Keep blabbermouth mom on a strict need-to-share basis
Q: My mother cannot keep a secret, no matter how much I impress upon her the necessity.
The most recent situation came when I sent her an email thanking her for something and letting her know I was seven weeks pregnant. Remembering who she was, I quickly sent a follow-up email begging her not to tell people. Within hours, I received a congratulatory text from my sister-in-law.
I sent my mother an email illustrating exactly why I found this upsetting and also called her to discuss it. She apologized profusely and promised never to do it again.
And then last night, she accidentally included me in an email to my cousin; the last words were, in parentheses, "Don't tell her I told you, I got told off for shouting it out to other family members."
This is not the first time she has done this sort of thing. When my husband and I eloped a few months before our small reception, she asked me point-blank if we'd already gotten married. I replied, "Yes, but please don't tell people." She agreed and then (I'm not kidding) promptly walked into the house and called her sister.
Talking to her firmly but nicely doesn't work. Howling at her doesn't work. What do I do?
My husband says, "Never tell her anything ever again that you don't want everyone to know," which is a painful thing — it makes me sad that I can't share things with my own mother. I have told her this. It is also painful that she seems to have zero respect for my judgment. I'm not sure how to proceed, but I am incredibly frustrated.
A: We don't get to design people to our specifications, even when we feel justified in requesting a change, even when both parties would arguably benefit from it. Whether it's the best case and your mom just has impulse-control problems, or she has a controlling streak that turns your private news into her power currency — a common worst case, best not taken personally as "zero respect for my judgment" — the fact remains that you don't have final say in what she says. Never will.
So: Never tell her anything ever again that you don't want everyone to know.
But while your husband is correct, you're not correct in interpreting it to mean only that you "can't share things with my own mother." That's but one of the choices it offers.
The other choice is for you to share your news knowing she's going to broadcast it. I understand wanting to keep your early pregnancy private — it's your business, it's possible you'll miscarry, I get it. The 12-week embargo is practically law. But is it really the end of the world to have people know you're pregnant? Or does it sound more like the end of the world to go the rest of your life not sharing big news with Mom?
This is how I suggest you view your mom from now on — as a binary choice where you decide, case-by-case, which sounds more like the end of the world. If it helps, flip it to a positive: "Which is more valuable to me right now, telling Mom, or my privacy?" When you can't have both, you choose the one you want more.