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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


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?


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.

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