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How Do I Survive Mother’s Day?

Dear Chump Lady,

Sigh…here’s my question. Do you have any advice for how to stomach Mother’s Day? For some reason, I’m okay with every other holiday, but this one. And last year’s was a doozy!

I woke up early to visit my narc mom in the hospital grumbling that I have spent every Mother’s Day since becoming a mother in service to my narc mom. I then see my soon-to-be-ex with a present for his mom (who I live with — long story for another column and a choice I made for betterment of mine and my kids’ lives — the divorce will be final when the house sells, soon) and he doesn’t even say happy Mother’s Day to me.

I then spend my two- hour subway commute to the hospital reading friend’s tributes to their moms and husband’s tributes to their wives on social media and I get sick. I then spend unpleasant hours advocating medically for my mom. And then I start my commute home.

From the train I text my two teenage daughters that I’m tired and upset and I just want to order dinner in (something I rarely do). I mediate their fighting over food choices and order from the train informing them that I might not be home in time to receive the order so they should. I arrive home and text them that I am waiting downstairs for food. Nothing for 45 minutes so I call the restaurant and say the order was never received. I then let the kids know that the restaurant is resending the food and one of my daughters says—I got the food. And I lose my SHIT like I have never lost my shit before. I screamed at both my kids for 20 minutes about how much time and energy I spend on others and my own kids can’t even be bothered to text me that the food has arrived….on Mother’s Day…. when they know I have been at the hospital all day… and god forbid their father do anything to acknowledge my sacrifice… guilt guilt blah blah.

It was UGLY! And I cried ugly tears that could be heard through the walls. And I really scared the two people I love the most in this world. Later the kids profusely apologized and I apologized because I don’t want my children to view Mother’s Day or our mother/daughter relationships as transactional. And I declared Mother’s Day a non-holiday moving forward.

But here we are in the first week of May and I’m terrified of how I’m going to feel on Mother’s Day.

I still have a FW. I still have a narc mom. And my kids, who are amazing and loving and have been through so much and are good to me everyday and should not have to compensate for my feelings about FW and Mom. And they are teenagers and should be allowed to be teenagers. And I don’t want to duplicate what my mother did to me—guilt me into Mother’s Day compliance.

Any advice for me? Or a Friday challenge of alternatives to a traditional Mother’s Day?

Thank you, as always, for your tireless work on CN’s behalf!

Big City Mother’s Day Avoider

PS Last year someone posted on CN Facebook that their FW made their kids make Mother’s Day gifts for the Schmoopie who has no children. It’s not the pain Olympics and yet that was the only thing that made me feel better last year. Sending a virtual hug to that CN mama!


Dear Big City Mother’s Day Avoider (BCMDA),

If you truly hated the holiday, I’d say spike the holiday. But it sounds to me like you do want to be celebrated and it’s just too painful when you aren’t and that’s why you’re avoiding the holiday.

I’m of the opinion that you should make your needs known and then let go. It’s not guilting your teenagers to say, “Hey, Mother’s Day is this Sunday. You don’t need to go all out, but I would appreciate a card.” And then maybe suggest something fun you could all do together that is low stakes. Pancake breakfast? Mani-pedis? Watch your favorite shows?

Stated need: We’re going to acknowledge this. They either will, or they won’t. You might get a half-assed pancake. But you will have been direct.

What I do NOT want you to do is stuff your needs into tiny shapes and stuff them into the recesses of your soul. To be inauthentic, or internalize that you don’t matter. Then you become that passive-aggressive mindfuck mother:

Oh, Mother’s Day? I don’t celebrate. No, no, I don’t want a present. Don’t worry about me, alone here, eating a stale bagel while other mothers get $150 brunches. I’m FINE.

If you have a narc-y mom, perhaps you were taught you weren’t supposed to have needs or state them directly. Or, like, if you’re a female and you live in an entire culture where women aren’t supposed to have needs, or reproductive freedoms, or caregiving leave because… ladies. Who can understand them? Why bother?


Okay, losing your shit over take out dinner is not ideal. To me, that seems like bottled up needs not being expressed, grief that you’re going through this divorce shit, exhaustion from sandwich generation caregiving/childrearing, and of course, exasperating teenagers. Please forgive yourself. We all lose it sometimes. You’re human.

Letting your teens know that it was incredibly inconsiderate of them to not let you know dinner was there when you expressly asked them? On Mother’s Day? I’d probably flip out too.

Heck, I just flipped out on my 25-year old over a belt. He’s starting his first new job soon and needed pants that fit — so I took him shopping (he hates shopping) and got him an entire outfit — the pressed shirt, the khakis, AND a summer belt. The sort of webbed belt that goes with khakis. I looked him dead in the eye and said: “Robert, DO NOT WEAR your old, clunky belt with these khaki dress pants. DO YOU HEAR ME? I am buying you a WHOLE OUTFIT that goes together. And my only request is that you WEAR THIS OUTFIT to your grandparent’s party.” (What he does on his job, I cannot control.) Okay, yeah, he nods in assent.

And then, Dear Reader, did he pack the belt? No. He did not.

I lost it over the phone and got: “MOM, IT’S JUST A BELT.”

No, it’s that you don’t listen to me. And I did something very nice for you and you still don’t listen to me, when I told you it was very important.

Welcome to Motherhood. (sigh) Point is, he showed up and was nice to his grandparents and that’s what really matters. He scores highly on the big things. And so do your kids. So pat yourself on the back and try to find some perspective. (Or vodka.)

Now then… Mother’s Day.

But here we are in the first week of May and I’m terrified of how I’m going to feel on Mother’s Day.

You’re going to feel fine. Because you’re going to have a PLAN. Hopefully, you’re spending the day with the kids, and even if you’re not, you still have a plan. Eat pastries in bed. Buy yourself flowers. Watch your favorite British murder mystery. Whatever makes Big City Mama happy is what you’re doing that day.

I still have a FW. I still have a narc mom.

Don’t let them steal your joy. Maybe this year you send your mom flowers or a card, but reserve the day for yourself. It’s okay to have needs! It’s okay to make Mother’s Day YOUR day! You’ve been a mom, for what? At least 15 years. You’ve earned the right.

I then see my soon-to-be-ex with a present for his mom (who I live with — long story for another column and a choice I made for betterment of mine and my kids’ lives — the divorce will be final when the house sells, soon) and he doesn’t even say happy Mother’s Day to me.

If you’re divorcing, it would not be appropriate for him to give you Mother’s Day gifts. But if he were a decent person, he’d remind his kids. But he’s not, so… (And I only would put this onus on the cheater, not the chump. Because their shit behavior caused the break-up. But this is the same reason we cannot expect consideration from these people.)

I seriously want to bitch slap every married man who doesn’t celebrate the mother of his children with the line: “She’s not my mom.” I think these men should have to pass bowling balls through their scrotums.

I don’t want my children to view Mother’s Day or our mother/daughter relationships as transactional.

Okay, so set a good example by: 1.) stating your needs (and let go of the outcome), 2.) celebrating yourself anyway (have a plan!), and 3.) be positive about whatever effort they make.

Animals and teenagers learn best with positive reinforcement. Lavish praise on that half-assed pancake and maybe next year they go for the whole-ass pancake.

Your relationship with your children can never be transactional, because it’s never going to be remotely reciprocal. You do and do and do and DO for your kids. They can’t understand it until they’re parents themselves, but they can understand gratitude. I get what you say, you don’t want the effort to be grudging. You want them to love you and do it naturally.

So, love yourself first. Consider your needs important. Have that celebrate Big City Mama plan in action and invite them to join you.

I wish I could give you grateful, thoughtful, clued-in teenagers. But parenting is a long arc. We’re trying to get through next Sunday.

And I don’t want to duplicate what my mother did to me—guilt me into Mother’s Day compliance.

Hey, guilt-ridden compliance is one of motherhood’s most powerful tools!

Let’s think about this a different way. “I want my children to honor Mother’s Day.” It’s an important occasion honoring an important job. Just like we honor veterans on Veteran’s Day. Is it fun to think of their sacrifice? Couldn’t we rather just have the day off, instead of laying wreaths? No, you teach your kids what to do on the important occasions. (Like WEAR THE PROPER BELT, ROBERT.)

It’s sad and unfair that the people in your life won’t set that example — so that leaves you, the Sane Parent, to do the job.

Treat yourself really well this Sunday. You deserve it.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Ahhh… narc mom mother’s days- I survived many. One year we didn’t get up EARLY enough to cook her french toast so she made it herself and rubbed it in our noses. There was LOTS of guilt. Many years ago I cut my mom off and have lived a blissful free holiday ever. since. Highly recommend NOT catering to your narc mom. If it were me? I’d let her rot alone in that hospital, but that’s me. At the very least you should NOT VISIT HER ON MOTHER’S day!! I usually plan what I want to eat on mother’s day and buy the ingredients/take out, but my teenagers always make me breakfast. I will buy myself some flowers (the first year FW bought a bunch of plants for my kids to give me – more than he EVER bought while we were married and I hated those plants SO MUCH- so grateful he doesn’t bother anymore!!). Someday when I’m a bit more financially stable I’ll take my kids out to an expensive mother’s day brunch (maybe on Saturday to avoid the crowds lol). I just want time with my kids- as my oldest is heading off to college and my youngest is two years behind him I am soaking up every last second of them at home with me. I DO take the WHOLE MOTHERFUCKING DAY OFF- no cleaning, no scheduling, no parenting NOTHING (nothing will get done that day).

  • I practice self-love on Mother’s day (honestly every holiday now) & therefore, any love I get from my kids is the extra cherry on top.

  • Listen to CL on all these points. May I also suggest the following:

    1) having the talk with your kids about your expectations earlier this week rather than later….don’t spring in on them Sat night or Sunday morning and expect a good outcome. I recommend first-mid week and I also recommend telling them that last year your feelings were hurt so you lost it but it is an important holiday you want to celebrate together and make fun memories. ❤️. When you tee it up that way it helps them remember “this is important to my mom”.

    2) please listen to CL about your mom and DONT spend the day with her. If you have to go visit her, do it on Sat. but take Sunday for you. Or, better yet, take the week off and give yourself a break from her. Send her a card or flowers instead and you can call her on Sat. but Sunday is reserved for just you and your kids. Just know, Narc mothers have a tendency to be assholes when holidays they’ve hijacked as “only theirs” so expect her to call/text the day of and start drama if she expects you there vs. celebrating with your babies. Expect it and don’t engage. The next time you talk to her after Mother’s Day expect snark so have your matter of fact responses ready for her such as “It was good for me and the kids to enjoy our time together, we needed it!” You know your mom best, just be prepared.

    3) Yes, this day is about you but I highly recommend making this day about celebrating your kids and plan fun memorable things together. Start with a big breakfast (that they help you cook). Then do an activity and make it a bid production like going to the park, riding your bikes, going to the zoo (even if they think they are too old for that), go to a museum, go to a flower stand and make your own arrangements, do an escape room, or go on a hike. Afterward, head home and do a simple dinner (that y’all make together) like ramen or make your own mini pizzas and watch a new movie you’ve been wanting to see with them or play a board game. It’s a little planning on your part but those are special memorable activities that can take a blah holiday into a Sunday Funday! I actually recommend doing these kinds of simple fun activities on a day dedicated for just you and your kids at least 2x a month. My kids and I now do mini family time throughout the time they are with me and it’s HIGHLY coveted! Some days we make it a full day and it’s very very special. A lot of times, they would much rather spend time with me than their friends or ask if their friends can join in on the fun.

    Lastly, choosing to celebrate you and your children is one of the biggest forms of self-love you can show yourself❤️. Enjoy and Happy Mothers Day!

  • Here’s a related/unrelated question. Years ago, on or right before Mother’s Day, I asked my then-husband and little grandson (I had custody) to stop into an estate jewelry sale, and got a beautiful antique diamond band. I probably bought it myself, since my ex almost never bought me jewelry or a gift that wasn’t intended for his own use (like a rower or other item he wanted). I called it and thought of it as my grandmother’s day ring, as did my grandson, and wore it next to my wedding band.

    After a bad fall, my hand swelled and I had to have my wedding band cut off. Part of it was very worn after about 35 years of marriage, and I’d already had that part replaced once. The gold was so thin, I didn’t know if it could be repaired again. My now-ex made noises about replacing it but never did. I continued to wear my Grandmother’s Day ring alone, and since it was a band with small stones and on “that’ finger, it looked like a wedding band.

    Sometime around when I discovered his online affair, I noticed he wasn’t earing HIS wedding ring any more. He had THREE, because when the outside engraving on his got slightly worn, he demanded a new one. He claimed he took it off for surgery and never put it back on. They were still in his drawer, but soon disappeared. I suspect he sold them, or traded them for something for online Shmoops.

    During the separation, I stopped wearing my Grandmother’s Day band because people thought it was a wedding band. I didn’t want anyone to think I was hanging on to him.

    I’d like to wear it again. I love the ring and how it looked on my hand. I have another antique ring on my right ring finger that can’t be removed unless it’s cut off (due to an enlarged joint) , which would ruin it. That leaves my left ring finger, and I don’t want to cause confusion among people I know, and I don’t want it to deter the chance to find a new partner. I haven’t met someone else or dated, but I’d love to. Any advice?

    • I bought myself a simple ring which is meaningful to me. It’s a little loose and often spins around to the plain band side.
      As a senior woman, I don’t expect that will be the obstacle to dating. It’s more important to put your healed self into social situations which interest, educate and give YOU pleasure.

    • You could just wear it when among family and friends who know what it signifies. Or have it sized down to be a pinky ring, if you like that sort of thing.

    • Dear Goodfriend, that ring seems lovely. I’d be nice to wear it again, if you want it. A ring is a ring. I’d suggest you wear it with two or three assorted others, one on each finger of your left hand. So it is not THE ring anymore. Just a ring. Another solution would be to wear it as a pendant to a necklace or an asymetric earring. But you mention that you loved it on your finger, so that solution might not appeal to you.

    • I’ve heard the left middle finger is the “fuck you, I rock” place so you could try that or make it a pendant

    • I wear my crazy grandmother’s very thin diamond wedding band on my left hand ring finger. You can tell people who need to know (dating partners) that it’s your grandmother ring. It’s your finger, not a billboard for a guy.

  • Even the day you celebrate Mother’s Day can be of your own choosing.

    Mother’s Day can be any day you want! Long ago I was taught the art of picking my own date.

    In grief counseling years ago, I was freed by the grief counselor from holiday celebration mandates. What happens, when it happens, if anything happens at all is totally up to you.

    I felt pretty crummy the first three actual holidays. This will be post-Traitor Ex Mother’s Day number six, and I feel very neutral about it.

    Caring for and loving MYSELF is the essential daily practice that fell by the wayside in my mirage and motherhood.
    Recovery from divorce with infidelity and ongoing motherhood means becoming an expert at putting my oxygen mask on first.

    • ….I don’t say I was married. I was MIRAGED.

      I am not an ex-wife. As the spouse who was in the relationship under false pretexts, I am a former hostage….

    • Every major western holiday is made up. I buy my Valentine’s candy the day after, I celebrate Winter Solstice and not Christmas, I eat my gourmet tofu on Black Friday, etc. Celebrate when you want to, what you want to! It’s freeing and cheaper lol

  • Not having a narc mom, I can’t really offer much there. But I like what CL suggests in regard to sending her a card or some flowers and then allowing yourself to have the day you would like to have with your kids… that sounds healthy and reasonable (no matter what your narc mom might say).

    In regard to the FW, I have found that it is better for my mental health to not expect him to adult in ANY regard. He has never encouraged my son to recognize me on my Mother’s Day since the divorce. After the first year, I took back control and made sure I had special plans in place for me and my son (who as 10 at the time)… that we’d make it a “together day”… movies; mini golf; bucket of balls at the driving range; amusement park. It became “our thing” and I love it to this day (this year we’re going to see Taylor Swift – and bringing along his GF – and going with my two BFFs and their daughters).

    As for how I treat Father’s Day, I take the high road. I take my son to the Dollar Store and he picks out a card and it is up to him from there. No presents. Same for FWs birthday. I’m teaching my son the life skill of recognizing people on their special days – but I’m not lining my FWs pockets with bottles of wine and gift cards. Fuck that.

    SO – all in – I hope you do make a plan for a self-loving and meaningful way to share this day with your kids. You model how to set boundaries; how to take care of your own needs respectfully; and how to honor love. Those are all good things.

    And… happy mother’s day – you are mighty!

    • My daughter will also be at the Taylor Swift concert on Mother’s Day! We will have our own celebration the next week at her graduation, with her brothers. Mother’s Day is when we decide it is 🙂

  • Even when it was the most contentious of times and the subsequent being broke both financially and spiritually I made sure the kids acknowledged her at Mother’s Day.The Mother’s Day after D-Day I had them make her homemade cards.. Doing so showed, not what she deserved but what an honorable parent (me) looked like . I’ve always been (maybe it’s a guy thing ) in the If-I-Have-To-Ask-For-It-I-Don’t-Want-It camp. So I guess I don’t make myself ameable to normal expectations. Transactional pieces to relationships are important to the health of said relationships, your boundaries and deal breakers are in the subtext of those transactions. I think kids for at least the formative years are exempt from the “barter”. However kids need to be shown that your actions are to be beyond reproach as they reflect individual character. To you and all the other moms, potential moms,step moms , foster moms, heartbroken moms, pet moms etc.. of CN you are mighty and your souls are beautiful loving and have earned all the accolades daily.

  • Klootzak completely ignored my furet Mother’s Day. I had a natural labor that went on for over two full days (baby was flipped face up and the hospital misread his fontanels so they didn’t know) and was still in severe pain down there from a long recovery. I barely got any sleep. Meanwhile, klootzak insisted he was not to be awakened by our child because he had to work and had to drive himself – a whole SEVEN minute commute! – to the office in the morning. I was like a zombie for months until I sleep trained the little guy at 4 months.

    Anyway, I was in the midst of pain, up all night feeding or pumping, plus keeping up the house and yard. Mother’s Day arrived and there I was, in utter misery. Klootzak didn’t even cook dinner. I did it all as usual and when the day was done, klootzak got ready to hit the hay. So exhausted by his Sunday drinking beer and playing video games. I was sitting on the couch nursing when he said good night and started to march off to bed. I said “Happy Mother’s Day!” And he said “Oh, that was today?” I said “Yes, it was today. Did you forget to get even a card?” And he rolled out the famous “You’re not MY mother. When kiddo is old enough, he will do things for you. But that’s not MY job.” I cried the rest of the night.

    The next year, my bright child told me in baby speak that I should have a beautiful Mom pendant from Tiffany. And off we went to buy it. The next year, I booked for us to go to one of those pottery places so I could put his little handprint on a flower pot. When he was 3, we went to a fancy brunch that had a petting zoo and face painting and balloon animals for the kids. Then we did beautiful professional photos just the two of us. This year, I bought tickets months ago for us to attend a local mother-son ball. He is now the age where I take him to the store and he picks out things for me. Earrings, fancy bath soaps, etc. Klootzak can do or not do. IDGAF He can NEVER make up for the first horrible Mother’s Day. That day reminds me that he is a FW in every sense of the word. Kiddo and I have a blast every year and he is reaching the age where he will soon start truly doing things for me on his own. And I will remind him and then let it go.

    I also have a covert narc mother. I send a card and flowers and we give her a call but I don’t let her ruin my day. We can’t visit with her due to choices she has made and we don’t let her ruin our fun, either.

    Being a Mom is a ton of work. Even if my child forgets or half pancakes it, I will never NEVER sit crying on the couch over it ever again. I’m so happy to be a mother, even on my worst, lowest days. The way klootzak treated me was not acceptable. I deserve better and will not mope or ignore that which I am due. I’m not a pushover anymore. Being chumped messes with your mind. Dealing with narcs destroys your self confidence. You have to turn the ship around and start demanding what you are due in life. Do not spend another day in regret for moments lost that could have been great.

    • I love this story. I’m sorry for that first, lonesome Mother’s Day. It must have been terrible. But, I am so glad that you ended up with a very different outcome for all the subsequent days. “I will never NEVER sit crying on the couch over it ever again. I’m so happy to be a mother, even on my worst, lowest days.”

      What a way to honor yourself in the way you deserve and what a model for your child. 🌟

    • I always had the typical bare effort made by the X for me on Mother’s Day. I usually had to remind him to call his own mother. He never reminds the kid. And the kid, being a kid, has pretty much forgotten. Last year he tried, but was really lame about it. He said he went to get me a particular thing, but the store didn’t have it, so he left. And he didn’t get me a card or anything. I gently told him that was pretty lame, but let it go.

      My young man has been off to college this year. He’s coming home for the summer to me on Sunday. The best MD present I could get. And he wants to be here. And hopefully he’s bringing me some college Mom swag for MD, but even if he forgets this year, and he probably will (finals, moving out of dorm, girlfriend…) I’m o.k. I’m going to have my boy home for 3 months, and it may be the last time he will ever come home to me for an extended period of time.

  • Yes, it’s a hard day and I agree with not folding myself into little squares and tucking myself away. On the other hand, expecting anyone to meet my requirements after the age of hmmm 18(?) Is a recipe for disappointment and more grief. Sure,suggest but Let it go. I appreciate acknowledgement but if my kids or anyone, did not learn as children how to care, it gets dicey expecting compliance. I see what I have. And news flash, the children of cheaters can be like the cheater in temperament, behavior,entitlement and arrogance. I also hold to wisdom from my 12 step groups. If it’s done once it’s a fluke, twice it’s a coincidence and the 3rd time it’s a pattern. It is what it is,you get what you get. My Mother’s day and all holidays are 1. Realistic expectations of others. 2. Accepting of who they are and any positive thoughts your way expand upon. Care for myself. Yes to my own flowers 5$💐 I like, yes to chocolate 5$, yes to acknowledging all I accomplished even for the ungrateful and for those who lack awareness. Grieve the disappointment but call in dinner for you. Buy that To Go meal on Saturday , your favorite for Sunday Mothers day,if no invites, remember the kind delivery room folks and thank that sweet OB for such devotion. Remember your MIGHTY That only you know!!! Celebrate you!!!
    My former cheater #1 left me for OW a few days after delivery of my precious daughter.On my first OB check up my doctor CRIED for me on how my husband had left me and named my daughter after OWs middle name. She shed tears over me. I think of that professional woman who got me through that terror 35 years ago with her compassion. My gratitude is beyond measure for those angels that showed up.
    Happy Mothers day to all and remember to feed yourself! That fit of anger with the teens in this last letter to CL could have been HANGRY TOO. All day in the hospital with an ingrate( don’t do that again) Subway ride, no food and upset by narc mom…. EAT SOMETHING!! Hummus on pita crackers will take the edge off until the teens respond. Its always ready to eat. You’ll figure it out!

    • I thought I was the only one who had a child who was named after an AP. Our daughter was supposed to be named Natalie since her due date was very close to Christmas. After a hellish pregnancy due to the emotional abuse from the XFW, he brought the abuse to a climax by yelling at me after she was born. He yelled at me that he should be able to name her, because he said I named our son (not true). I just didn’t want him to be called Brandon. XFW named her a name that was never brought up in the past and he gave her name an unusual spelling. He said one of his “friends” from work spells it that way. No doubt in my mind that that was the person he was having an affair with while I was pregnant. All the signs were there, including him telling me after our daughter was born, “You and the kids will be financially fine without me.” Yep! And I stayed with this FW, because I had no idea what was going on behind my back when he was supposedly “working” or “at work”. I thought we had weathered this bad time in our mirage, and I thought he was happy, and we had a very good mirage.

      I also got years and years of not being acknowledged on Mother’s Day. He’d wish everyone at church HMD, but not me. No card, flowers, presents, nothing! And the one year I said to him, “Aren’t you going to wish me HMD?” And he replied and this is an exact quote, “You are not my mother.” Yeah, this was said after coming home from church and listening to him wish all the other mothers HMD. It took me getting out of my mirage and getting some distance from it to see that all the withholding of attention, gifts, kind words, etc were all a part of the way he liked to abuse me. No matter how sparkly everyone thinks he is or what a “nice Christian man” (Jesus Cheater) he presents himself as, he’s an abuser to me. Good and kind men don’t cheat on their pregnant wife. Or treat them horribly when they are at their most vulnerable. Or yell and scream at them just hours after they gave birth. That’s what abusers do!

      • The only name klootzak would consider for a girl was Caroline. Guess the name of the person half his age he was fracking while I was pregnant? Thank goodness I had a boy.

  • I had a horrible mother-in-law but even if she wasn’t the worst person ever, I can imagine it would be very meh-disrupting to be stuck with that continuous live-in tie to a FW, not to mention the potential for spying. It’s kind of like FW installed an IV line into chump so he can deliver a continuous drip of soul-wilting poison since leaving his mum there provides an excuse for him to come and go at will and– extra centrality– repeatedly demonstrate how chump is excluded from his “generosity.” That also seems like every FW’s cockblocking (or “twat-blocking” in the case of she-cheaters) dream scenario to ensure their former victim never moves on to develop an independent life or future relationships.

    Domestic abuse 101: the trauma will only start to fade and the healing and moving on will only begin when the abuser is gone or at least cordoned off to the maximum gray rock distance. Also Domestic abuse 101: no matter how cold, callous, uncaring and dismissive any FW seems, they don’t want former victims to move on but prefer to imagine them lying broken and inert in a corner crying FW’s name forever. They’re all like Louis XVI declaring “After me, the flood!” or like dogs guarding multiple bones who don’t want other dogs to get any. Why? Psychobabble criminology theory reactive attachment disorder pathological masked dependency psychopathy pushme/pullyou abuse dynamics blah blah blah. Abusers are freaks.

    Is it the rent the MIL is paying? How about another carefully vetted renter to occupy the spare room? Whatever the reason MIL is there, I don’t think anyone would be able to heal with a MIL-shaped piece of shrapnel still lodged in the wound. If the situation is entirely unavoidable for some reason, maybe getting a parenting app would help to deal with MIL-related communication and pick-up/drop-off to reduce any chance of face-to-face FW encounters.

    • “That also seems like every FW’s cockblocking (or “twat-blocking” in the case of she-cheaters) dream scenario to ensure their former victim never moves on to develop an independent life or future relationships.”

      So true, my fw and I assume his whore planned how my life would go. Basically, I was to take over payments on our house, which included the small lein for the little apt sized house mil was living in rent free. I would agree to let her stay there and he would pay a small rent for her each month.

      I told my lawyer of his offer, my lawyer literally laughed and said, if you are even thinking of that I can’t represent you. He said he is effectively tying you to him for the next 20 some years. I just said you do what is best for me, and I either want that little house free and clear of any debt, or I want some money for a restart.

      That is why fw didn’t want me to hire a lawyer, he wanted me to “trust” him and his trailer park lawyer. He then insulted me for hiring a lawyer, when he was the first to hire one. He said I only hired a lawyer because I couldn’t think for myself. He didn’t mention why he hired one. He wanted to screw me into poverty, and make me have to deal with him and that whore for years.

      My advice for anyone would be of course same as CL, don’t ever trust someone who actively screwed you over to have your best interests at heart.

    • JSYK – It was Louis XV who said it. It was Louis XVI who got it in the neck.

      • Lol, thank. I always have to look that one up because I forget but you just gave me a mnemonic trick– remembering the prophesy actually came to pass in the next gen (probably not in the sense the earlier Louis meant it). I originally believed it was attributed to Napoleon until someone straightened me out. My mother always used that quote to explain why old men seem to like sending young men to war or why parents might be jealous of their children.

  • Thanks for the sage advice CL and CN! Indeed it’s hard to stop reacting to every negative feeling with—let me make my needs smaller. But, this year I’m going BIG! I have a decadent Mother’s Day gift (a caftan, LOL) chosen and I will talk to the kiddos tonight about my expectations. I forget that you can share expectations WITHOUT it sounding like guilt. Imagine! Too late for my mom, but not too late for me! And I will stay off of social media to avoid those sappy testimonials.
    Cheers to a very Happy Mother’s Day to all!

    • Good for you BCMDA. Shared expectations sound like a LOT OF F-U-N.

    • Good plan. And, like, consider scaling back your involvement with your narc mom as much as humanly possibly. I get that there may be some practical things with your mom that you can’t avoid, but you can minimize your time with her and you can also let her know why, in a neutral way, with no tears or pomp and circumstance…just business-like facts (“Mom, our relationship isn’t functional, you work overtime to guilt me into submission for what you want and rarely consider my life or feelings. I’ll still help you manage your healthcare but I have two teenager daughters to raise, and they’re my priority, so please expect fewer visits and far less tolerance of your guilt trips”).

  • I’m going to be a grandmother! Its not an ideal situation, but the deed is done, baby arrives in Oct 2023 and its my first one!!! I’ve waited for 44 years, through parental alienation, cancer, heart attack, divorce and division of my childhood home and then divorce of my marriage, oh i’ve got all the FOO issues but…..New Baby! My oldest still hates me, the youngest avoids me, my parents and most childhood family are deceased and my ex and his flying monkey family are MIA for 5+ years now. I have been soldiering on alone for decades, so my advice: create your own happy and enjoy it

  • Someone else mentioned that the date isn’t what’s important, but the celebration of you. I totally agree. So if you have to see your mom on Mother’s Day and can’t get out of it, then pick a different date and celebrate YOU then. I always work Sundays so my kids and I will celebrate on Monday, my day off. They are boys (well, technically men as they are 21 and 18 now) and they have never been able to remember important dates, so I know if I want something done then I need to plan it. I’m ok with that. I know that they will happily go along with whatever I have set up and we’ll have a great time. This year I think we’ll head to the beach!

  • That phrase, “accept the things I cannot change” was my first thought. The second was “do what you need to do FOR YOURSELF and stop expecting others to do what you would like for them to do.” Both of these ideas are easy to say and hard to accept.
    I like cards. I generally don’t like the cost of cards, but I have found places to shop which offer bargains. I think taking the time and trouble to address, sign, and post a card before an event, or to hand deliver if you can be present, is part of the appreciation process. I realize I am in a minority, and I admit I’ve stopped mailing Christmas cards, and most of the people in my life have stopped this as well. It seemed to be a sad but necessary thing to do. I recognize a change of the times. It does not stop me from wishing my sons would take the time, or my sisters would take the time to send a card, but I accept I cannot control them.
    My mother has dementia and does not know one day from another. She still knows me, and I am trying to brace myself for a time when she may not. I live close to her assisted living facility, take care of her business, and take her to doctor’s appointments. I see her at least once a week. I am sure she does not remember I’ve been there shortly after I am gone, but for the time I am there she knows I have come to visit her. That seems to bring her some joy.
    I remember discussing cremation with my sons. My oldest said, “But mom, where will we come to visit you?” I told him to close his eyes and hear my voice inside his head, and I would always be there.
    You cannot make others love you the way you want to be loved. Hard fact, learned the hard way. Expressions of love and appreciation are only real if they are spontaneous and freely offered. If you are guilted into it, or required to follow a tradition you don’t believe in, you probably should just go no contact for your own sanity. I remember my difficulty trying to find a Father’s Day card, because none of the sentiments covered on the cards the way I felt about my weird dad. I usually went with humor. They were sufficiently vague. But I stopped initiating phone calls and limited my presence at family events. I made a choice to do what was best for my own sanity and peace. I can buy my own flowers, and lotions or perfumes. I can choose my own meal, and even dine by myself.
    I am often asked why I do not seek a male companion (boyfriend? manfriend?) It is not that I would not enjoy someone, but I would also need for him to be interested, empathetic, humorous, active, compatible with my interests. I still have these expectations of being loved and appreciated. I believe it is deeply ingrained in my chump nature. So, I do not seek. I am present, I won’t minimize my needs or provide my usefulness unless I am convinced there would be reciprocity. I have also accepted this may never happen.

    Ok, so Mother’s Day is coming, and “You don’t bring me flowers, you don’t sing me love songs . . .”. I know I was a great mother, and I know I deserve better, but my sons are grown men. They will call, I might get a dinner invitation or meal prepared, we’ll see. But my own self-value is not tied to the way my sons choose to love me, or even listen to me. I did the best I could in the circumstances I had, and that just has to be enough. Expecting anything more is shopping for disappointment.

  • One small quibble about the belt in the outfit. Your son may have just wanted to wear his favorite belt and doesn’t agree with his mom’s fashion sense. Listening to mom is not always agreement.

    • He didn’t wear his favorite belt (the clunky one) he wore a black dress belt (with nearly white summer khakis) that was too small (probably from high school). His thinking was it went with black dress shoes (also told him to bring his brown dress shoes…) I don’t know why this is so hard. I expressly asked him if he would a) wear the new belt before I bought it and paid full price, (yes), b) was he sure? (yes), c) did he understand that this was the belt that goes with these pants (yes) and he would not substitute this new belt for some other belts because he doesn’t understand belts (eye roll, again yes). He actively resists dressing up. Learned helplessness. I don’t know. I give up.

      • This made me lol. Honestly, it’s beyond reasonable for a parenting purchasing an outfit, with contemporaneous agreement from their child, to expect that child to wear it at a special family event.

      • I studied and worked in fashion for a few uears and developed a thesis of appearance as armor. That’s something even my teen boys can understand. Impressing or making others proud– barf. War theme, danger, defensive strategy– cool.

        My theory isn’t just a nudge and I actually believe it. Fashion can be fun but it’s basically artifice, not art. It always offended me when fashionistas tried to make out like it rose to any level of real importance like art or journalism or cures for cancer. It’s certainly not serious enough to cruelly mock regular people for not dressing up to arbitrary standards. But there was one thing I could take seriously and reconcile with feminism and socioeconomic issues– appearance as defensive communication. It made it seem less silly and wasteful that women often focus so much attention on appearance. It’s not always to “please.” Sometimes it’s to fight or protect. For instance, a fashion model gave me a tip that I’d get less street and workplace harassment if I ditched the hippie hoodies and trainers and dressed like my daddy or boyfriend (in essence, my “owner,” which is the only thing creeps understand or fear) could have the aggressors fired or killed. It worked surprisingly well. Then when my middle child was battling a chronic illness and disability and I was battling the school over denial of FAPE and abuse, I made sure everyone dressed in the ever-fashionable “we’ve got lawyers on retainer” style (instead of the more realistic mired-in-debt and barely hanging on style). Thank God for Ebay and Poshmark and zirconium fake wedding rings.

        It usually works to remind the kids that dressing well is self protective against random roving creeps or it can protect others on their special group occasions by showing how people around them are respectful towards them (and have lawyers on retainer). My daughter is actually harder to motivate. She doesn’t care about impressing anyone, knows she’s loved no matter what she looks like, isn’t into war themes and laughs at nasty, snipey people. I’m so proud of her I could explode and will worry about anti-harassment appearance armor when she’s older and more independent. For now, getting her dressed up is a challenge. I had to settle for a punk princess effect and hypnotize her with color and comfort. Look, purple hybrid sneaker boots…

        • Hell Of A Chump, “the ever-fashionable “we’ve got lawyers on retainer” style” – oh, that’s hilarious. I’ve got to remember that!

          Another good reason to keep my serious suits from my consulting days. The most important reason is for interviews, and in case I have to appear in court to testify, sue somebody, or defend myself.

          • Keep those power suits. Think of it as Kevlar ot chain mail. 😉

      • I yeah ya. However, having been a teenage boy with a mom insisting on something in a store I can relate to the avoidant behavior—especially over clothes.

    • Jim, you’re also assuming my son has fashion sense. And has a vision he wishes to make manifest.
      There. Is. No. Vision.

      • Last week, on the way to my mother’s MEMORIAL service, we made a hasty detour to Target so that my 24 year-old son could pop in and buy a shirt. “You told me to bring a jacket and dress pants!” Yes, yes, I did. How remiss of me not to add dress shirt and dress shoes. Son writhed around in the back seat putting on a, what is that? A white Hanes undershirt? He looked like a sketchy Miami Vice background actor.

      • Nope. lack of fashion sense is the go to statement of most teenage boys. He won’t get it until later. Or never.

  • Don’t know if this is already been suggested. Why don’t you do something nice for your mother-in-law and then take your girls and go find a family, or a place that feeds the homeless, and gather up some canned goods, some bananas and watermelon, whatever you can afford, and take it to someone. I promise you the feeling you will get when you give somebody something they can’t afford is going to do more for you than it will for them. It will take you out of the pain you’re in for just a few minutes. By the way, if you take canned goods, please buy pop top cans because people often don’t have a can opener.. And beans, I don’t care how much people make fun of them, they are so nutritious.
    Although California is often in the news, and I live in an nice area, we have homeless people. We don’t have many, but one is too many. You can find them. That’s your Mother’s Day, being a mom and teaching your children how to be kind.

  • and to help along – – – here is a youtube video of a rhino dropping a HUGE amount of poop. Imagine FW’s head where the rock is.

    Repeat as necessary.

  • First, stay off social media on the big holidays. Second, if you ignore the first, remember narcs have perfected the image of the big gesture. You see the “shiny” posted for likes, you don’t know the behind-the-scenes.

    Leading up to Mother’s Day, proclaim to the girls that Mother’s Day is approaching. Tell them, as you are the mom, it is your day, and as such you get to pick the activities for the day. Buy yourself your favorite flowers. Use the good china. Plan a meal that everyone prepares together. Or choose to go on a hike, or have a beach day, or scour antique malls, or give each other pedicures and play board games, and dine out or pick up take-out. Just request that the girls be fully present and participate in your time together. You will have an opportunity to make memories, and they will get a glimpse of your likes and interests. You may not be able to get them to initiate the acts and expression of appreciation at this time, but you can set the example that you are deserving of a day that allows you to be indulgent for yourself and not be of service to all your regular duties.

    Also, the best way to teach them that acknowledging Mother’s Day isn’t about succumbing to guilt and expectations would be for you to learn to set boundaries with your own mother.

  • I feel this so much. Pretty much every relationship I’ve had, the men claimed to be “romantic” but then my birthday or Valentine’s Day or Chanukah was forgotten… often all the above. With FW, he would even use the excuse “You get nice things for yourself — I can’t buy anything as good as you”… So I’d get nothing. When my son was born, we usually did Mother’s Day to include my own mother so it was really me making the reservations and buying flowers with FW… so no real thought by him. As soon as I was discarded? FW refused to acknowledge Mother’s Day at all. Right in front of his 10 year old son at custodial exchange on Mother’s Day the first year apart, our son said “dad, wish mom a happy Mother’s Day.” FW wouldn’t. A 46 year old man stood there angrily and couldn’t say “happy Mother’s Day” to the mother of his child. But it was helpful because FW was demonstrating how fucked up he is without me doing anything.

    And I decided right then and there that I would make sure I had nice Mothers Days. It became a planned time for me and my son. And I’d buy a dessert we liked and things I like to eat. I tried to get FW to help our son buy gifts (like pick a nail polish at CVS or Starbucks card) but FW is a douche. So as soon as I had a boyfriend I asked him to help my son. Just to teach him how to care for others.

    Since 2017 I’ve been in a relationship with a nice man. And we included our moms (even though our relationships with our moms had plenty of issues). But both our moms have since passed away. And even my boyfriend forgets to do stuff for me. So I SPEAK UP. I now make sure son and my bf know what I want. This Sunday I asked my bf to cook something I like. And I asked my son to walk to the nearby bakery to pick up pastries for us Sunday morning. If they get cards and flowers that’s up to them… But I said what I actually want. I am now clear about my needs. And I’m ok reminding.

    No more feeling bad and ignored. Nothing to be ashamed of. I told my son and bf that they want to be loved and nurtured and remembered on holidays… yeah, well me too.

    It’s imperfect but it’s easier to take control of these things to get your needs met. It sucks to be sad and disappointed. And hopefully eventually they will do all of this on their own. Maybe. 🙂

    Do what makes you happiest on Mother’s Day. And let the ones you care about know about it and how you want them to be part of it. Make it your own.

  • It’s humanizing and appreciated to hear CL’s saga of the son-that-won’t-wear-the-brown-belt. (And that she can lose her shit over the belt.) For some people, clothes are just to keep you from being cold and looking funny naked (My dad and my brother subscribed to that philosophy, much to my mother’s chagrin).

    Once I was no longer required to send my ex child support, he stopped helping our daughter get me something for Mother’s Day. It’s ok, I’ve loved the crafts they’ve made at school. My mom noticed, so she asks to take my daughter out to go pick something out, it’s nice and appreciated, but not necessary. A homemade card is better than my last Mother’s Day with FW. He got me an alarm clock (That I neither needed, nor asked for) and said, “I hate your clock.” He couldn’t understand why I was upset by that, and was soooo pissed that I mentioned I was disappointed with the gift in front of his family we saw later that day.

  • i’m happy with a card and help with the dinner, but flowers are always welcome! my adult kids know what to do. my X was a lavish gift giver because he valued ITEMS and IMAGE, so i don’t mind gestures. in fact, i welcome it.

    there was always this expectation that i should lavish my X with thanks for the gifts and it was never enough, i could tell. what it was was weird.

    he was equally as weird about his birthday. his celebrations were as follows:
    1. birthday dinner at home on actual birthday if fell during the week. small gift
    2. birthday dinner at home on weekend. large gift
    3. at least 2 birthday dinners with friends in his birthday week

    and he didn’t think it was enough, didn’t think he got what he deserved. he wasn’t celebrated enough. i believe narcs and their birthday preoccupations are a red flag, at least according to Dr. Ramani.

  • As a daughter of a narc mom who had a Phd in guilt-inducing passive aggression, I would send the flowers and the card and spend 15 minutes on the phone with her and be done. Get it done early in the day and as CL said, make sure you’ve got treats. Go all Miley with the flowers if that’s what you like and display them prominently, have all the snacks and plan a dinner, in or out, that you’ll like. Buy yourself a book, watch a movie, get a new scarf or whatever. Celebrate you and the hard yards mums do. I get last year’s meltdown, I really do. We get so sick of doing the right thing with no thanks. But take the day by the short and curlies so that you know at the end of it, that eve if noone else rises to the occasion, you’ve poured into your own cup.

  • It’s good that they were scared, fucking little assholes. Being a teenager should not be an excuse to be a nasty little sociopath. I’m glad they got got screamed at, I’m glad that they were scared and I’m glad they felt bad and apologized, as they should. Letting shit like this go just creates adult assholes.

    I let way too much shit go. Ask me how that’s working out for me. I’ll tell you, not fucking good. I wish I would have been more of a bitch and made more demands. Love doesn’t fix everything, sometimes you need to tell people (and teens, especially teens) that their behavior is unacceptable… at the top of your lungs.

    Mother’s Day is my worst day. I stay off social media and hunker down and get through it.

    • KatiePig! This makes my heart ache! I have worked as a developmental specialist with teen moms for decades. I know the research and I see proof every day that adolescent brains are not fully developed. Your behavior as a teen does not always correlate with your behavior as an adult.
      My teens are pretty spectacular humans, but for this MD lapse. My hope is for yours to come around as well. And even if they don’t this year—cheers to an awesome MD regardless—on your terms! Chill the champagne now!

      • Mine isn’t a teen anymore and I’m honestly all out of hope. I’m done blaming myself though. But I wish I’d been harsher and less understanding. It did not help.

  • First of all, I’d suggest you quit looking to your FW ex for validation. Fuck him and fuck his opinion on your value as a mother. That’s you begging for him to care.

    My kids father never wished me happy mothers even before I left him because I “wasn’t his mother”. I don’t give a shit because my value as a mother isn’t dependent on his opinion.

    Second, try to remember that teens can be dumb. If your kids are otherwise good kids just apologize for freaking out (just like you did) and remind them that it would’ve been nice if they’d let you know there was food.

    Now give yourself a break.

    • Interesting Kim! I have zero interest in validation from FW on having been a wife, but maybe I am still hoping for validation on being a mom…something to ponder. Regardless, I resent he gets to enjoy my hard work bc DAMN—but for last year’s MD—they are freaking awesome kids!

      • I think we all want some validation as mothers, but your piece of shit ex isn’t an objective source. You’ve got great kids and that’s validation enough!

        My kids father and I are on pretty decent terms these days but he’s never actually told me I did a good job….and it WAS all me. He was military and not particularly invested in raising them.

        But you know what? He sure does love showing them off, and that’s all me! Everyone knows it.

        People know who’s behind your kids.

  • Another thought about kids and special occasions. I humorously remind my teen kids that they’re expected to make an effort on holidays and special occasions as part of their training to be reciprocating adults. I issue campy orders for handmade cards and art, then campily gush which isn’t hard because they’re all very accomplished artists. I joke that they’re my sweatshop elves. They do some campy groaning but I get requests to see the stash of things they’ve made over the years so obviously they get something out of it.

    To be honest, I’m glad the kids– at their current stages of development– aren’t overly compelled to do this stuff without prompting because this might indicate that parent/child roles had been reversed in a way that the kids felt emotionally responsible for adults. I learned a lot about the dangers of “parentizing” children from FW’s negative example. Aside from being helpful in putting together a list of red flags to avoid getting entangled with future FWs, one legit function of skein-untangling FWs’ fuckedupedness is to make sure that fuckedupedness isn’t passed on to the next generation.

    FW had been “parentized” by both his parents. It required actual study on my part to understand because this was so different than my family experience where, even as an adult, I’d have to pry news of health issues out of my aging parents because they didn’t want to “burden” me. But FW’s parents were all about “FOG”– fear/obligation/guilt. His father, a well known artist, would sulk if he didn’t extract kibble and applause from an 8 year old FW. His mother always went into weepy antics if she was held to account for being nasty and stabby or if her kids presented her with distasteful reality that harshed her Yoga-zilla hippie mellow, like stories of being bullied or endangered as small children when they were forced to walk to and from school alone in a city that was the murder capital of the world at the time. From a very young age, FW learned to keep his “dramas” to himself, including being sexually assaulted as a teen, because not only wouldn’t his parents defend and support him, they’d throw histrionic fits and act like he was killing them.

    According to clinical literature, premature reversal of parent-child roles can have the same effect as covert incest and probably contributed to FW’s adult empathy impairment on the theory that, since he was never allowed to be fully a child, he never fully grew up. FW could even describe how sickening and suffocating his parents’ behavior was to him as a small kid. Poor dear. But that didn’t stop him from trying to do the same to our kids after he fucked all of us over with a college fund-robbing affair and then tried to play boohoo victim after separation. Damn he was good at playing pathetic, clearly a skill developed and polished over several generations. It was so mindfucking and wrong under the circumstances that I was forced to pause gray rock several times to warn FW about leaving weepy voice messages for the kids on special occasions. I’d demand he delete them and leave stable, upbeat appropriate messages instead and to never, ever fucking come to the door with a cracking voice and tears in his eyes for kid-handoffs. What eventually stopped the BS was when I inoculated the kids against the pity traps by telling them– abstractly– about parentizing and how sick and destructive it is. I guess the forewarning starved FW of kibble and cake since he shaped up.

    Inoculating the kids was actually a good opportunity to explain– again, sort of humorously– how parent-child relationships can shift over the course of a lifetime and what was normal for different stages. Before and during college, I expected art or gag gifts on gift-giving occasions. After college, flowers. When their own kids were tiny and keeping them up all night, haphazardly emailed baby pictures. When they became financially secure, I expected decent gifts sent on time and visits. And when I started to dodder and forget where I left my teeth, a bit of tender guilt and responsibility might be okay but not before.

    It’s such a tightrope walk to encourage kids to be empathic but without turning them into easy targets for narcs and users. It’s also a balance introducing kids to the important idea that their parents are, gasp, human but without overdoing it or doing it too soon. It’s hit or miss most of the time but I think at least an awareness of negative extremes and an effort to strike a balance helps. When in doubt, I just talk to the kids about these concepts. This is what I think, this is what I read, this is what I hope the outcome will be and what I hope to avoid and, um, what do you guys think?

    • Yes, Hell of a Chump! There is something about adultifying my teens by making them responsible for my well-being! There is a slippery slope just requiring them to do the right thing and being an adult—-when they are clearly a teens and should have permission to do stupid teen stuff—like not text important info or forget a day that isn’t about them.
      My kids as asshole teens 10% of the time and that is their due. They prove love and care often.

      • Just by virtue of the fact that you’re aware of and mulling over healthy and unhealthy parenting approaches suggests it’s unlikely you’re exhibiting the intense pattern of behavior required to produce some dysfunctional syndrome in otherwise durable kids. I think it helps to bring kids in on discussions of healthy vs. unhealthy behavior and parenting, sharing ideas from articles and books whether the ideas are good or stupid. It certainly gets interesting.

      • We are all assholes 10% of the time, why should kids be any different ? 😉

  • Thirteen years ago I began working at a company where most of the employees came from another country. Their way of celebrating birthdays was that the birthday person CELEBRATED THEIR OWN BIRTHDAY by bringing in a treat, or lunch, or both, for the other employees. This gave me a lot to think about, and ever since, I’ve felt empowered to say to my kids “It’s my birthday” and “Mother’s Day is coming up. This is what I’d like to do.” I then plan to pay for my own celebration. Now that they’ve grown, they all have different ways of showing their generosity.

  • Know that whether people come through or not for you on holidays is not reflexion of their love for you. EX. FW was the master of big acts and poetic cards and flowers on holidays, and my brother does 0 for our mom on holidays, but he loves her (not saying that’s great!).
    I would help your daughters be successful. Have a family planning session around what is doable and will make everyone happy on their special days.
    Include yourself. Also, do something for yourself each Mother’s Day too.
    You apologized profusely. Kids can be self-centered. Move on, start fresh. You may have to help them out for a few yrs, until they get the groove of it.
    Oh and you’re not alone.❤️

    • This is a good point. The OP is also modeling adult behavior to acknowledge it didn’t go well last year but we are not dwelling on it and we are moving forward by making a plan.
      No need to continue to apologize. Your action of moving forward with a fun plan so we don’t have a repeat is a good one.

    • “Know that whether people come through or not for you on holidays is not reflexion of their love for you. EX. FW was the master of big acts and poetic cards and flowers on holidays”

      That’s a good point, Zip. My FW hadn’t gotten me anything for mother’s day in about twenty years, until one year he wanted to get me some jewelry. There was a precious stones expo on that I had mentioned, and he was enthusiastic about taking me to it. We went and he seemed pleased about it. I was spending some time browsing and picking the jewelry out, which I knew was boring for him, so when he asked if I minded if he left for a while, I said it was fine. He was gone “for a walk” about fifteen or twenty minutes. I’m sure he was actually texting his whore during that time, telling her how bored he was and how he wished he was with her.
      D day came before I ever got a chance to wear the garnet earrings and necklace I chose. The thought of wearing them makes me queasy. It’s something I have yet to reclaim.
      So yeah, showy displays and gifts on holidays don’t necessarily mean anything. FW gets a kick out of playing the nice guy, in between the bouts of horrendous behavior which reflect who he really is.

  • ROFLMAO at Chump Lady and the belt story.
    I, too, am raising a boy named Robert who was cut from the same cloth.
    For 20 years, I have had no first name. Nope, it was replaced with Robert’s Mom.
    In our school system, no last name was necessary, either. Robert was the Robert. The infamous Robert.
    Do I want to throttle him some days? Oh surely.
    Do I love him with all my heart? Always and forever.
    Will I get anything other than a text for Mother’s Day? Your guess is as good as mine.
    Inconsistency is that boy’s middle name.
    Early happy Mother’s Day, Chump Lady, from the mom who has walked in your moccasins with the twin of a different mother.

  • My mom with alcoholic dementia…her obsession with money followed her into dementia so I sent her a 99 cent mothers day card with a $20 bill in it. She will think she has the world by the tail and I didnt have to shop.

    She was tedious on mothers day too and Im glad that is over.

  • oh, oh oh! I just remembered a humdinger! First Mother’s Day (when I had a 6 month old infant), XH refused to give me anything, saying “You are not my mother”, (We can thank sweet baby Jesus for small miracles). When I got upset, I got a Mother’s Day card, still in the paper bag from CVS, unsigned with the reciept in it.
    Perfect gem, he was. A perfect gem.

    • I guess we can all officially add “you’re not my mother” or “you’re not my father” to stupid shit cheaters say. It could be said on Mother’s/Father’s Day or any time they feel held to a standard. 🥂

  • Hell, plan to stay home on Mother’s Day and be there when you order in the food

    Narc mom will never be happy in any event, she deserves at best a phone call on that day.

  • CL’s advice is right on target, as always. I’m late to this post, but I’d like to add my 2 cents.
    First, we set ourselves up for disappointment when we expect to be “surprised” on holidays with the wonderful, spontaneous giving from other people.
    1. If you’re divorcing or have divorced a cheater, or if you were discarded, STOP expecting a lying cheater to be thoughtful and kind. Just stop it. The expectation that cheaters will be thoughtful sets you up for disappointment and feeling neglected.
    2. Kids are not capable of meeting adults’ emotional needs. Period. When I was 12, mty brother and I got my mom stationary in a box for her birthday. My dad did zero planning and had in fact not bothered to come home. So when bro and I were bickering a bit about wrapping her present, she heard us and lost her shit because no one was celebrating her. The upshot was that she stopped talking to me for months. I mean–she said not word one to me. She was probably mad at my father and maybe her mother or maybe because she felt isolated and abandoned. But we had in fact remembered, pooled our money, and bought her a gift. We just didn’t execute the giving very well. My point is that expecting young kids or teenagers to meet your needs on holidays is not fair to any of you.
    3. That said, CL is right that you can accomplish a lot by taking the lead here and deciding how you want ALL holidays to go–not just Mother’s Day but also your birthday, their birthdays, and Christmas. You are the adult, and you can use this situation to teach kids how to celebrate others.
    4. So think about holidays. Talk to your kids about how you as a family want to celebrate. Take all the suspense and the need for SURPRISE out of it and figure out how to celebrate and enjoy each other. Once you figure out what feels good to you and them, start establishing traditions. May Mother’s Day is just cooking brunch together. Maybe the rule is that all cards are homemade and there is a spending limit on gifts. Maybe gifts are experiences you have together–the zoo, a late movie, a movie night at home with your fave pizza.
    5. Remember that gifts are not the best way to measure love–but you can teach kids to give thoughtfully and to celebrate others.
    6. Always send yourself a Mother’s Day card. My cats “sign” the ones I send to myself. Put a note in there about how good it is to be an awesome mother.

    I’m sorry your mother is like mine. Figure out how best to celebrate your mother without putting yourself in the firing range. You don’t say if she’s out of the hospital but a 4-hour roundtrip on Mother’s Day isn’t the best way to go when you are dealing with a narcissist. Send flowers or the equivalent. Chocolate covered strawberries? Remind me and I can post my Mother’s Day poem on the Reddit forum. I’m sort of past that kind of pain and anger, and of course my mom has passed, but what I learned is stop investing in pleasing someone who can’t be pleased.

    You can see that I’ve thought a lot about this, partly because I don’t have kids and so I know for sure that I have to celebrate myself. You can do this.

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