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

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


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?


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.

LessMissAbs Fri 15-Nov-13 09:08:33

So she has a husband, still healthy and living with her (who sounds fed up with her antics) and another family member living with her too? And your DH needs to work? And she herself is reasonably healthy, having only suffered one bad fit in 30 years, which is most likely due to her refusal to eat properly? Yet she wants to uproot your whole family so she can get more attention than she is already getting from you?

She is guilt tripping you, and I suspect you will end up resenting her if you give in to this. She is an adult, she is capable of making out of her own life what she wants, and its her choice not to do so. But expecting a young family to rearrange their lives around her is extremely selfish and should not be indulged.

yomellamoHelly Fri 15-Nov-13 09:16:46

You're not responsible for your mum's happiness. Only she is. Sounds to me like you're doing a reasonable amount to keep in contact. I would not go and fetch her. (Apart from being incredibly hard work) it may also further unsettle her being out of her comfort zone. Damned if you do; damned if you don't type of thing.

Nanny0gg Fri 15-Nov-13 09:21:02

You're all absolutely right. The OP and her family must live the life that is right for them, and if that means living in South America for the foreseeable future (if not permanently) then that is what they must do.

However, please show her mother some kindness and sympathy. I would be devastated if my DC and DGC moved away/abroad. I would hope not to emotionally blackmail them about it, but it would break my heart. And I have other family, close friends and a reasonable social life. If I had the difficult life the OP's mum has I have no idea how I'd cope.
I can understand her (literal) devastation and whilst she shouldn't be pandered to she needs help to learn how to cope.
We show much sympathy on here for posters whose parents don't care at all. Don't criticise the ones that care too much.

I second the idea of getting a good taxi (try an independent Private Hire firm) to transport her to the airport - I'm sure you'd find someone to take her to check-in. And then arrange for the airline to look after her and guide her through the transfer. That's all doable.

Nanny0gg Fri 15-Nov-13 09:23:06

And I take it she is widowed?

kelda Fri 15-Nov-13 09:25:44

Agree with Nanny0gg. It's a very difficult situation for all of you. Your mum is sick with depression, anorexia and epilepsy. She is also caring for two relatives. I am not surprised that she is upset that you are not coming back when orignally planned.

Did she have any idea that you might be staying away much longer then originally expected?

Joysmum Fri 15-Nov-13 09:27:13

I find it very interesting that some people see the mothers issues as an attempt to emotionally blackmail whilst others see her as just a woman who is struggling to come to terms with the upset.

That's personal perception for you.

Patilla Fri 15-Nov-13 09:31:50

Just a thought - if it's Madrid she would struggle with could she get to Madrid to be met by you and then go on together. At least it would take one flight, well two actually, out of the equation for you.

I think in your heart of hearts it sounds as if yo uknow that you being back with your kum wouldn't necessarily make her healthier.

Can you imagine the resentment you, and possibly your family, might feel if you did return home just for her?

Patilla Fri 15-Nov-13 09:34:20

Just to add, would it be easier for you to do a trip back for a week or two (with your children) to try to help her set up a better support network. Or do you think her shyness is insurmountable?

Alanna1 Fri 15-Nov-13 09:43:20

Gosh, I'm amazed at some of the things above. Think your mum coming out is great. Well done you. I used to help elderly relatives fly - all the grandchildren did - I have a very international family. And got some "free" travelling out of it too (aka parents/aunts etc paying for my travel costs).

I remember doing a handover once in Geneva from one of my swiss cousins, taking my grandad to the south of france. And some lovely weekends in Paris. And commonly helping at airports near London. Are there any younger relatives who can help logistically?

samandi Fri 15-Nov-13 09:48:29

Wow, some of the comments on this thread towards the mother are shocking. It's incredibly understandable that she misses you (OP) and wants you around, and that it would come as a shock that you are staying an extra three years. It's a very difficult situation, but I don't think it's at all fair to blame or resent the mother.

girlywhirly Fri 15-Nov-13 09:50:49

The OP's partially sighted uncle and 98yo GF live with her mum, for whom she acts as carer, LessMiss.

I think that the OP's mum could do a lot more to help herself in so many areas of her life; she could get some sort of respite care for the GF and uncle to enable her to do other things. She could get her mental health sorted out to a point where she has enough confidence to join social groups, even if one was a carers support group where she could chat and get information about coping. It is sad that she has fixated on her life with her DD and DGC before they moved as the centre of her world.

I think you are doing brilliantly OP in trying to accommodate flying home to collect your mum. Perhaps when she sees your life in Chile she will appreciate more why you cannot just upsticks and move back home, I think even with skype she cannot fully understand what your life is like now and can only think of what it was before.

zzzzz Fri 15-Nov-13 09:54:52

Do what you would want your dc to do in the same situation. Show them how to be the person you'd like them to be.

For me that would mean going to SA and visiting when we could afford it.

JammieCodger Fri 15-Nov-13 09:55:55

I was going to say the same, Are there any friends or family who might want a South American holiday and could bring her over for you. My brother-in-law accompanied his elderly, nervous grandmother to see his dad/her son in the US. She took to flying like a duck to, erm, flying, and having been once was happy to jet back and forth on her own after that.

My own parents will always regret not extending my Dad's posting to the US. My Dad's mum kept up with the 'oh we're so old, we might die before you're home' so they came back after 2 years. All my grandparents survived for at least another ten years after that and that particular Granny lasted another 23 years.

JammieCodger Fri 15-Nov-13 09:58:04

That shoudl have been 'I was going to say the same as Alanna...'

JammieCodger Fri 15-Nov-13 09:58:15

Should. Arghh.

juneau Fri 15-Nov-13 11:13:37

I agree that if your DM wants to come and visit you should arrange a car service to take her to the airport and and arrange with the airline to escort her to both her flights. It is quite easy to arrange this. My registered blind great-aunt flew to Canada on her own with this kind of assistance and many people need extra help in airports. Don't come all the way over her to escort her - that's ridiculous, expensive and just confirms to her how incapable she is. If she comes on her own it could be just the kind of empowering experience she needs.

And please stop feeling so guilty. You are living your own life, which you are entitled to do. Each of us is responsible for our own happiness and your DM really needs to stop placing all this burden of guilt on you. I realise she's unwell, but she isn't infirm and if other family members will take over her caring responsibilities for a while it could really reassure her that living in Chile for a time is a valuable experience for you and your family.

TotallyBenHanscom Fri 15-Nov-13 11:20:52

There are a lot of cultures where the older generation are appreciated and cared for and considered part of the family, not seen as the previous generation that has nothing to do with the future of the current one.

It's tricky isn't it. As a mother, I want my children to take all the opportunities open to them that make their lives happy and worthwhile. But at the same time, I would be devastated to not have them in my life. Similarly I could not live a happy life knowing my own mother, the woman that gave me my life, was in such sad circumstances.

justwondering72 Fri 15-Nov-13 11:53:15

We came back. After five yrs down under we moved to mainland Europe specifically to be closer to family after or first child was born. None of the grandparents are ill or alone, but I could not see that the benefits of what was essentially a lifestyle choice could outweigh my children knowing their grandparents. So while DH and I DH do pine for sun, sea and the great things about Oz, it fades into insignificance when I see the joy that my children bring to their grandparents, and vice versa. It's priceless.

I think people are being very harsh on your mum op. I think if I were in her situation, ill and with so much caring to do for others, I would be gutted to hear my beloved grandchildren and only child were not coming back. It's one thing saying she should be getting on with her own life etc but it sounds like she is really, really struggling.

What would you want your child to do if you were in your mum's position op? It's a horrible decision to have to make, I feel for you.

attheendoftheendofmytether Fri 15-Nov-13 11:55:08

We've had a similar situation when we moved to Australia for 2 years. Although I don't think you should change your plans and accept guilt, I really really feel for your mother. Like my mother she was probably raised with very different expectations for life when children of most financial backgrounds stayed relatively close and never prepared her expectations for having her only child and grand children so far away. Not everyone has the emotional resources to build themselves a completely different life.

This is what we did.

- planned an extended visit for 2 months for her (long enough for her to fit in with the daily routine and not feel like a guest and as if the visit was over as soon as it began).

- arranged a car and driver to LHR check in as suggested.

- Wrote a very clear step by step guide to travelling through airports (with a picture of the dcs smiling at the end!)

- as she wasn't very articulate when stressed we wrote a very short but clear letter she could hand to any airline staff or airport information desk incase she got 'lost' explaining her plans, something like 'I am travelling alone for the first time, I am going to x. These are my flights xxxxx, I am feeling a bit confused, please can you tell me what I should be doing next, thank you).

- we arranged help through the airline for changing in Hong Kong but I don't think she needed it as the step by step guide was very good, if I say so myself.

- It was a big big deal for her, the biggest challenge was convincing her to do it but she did and felt so good for managing it. She came again the next year and needed all the same instruction.

- We all visited at approx. 9 month intervals so I think she didn't go more than 4-5 months without seeing us. It made it very bearable for her and I was much happier knowing she felt looked after.


Branleuse Fri 15-Nov-13 12:03:14

can she come and live with you for a bit?

hermioneweasley Fri 15-Nov-13 12:07:10

She sounds hard work. I'd stay in SA if I were you.

OrangeJuiceSandwich Fri 15-Nov-13 12:07:13

Your Mum seems very, very needy. You have your own life to lead.

Also English/Spanish bilingualism will be a huge advantage for your children.

Nanny0gg Fri 15-Nov-13 12:47:06

Each of us is responsible for our own happiness

Yep. Easy to say when not being a carer for elderly parent and sight-impaired sibling.

I wonder how close the really harsh-sounding posters are to their parents because that would obviously colour their judgements to a great extent.

attheendoftheendofmytether's post was really, really helpful OP. Could that work for you?

AdoraBell Fri 15-Nov-13 12:53:17

OP you are not being selfish at all. You do need to put your own family first, but that doesn't need to be at the expense of your DM. In your situation I would stay where you are and encourage DH to take the job.

It is an incredibly difficult situation. Yes, you could try to get your DM to come out here, we're also in Latin America, but depending which country you are in she may not get the same level of medical care as in the UK.

Would she cope well with the language barrier? The heat? Would she feel comfortable leaving the relatives for whom she is currently caring?

endofmytether's system looks fantastic, plus some countries in this region have direct flights to and from the UK so that takes care of one potential problem.

Do you have another relative who could help DM get help for the depression and low self esteem via the GP? Doesn't sound like she's living a fulfilling life and there's no guarantee that would change even if you lived next door.

theoriginalandbestrookie Fri 15-Nov-13 13:02:47

What age is your DM OP? I'm guessing not as old as she sounds.

I like attheendofmytethers suggestion - people can sometimes do more than you think, an elderly friend of ours who has difficulty catching a bus managed a trip to the US on her own. However if you are able to go over and bring her back, then that's maybe the way to go.

gotthemoononastick Fri 15-Nov-13 13:21:09

Have three children on three different continents.I thank God for technology,like Skype.We are getting older and al ittle more afraid of the future too,but would not dream of letting on.

So proud of their achievements and that sacrifices re. their education were all worth it.Their happiness and success all that matters.

OP you must live your life and do your best for your family.Mum's situation would be the same whether you were there or do what?

AdoraBell Fri 15-Nov-13 13:22:38

I missed the fact that you are in Chile, me too, so no direct flights then.

Really, a weekend flying out and then straight back would be very tough on you. My DH did it in a week a few years ago and he was unbelievably tired. Sorry, I'm not trying to be negative. Do you ever travel via Paris? We find that a better airport than Madrid.

Would you be able to rest on your return? Do you have a nana, puerta adentro, to handle everything while you recuperate?

If you could get her to visit it would be great, have you looked at travel and short term health insurance? How would she feel about vaccinations?

fiorentina99 Fri 15-Nov-13 13:37:41

Thanks so much for all your replies, it's been fantastic to hear different perspectives and opinions. endogamytether, your system does sound great, I'm going to take notes and photos on our journeys when we're back for Christmas. AdoraBell, you've also made me remember that there are direct flights from London to Argentina where I could meet her at the other end as long as she gets on a plane OK, so her visiting is looking more doable. I'd love her to visit as she's really keen, and she doesn't get to have holidays anymore since I've been away as she could only go away with me, I used to go on holiday with her and the DC once a year (my Uncle is completely uninterested in going on holiday and she has none to go with, and it's good, essential for her to have a break).

She's 63, no husband as she divorced my father when I was a baby as he beat her up, and I'm really proud of her for doing that. Problem was is that she moved back in with her parents (i.e. my grandparents) and my Nan did everything for her until she died a few years ago and was more like my Mum than my Mum was (my Mum was more like a sister), in many ways my Mum didn't have to take responsibility for herself, so when my Nan died she didn't have basic life coping skills. She used to work at a very basic level job that she hated, but was made redundant and has no interest in working again as she hated it so much.

I love my mum to bits, but I agree that it actually wouldn't help if I moved back. What she needs is to take responsibility for herself and realise she is capable and responsible for her own needs and happiness. She focuses a lot on outside events and other people to make her happy. I'm going to give an example which will make her sound like a monster, but it shows her mindset and her thinking which I don't think is fully evolved, she isn't very empathetic. A couple of Christmases ago one of my best friends was battling cancer, and I was told that she wasn't going to make it to the new year. However, my mum had a go at me for being upset and crying as I was 'ruining christmas' - she had put all her hopes into having a happy christmas, she couldn't cope when it didn't go to plan, even though there was a valid reason behind why it wasn't all happy. This makes her sound dreadful, but I feel sorry for her as she's never really had to grow up and develop empathy, and is mentally almost like a child. When I needed someone to look after DS when DD was being born, she refused as she said she'd never stayed in a house overnight on her own before and so she just couldn't look after him, we had to get my FIL down from up north to help out. In my mind that isn't her being manipulative, but shows her thinking isn't quite right.

What I'd love is for her to realise she needs outside support and accept help. As I've said, she refuses to see a counsellor or anything, although she does take anti-depressants and has done for a long time (as a child I remember she had to take valium). She won't even accept help from a cleaner or anything (I've offered to pay for one) as she doesn't want a stranger in the house. What can you do?

My maybe misplaced optimism is hoping that as she's now under the care of the neurology department at the hospital due to her epileptic fit yesterday, and they know about her eating disorder, they might start to connect the dots and offer her more help than just giving her anti-depressants. Luckily my uncle is on board with seeing that she get help too, hopefully together we will help her see that she can't go on like this.

Sorry for the essay!

fiorentina99 Fri 15-Nov-13 13:42:44

Hi AdoraBell, thanks for your reply, yes I have a fantastic afuera nana who I'm sure would help me if she came to visit. Luckily no immunisations are needed for Chile, I'd have to look into health insurance. She's got a history of blood clots but is on warfarin, hopefully that wouldn't be an issue. I'll look into it, I'd like to be able to let her see it's not all going to be doom and gloom for the next few years.

AdoraBell Fri 15-Nov-13 13:52:35

We had To have needles when we moved hereenvy

Does DH's company providencia your Health insurance? Would it be possible To do a short term add on? I have no clue btw as we aren't on an expat package so I don't what is/isn't doable.

AdoraBell Fri 15-Nov-13 13:53:23

provide Health care, Doh!

Kerosene Fri 15-Nov-13 13:54:03

I've needed airport assistance several times and arranged it for my Gran flying to the US (first time she'd been out of the country), and I've nothing but compliments for them - all have been lovely. Gran spent her transfer through Toronto flirting with the assistant, so I assume she found it quite entertaining.

What happens is that they'll meet her at check-in and take her through security to the gate. Gate staff will know her and help her board early, help get her settled. At connections, she'll be met at the plane, whisked through any passport/baggage stuff and taken to her next plane. Any problems (delayed flight or whatever) and there's somebody there who knows the airport well and is right to hand to help her. Final destination - met at the plane, taken through immigration, bags collected and then to arrivals where you can meet her.

Would that, paired with a good local taxi company (who might be able to assist her to the check-in desk) work for her?

WhataSook Fri 15-Nov-13 13:59:25

Could you start skyping? My family is in Aus and I skype every week. Skype is not the same as being able to give their DGC a hug but its a close second! My DP have been able to see DD grow up and if I'm honest DD spends 'more time' with my family than with DH family smile

attheendoftheendofmytether Fri 15-Nov-13 14:00:02

Sounds a bit like my mum fiorentina except my father died rather than divorce and all the family swept in to take care of everything. She has had a very sheltered life, lack of money meant no foreign travel at all, although life insurance and good investment from my Dad meant she just managed to raise us without working so she didn't even develop a lot of basic skills you encounter just by having a job. Going to Australia seemed as straightforward as going to the moon would seem for me. She is locked in a very small world of relatives and close friends who live virtually in the same street and seems a lot older than she is (mid 60s now). Its hard to believe only 25 years separate us.

Good luck.

fiorentina99 Fri 15-Nov-13 14:03:14

AdoraBell, thinking about it we did have jabs before we came here, I was told we didn't HAVE to have them to get into the country, but they were advisable especially for the little ones (though DD was too young) - prob best for my mum too, don't want any more health problems! I'm not sure about the health insurance, we're currently just on travel insurance but that will probably change with my DH's new job.

Kerosene, that sounds fantastic and exactly what she needs. I know a great car hire firm that could get her to heathrow and into the airport (they are really helpful), if she could have all the assistance with security and gates and physically get on the right plane and the same help at the other end then I could literally meet her in the airport at Argentina. My uncle hopefully would be fine looking after my grandfather for a few weeks, he did it well when she was in hospital having a knee replacement earlier in the year.

fiorentina99 Fri 15-Nov-13 14:11:47

WhataSook, we Skype loads, you're right it's fantastic, it's been great for her, and my son's really good at interacting with her really naturally, and she can see our baby growing up. I had moved abroad once before back in the 90s but only to France for 1 year, it was so different then, just writing letters and phone calls, things are so much better now.

endofmytether thanks for that, yes that's exactly what it's like. All of my extended family on her side live in the same town, and there's a trend of older parents living with younger siblings (all my extended family live like that). She's lived in her current house for 47 years, and the house has had 4 generations from my great-grandmother to me living in it. It's a very small world for her. Made me want to explore the world though!

As well as the travel assistance, could you not try and find a student aged child of someone you know and offer them flights to Chile to act as her helper. Would be much cheaper than you doing double trips, and I would have thought a student would leap at free flights!

I'm not sure how the assistance works if you need to change planes - I know Air Canada will only take unaccompanied minors on direct flights.

cathpip Fri 15-Nov-13 14:15:00

I can always remember something my mum said when my brother mentioned that he and his wife were looking at moving to Australia for a few years. " yes I will be sad if you move, but I would never dream of trying to stop you going. You only live once and if I had the chances that you have now, I would be on that plane so fast". My brother now lives in Australia, but with Facebook and Skype I talk to him far more than if he was an hour down the road. Your mum is being a tad selfish IMO, your family and their happiness comes first.

fluffyraggies Fri 15-Nov-13 14:15:02

Just wanted to wish you all the best OP. (fellow only child here)

My mother is continuing to guilt trip me about moving 8 miles away to a different village earlier this year hmm

I think she'd just combust in and explosion of guilt trippyness if i were to try to move abroad. It has all made me resolved NOT to be the same to my DDs.

AdoraBell Fri 15-Nov-13 14:17:11

Have a look on the NHS Direct website and see what they currently say about Chile. I can't remember what we had now.

Are you in a major City? I'm thinking before people make comments To her like 'it's all jungle out there' like my ILs you could e-Mail her photos of your days out, shopping malls, cinema, market and súpermarkets, pharmacy etc. So she can see you live in civilisation and she doesn't need To worry about that aspect.

diddl Fri 15-Nov-13 14:19:30

Well it's obviously upsetting for her to think that you would be gone for 18months(?) originally, & now there are another 3yrs onto that.

But it's not your fault that she has reacted so badly, or that she can't/won't travel to you.

AdoraBell Fri 15-Nov-13 14:32:33

Just seen your post re your friend and Christmas.

Yes, very child like thinking. But you are right To be proud that she left and abusive man. And I'm sorry for the loss of your friend.

LikeATeenager Fri 15-Nov-13 15:28:27

I have PMed you. I've always wanted to visit S America so maybe if you could help recommend a nice hotel and contribute a bit towards the airfare I could help out? Obviously I won't be offended if you don't feel that would be right for you and your family, but just thought I would suggest it!

springytick Fri 15-Nov-13 16:43:50

Ha! Yu got there before me, Like wink

tbh I'm thinking of the health insurance since this last collapse - I'm assuming it would probably be very expensive? sad

It's a difficult one because it's probably too late for her to change. Even if she wanted to... and she doesn't. I would find that very trying ie 'forcing' you to be her world for her, instead of doing something about it herself. You sound very sanguine about her 'faults' eg her saying you were 'spoiling christmas' when your friend was dying. Im not sure I would be as forgiving. Perhaps you are following on the family tradition of not expecting even the basics from her, feeling sorry for her, looking after her? Just a thought.

I really do feel for her - I would find it extremely difficult if my dc and future gc moved abroad long haul. On paper, you cant put your life on hold, especially as she refuses to address her own life, but demands that people see to her needs. It's all very well to say you wont bend to her demands (and she is being demanding, even if it doesn't look like it) but there's a lot of guilt that goes with it, particularly as you're the only child.

fwiw my partially-sighted friend flew to Oz and was royally looked after by the airlines. (Apart from her 'partially-sighted' badge being changed to 'BLIND' when she got half way lol! She took it in good spirit because they were so good to her and really looked after her). You never know, a trip out to you could be the making of her....

Iggyaus Fri 15-Nov-13 17:35:17

Stay where you are, but if you can come home for a visit this Christmas or plan holiday to visit your mum then do so.

Your mum's heath is worrying but not really yours to worry about and she is the one who BU. I think you need to establish a time when you will contact her once a week and stick to it, you can not be living your life out there whilst still trying to please her at home. You need to enjoy your time out there, what a adventure!!

Life your life for you not for others. If your children had this oppotunity would you act like this to make them feel as bad as your mum is making you feel???

Break the cycle, show your kids how situations like this need to be managed and life your life.

Your mum should be happy your happy, she will always miss you and that's fine but she needs to deal with it, she can't count down 3 years, what a waste of her own life.

fiorentina99 Mon 18-Nov-13 15:24:49

Thanks for all the responses, I really appreciate it. I was worried about posting but I'm so glad I did as I'm now much clearer in my mind, and have also been able to think of practical solutions! Thank you! My mum's now out of hospital, still a bit shaky but feeling lots better. She's keen to come out to visit me, we've agreed that she'll travel out with the whole family when we travel back after visiting the UK in the summer, and then she'll go back with the help of a chaperone person on her own, which is a massive step for her to agree to. Thank you!

Nanny0gg Tue 19-Nov-13 00:49:50

Excellent news!

I hope it's a successful visit!

Mellowandfruitful Tue 19-Nov-13 01:04:14

That's great progress. Re the Warfarin, she could take or be given an anticoagulant injection before the flight to reduce the risk of clotting. There are insurers who will cover this too.

Ragusa Tue 19-Nov-13 01:10:21

I'm glad you have found a solution.

I can't believe how harsh some of the posters on here have been though, talking about emotional blackmail and stately homes threads.

I think it's entirely understandable that a depressed, anorexic, socially isolated, carer would be hugely upset that her child and DGCs are not coming back. I am not for a moment saying that you should be responsible for her happiness but some sympathy from some posters (not you OP, you sound lovely) wouldn't go amiss. I think most people who haven't personally suffered mental illness massively underestimate the abject misery it can bring.

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