Re: mothers and guilt trips
she pouts and sulks and sometimes actually cry while talking about how she's just "such an aweful person who should just die".
EmilyGreen, you described my mother to a t. Especially this quote - not even a button, but a huge axe that they wield.
I am in awe, actually, as to how you still try to find a solution, a key, to have a semblance of a normal extended family. I dropped that... I think, in my early 20s.. I left my home, my country, and I live exactly on the other side of the globe from where she is. Yet, in my first years here she still was able to get under my skin through insensitive remarks in letters. I do not believe that anything can change her. My explanation of my feelings, my views will be turned upside down, as she needs to come out a victor out of any argument or situation. No, I gave up and consider us estranged.
She is 68 now and she has two grandkinds that she's never seen. If I had a choice of a free babysitter (her) or no babysitter, I would choose the latter without hesitation. Because with her help, I would be inviting dark forces - manipulation, hate, habitual humiliation. I am managing with my kids on my own just fine, with no extended family - sadly, my husband's family is non-existent, too (deseased).
If your mother is anything like mine, I'm afraid you will be expending your emotional energy with no real result. She's been what she's been for 64 years - why would she change now? And you need your energy for your own children. It's a losing battle (it would be great if I'm wrong). If you are not as radical as I am, and still want to keep your kid's grandmother in her/his life - you can set limits on their encounters, for your own sanity. And for your child's sanity - because your mother will be introducing manipulation to your child's innocent life.