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Not Engaged Yet

To Call or Not to Call

edited September 2014 in Not Engaged Yet
Today is my Mom's birthday. As many of you know, she and I have not spoken in over 2.5 months. Not a peep via text, email, phone, etc. Nothing. She is super dramatic and obnoxious and basically cannot tolerate anyone having any kind of boundaries with her. I'm pretty much done with the relationship. She has done so many shitty things over the years (like screw DH and I out of tens of thousands of dollars before our wedding!), and I think I've just hit my lifelong bullshit limit from her.

She knows I've had a lot go on recently. She knows about my estrangement from my brother, and hasn't reached out to see if I'm ok. She knows I've been really sick for several months. She hasn't reached out to see if I'm ok. She knows my company launched a new website. She hasn't reached out to say good job or anything.

So now it's her Birthday, and I'm debating whether I should reach out at all, and if so, in what capacity. I did not send a card or gift, and I'm debating whether I should call. I feel like it'd be enormously shitty to not even acknowledge her birthday, but she hasn't acknowledged anything for me in months.

Should I just call and say "Happy Bday...kthxbai"? Should I text? Email?

To Call or Not to Call 34 votes

Just call her!
29% 10 votes
Shoot her a text!
20% 7 votes
Shoot her an email!
5% 2 votes
Send an e-card!
5% 2 votes
Do nothing!
23% 8 votes
Special Snowflake/Other
14% 5 votes
«1

Re: To Call or Not to Call

  • I would call wish her a happy birthday.  Keep it short and sweet.

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  • phiraphira Bahstin member
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    I'm not sure what to suggest, mostly because I don't think there's a clear answer about which option will make you feel the LEAST shit-tastic.

    It also depends on what you mom is like if you sort of open the door to interactions. If I open the door a little to talk to my dad about anything, he thinks the door is entirely open, and he jams his foot in. He does it to my mom, too; they had to talk about something my sister was dealing with, and suddenly he's emailing her about how his hair dresser's kids go to my mom's school. So she and I keep the door closed unless it's absolutely necessary.

    It sounds like you're between a rock and a hard place, even if your mom isn't the type to be all OKAY EVERYTHING'S FINE NOW BECAUSE YOU CALLED. If you don't wish her a happy birthday, you feel petty and like you're not taking the high road. If you DO wish her a happy birthday, then you're giving in, you might accidentally indicate that you suddenly want to talk, and/or you're giving her something you don't feel she's earned.

    So I'm here to say, at the very least, your mother has not earned anything from you. In your shoes (no pun intended), I would let the date pass as if she were an ex-boyfriend I was trying not to think about.
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  • labrolabro Hotlanta member
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    I've typed this out like five times and can't seem to come up with the right phrasing.

    Do you want to rekindle your relationship with your mom someday?

    If yes, then I think you should. It doesn't have to be anything more than a short phone call or message wishing her a happy birthday. I know if I didn't acknowledge my mom on her birthday, she'd never forgive me. This at least keeps the doors open to you and her someday working things out (I hope) and having a healthy and loving mother/daughter relationship with each other.



  • I've typed this out like five times and can't seem to come up with the right phrasing.

    Do you want to rekindle your relationship with your mom someday?

    If yes, then I think you should. It doesn't have to be anything more than a short phone call or message wishing her a happy birthday. I know if I didn't acknowledge my mom on her birthday, she'd never forgive me. This at least keeps the doors open to you and her someday working things out (I hope) and having a healthy and loving mother/daughter relationship with each other.

    Truthfully, I don't know.  I think I like the idea of my mom and my brother, but I don't really like them as people.  They don't treat me well, and they're not going to change.  As lonely as it's been without them in my life, it's been enormously peaceful.
  • Ollie08Ollie08 Central FL member
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    I agree with PP that this is a really crappy situation. And in a lot of cases (yes, it's pathetic), but the kids end up being the parents. I'd give her a call and pray for her voicemail to answer instead of her so you can just say "Happy Birthday" and leave it at that. I'd probably go for a more passive approach like mailing her a card (I think she might be insulted by an e-card?), but now it won't arrive until after her birthday. 

    I will agree with @LaPeanut1018 that unless you're 100% certain you never want a relationship with her again, then I wouldn't burn that bridge by not acknowledging her. 

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  • eilis1228eilis1228 Southwest member
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    I would call her. Just keep it short and sweet. As someone who had a terrible relationship with a parent, I can tell you that I was eaten up with guilt after that parent died unexpectedly. Even though I had plenty of reason to cut that parent out of my life, the guilt after their death was unreal. I would hate for something similar to happen to you. You don't necessarily need to try and rekindle the relationship, but at least reach out on occasions like this to let her know you're still around. 


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  • bethsmilesbethsmiles Denver, CO member
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    I agree with @Phira. I don't think you should acknowledge her birthday. Every relationship, even family, is give and take. It sounds like she never gives. She hasn't reached out to you in months even though there has been plenty to reach out about. I really think you should only contact her if you are ready to start trying to repair the relationship again now, not next year or five years from now or just maybe someday in the future. Calling her opens a door and right now it seems like you are better off with that door closed.

    Honestly, if she will never forgive you because you didn't call on her birthday then this relationship was never going to be saved anyway.


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  • I voted special snowflake.  I am not sure what to tell you to do because I'm not sure how you feel about keeping her in your life in some capacity.  I can tell you that I haven't spoken to my mother or my brother in in over 3 years.  They were not invited to my wedding and truthfully I don't even know if they know I am married and living in another state.  I won't lie, cutting them out was/is hard but the treatment from them and the lifestyle they lead is much harder to deal with.  I don't hear from them on my bday or any holiday and I don't reach out to them. 

    I think that if I were only 2.5 months in and I wanted to maintain SOME kind of relationship I would have just sent a card.  It will really be up to you on how much you'd like her in your life.  I know you've struggled with family for a long time now.  It really sucks and I totally sympathize. If you need to talk about it more you are more than welcome to PM me here or on FB.  <3

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  • To those of you that are telling me not to call (ie. @bethsmiles and @phira), does it change anything in your mind that she sent DH a birthday card and a gift (two sweaters) on his bday two weeks ago?  And that she texted him to confirm he received them?

    Mind you, she texted HIM...not a peep to me.
  • bethsmilesbethsmiles Denver, CO member
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    I think it's really weird she has contacted your H but not you. It makes me think a couple of things. 1) She possibly doesn't even realize that you have cut her out of your life these past two months or 2) it was some kind of passive aggressive/manipulative move on her part. Personally, I would still probably not call. 

    If you really feel that you should acknowledge it in some way at the very most I would send a text and not respond to anything she may respond with. But don't do it because you feel you owe her anything. You don't.


  • I think it's really weird she has contacted your H but not you. It makes me think a couple of things. 1) She possibly doesn't even realize that you have cut her out of your life these past two months or 2) it was some kind of passive aggressive/manipulative move on her part. Personally, I would still probably not call. 

    If you really feel that you should acknowledge it in some way at the very most I would send a text and not respond to anything she may respond with. But don't do it because you feel you owe her anything. You don't.
    She knows I've cut her out.  We used to talk at least 1-2 times per week.  Sometimes more.  We haven't spoken in months.  Also, when I had the blowout with my brother, he made a comment about how I'm not self aware because I'm not talking to anyone.  (He was referring to my mother, obviously.)

    So she knows.
  • It's so hard to give guidance on these types of things. I know for me, I completely cut my dad out of my life for about 8 years. During that time, we did not have any communication. Had I not attended my grandmother's funeral last year, I probably still wouldn't be talking with him. If you are at that point with your mom that you really just want to cut everything off, then I guess I wouldn't bother recognizing her birthday.

    However, if you haven't made that decision yet and you want to keep that door open for now, I would recognize her birthday in some way. I voted for an e-card because it seemed the least confrontational yet still better than an email.

    Go with your gut and know all of us ladies here support you!

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  • Dignity100Dignity100 Northeastern Ohio member
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    Right now I'm not really on speaking terms with my mother.  I am not sure where my relationship is going to go in the future or how much I will allow her back into my life when/if she wants back in my life.  If my mom's bday was today; I would probably send her a FB message saying 'Happy Birthday' because for me that's the easiest way to get ahold without actually calling.  I wouldn't say anything else to her beyond that because in my mind that would be saying 'It's ok to walk all over me and I will forgive you no matter how much you hurt me'.


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    Anniversary
  • if you don't want to speak with her, I'd send a card.  it'll arrive late, but to me it's in between actual conversation (phone call) and completely ignoring the day.

  • I voted call, but I really mean, some form of communication.  I'm not sure what exactly would be the best form of communication in this situation, but here is my suggestion:

    Send an e-mail or text with a cute birthday graphic.  Then it's slightly personal and not just a generic happy birthday.  I would only call if you know you can keep the phone call short and sweet.  


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  • phiraphira Bahstin member
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    Honestly, it doesn't totally change how I'd feel. I'd view that as immature at best and manipulative at worst. Like, you're not even on speaking terms, and her solution is ... to ignore you and send gifts to your husband. What she should be doing is reaching out to you, apologizing, and offering to give you the space you need until you're ready to get back in touch.

    I also want to point out that her birthday is not a deadline. Not contacting her in the midst of an estrangement doesn't mean that the estrangement will now never end.
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  • eilis1228eilis1228 Southwest member
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    phira said:
    Honestly, it doesn't totally change how I'd feel. I'd view that as immature at best and manipulative at worst. Like, you're not even on speaking terms, and her solution is ... to ignore you and send gifts to your husband. What she should be doing is reaching out to you, apologizing, and offering to give you the space you need until you're ready to get back in touch.

    I also want to point out that her birthday is not a deadline. Not contacting her in the midst of an estrangement doesn't mean that the estrangement will now never end.
    This is very true! Just because you don't reach out today doesn't mean you'll never talk again. Wait until you're comfortable with any potential fallout that may result from talking to her.

    However... I feel that I should point out that with my dad, he passed away from a heart attack three days after Father's Day. I almost didn't call him on Father's Day because we were estranged, but then-now-ex-BF convinced me to. I kept it short and sweet, but I can't tell you how grateful I am that I called. Obviously my opinion is biased, so take it or leave it, but I feel like it's better to be the bigger person and at least acknowledge the day in some way rather than let it go by. I mean, there's a very high chance your mom may be rude to you or ignore the call, and you may roll your eyes and feel even more exasperated. But, on the other hand, if something were to happen to her, you may kick yourself for not reaching out and at least making an effort, you know? 

    It's totally up to you though. Obviously my experience is the exception rather than the rule-- I mean, it's highly unlikely your mom will pass away in a few days. I just figured I'd share my story since I was in a similar situation, and calling my dad was very much the right decision. We were still estranged when he died a few days later, but I'm incredibly thankful I at least got to talk to him one last time. Hadn't seen the man in 5 years and talked to him very infrequently, but that last conversation helped ease my conscience after he passed. 


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  • I didn't vote above, but I think that I'd personally not contact her. I know what you've been through with her and I don't think that you should feel like you HAVE to acknowledge her birthday. You're not speaking to her and you don't WANT to speak to her. Your life is better without her in it. If you do not want to open the door of communication -- which I think you know will give her an opening to wiggle her way back into your life -- then it seems you shouldn't acknowledge it at all. The fact that she acknowledged DH's birthday and didn't communicate with you about it was super passive aggressive IMO. 

    If you feel compelled to reach out in some way, I would go with a card. I'd get one that was very simple, not one of those mushy "mom" ones, and just sign your name. 
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  • @loves2shop4shoes - This happened to another friend of mine exactly (she is estranged from her mom, the mom sent her husband a b-day gift, mom texted the husband to see if he got it, etc.). Its a really passive agressive tactic and bull. If it was me and I wanted nothing to do with her, I wouldn't bother calling or texting. I agree with @helloliv that your mom WILL use this as a way to say "see everything is fine" and just ignore the way she has treated you. That said, I also think not acknowledging her birthday will cause her to be an even bigger drama freak than she is now. I think it really comes down to whether you are done with her. I know thats a hard call to make but only you can truly make it. Huge hugs.
  • IrishPirate60IrishPirate60 Clare Island member
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    Given all the time, energy, and thought you've given to this, I'd do something. I don't think it matters which you choose, but just do it. Put that card in the mailbox, click "send" on the computer, whatever, just do something so you are not stewing about whether or not you should. Do something, then let it go. Something on paper or email, perhaps, so she doesn't engage you verbally. Then just let it go.
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  • KeptInStitchesKeptInStitches the Northern Plains member
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    If you feel the need to reach out to her - and I do mean if you feel it, not just that you think it would be the right thing to do - then I'd send her a text.
  • I agree that your mom sending your H the gift is either very immature or manipulative. I have an estranged relationship with my mom and I did not reach out to her on her birthday last month because she is very similar. But this is the way it has been for years. If it's only been a few months, I would send a quick email "happy birthday, enjoy." and then go back to limited contact on your terms. You should be able to have a peaceful relationship with your mom- if she cannot agree to that, then you need to find peace and happiness elsewhere. 


  • Update:

    I waffled back and forth all day (really for weeks prior) about this.  I finally bit the bullet and gave her a call on my way home.  This is how it went:

    Her:  "Hello?"
    Me:  "Happy Birthday"
    Her:  "Thank you.  Thank you for calling."

    Awkward silence.

    Her:  "How are you?"
    Me:  "I'm well.  How are you?"
    Her:  "I'm doing okay."  (In a very friendly tone like nothing is wrong.)
    Me:  "Glad to hear it.  Ok.  Well, have a happy birthday.  Enjoy your night."
    Her:  "THAT'S IT?!?!?!?"
    Me:  "... Yeah, that's it."
    Her:  "Well...you shouldn't have called then."
    Me:  "...Ok."
    Her:  "Well why did you call me then?  Why did you call if you didn't want to talk to me?  What, did you call to upset me or something?!?"
    Me:  "I called to do a decent thing.  And to be the bigger person.  I can see that that's not appreciated.  Well, have a lovely night."
    Her:  (Screaming something indiscernible as I hung up the phone.)


    You can't even make this shit up.  I've been sick for MONTHS, had a major falling out with my brother, and launched a website at work.  I haven't heard a PEEP from her.  I do a decent thing and call her to wish her a happy birthday, and that's the thanks I get? 

    Apparently she honestly expected me to call her, watch her sweep everything under the rug, and pick up where we left off like her behavior is ok.  Nope.  I don't wanna ride that ride anymore.

    DH and I are booking our holiday flights tonight.  We will not be seeing her this holiday season.
  • bethsmilesbethsmiles Denver, CO member
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    *hugs* I'm sorry it didn't go well. Try not to dwell on it though. Her reaction is her problem, not yours. You did what you thought was right, you didn't owe her that phone call and you certainly didn't owe her more. 


  • eilis1228eilis1228 Southwest member
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    *hugs* I'm sorry it went horribly :( But at least you can say you tried, right? 


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  • I voted for email - then I read the update.

    Im so sorry that you're dealing with this. That sucks a lot.
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  • Boo on that ish. I guess a tiger really can't change it's stripes (see what I did there). Take comfort in the fact that you did the right thing, and you now can move on with holiday plans and life in general knowing that you made the effort and the ball is in her court if anything is going to change.
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  • Dignity100Dignity100 Northeastern Ohio member
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    UHG - sounds like she made everything about her.  At least it's done and over with.


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  • Sorry the call didn't go well and that you're dealing with all this drama @loves2shop4shoes. I heard the following quote once that really struck a chord:

    "When people tell you who they really are, believe them the first time"

    At some point you're going to have to make peace with the fact that you can't change who she is, and that's ok. All you can do is control your environment. If a relationship with your mom is toxic, take a break for a while and take care of yourself. Sometimes time apart will allow you to get some clarity going forward.

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  • phiraphira Bahstin member
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    Ugh, that is some ridiculous bullshit. I'm so sorry that happened to you.

    At least you were trying to do the right thing. And sometimes, confirmation that you're making the right choices with regards to your relationships is really powerful. If that's any consolation. But I think the best consolation might be a mani-pedi and some ice cream.
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