28 Jan
Can “Mommy Dearest” Become “Granny Goodheart”? And The Survey Says…

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My mother is Joan Crawford in “Mommy Dearest,” combined with the dirtiest, most slovenly beast you can conjure up. A bit of history: I was verbally and physically abused by her growing up, and she ignored the physical and sexual abuse I suffered from my older brother. Thankfully I’m a success story and have turned out to be a well-balanced adult.

My mother is still mentally unbalanced, and I have limited contact with her. I live on the other side of the country, which helps. However, I have a son (2 years old) and she wants to visit all the time. She is nice to my son, and he adores her. But she still treats me like a sack of dog poo.

She is a rude houseguest (she flicks her boogers in my living room), insults me and does whatever she can to make me miserable. I’ve tried talking it through with her, but she ignores me. The tension is thick in the house when she is here.

I’m just waiting for her self-inflicted diabetes to do her in, and I’ll kick her into the grave myself. In the meantime, how do I balance that my son loves his crappy grandma and not go postal on her? Do I ban her from my house and move on? My son seems to be the only thing in her life that is happy. She is so miserable, so is it wrong for me to cut him out? He only has one grandma.

Sincerely yours,

I’ll Have Another Vodka Tonic, Thanks


Dear Another Vodka Tonic,

I need to turn the table and pose a question to you. I have two sons myself. Would your mother be open to having them as adoptive grandsons? I can’t imagine anything better than having an abusive, manipulative, passive-aggressive, miserable person be their grandmother.

I’ll even help her come up with offensive insults she can say to me. Would it be asking too much for her to say them in front of my children? It would set such a great example of how to treat others. Also, one of my sons eats his boogers, and it’d be great if your mother could teach him another improper way to dispose of his boogers.

Wow, I really can’t wait to get this adoption process started!

Seriously, Vodka Tonic, need I say more? Who am I kidding? I’m a Mouthy Housewife, of course I must say more.

Yes, ban her from your house and move on. Or, if you continue to have her over to your house, I insist you feed her only Twinkies and Ding Dongs, hoping to push her insulin to a fatal level.*

No, it is not wrong to cut your son out of her life. Her happiness, or lack thereof, is not a 2-year-old’s responsibility, or even yours.

Does he deserve to have at least one grandma? Admittedly, I don’t know all of the answer’s to life’s important questions, but here’s what I do know: Children deserve to be surrounded by people who love and support them, who show them how to live with kindness, compassion, and humility.

Children, or anyone for that matter, do not deserve to be around abusive people, and clearly your mother is still abusive to you. There is no law saying that in order for you to show her kindness and compassion, you must also have her active in your home.


Heather, TMH

*disclaimer: Not that TMH support homicide as a solution to abusive parents. However, a good bout with salmonella diarrhea could be in order.

20 Responses to “Can “Mommy Dearest” Become “Granny Goodheart”? And The Survey Says…”


Comment by Wendi.

VodkaTonic is a good mother for wanting to give her son a grandma, but ultimately, she just needs to cut this woman out of her life completely. VT is now an adult and doesn’t have to deal with such a toxic person anymore.

And “Grandma” doesn’t necessarily mean someone who’s related to you. My sons have a close relationship with an older neighbor lady who loves them to pieces.


Comment by hokgardner.

If this woman weren’t your mother, would you allow her within 20 feet of your son? I’m guessing the answer is no. Just because she’s related to you doesn’t mean you have to allow her in your house. She had her chance to do right by you and earn her place as grandmother, and she blew it.


Comment by Muirgen.

Your son is two now, and it’s hard to say if he notices how his grandma treats you. However, you don’t know how long she’ll live, and it’s only another year or two until he definitely picks up on it.

Parents need to model appropriate behavior, not only in what they do, but in what they tolerate. It’s not long until he learns that it’s okay to be nice to some people, and bully others, because that’s what she does, in your house.

I sympathize, but I’m with hokgardner. If she weren’t your mothere, it would be a no-brainer.


Comment by Lynn.

Oh, wow. No. Keep this woman out of your life. If your son sees her treating you like crap, there’s a very good chance that he’ll think that it’s OK to treat you like crap. It isn’t.

Kick her to the curb and be done.

mom, again Reply:

I dunno guys. I’m definately against popular opinion here, but I don’t see where kicking her to the curb shows the son how good mommy is at treating people kindly. (see more in response to Plano Mom)

Amy Reply:

But growing up forces us to recognize that people who do not deserve our love and attention do NOT deserve our love and attention. This woman was abusive towards two of her children growing up and continues to be so to the daughter.

I say this is a great lesson for the child. When he is older Mom can explain why she chose to exclude her Mother from her and her child’s life.

Because she had the SELF RESPECT to do so. No one deserves to treat us badly. No one.


Comment by Moms with Preschoolers AND DSLR Cameras Will Be Frightened by This Post | Queen of Shake Shake.

[…] play Granny to your kids? I gave my opinion (which includes homicide as a possible solution) and you can give yours too. Share and […]


Comment by Grandmother of 5.

You tell your son she moved!!!!Say it nicely and gently—and get her OUT of your life—Im not being mean by saying this -but you owe her nothing and You may need to get some counseling to help ease any UNDESERVED guilt your feeling.—-Is she is EVER to see him(for some reason) meet her at McDonalds!!!!–If she makes one snide remark-you get up and leave immediately–EVERYTHING she gets from you is now on your terms!—-You are a good daughter and mom—You owe this to yourself and your son.You might want to run a copy of this and give it to her—Then she will know its not just “YOU”


Comment by GrandeMocha.

My next door neighbor is WONDERFUL! Her only son lives far away and isn’t married & doesn’t have kids & she doesn’t fly. She is next door 11 months out of the year. She is grandma. She loves my son like her own grandchild. She spoiles him, reads with him, plays games, goes to his school concerts & plays, and everything else a real grandma does. My son told me if I die, he wants to live with her. Find a grandma in the neighborhood or at church. Biology isn’t everything.


Comment by Plano Mom.

If you wish she would die (and you really did, and IT’S OKAY) then she needs to be OUT OF YOUR LIFE.

How will you feel if your mom dies, and your son continues to believe that she was a saint? Can you continue to let him believe a lie?

What if your mother lives long enough for your son to recognize that she is NOT A NICE PERSON? Do you want him thinking “why is my mother putting up with her?”

Sorry if I sound harsh. But toxic people have no place in anyone’s life.

mom, again Reply:

I agree it’s OK to be counting the days to her demise. I have a relative like that. I haven’t been able to cut that person out because of other family members. But I understand your feelings in the matter.

In response to the 2nd paragraph, no, you don’t have to let him beleive a lie. But, if she lives long enough for him to have good memories of her, he deserves the chance of them. The longer he is around her, the less likely he’ll beleive she’s a saint. Which brings us to the 3rd para. He doesn’t have to see Mom as a doormat for putting up with it. He can see it as mom made a choice. It all depends on what Mom teaches him to see in the situation. She’s not a bystander in this. She has every opportunity both to leverage gramma’s desire to be around her grandson. She needs to figure out what she intended by letting her mom ever come visit. If it was because she thought mom would magically improve: that was a fail. If it was because she wanted her son to know everyone that loved him, that worked. Now she has to use that to teach him.

Plano Mom Reply:

All very good points, however what I also read in this letter is a whole heap of angry. If she is, her son can tell.

One other option is to tell Mom that if she wants to come visit, she stays in a hotel. That way her visits can be controlled, even when she is in town. It will also help keep the length of the visit down.


Comment by Alexandra.

Just b/c she gave biological birth to you doesn’t mean a thing!

Not a thing…I say, stay away, permanently. She may have hurt you, but that doesn’t mean it has to happen to your children.

Seriously, no reason for the relationship. As the saying goes, “better alone than in bad company.”


Comment by Amanda.

Go re-read everything Grandmother of 5 wrote. That’s what I was going to say anyway.

Be strong, shove the guilt out the door along with your mom. Counseling is a great idea, money well spent no matter what. My tip for finding a good one is to ask your OB.


Comment by Amy.

Hear, hear Heather! So very well said. You do not owe this woman ANYTHING. Cut the cord. If need be find your son a surrogate Granny, volunteer to visit an elderly person at an old folks home or something.

You and your child deserve far better.


Comment by Tired, tired mommy.

Look sweetie, I came from a similar home. My mother is mentally ill, and my father rectified his terrible marriage to this mentally ill woman by marrying another one (his mother was schizophrenic). I know about toxic parents. I know about feeling guilty for wanting to protect yourself and your children for the abuse that will invariably result from your continued relationship.

LET IT GO! You don’t need to feel guilty! My Dad and his wife and kids were a big part of my son’s life till he was 4. Shortly after his 4th birthday, the while relationship went up in the flames of legal battles, evictions, and restrainign orders. I worried about what kind of effect it would have on him. It’s two years later and he doesn’t even remember them. I promise, do what’s right for yourself and your family and everything will be ok.

This is a really long reply. I just know too much to not say what’s on my mind!

Congratulations on breaking the cycle. Keep it up!


Comment by mama.

amen, Heather & others. VT, your job, first & foremost, is to protect your son. it is your mother’s responsibility to get herself to a place where she can acknowledge her problems & to treat others with respect. so far she hasn’t. it is absolutely your responsibility to set the boundaries for your kid’s safety & well-being (& for you!). due to her past history & current behavior *she* has lost the “right” to be in your life or your son’s life. it is up to her to make the choice to do the work to re-earn it. do not be fooled that your mother won’t hurt your child, as she did you. whatever is behind her pain, she clearly hasn’t come to clarity & healing, & she will continue to behave this way & she will cause damage. you have done an AMAZING thing to have broken the cycle for yourself. give your son this gift too, & let him know and be surrounded by GOOD love and care.


Comment by Vodka Tonic.

Perfect timing. She just flew in last night.

As many of you said, counseling is a good idea. I agree. I had a few years of it way-back-when, to dig my way out of much of the anger, guilt, and shame that buried and defined me for years. I remember my therapist telling me that having children was going to bring a lot of things back up. She was right. In any case, I don’t have any dental or mental right now, so I guess she can eat the whole damn box of Ding Dongs herself.

And I’m going to keep working on this, I really am. My son deserves it. So do I.

Thank you, virtual friends. Cheers to you!


Comment by kimmyquilts.

She may be good to your son right now, because little kids are just so cute and lovable, what’sto say when he gets a little older she may decide he’s not as fun as he is now and turns on him too.


Comment by Vodka Tonic.

Update: Af the, ahm, Tail End of that visit (which ended up getting extended, because she conveniently got food poisoning), I was rescheduling her flight online. For the next day. She had a snide comment, “You’re just sooo ready to get rid of me, huh?”

I asked her, “Why?”
“Why do you think that I would be happy to get rid of you?”
Her reply, “Because you don’t like me.”
“Because that’s the way mothers and daughters are. Contentious.”

So I told her EXACTLY WHY I can’t stand her. And exactly what she needed to do, if she wanted to have a relationship with us:
1) Get into weekly psychotherapy.
2) Gain insight into her past relationship with me, and what she wants now.
3) Apologize.

And in the past two months, she has done nothing. Maybe mail my son an Easter card, and mail me the usual unsolicited diaper coupons and newspaper clippings from “back home.” Never a note, though. Never a call. I skyped with her once or twice. The most recent online chat, about a week ago, resulted in my confrontation: What have you done about making progress on our relationship.

No answer.

So. I am done. It’s still going to be delicate, maintaining a neutral relationship with my sweet 90-year-old granny and nice auntie, but I am done with my mother. I suppose I should pen her a letter, but for now, I am just happy feeling done with all that.

My son still looks over my shoulder on the computer, and asks, “Grandma?” sometimes. But I just say that Grandma isn’t home right now, and leave it at that. He just turned two. Maybe he’ll just forget about her. Maybe we’ll be lucky, and I will, too.

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