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to just want a fucking break?

(55 Posts)
JeannePoole Tue 12-Jan-16 18:24:46

This has the potential to turn into a massive long rant, so a summary:

Me: mid-40s, DH and I both work FT in specialised professional jobs. We have a one-year-old DS. My elderly mum has a neurodegenerative condition and moved next door to us (at our suggestion) a few years ago. She is more or less housebound although is capable of walking round the shops for half an hour or so if I drive her there.
I go and cook her dinner every evening. She can't eat with us because the time she needs to eat clashes with DS's bedtime and she refuses to eat a lot of stuff we like. I take her to appointments, shopping etc which can take up significant chunks of the weekend. I often get very little thanks because she's too busy criticising me for stuff I'm doing wrong with DS and I certainly don't get the sense that she realises how wearing this is and how little 'downtime' it leaves me, especially since DS was born. I've been basically her only source of support since DF died 15 years ago. She's always been quite self-centered and that's getting worse. Understandable in view of her situation but I find it hard that she never seems to consider that I'm a person too.

Anyway.

DH and I haven't had a holiday since before DS was born, and haven't been abroad for over three years. The last time we went away, we organised a carer to spend time at DM's house, but she had to pay for it, didn't like some minor aspects of it (eg the woman smoking in the garden), and so doesn't want to do it again. DH is going away for three nights with work soon and she's refused to countenance getting someone else (eg her sister who lives a couple of hours away) to help while I'm on my own looking after both her and DS. In fact, she wants to sleep at our house "because that'll be easier for both of us." No it won't.
The implication of this, of course, is that, if the only person she'll get help from - even for a couple of nights - is me, then we can't ever go on holiday. That's not fair on DH and DS.

Am I just being a selfish cow?

cuntycowfacemonkey Tue 12-Jan-16 18:29:24

No you're not being selfish at all. You need a different approach along the lines of "Mum dh and I are going on holiday on these dates, it's booked so you need to decide if you want to pay for carers or ask your sister to help whilst we are gone. Let me know"

pillowaddict Tue 12-Jan-16 18:30:08

Not at all, this sounds really wearing. I think you need to be very clear in your own boundaries about what it is you're willing to do for her and compromise on so that when you have a conversation with her about whatever it may be it will be clear you will be unshaded by her. For example know that you're explaining a carer will be stepping in for a week and will not be dissuaded, or rather that you're going away for a week and so alternative arrangements need to be made. If she's against the carer then what does she suggest? I know it's tricky because she's your dm and you want her to be happy but you can only look after others if you look after yourself.

GeoffreysGoat Tue 12-Jan-16 18:33:25

No, yanbu, social services fund respite care for exactly this reason

Not sure what the solution is, could you use her DLA to fund a carer to cook dinner on week nights, someone she could get to know and trust who would then take some of the burden when you can't?

JeannePoole Tue 12-Jan-16 18:35:37

We've had stuff (eg weekends away) booked before, and ended up cancelling them because she got herself in such a state in the runup. I think if we tried those kind of tactics there'd be some kind of 'emergency'...

JeannePoole Tue 12-Jan-16 18:38:14

It's a thought, Geoffreys. She doesn't currently get any benefits so she'd probably have to pay. She can easily afford it, but won't. (I know she might be able to get Attendance Allowance though.)

Osolea Tue 12-Jan-16 18:40:23

Of course you're not being selfish. Could it be worth getting her GP to talk to her about accepting other carers?

Something is going to have to give eventually, you can't let it be your own health, or sanity.

IsItMeOr Tue 12-Jan-16 18:42:48

OP it sounds like you need a break.

Yes, it's entirely possible that there will be some kind of crisis around the time of any holiday you book. It's also possible that your mum could become gravely ill and die while you're not there. But she probably won't.

You, however, are in danger of becoming too ill to care for her and your DS if you don't get more rest, including a proper holiday once in a while.

The answer is that you need to be prepared for your mum to get into a state, and to do what you can to make sure she is cared for, and still go on holiday.

Can you do that?

RaspberryOverload Tue 12-Jan-16 18:46:45

You're going to have to make it clear from the moment you first tell her, that there will be no cancellation.

This sounds harsh, but if you give in each time, then your DM will never have any incentive to accept other carers, and one day you could be unavailable for other reasons, eg in hospital, when your DH could also be unavailable.

You would just burn out if you don't get a break, and it'll be better for your mum to not rely on you alone.

Junosmum Tue 12-Jan-16 18:48:30

Social services arranged respite isn't means tested, everyone in the local authority pays the same rate (in my LA it £126 per week), different LAs have different rates.

You are not selfish and you need a break. You'll have to be firm - "were going away these dates, how do you want to get care?" A few days befroe she has an emergency " I'll call aunty Lily, she's on stand-by so will be able to come up. I'll make sure we call you everyday". Stand firm once and she'll know you aren't so easily manipulated anymore.

whois Tue 12-Jan-16 18:53:02

In 15 years time when you look back at the time energy and resources that you have given to look after your mother... How will you feel?

I bet you're not going to look back with happiness.

Who gives a flying fuck what kind of 'state' she gets herself in. She needs a career coming all the time eg for meals not just when you're away. Get it put in place. Then go away and book respite care for when you're away.

She doesn't even sound thankful or nice.

jollygoose Tue 12-Jan-16 18:55:40

you are going to have to grow a hard shell here and spell it out to her, it sounds to me like you are in desperate need of a break, tell her you will either arrange paid help on her behalf or she must ask her sister. Start doing what you want to do whenyou want otherwise your dh and ds will be suffering with you. She will almost certainly qualify for attendance allowance and like Junosmum says when you have done it once it will get easier.

Maryz Tue 12-Jan-16 18:56:44

If there is an emergency, then she will have to accept emergency care. You just have to stick to your guns once and it will never happen again.

I agree you need to work out what you can cope with, and stick to it. If you carry on as you are, you will make yourself ill, and then who will look after her.

I always find it helpful to think "what would happen if I dropped dead in the morning". If you were abducted by aliens, what would happen? She would have to accept help from someone else (family or paid) and she would survive.

Marilynsbigsister Tue 12-Jan-16 18:57:31

You need to nip this in the bud OP. My dear dear neighbour is held hostage like this by her DM. She manages fine, day to day with a little help from her daughter, but the moment she gets wind that daughter won't be there at the click of fingers, she messes with her diet (she is a diabetic, very well controlled unless she chooses otherwise) and puts her self in a hypo.... It's horrible and manipulative but after 3 cancelled holidays, friend has been persuaded not to pander to it... Provide the care/cover and live your life. You are going to have to practice some tough love !

Maryz Tue 12-Jan-16 18:58:06

Could you go away for three nights with dh by the way? I know he's working, but a hotel with someone else to cook meals and maybe a babysitter one night might be a bit of a break.

Viviennemary Tue 12-Jan-16 19:04:00

Your life sounds horribly stressful. You absolutely must have a holiday. And also working full time, a one year old and doing all the care. You will collapse soon and then everyone will suffer including you. Even apart from the holiday you need a break from the daily cooking and care. A lot of older people get very self centred and entitled. And make slaves out of their families. And often the carer falls ill. Don't let this happen.

DelphiniumBlue Tue 12-Jan-16 19:08:50

Yy to what everyone else has said re buying in care, and setting boundaries.

I'm also wondering how you manage with cooking a separate meal for her at her house every day, and a full time job and a baby.

Why does she have to eat at a time which clashes with your son's bedtime?
If its to do with pill taking times, surely these can be slowly moved to something more convenient? I'd get her to eat with D's earlier, or with you , or as someone else suggested, arrange for a carer to deal with some of this.
Its not fair for her to dictate what and when her meals are, and refuse to contemplate a carer so that you don't get a break, and she's not even nice to you!
But if you don't start laying down some boundaries, nobody will do it for you.
As a matter of interest, if she can manage half an hour round the shops, why can't she manage to make some meals ( or a least sandwich) her self?
I'm assuming its your company she's after - it sounds as if she could be quite lonely. Is there something that could be done about that?

thinkfast Tue 12-Jan-16 19:17:23

Can you clarify what your mothers capabilities are? I'm unsure why you need to go round every night to cook for her. Can you batch cook stuff in advance for her which she reheats herself or could you just go round and put it in the microwave for her?

JeannePoole Tue 12-Jan-16 19:20:51

Delphinium yes, she needs to eat at specific times because of medication. Her regime is so complex that it can't really be changed. And her condition is such that the 'window' when the medication is working isn"t long enough for her to prepare and eat a meal without impacting on the next dose.

And yes. I do think it's about the company. She'll often sit in silence while I'm cooking, then strike up a conversation the minute I try to leave.

BathtimeFunkster Tue 12-Jan-16 19:25:07

Your mother is being outrageously selfish.

She lived her life and raised her child and now she is taking over your life and your kid's childhood with her incessant demands.

Of course you must go on holidays. Of course you must not be the only person on earth who she will deign to allow to care for her.

Stop letting her completely take over your life. You don't owe her that.

LagunaBubbles Tue 12-Jan-16 19:25:54

If you don't get a break then I'm afraid you are going to make yourself really unwell, both physically and mentally and then what would happen? I feel for you and I know it will be easier said than done but you need to start being tough and getting alternative care in place, I agree with not just for you to take a holiday but all year round to.

JeannePoole Tue 12-Jan-16 19:26:48

thinkfast Sometimes that's exactly what I do. But she needs to eat at a specific time snd will get distracted by some ridiculous project or other or forget to make food if I'm not there. She's becoming incapable of prioritising.

justneedsomehandholding Tue 12-Jan-16 19:38:42

I really feel for you. You need a break; she needs to understand that. You will make yourself ill and then she won't have any choice whatsoever.

But your OP did make me laugh - it's naughty I know and no offence meant. But I couldn't help but read it as needing a fucking break. You probably do btw - once you've caught up on sleep.

I hope things improve.

JeannePoole Tue 12-Jan-16 19:41:32

grin I never thought about it reading like that!
But trust me: that's the last thing on my mind!

user7755 Tue 12-Jan-16 19:41:42

I'd suggest getting a social care assessment for your mum. This will give you a formal idea of her abilities and challenges and give you the opportunity to be clear about what you are doing. When you need a break, you tell social services that you need a break and they sort some care out for your mum. Kind of takes the heat out for you.

I realise that she might be reluctant but you could point out that getting her on their books now will mean that she won't go on the bottom of a waiting list when she actually needs more urgent care.

Alternatively you could tell her how worn down you are and how important the break is.

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