How do you deal with an inconsistent mother?  It’s been a problem all my life and the cause of many arguments.  

It’s meant I have never known where I am with her while I was growing up, and to my surprise it hasn’t changed. 

Last year she praised me to the roof when I took time off work and sat with her for two days when she had flu and a very high temperature.  I mopped her brow, helped her take sips of water and made her some of her favourite chicken soup to eat. Two weeks later she told me I was the most ungrateful daughter in the world because I wouldn’t take more time off to come to her coffee morning with friends.  ‘And to think of all that I’ve done for you,’ she said.

My husband has been at the sharp end of several of her proclamations too.  Sometimes she cosies up to him in a very unpleasant flirty way, I suspect because he is very handsome.  Other times she will say loudly ‘it’s such a shame your husband can’t afford to take you on a decent holiday.  When Daddy was alive he enjoyed making me happy.’  Actually my dad was terrified of her when she was in a spiteful inconsistent mood because he couldn’t cope. 

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She behaves in the same way over tiny inconsequential things too. For example one day she’ll makes no comment about me walking about her house in shoes.  The next she screams at me for not taking my shoes off, dirtying her carpet and making even more work for her.   Sometimes I anxious and guilty that I just can’t get it right.

She can be like this with other people too. Recently she spoke enthusiastically about going to a family wedding, then decided she couldn't stand the bride and cancelled. 

So far I don’t have children to worry about but I want to try and sort out this problem in my head before we start our own family.  Anyone got any helpful ideas on how to cope?