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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?


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!

SilasGreenback Fri 15-Nov-13 14:12:49

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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