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to upset my Mum by living abroad with grandchildren for husband's job

(74 Posts)
fiorentina99 Fri 15-Nov-13 02:11:50

Hi

Due to my husband's work we've been living in South America with our children (DS(4) and DD(1)) this year, we were due to come home next August. Prior to this we were living close to my Mum, and she's been really really upset about us having gone, literally counting down the days until we're back.

Yesterday I had to break the news to her that we've now got to stay here for 3 more years due to a change in my husband's job (he sort of has to accept otherwise there will be no job for him). She took it unbelieveably badly, she was incredibley upset. Today I was told that she's been admitted to hospital as she suffered her first grand mal epileptic seizure for 30 years, which had been brought on by stress, and I've also found out that she's not been eating and is borderline anorexic.

My husband loves his job and he and the children are really happy living in South America, and I think it will be a great benefit to them to grow up in a different culture and be bilingual. But it's seeming to come at a high price as it's affecting my Mum so badly. We Skype and I'm forever sending her photos and email updates, but she really loved having us actually live close by as she doesn't really have much of a life outside of her home, as she looks after her brother who's partially sighted and my grandad who's 98, and doesn't really have any friends or outside interests, as she's extremely shy and has really really low self-confidence.

I kind of know that I have to stick by my husband and his job, but I can't help feel that I'm being unreasonable and selfish as it's hurting my mum so badly.

Anyone been in this situation? Anyone able to offer any advice?

Thanks!

Skygirls Fri 15-Nov-13 02:29:51

Could you not come back for a visit or holidays with the kids to see your Mum?

If it were me, I'd visit as much as I could and if I could financially afford it, but would be backing my husband and a stable family life.

It's a really hard situation, I'm sorry I've nothing else to offer in terms of advice, but didn't want to read and run.

Hope someone comes along who can.

ThePost Fri 15-Nov-13 02:32:07

TBF, I think that your mum is the one who is behaving in an unreasonable and selfish way. Does she suffer from depression at all because her reactions sound very extreme? When you lived close by, how did the day to day relationship work?
DH and I have lived away from our families for nearly 20 years now and have no intention of returning to the UK to live. Our families miss us, of course they do. They also see that in terms of lifestyle, employment etc. we're making the best decisions we can for the sake of our children and don't make us feel bad for doing so.

LittleBairn Fri 15-Nov-13 02:32:49

I'm betting her starving herself is the cause of her seizure rather than you staying in SA.

madwomanintheatt1c Fri 15-Nov-13 02:35:11

Well, she does need some help, obviously - is she known to the mental health services?

Are you an only child?

We live overseas. My mum had breast cancer whilst we were here - it makes for a few wobbles, but ultimately we haven't gone back.

We've visited twice in 5 years and she's been over twice.

What is your visa status? Can your mum afford the healthcare if she comes for extended visits?

fiorentina99 Fri 15-Nov-13 02:35:15

Thanks, yes we visit when we can, we're aiming for twice a year. She would love to come and visit us, but she gets confused just travelling up to London and can't do that, so having navigate heathrow and then a transfer would be too much for her on her own. I've thought about coming back and then chaperoning her over, and then flying back with her to get her home again, but this would mean 4 flights in total with the children in tow as well which would mean £££££££ (but might be worth it if it would help her). But we travel back for visits when we can. My granddad wants us to come back every 3 months but I don't think we could afford that.

DropYourSword Fri 15-Nov-13 02:35:35

It's horrible for you to deal with the fact that your mum is upset, but you need to live your own life. You can't do or not do something for fear of upsetting her. I really don't mean that in a horrible way and it must be devastating for her to hear you'll be away longer than she expected. However,I think you need to support her in dealing with this. She sounds lonely and isolated. Helping her join new groups, making new friends and developing new hobbies and interests will be much healthier for her.

madwomanintheatt1c Fri 15-Nov-13 02:37:08

And I don't want to use the term 'emotional blackmail' but as a parent myself I wouldn't want my kids to be beholden to me - my job is to raise them and set them free, not tie them to my apron strings and throw a wobbly if I don't get what I want... (I'm not classifying the seizure in this context, but certainly she doesn't seem to be seeking the help she needs for independence).

fiorentina99 Fri 15-Nov-13 02:40:14

Hi, yes I'm an only child, and yes she suffers from depression. She's been on antidepressants for years but won't see a counsellor or anything, she pointblank refuses despite my efforts to encourage her to see one, as I think she could really do with some help.

I'm not sure about the visa status and healthcare, I'm really not sure how it would work, she wouldn't be able to afford private healthcare herself.

She's had a really tough life and I hate feeling like I'm sort of abandoning her when she needs me, but then again I've got my own family to think about and their future. Not easy.

NorthernShores Fri 15-Nov-13 02:41:13

We moved back. But its not worked out brilliant job wise. I feel happier near family (sort of area where people em live near family) but its really come at a career cost.

fiorentina99 Fri 15-Nov-13 02:43:40

Thanks for your replies. I've always been trying to encourage her to seek independence outside of the house, to join groups and to meet people but she's so shy she just refuses. And so me and my children sort of became her life as she came out and did stuff with us (I know that isn't healthy!). She's a lovely woman, she's just been sort of ground down by life to the point where she's sort of in a complete victim mentality and doesn't take care of her health properly (which is why I hate being away from her, not that really I've done that much good when I've been there to be honest)

ThePost Fri 15-Nov-13 02:49:31

Even if you lived in the house next door to your DM, do you think you would ever be able to do "enough" for her? I don't mean this to sound harsh, BTW. You just sound as though you have had a lot of experience of trying to keep everyone else happy, even if it is at your expense.

MarjorieAntrobus Fri 15-Nov-13 02:49:52

I'd endorse what the others have said. You need to live your own life. She is not handling your absence well, but she isn't taking enough steps to help herself. And I know how hard that is with depression so I'm not knocking her, iyswim. She is a carer to both her brother and her father, which must be tiring and isolating. But you shouldn't take responsibility for her.

Regarding her visiting you, have you thought of getting her a taxi to Heathrow - all the way from home I mean. Expensive but makes the journey simple.

ThePost Fri 15-Nov-13 02:53:29

fiorentina, it sounds as though you might benefit from taking a look at some of the stately homes threads on the relationships board. There are some lovely people there who can give you great advice. I don't think this is so much about where you live but the dynamic between you and your mother.

Weegiemum Fri 15-Nov-13 03:12:05

We were in the process of starting to move to South America 2 years ago (sadly - actually we're still pretty devastated - right at the time things got serious, I got very ill so can't get health insurance, and our plans changed.

All of our parents (my dad and Stepmum, mil and separately fil) were worried - mil was supportive, my parents were appalled.

But you know what - if we'd gone, all of them would have rallied round, been supportive, come to visit, been excited for us (and our 3 dc) for a new part of our lives. They all told us that.

Yes, you have some responsibility to your older family. But as a mum, your main responsibility is to your "younger" family. 4 years in South America (you don't say where, I've only visited the "bad" bits, (Caracas, Bogota and further north Guatemala City and some scary bits there!!) is something I would dream of for my dc. Come home twice a year with a whole continent to explore? Not for us!

Can't you leave your dc for a few days to come and escort your mum? Is there a family friend/relative who could bring her to you then either stay or go off on their own adventures? How would she (and her health issues) cope - you don't say whereabouts you are.

I would stay and deal with the fall out. But I've lived far away (in the uk) from my parents since I was 17 and dh even further from his.

I hope you can make a good decision. And I'd love to hear more about your life in South America envy

Mimishimi Fri 15-Nov-13 03:16:46

Could you bring her over to South America for extended visits and get someone from home (brother, cousin etc) to help her get on the flights? Do you live in Peru? Can we visit you if you do? grin

fiorentina99 Fri 15-Nov-13 03:48:15

Hi, thanks everyone for your responses, I'm not feeling quite so bad at being away, it has to be done. I'll take a look at the stately homes thread too.

We're living in Chile if you're interested, it's nice, frustrating at times with the language and everything but overall we're really enjoying it. And we're hoping to travel all over South America, lots to see!

I've just talked to my DH and he's agreed that he could take a friday and a monday off and look after the DC, and I could just take a whole weekend to go and get her and bring her back. It takes 24 hours door to door, and what will fox her will be the change at Madrid, it's a big airport to transfer in and easy to get lost if you don't know what you're doing. She's never flown before so the whole thing is understandably daunting. She's been dying to come over though, and hopefully my uncle will be able to look after my grandad for a few weeks (he has no interest in coming over at all).

If anyone would like to come and visit you're more than welcome (if you bring my mum with you!)

I have SN and have lived abroad for 11years. I have a rough family so don't visit. My mother gets the "how can you let her go" line, but I am better off away from them.

Do what makes you happy and what you know is right for you.

Lavenderhoney Fri 15-Nov-13 04:05:54

Have you looked into the taxi or driver from where she lives to lhr? I have a driver who collects me and the dc. He also parks, gets a trolley and escorts us to check in then he would do customs if I asked him. Its not expensive. If you like I can pm his details

All airlines do unaccompanied travel for the elderly and someone will take care of your dm. Its a expectation you might not want to set tbh, to do it all yourself. My dm travelled alone with support from a driver and the airlines to see us when she was alive.

I certainly wouldn't think of leaving to come home, for all the reasons other posters and you have said. The reality of gc might be different! They might not want to spend all their time with her etc etc and it would make me nervous her future happiness is based on massive life changes for you and your family. That's not healthy, and you have to put yourselves first.

You're doing well as you are, I think.

Chile sounds great. Holidays should be spent seeing the country and having guests if you can- not going home to the UK all the time. It becomes a chore and you don't take the opportunities to see the world whilst you can.

I am facing the same decision. We moved to the USA when my 2nd child was 6 weeks old. We have been here nearly 8 years and my Mum misses us terribly... She is doing everything she can to persuade us to move home again as soon as my husband gets his PHD next year... But we don't want to... We love our life here. I know she feels she really needs us back as she is coping with her elderly parents and has her partner's elderly mother living there too... But I just don't see our future heading that way... All our things, friends, lives are here now... It is so hard to be away from family though and visits home are almost impossible - with three kids and me it is about 4k for plane tickets and I have to renew my visa each time... With the risk of being denied a new one. I wish I could split in two and be both places at once sad

Chottie Fri 15-Nov-13 04:29:04

OP - please live your own life and this comment comes from a GM too and do what is best for yourself and your family and your futures. You are NOT being selfish goodness my first shouty comment on FB

Privatebanker Fri 15-Nov-13 04:59:51

Sorry, but I would be very cautious--given her health problems--about having her visit you. I have a similar situation in reverse--very frail FIL from abroad wanting to visit here and being quite demanding about it I have refused as we worry about him coming here and then never being able to make the return journey. I've lived abroad in the past with young DC too and, yes, it's hard. Looking back, though, I have no regrets. You visiting the UK twice a year sounds very generous and reasonable TBH.

OrangePixie Fri 15-Nov-13 06:16:46

Do the airlines or the airport not provide someone to accompany her through the transfer? Surely they can provide that service?

loopylouu Fri 15-Nov-13 08:54:58

My father did the same thing to me.

It meant that my ex husband didn't take and amazing job in Australia and I didn't get to move there - a life long dream for me. My father said he would probably kill himself because he's be so lonely, would have no one, that I was taking his only grandchild away.

I say ex husband, because it ultimately cost me my marriage, it was one of the big reasons we split. My ex was made redundant as he didn't take the transfer, we lost our home as a result of that.

We both missed out on an opportunity, a new life, all because of my father. I have never forgiven him for that.

I will never, ever do that to my children.

Lazyjaney Fri 15-Nov-13 09:02:36

Your responsibility is to your husband and children, they are your future.

IMO you are being emotionally strongarmed. Going back and forth yourself is ridiculous, she needs to sort that - and make sure she is covered for health care costs if she comes out.

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