How Moms Act Out When They Feel Ignored

August 12, 2019  |  
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a mother daughter relationship

Source: RichLegg / Getty

It can’t be easy being a mother to grown children who’ve left the nest, built their own lives, and really don’t seem to need their mama anymore. The truth is that it’s nearly impossible to ever show the correct amount of gratitude our mothers deserve for birthing and rearing us. They gave us life. No amount of thanks will ever be enough. But the other truth is that sometimes, as adults, we drop the ball on making our mothers still feel needed. If your mom does a really good job then, she pays the price: you become independent, and you don’t call her/visit her as often. You learn to be happy and confident without her, and that means that she gets left in the dust. It is tough, when you think about it that way. So it’s no wonder that sometimes, when moms are feeling neglected and ignored, they act out in these funny ways.

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Commenting on your social media

Sometimes, mom will just call up and say, “I saw your photo on Instagram. It’s very inappropriate. You’re showing a lot of cleavage. Imagine if your cousins see that. It looks bad on the family!” And you’re like, “Mom…It’s Wednesday. I’m working. What’s this about?”

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Making plans, even though you’re visiting

If mom feels that, last time you were in town, you didn’t spend enough time with her—perhaps you dared to leave her side for an hour to have lunch with a friend—she may just book up her schedule for your next visit. “I’ll leave keys outside for you. I’m going out all day so it doesn’t matter to me when you arrive.” Okay. I see what’s going on.

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Coming to town and not telling you

I made the mistake of passing through my mom’s town without telling her. I was literally there for 90 minutes on my way somewhere else. But a friend saw me, told my mom I was there, and then a few weeks later, my mom called me to tell me she’d been in my town without letting me know.

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Clearing out your childhood boxes

Sometimes, out of the blue, my mother will call and say, “I have too many boxes of your childhood things here. They take up too much space. Do you want these little cups you made in kindergarten or not? If not, I’m throwing them out.”

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Talking about selling the house

Every so often, my mom calls me to say, “You know, I’m thinking of selling the house. It’s not like you visit often anyways so, what do I need all of these extra rooms for?” I really want to improve my relationship with my mom but sometimes it’s hard when I get calls like this.

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Noticing a lack of photos of them in your home

When my mom visits me, if I don’t give her my entire attention—if I dare to step away for a work call—she starts pointing out that I don’t have many photos of her in the house. “Don’t you want people to know you love your mother?” she’ll ask.

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Calling out of nowhere to criticize

My mom goes through phases (when it’s been over 10 days since I called her) when she’ll call out of nowhere to criticize something very specific and very random. “I was just thinking you don’t keep your car clean enough and it gives people a bad impression of you and the family.”

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Being wishy-washy about plans

“I don’t know if I’ll visit. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t. I was going to get my hair done that week so, there’s that.” These are some of the things my mom will say when I ask if she wants to visit, but she feels it’s been too long since I invited her.

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Claiming a new daughter

Every few years, my mom takes on a female protégé—a surrogate daughter—who is just about my age. She’ll get lunches with her. She’ll give her advice. She’ll let me know all about it, to try to make me jealous.

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Threatening to change the will

“You don’t seem very interested in you family’s history, so I don’t see any reason you’d want these heirlooms.” If I neglect to travel home for my grandparent’s wedding anniversary or something like that, my mom will start threatening to change the will.

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Giving away the good hand-me-downs

My mom has even gone so far as to give dresses and furniture that I’d been eyeing to our housekeeper. And then, when I ask where those are, she says, “Well, I figured if they meant so much to you that you would have visited me to claim them but it’s just been so long since you came up so, I had to do something with them.”

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Making a big change and not telling you

Started a small online business, chopped off all of her hair, taken in an exchange student—these are all things moms may do, without telling you, when they feel you haven’t been paying enough attention.

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Exaggerating a health issue

One day, my mother called me to say, “Julia. You don’t even know this but I’ve been very sick!” “Oh my gosh, what is wrong?” I asked. “Well, I had a cold, and it got very bad, terrible, so I went to urgent care.” “And?” I asked. “Well they said it was a cold but one of the worst colds they’ve ever seen.”

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Accusing you of ignoring another family member

Sometimes, moms will just project. Rather than say that you’ve been ignoring them, they accuse you of ignoring another family member. “Your sister is moving. You don’t know that because you don’t ask her enough about her life.”

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Saying you don’t have to come home for Christmas

If I choose to do something other than travel home for one holiday, then on the next holiday, my mom tells me I don’t have to come home if I don’t want to. “Maybe I won’t even be here for Christmas,” she’ll say.

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