Pregnant and uBDP mum is trying to insist on helping with huge house projects

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lemondifficult

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This might seem a weird post but I've been low contact with my uBDP and eDad for about a year since we had the most major of arguments when they visited us in Australia for 2 weeks (we've recently returned to the UK but it was the worse experience ever).

I'm 7 months pregnant and our en-suite bathroom has recently started leaking. It turns out it was a slow leak and has rotted the flooring underneath so it really all needs replacing but the quotes and time frames for getting it replaced mean that we will probably have to wait until our baby is born to have it sorted. We have another (slightly knackered) bathroom to use in the meantime.

Anyway, I went to my parents house (distanced) yesterday to drop of my dad's Father's Day card and gift and mentioned in passing our bathroom (probably my first mistake but the topics of safe conversation are limited these days).

My mum called me this morning to say that my dad would like to come and fit the bathroom for us to save us the money of a tradesman doing it and also get it done before the baby arrives. My dad works as a pipe fitter/heating and venting workman so he has experience doing plumbing and bathrooms etc. so is likely able to do the work but I have several issues with accepting the offer:

- My dad is 65 years old, obese and generally not in good health. The project is likely to take at least a week or two to complete which I think is too much for him to be doing at his age. He's said that my brother (who I also have a weird and distanced relationship with) would help with the labour or show my partner how to do it but I know he will end up doing a lot of it himself.
- We have a strained relationship with my parents at the moment. We often go months without seeing them and it seems that my mum's behaviour bounces between acting cold and sulky and then the next moment calling several times in the day, telling me about the hundreds of pounds worth of crocheting projects she has made for the baby and generally being quite overwhelming
- My partner feels uncomfortable because he's unsure of my dad's ability to do the work from a technical sense, and also admits he feels a bit emasculated that he is unable to do it/made to feel a bit useless with it I guess. He's now in a bit of a shitty mood with me because he says it's made him feel like shit that they've offered/I said I would speak to him about it too (I think he's conscious it doesn't come off that it's just him that's said no, which I understand)
- I don't feel like I want to owe them anything anymore. I don't feel like I can rely on them unless it suits them/their narrative so it feels safer to just manage on our own. A particular point that is niggling me is that after our massive argument I had broken down and said I had been feeling suicidal and gone on antidepressants (last year, now feeling much better) and they basically didn't acknowledge this or that their behaviour was having a massive negative impact on me - they just insist they love me and only ever want to get on/have the best for me). This feels very at odds with the very generous offer to help us out now - does that make sense?

I explained to my mum that it was a very lovely offer and much appreciated but that I was concerned that it was too big a job for him at his age and she would not stop offering. She literally spent 10 minutes repeating how if family can't help then that's pretty bad, think of the money you would save that you can use elsewhere or for the baby etc. I said I would think about it but essentially that I didn't feel comfortable with this. She put my dad on the phone and he said he was happy to do it but generally much less pushy.

I wondered what everyone's view on this is? Am I being paranoid not wanting to involve them or are my instincts right? I understand that in other families this would likely be a lovely and normal offer but I just don't feel right about it at the moment.

Sorry if this is garbled. I only came off the phone a few minutes ago and sometimes part of my processing the situation is writing it out but I'm not sure if I'm making sense.

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Rose1

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Go with your gut. I can see many ways this could go wrong least of which is you owe me. Maybe if you and your partner can work it out that's best. Btw not sure why he blamed you for them offering? Out of your control surely?

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Maxtrem

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My uBPDm was a way to offer my time for free (I was very manual) to everyone and to share it with me afterwards. Maybe that's what she did with your father, she offers your father's time to look good without worrying that your father is too old or not fit enough to do such work. I also tend to refuse everything as a favour or gift from my mother, because it creates expectations. And God knows how much I don't want to be indebted to her in any way. The last time she helped me was in 2016 and she still refers to it with one : after all I have done for you... I have given you so much...

Maybe you could have the work done by strangers and ask your dad to stop by occasionally to make sure it's done properly. That way he could feel useful without having to push too hard. It's just an idea.

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daughterofbpd

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Ugh, yes, BPDm would tell me my dad wanted to help with a project but then he'd complain and didn't always do the greatest job (even though he is skilled). It seems she is very insistent upon these favors when there is some benefit to her. I would be very concerned that your BPDm will expect unlimited access to baby after this project. In my experience, a non-personal excuse works best. Something like "We appreciate the offer but now isn't a good time" or tell them you're thinking of doing an upgrade that's out of your dad's abilities or your partner doesn't have time to help right now, etc. Good luck!
“How starved you must have been that my heart became a meal for your ego”
~ Amanda Torroni

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Fiasco

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Run away from this offer as fast as you gracefully can. The idea of giving my BPDm, even through a proxy like a dad, any kind of control or ownership over a piece of my home gives me the screaming fits. It’s your home and your castle. Hire a professional 😊

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Andeza

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Yep, hire a professional. Work done by pd family members, or arranged by them, always has strings attached.

The damage you're describing will take at least (with motivated workers that are fairly strong) a week if it's just the floor, maybe some sub-floor damage, and mold remediation if there is any. That's not counting the potential need to repair any walls, repaint, reinstall tile, and repair the actual dang leak, along with the half a million other tiny things that get done on a job that we hardly even think of until we see them getting done and say "Oh, I never would have thought about that." However as you describe your father.... I'd bump the estimate up to several weeks given his physical condition. I have a fairly good relationship with my dad, but I wouldn't want him in and out of my house, barging in, banging around, and generally causing mayhem for several weeks plus.

And if I were seven months pregnant... Heck no. Just no. My nest and everybody can stay dang well away, lol.

I'm seeing a bit of a rocky road on this subject with your partner though. That's almost more concerning to me than the pwpds. After all, people with pds are going to act like people with pds. I would like to encourage you to have a gentle, kind conversation with your partner to maybe feel it out a bit more. I know when I was coming Out of the FOG DH and I had long conversations in which he revealed he was actually quite resentful at my prior inability to see the dysfunction of my uBPD mother.

I suppose it's possible that your partner wishes you had not shared the information in the first place? Often times, information like this is weaponized by pwpds, and someone on the outside of the dance looking in might see the potential for conflict better than we can while we're dealing with it in the moment. I guess... I just feel that it's odd he'd feel less manly by the inability to do something himself when there are literally millions of others out there that wouldn't be able to reno the bathroom either.

On a side note! But very important.... When you get that bathroom fixed, if there is any mold whatsoever, it is important that it is properly sealed off while workers are in there. (plastic over the door and vents, etc) For your sake and especially the baby's. You might even consider staying with a friend until the old rot is cleared out and taken care of if you doubt the ability of the workers you bring in.  :-\  Good luck!

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Danden

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I would stay away from  accepting help from the parents, for all the reasons you mentioned.  We actually had our bathroom remodeled when I had a newborn, years ago.  It can be surprisingly easy to manage, even if the renovation is a prolonged one.  Cause you never know what problems can come up during a renovation and added time to complete the project comes into play.  I bought a small plastic toilet that is used for camping and placed it in an empty closet.   It had the blue liquid that is used in portable toilets.  At the end of the day, I threw the contents into the sewer drain that is under the toilet.  After they removed the toilet , on the first day of the reno, this was easily accessible.  My husband used the bathroom at the gym in the morning, and I went to a friend' house to take showers.  The baby had her own system (diapers and baths in the kitchen sink).  If  your partner wants to do the work himself, I suggest youtube.  I learn how to do so many home improvement projects that way.  I have done things I never thought I would do, from watching youtube.  Good luck.

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Poppy

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I would definitely NOT take them up on this offer. It's all conditional with these kinds of people.
Don't let them back into your life more that necessary / on your terms / what you can control. This seems like a recipe for disaster if you ask me.

Enjoy your pregnancy, good luck with the reno! Both these things are easier with some healthy distance I think.
It's never too late to be who you might have been (George Eliot)

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freedom77

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Go with your gut! Work done by family often does not go well or as planned under normal dynamics, but pwpd it's almost a guarantee there will be delays, problems, strings, etc.

I would say thanks mum, but the work is more intensive than first thought, in order to be up to code we have to hire a licensed contractor. Here in the states we have code enforcement, and say a roof for example or certain renos, you must first petition the county for a permit, and the code enforcer comes out and inspects the goings on, and the permit must be visible and taped to your front door or window. Not sure if the UK is similar, but if it is, this can be a plausible out for you.

Also confused as to why your partner is upset with you...this may warrant further discussion with him, to dig deeper and find out what is really at the core of what's bothering him. It may be possible he has some hidden resentments regarding your pwpd.

I second the warning about mold. Mold can be toxic and can cause brain damage in babies and small kids, and even cause dementia like illness in adults, among a host of other health issues. Definitely get a professional, who also carries license for dealing with mold removal, to do this job.

Funny enough I'm a weirdo who enjoys watching true crime shows and just saw an old episode of Forensic Files last night where a woman and her hubby and toddler son were being poisoned by toxic mold which originated from a leak in their kitchen. Upon further examination it was discovered there were other undetected leaks in the home and an enormous nest of black mold behind the walls and under the floor boards. Forensic Files Season 7, Episode 37 "Breaking the Mold", also featured on CBS News, "An Insidious Mold".

Stachybotrys is the type of toxic mold they had.

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lemondifficult

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Thanks so much to everyone for your replies. I was getting in a real twist convincing myself I was being cold and ungrateful not wanting to accept the help but also feeling very uncomfortable doing so so it's incredibly helpful to hear that others would feel the same way!

Maxtrem and daughterofbdp, I think you've highlighted a really good point about my mum volunteering my dad for something he might not be up to. She definitely has done that in the past with things and although my dad is very likely to want to help me out, I think there's every chance she might have suggested it and then a combination of him not being very accepting of his age or health condition and also not wanting to say no to my mum could lead him to offer to do it. I wouldn't be surprised if he's secretly relieved that we have declined the offer!

I was really upset about my partners initial reaction and I did end up speaking to him about it later (while in tears - the hormones kicked in baaaaad). He still insists that my family are likely to judge him for not having those kind of manual labour skills (not true) and that they think because he works in IT he's useless (again not true) but I think this is just a bit of a brain worm he's got. I explained that it was really hard for me, particularly when heavily pregnant, to feel like I was caught in the middle and that I really needed to feel like we were a team. He apologised and also acknowledged that his feeling insecure about not being able to do the work was irrational so hopefully similar won't happen again. We're in no other way 'traditional' in terms of gender roles or expectations about who does what in our relationship so this just seems like a bizarre toxic masculinity trope that he's got stuck in his head for some reason!

Freedom77 and Andeza, I think you both raise a really good point in terms of my partner likely having some resentment about my family dynamics and uBDP mum or maybe even that my sharing the info with them was frustrating for him. He certainly has to put up with less of their sh*t since we've gone very LC but for years he's had to see me becoming upset and pander to her so I wouldn't be surprised if this kind of thing/my mum pushing boundaries is triggering for him. He has quite a strange (though different) dynamic with his dad and I think both of us often feel frustrated and warn down by our families' inability to just behave normally!

Thanks Freedom77 and Danden for your practical tips! It's telling that I find the idea of working around no bathroom much less daunting than having them in the house for a week or two!

As a few of you have said, my feeling is that the offer would come with (unspoken) strings attached and somehow be used to either get access to the baby more when she arrives, make me seem ungrateful if I disagreed with how they did something or otherwise be used to leverage our relationship in some way. I think after the call I lasted back in to the FOG briefly and doubted my gut on the issue but everyone's feedback has reassured me I'm not being ungrateful or cold to not want to take them up on the offer.

I actually called my mum yesterday to say that I had thought about the offer and very much appreciated it but that the amount of work was too much for my dad to take on and that we would get someone in to do it. Her response was predictable but if anything reaffirmed that I had made the right decision to decline the help - she repeated several time 'you're being silly, why won't you let us help' and then when I declined again immediately handed the phone to my dad without saying goodbye to me. The minute she can't control the situation she turns in to a petulant toddler!  :blink:

Thank you again for everyone's replies, I feel much better about the whole situation!