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To not visit my mother until she apoligises

(93 Posts)
fedup123 Sat 20-Jul-13 09:17:44

Sorry this is very long story but u need the background info.

My mother is in her nursing home, she is mentally all there but physically not able to do much for herself. All her care and basic needs are met well in a genuinely lovely home.

I have 2 kids under 6, a job and also look after my dad who has dementia but still lives in his own home. I also need to do a fair bit for my mother in law who is also in poor health and living alone at home. So basically I have a lot on. My husband helps alot but works long hours and has a health problem of his own which means it is really important he keeps fit - so that takes up a lot of time.

I feel like I am constantly spinning plates. About April time this all got too much for me - my hair was falling out, I constantly had a cold and no energy and was snapping at my husband and kids. Since then I took stock and have tried to make some time for myself (i now go the gym twice a week) and get 8 hours sleep a night.

Anyway my mother is constantly demanding my time, giving me tasks to do (like washing and taking her to routine medical appointments) which could done by the home she is in. She moans constantly about everything, the home, the staff, her health, my brother, my dad, how bored she is and also has digs at me.

So I get to the point now! On Thursday (my day off work) I never stopped. A well overdue opticians appointment for me, on the phone for ages trying to get a doctor out to visit my mother in law, on the phone getting plumber out to fix broken pipe, cleaning house, washing, cleaning my dad's house. All whist entertaining a 4 year old. When dh got in from work I went out to visit her on my way to a class at the gym. When i got to the home she was on the toilet. I waited a bit then left to get to my class. This clearly displeased her as she did not answer her phone when I called later - passive aggressive.

Anyway last night i tried calling her again and as soon as she come on the phone it was moaning about just about everything. It started with me being 'too busy to wait to see her on thurs and to complaints about the home and says she would be better in her own house. I gently remind her how difficult it was in her own home, but she continues about how she is abandoned in the home (she had had visits of my dad and her friends that day and I was there on mon, and I think my brother had either been there or called on Wed). I asked her if would just try to be more positive and stop trying to make me feel guilty when I was doing my best, her response to this was to say "well if the cap fits". I hung up on her (something I have never done before) and feel a apology and change in attitude is needed from her. What do you think is this reasonable?

springytoto Sun 21-Jul-13 22:40:37

great post faberge - humbling, shows it from the other side.

katykuns Sun 21-Jul-13 11:23:40

"If I were you, the time I would be spending with my mum would be purely leisure and recreational, going to cafés together, perhaps bringing the children, wandering round garden centres, stuff like that. I would spend no time doing chores for her at all. Perhaps once she is relying on lots of readily available staff and not on one busy daughter, she will become calmer and less stressed and the time you spend together could be relaxing for you both."

Exactly this. She needs to get some social time, and you need some more pleasant time with her so you don't resent her. You could have your Dad there too, maybe do something like going to a carvery every Sunday, then your Dad is also getting a meal. The children and DH could go and you all work like a team. Then your Mum can't act like she is so hard done by. Leave all the general care to the staff, it's what they are paid and trained to do. The worst thing would for her to pass away and it feel more like a relief because you are so run down, and the last memories of her were of guilt tripping and running about doing errands and appointments.

Ignore the guilt tripping behaviour. It seems awful, but other posters are very correct in saying they are like toddlers. They will push and push, and only be pleased when you are in a ball on the floor sobbing, because they are unhappy with how life is, and want you to suffer as well. Ignore the negative behaviour, reward the positive. I work with a lot elderly clients in my job (in their homes). Many have family very involved. They will be happily spending their time being pleasant and polite to carers, then the family comes in and it's all demands and unpleasantness. It actually reminds me of my daughter in nursery, when she would scream and cry when I went to leave, and I would hover out of sight, and would see her suddenly go and happily play!

Don't send the text you have written, and definitely don't give her the false hope of moving back home. If she went home, you would be run off your feet with stress like before, and if you have no intention on it actually happening, are you not being more unkind to her? Just do as the other posters have said, tell her you can't make it and either brother or care staff will take her. If she argues, ignore and put the phone down. if she misses the appointment (which I doubt she will) it would only be on her, and everyone can see how silly she is being.

Good luck, I have seen the detrimental effect on family, and it's incredibly frustrating and heartbreaking to watch.

fabergeegg Sun 21-Jul-13 11:19:34

No, I wouldn't punish her by ignoring her until she apologises. I was once very ill in hospital for a number of months and have experienced first-hand that temptation to be self-centred. You sound like a saint, but you still have no idea what it's actually like to lose your freedom and spend your life waiting for someone else to do things for you. It's frustrating. I second the posters who have said you have to change the way you react to your mum. When you said about not wanting to be made to feel guilty, you were playing into her hands. She needs to know that she can moan on if she likes, but you will take no notice. Remember she's wishing you saw her more, so she's in quite a vulnerable position relationally. You're the one with all the cards.

Why not work out something that she would enjoy and feel special doing, rather than calling in for five minutes on your way to somewhere else. I don't think your mum is being unreasonable to find that quite hurtful. And a breezy 'I don't like to dwell on those things, Mum, I'm looking forward to spending some time together now,' to the complaints.

Salmotrutta Sun 21-Jul-13 11:05:13

fedup - you sound like a lovely caring person doing their level best (and much more!) in hard circumstances.

As others have said you need to arm yourself with some "comeback lines" for unfair demands: "I'm sorry I can't do X,Y,Z as I have other commitments. But I can pop in and visit on Monday blah blah". And so on - if you offer the alternative of a convenient (for you) visit that doesn't involve you running around like a blue-arsed fly doing things the care staff could do then she really has no cause for criticism.
It sounds like you find it very hard to say "No" but you really need to start learning to refuse the unreasonable requests.

And Holly - you really are all sweetness and light aren't you? hmm you seem to thrive on putting the boot in sad

2rebecca Sun 21-Jul-13 11:00:27

We are all marking time waiting to die, why is it different if you are in a nursing home Holly? If I live to be old and frail i'd rather be in a home with food and care provided and folk to chat to.

2rebecca Sun 21-Jul-13 10:58:59

I think your brother's plan of deciding what help he has time to give and sticking to it is the only sensible one.
She's in a nursing room, her needs are being met, some people have no relatives and the home sorts out their hospital appointments for them. If you choose to do alot for your mum then fine, but be aware it is a choice and you can choose to do less for her and spend more time with your husband and kids, and your father who is more in need of help as still living alone. I'd let your husband do stuff for his mum as you have a job too, he can cycle or walk to visit her to help his fitness.
It doesn't sound as though your mum appreciates alot of the stuff you do anyway and I agree with others that if she's going to be miserable regardless one of you should be doing what she wants.
I don't think you should stop visiting but decide how much you want to visit and when and don't allow yourself to be emotionally blackmailed into doing more. It sounds as though it will never be enough anyway so you may as well decide for yourself how much is enough.

Nanny0gg Sun 21-Jul-13 10:46:09

Bloody hell HollyBerryBush what else would you like the OP to do? Stick a broom up her @rse and clean her mother's room as well?

She goes to visit her mum (as well as works, takes care of her family, worries about her poorly DG, cares for her father -who has dementia- and helps with her poorly MiL) She's hardly sat on her backside painting her nails and peeling grapes.

Why should she do routine things the home is paid for? If she's spared those activities she can spend 'quality' time (loathe that expression) with her. She can do important things with her children. And won't end up resenting and begrudging every visit to her mum.

Your post was spiteful and unnecessary.

springytoto Sun 21-Jul-13 10:26:27

Sounds like your mother is sucking you bone dry - a vampire.

I'm sure you could cope with your dad and MIL but it is your mother who insists on eclipsing your life. Time to set some boundaries!

Don't expect anything from her - she is incapable of considering you and your needs and will continue to suck you dry and then discard your carcass, complaining all the while. She is a sick woman.

the time comes when you have to give up expecting a parent to parent - some never have; some get old and stop being able to do it (for whatever reason). Giving her lists of what you do would be pissing in the wind - she is obsessed with herself and her own needs and wouldn't begin to see your needs.

Have a look at this book. It is a christian book but generally accepted as the best on the market for looking at setting and upholding your boundaries.

You're a good daughter. I'm sorry you've had such a rough time with your mum ((()))

3littlefrogs Sun 21-Jul-13 10:24:56

Hollyberry. Unless you have been in a situation where you are working, bringing up children and caring for one or more old people with multiple health problems and/or dementia, you can't really know how hard it is.

Sometimes a care home is the only solution.

My dad is in a lovely care home. He needs 24/7 care and, because he is wheelchair bound, he needs to be in a purpose built wheelchair accessible environment. He has lots of activities, company, good food, entertainment and assistance with personal care that he would be mortified to have his daughter doing for him. He is happy.

I agree, some care homes are awful, and we had some bad experiences before we found this one, but we have an ageing population and as a society we have to find solutions.

One person cannot do everything and it sounds as if the op has her hands full.

digerd Sun 21-Jul-13 10:09:27

As you are helping to look after your MIL, can SIL - DBs OH also chip in and help with her MIL?

formicadinosaur Sun 21-Jul-13 10:05:41

I like the idea of telling brother when the appointment is and organising him to take mum

JaxTellerIsAllMine Sun 21-Jul-13 09:59:30

Wow holly berry. Not a clue angry what a spiteful post

HollyBerryBush Sun 21-Jul-13 09:53:21

as intended

LEMisdisappointed Sun 21-Jul-13 09:52:41

Thats a helpful post right there, holly hmm

HollyBerryBush Sun 21-Jul-13 09:44:47

It must be hell to be in a home and just mark time waiting to die.

3littlefrogs Sun 21-Jul-13 09:42:29

olidusUrsus is spot on.

Catkinsthecatinthehat Sun 21-Jul-13 08:38:44

What would happen if your brother turned up to take her to the appointment and just said 'sorry, something's just come up with sis, jump in the car I'm taking you now'? Present it as a fait accompli.

Your thinking is skewed as you are so ground down. You are resigned to missing your son's special day for no other reason that your mother wants you to miss it because she knows it is special.

LEMisdisappointed Sun 21-Jul-13 08:24:47

Just a thought - although, "no" is perfectly acceptable in this instance. Would it be possible to change the appointment time? I know its pandering to her but in the long run could be easier if she genuinely doesn't understand what the doctor says to her.

olidusUrsus Sun 21-Jul-13 04:46:34

As an ex-care home worker, I have to admit, I did automatically side with your mum a little bit. A care home is often truly miserable place to be if you are physically unable but mentally fine. Depending on the type of home she's in, there may not be many other mentally-well residents and you may be one of her few forms of adult company who isn't paid to be there.

However, I would start letting the home do their jobs. Let them take her to appointments, to the shops and maybe she will get to know different carers, different people and eventually start making some new friends and bonding with those who care for her.

If I were you, the time I would be spending with my mum would be purely leisure and recreational, going to cafés together, perhaps bringing the children, wandering round garden centres, stuff like that. I would spend no time doing chores for her at all. Perhaps once she is relying on lots of readily available staff and not on one busy daughter, she will become calmer and less stressed and the time you spend together could be relaxing for you both.

I'd kick start this new routine by brightly saying "I'm sorry, I have to do stuff with the kids that day. Unavoidable. One of the carers will take you. Perhaps you could ask so-and-so, they're lovely".

Don't send the text, don't confront her about being a misery, because I suspect all this anger is a manifestation of loneliness and pain. Pointing it out won't help. But anyway, best of luck with it all.

GingerBlondecat Sun 21-Jul-13 03:38:43

I wish I hadn't read this. All it did was remind me of being my Mum's carer, got burn out. All I manage now is an occational phone call that is triggering in itself. She hasn't changed.

(((((((((((((((Huge Soft Warm Hugs))))))))))))))) OP

Please, Protect your own health and sanity.

ratbagcatbag Sun 21-Jul-13 03:01:35

Please tell me fed up you are going to see your son graduate? It's all about control, her wants do not take priority over yours and your sons wants.

We're in a similar position as I said with dpil, my dsil does a lot more than we do, we're not being horrible, my DSS missed so many of his activities over winter due to dfil in hospital then care home, my dd is 18 weeks old, we cannot keep doing what we were doing unfortunately. We try and get up once per week and take dmil, I have spent a lot of time doing other practical stuff for her such as separating finances for them etc. BUT I'm sure my dsil thinks we could do more, our stance is if she wants to run herself into the ground that's her choice, we can't help that but were not putting ourselves in the same position, maybe that's harsh but tough.

Interestingly, my dmil is lovely, but a few family members are saying she's become quite selfish and denanding, really?!?, nope only if you let her, she tried it once with me, being off because I didn't drop everything immediately, I explained why and she started being stroppy on the phone, I called her on it immediately, she's never done it again. She does it with my dsil because she can.

I'm really imploring you just to say no to this one thing,it will feel huge now but it's so important for your son and you. Don't tell her until the night before if needed, if it makes you feel better prep a list of questions for brother to ask, if she gives you hassle, explain calmly this is what is happening and refuse to discuss further. If she carries on, tell her you will speak to her on x date and you're going. Turn off house phone and mobile unil after nursery graduation.

Rulesgirl Sun 21-Jul-13 01:57:02

I think you need to seriously start looking after you first cause if you don't then all the other people depending on you wont have anyone anyway. But you have to be selfish here. People cope when they have to so your mother can have her needs met by the nursing staff and you can just visit her and chat etc. Get yourself the cleaner. Waiting for her to apologise might not happen. She may just act normal with you as if nothing happened. So what you need to start doing is practising some assertiveness and change the way you talk and deal with her. Always have some stock phrases to reply to her with that are neutral and non aggressive so your not stuck when she starts moaning at you.

Nanny0gg Sun 21-Jul-13 01:38:13

sammythemummy So the OP has got to carry on running herself into the ground, and putting her family's needs last so that she can pander to her mother's unreasonable needs?
She's not wanting to abandon her. She needs her brother to help out and she needs to let the home do what they're paid for while she sees her mother socially, not as a carer.

And she shouldn't miss out on her son's events because her mother is being awkward.

cleopatrasasp Sun 21-Jul-13 00:41:49

Wants are not needs OP, your mother has wants, her needs are already taken care of without your input. She is sucking you dry, your own body is clearly telling you this. Go and see her once a week or twice tops. Any complaining or being nasty from her and walk away until she learns her lesson. If she is nice reward her with longer or more frequent visits. Your brother is actually right, he does what he can without compromising his own life, you should do the same.

IJustWoreMyTrenchcoat Sat 20-Jul-13 23:51:05

My grandma was like this when I was growing up (well, she still is but has dementia now as well). My mother never did learn to stand up to her, she just constantly feels guilty and kowtowed and even now drops everything for her. My poor mum had a horrible childhood at the hands of this horrible narcissistic woman, and has never been able to stand up to her or put her family first.

She was a wonderful mum, like you she tried to do everything for everybody and she was the one who suffered. We often came second to my grandma's demands just because of the sheer force of personality she had. Put your own family first, please don't try to be a martyr.

Your mum is not in a bad situation, she is in a nice home with all of her faculties. Let the home take some of the strain.

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