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Annie Lane: Trying to mend relationship

Dear Annie: My relationship with my parents has been strained since their divorce 20 years ago. I speak to my father rarely but communicate regularly with my mother. My mom recently found a boyfriend. I have a new baby and a son with disabilities. My mother offered to watch my children at our house, and with remote learning, I need all the help I can get. She is retired and told me “it was her turn” to spend time with the grandkids.

My issue, now that she is coming to my home daily, is that she arrives and complains about something not being to her liking in my home. I have been quiet now for 10 months, but today, I was overwhelmed and told her, crying, how I was trying my best. Taking care of a baby and trying to work a full-time job while my husband works the early morning shift and 15-hour workdays at least three times a week have left me exhausted. She was furious I didn’t leave room for her belongings in my kitchen. This past winter, she said my lazy husband better get off his “rear” and shovel. I run a tight ship, but sometimes, things get messy.

My husband works late. Tonight, when I came home from work, my mother stormed out and told me she had called my mother-in-law to cover and would see me next week. I was a little blown away; after we had argued earlier, she texted me over eight times at work. I told her I couldn’t respond because of my boss. She told me that I would regret telling her she was clueless about my situation and that it only takes minutes to pick up her stuff and leave.

I need an outsider’s opinion.

We had an extremely volatile relationship when I was younger. I am very sensitive about my mother, and I felt like I was giving her a second chance.

She spent Mother’s Day with her boyfriend. Last year, she spent it with her mother, my grandmother, who has dementia and lives in the nursing home. A window visit, mind you.

I’ve always felt abandoned by both parents in a sense and have trouble in my adult relationships trusting people. I feel like bringing in my mother-in-law was also disrespectful and drama-filled. Any advice?

— Parent Problems

Dear Parent Problems: Judging from the actions your mother took toward you, you are missing more than just a mother’s helper. You are missing a nurturing, unconditionally loving, understanding and patient mother. It is understandable that you have felt abandoned and have trouble trusting people. My advice to you is to recognize that your mother loved you the best she knew how to love you, and sadly for her and you, that love is very limited. The good news is that you can love differently. Find a good therapist, and talk with him or her about your feelings. Being aware of your shortcomings is more than half the battle toward healing from toxic parents. Please give yourself a break. You sound like you are doing a wonderful job parenting.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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