

Your father seems to take up a lot of space. I suggest that you let his new wife provide the attention he seems to demand. He is her problem now. Do your best to avoid their histrionics, stay calm, and focus on your own healing and progress.

Dear Amy: I’d like to add my voice to others who objected to “Upset Teacher,” who expected congratulations when her daughter had a massive student loan debt forgiven.

I worked hard to pay off my own student debt. It’s a “loan,” not a “gift.”

— Upset

Dear Upset: Many modern students face decades of loan payments, preventing them from participating in the economy in other ways.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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