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To be worried about MILs plans

(124 Posts)
have2nc Thu 17-Mar-16 08:39:56

MIL is 80 and lives alone. I think she suffers from depression, but her DC don't seem to feel able to discuss it with her. Her DD describes their family approach to things as 'sweep it under the carpet'. She is very isolated; won't try join groups or meet people. Gets very little exercise or fresh air. I learned recently that she uses her car now to drive one block from her house to get milk, because she gets out of breath walking that distance. She is overweight, but not massively I don't think. I never think of her in those terms but DH worries she is. I talk to DH about this but would never interfere with her DCs relationship with her. 

Anyway, we live in a rural village and MIL lives in a city about 45 mins drive from us. I have a 1yr old and a 4 yr old - both born after I turned 40. 

Last year I learned MIL was considering selling her city home (a ground floor property, no stairs) and buying a new build double storey home in a village maybe 5 mins from us. No one told me about this, including DH, until she was viewing plans and 'deciding '. Apparently she'd like to live near a field and not a street.

I panicked. I have a number of  concerns. Many of them selfish which is why I'm not sure if IABU.

First, she's 80 and I think stairs are an issue. Even DH and she see this as temporary before she moves into her 'old age' type home where she'll get more support. Problem is, I think she's at that 'old age' age now, especially hearing she can't walk one block.

The re-sale value of the village house later won't translate into funds she can use to move back into the city later. I'm worried she'll be trapped here, next door to me.

Bus service to town is very infrequent and unreliable. I don't think she should be driving much longer. She's already hazardously slow on the road.

Nearest hospital is an hour away in a car, so 2 hour round trip. And she's 80.

And this is the selfish bit. I suspect she thinks she'll see my DCs more often. I am craving spare time. I want to re-train and start working again. I don't want to accommodate expected increase in regular visits when I'm struggling for time already and they are unavoidable when she'd be so close. I feel my freedom closing down already, and it feels bloody unfair. DH takes them to see her weekly at the moment.

DH works in town and all her family are there too. I don't want to be the point of call to check on her or give her lifts or any of the myriad things, just because I am near-by. And at her age and her health, I really expect that to happen pretty soon.

My gut feeling us her DD wants to move away, and is trying to pass care on (they are close and see each other all the time). I can't fill that gap. We're not close. FIL was toxic, and although he has died and she isn't toxic, it still affected our relationship because I kept my distance. I know she thinks I should have tolerated him regardless, and she is silently disapproving, and always always finds a way to bring me down. Whenever I'm with her I wait for the comment and almost feel relief that she's made it and hopefully it's out the way for the rest of the visit.

AIBU to want her DCs to dissuade her from this move. I feel ill about it. I feel it could really ruin my life. There. Selfish.

PurpleWithRed Thu 17-Mar-16 08:46:23

I was beginning to think you were selfish until I got to "she is silently disapproving, and always always finds a way to bring me down. Whenever I'm with her I wait for the comment and almost feel relief that she's made it".

Why can't you discuss your DMILs intentions with DH and your DSIS? I think this is your biggest problem. You really need to make it clear that if she does move close you will not be taking responsibility for her.

aprilanne Thu 17-Mar-16 08:51:04

hello have ..while you cannot stop her moving you can stop how it affects you .if she wants to see the children more your hubby can take them do not have to take reponsibility for her care that is up to hubby and his sister .my pils are horrid people and my hubby knows i would be in the divorce courts before i would look after them .they are his problem not yours

Whatdoidohelp Thu 17-Mar-16 08:54:18

You need to have a discussion with all the siblings first of all. Then approach MIL and discover what her intentions are and what the plans is for the next 5-10 years.

Sweeping it under the carpet is no longer an option.

KimmySchmidtsSmile Thu 17-Mar-16 08:55:02

You poor bugger.
So, how many siblings are there, just two?
If she is not an independent, sprightly 80 year old, then you are right to think a warden-patrolled community with social circle would be a far far better choice if affordable.
You can either:
Step up but within limits e.g. one visit you do extra/week
Arrange a weekly internet shop delivery
Move house yourself
Go back to work f/t and tell DH and SIL their problem
Organise a granny flat extension joking

Good luck x

have2nc Thu 17-Mar-16 08:55:13

I have discussed it with DH and I have made that clear. He assures me he'll take all responsibilities on. Not me. But realistically he can't; he's at work. How could I expect him to drop work and drive all the way out to village to deal with whatever might be happening with his DM?

I could never discuss this with DSIL. I know my boundaries. FIL was awful. They know he was awful, but everyone, except me, sucked it up. I know as a family they think I should have just tolerated him like they did. I like SIL a great deal, but I know that if I appear to be pushing away her DM it'll raise old issues.

DH can't talk to his DS about sensitive stuff but I insisted he did. She apparently got very defensive and said a friend of hers lives there and is encouraging it as a good idea.

I think they both kept it from me because they know I will be massively impacted on, more than any of them.

shovetheholly Thu 17-Mar-16 09:00:20

I think you need to be absolutely clear with your DH about what you can and cannot offer here. She is his mother, and he's the one who needs to offer extra support if necessary.

I also think you need to be absolutely clear in your own mind that you have a right to a life of your own, and that you are allowed to say 'no' and not be guilted into doing more than you are able. Don't underestimate the difficulty of achieving this- you may yourself need help such as assertiveness training or counselling.

I also think your DH - NOT you - needs to be absolutely clear with her about the two points above. The conversation cannot skirt around these issues, because they really NEED to be considered as part of her decisionmaking.

In terms of accommodation - has she considered extra care? She sounds like a prime candidate for it and it would be a clear and obvious solution. She could live independently for as long as she is able, and then get more assistance as/when it's needed without having to move a second time. This would be the ideal solution as heavy care responsibilities would already have been factored in.

have2nc Thu 17-Mar-16 09:01:15

She has 3DCs. The eldest DD is a waste of space - I think an alcoholic - and would definitely try manipulate DH and pull all his guilt strings. She's the most similar to his DF. Whenever she's around MIL is even more passive aggressive to me.

kimmy we just moved here. It's supposed to be my forever home. And it has the beginnings of a granny cottage on it (!) so, I half expect that to be the next suggestion when she needs to move out her new build. There is just no way in hell I could become her carer in my home. We're not close.

shovetheholly Thu 17-Mar-16 09:01:46

"How could I expect him to drop work and drive all the way out to village to deal with whatever might be happening with his DM?"

This is the dilemma many, many working women face. Let him face it too. If you are retraining and getting your own career back on track, you will be as busy as he is.

have2nc Thu 17-Mar-16 09:08:52

One other thing - sorry, don't mean to dripfeed - when FIL was dying and had dementia, he was assessed by an occupational therapist. MIL was present. Afterwards the OT took SIL to one side and said she was also worried about MIL, and thought there were early signs of dementia there too. How she could tell I don't know. Her DCs have dismissed it as MIL being under huge stress. But I've noticed weird memory lapses. I always point them out to my DH but he is in denial (IMO). I've also made it clear he must never leave our DCs alone with her, which he respects. I just think this move idea is insane.

KimmySchmidtsSmile Thu 17-Mar-16 09:09:46


Really feel for you. How soon is this happening? Realistically, you won't be free to take a breather before retraining til your kids are 3 and 6, right? Unless you have childcare funds in place. Also assume she cannot take the kids at her age to give you some time off/start retraining.
I would start off working out what your plans are for the next five years...if you are continuing as a SAHM totally unfairly you are going to be seen as available. Having got kids of similar age (5 and 2) I am well aware of what you currently do and what you crave.
Here, have some choc and a cuppa. chocolate brew
I think you need to tell DH to stop ostriching: one friend in a village is not going to cut it. Has the sister who is close to her got kids? Does she feel it is now her brother's "turn"?

KimmySchmidtsSmile Thu 17-Mar-16 09:13:17

So she definitely cannot have the kids on her own.
I happen to agree with you that depression+memory lapses+isolation+lack of exercise+unsteady driving+steps in her new house = total frigging disaster.
So what elderly community living options are available and can she afford that?

have2nc Thu 17-Mar-16 09:14:25

I've always worked from home and plan to continue so I can be flexible around my kids. Frankly, I know that working at home will mean they think I'm free for MIL too. MIL has never been infirm before so no one has had to care for her, so there should be no resentment about 'turns'. SIL does have kids but they're fully grown. DH and I started really late!

The plans have been put on hold until autumn. I want them to not happen at all.

shovetheholly Thu 17-Mar-16 09:18:57

"Frankly, I know that working at home will mean they think I'm free for MIL too."

This, really, is up to you. It would be nice if we all could go through life without ever having to set boundaries, and without ever having to be firmer with others than we would like. But realistically, that never happens. I say this as someone who is learning this lesson myself with a domineering MIL.

You can't stop her from moving, but you can absolutely ensure that the entire responsibility does not fall on your neck. You say that you've spoken to your DH, but the tone of your posts makes it clear that you feel railroaded into this. This suggests to me that you do not, in fact, feel that your DH is really listening and understanding.

You are in control of how you spend your time, and you are allowed to say no. That WILL mean allowing this to fall on your DH and to affect his career. He needs to understand that in black-and-white terms.

You really, really need to get her into extracare IMO.

have2nc Thu 17-Mar-16 09:19:23

I am genuinely telling it like it is. DCs don't recognise the cumulative issues and MIL doesn't think she has issues either. She still does 7+ drives to other side of country to visit her siblings, which I find truly frightening. I have actually said to DH that she could kill people. Their family deals with NOTHING! Legacy from toxic FIL.

SquinkiesRule Thu 17-Mar-16 09:20:10

Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.
She should be looking into retirement apartments. My spritly Mum bought a gorgeous one at 73. No wardens but pull bells for emergencies and a manager each morning for any concerns about the building. Lots of people, she's got an excellent social life, still drives, but also does things with the other residents.
My Mum was dead set against them till we went to view a few places, both retirement and normal flats, then she was all gung ho and is loving life.

girlywhirly Thu 17-Mar-16 09:21:10

I think that her DC should break the habit of a lifetime and talk MIL out of her current plan. Living in a village with poor travel links is a bad plan if she will need to give up her car soon. A two level home will only work if she can have a stairlift. She wants to move to a more rural location temporarily before moving to an 'old age home' why not cut out the village home and move to sheltered housing in the first place? Is she aware of how hard and exhausting it is to move home, so why have to do it twice?

I understand your reluctance to take over looking after her, especially as she has been so nasty to you. The bottom line is you are looking to go back to work and you will not be available. MIL needs to understand and accept this, as does SIL.

I feel it is down to DH and SIL to be very honest with MIL that what she plans is not really practical. Something like a sheltered retirement flat with a warden would suit her ideally just now, and she would still be able to have carers and meals on wheels etc when necessary. Maybe she just isn't aware of these things.

have2nc Thu 17-Mar-16 09:21:53

I mean, drives that are 7+ hours long.

have2nc Thu 17-Mar-16 09:27:31

girly totally agree. Problem is DH reverts to the whipped little boy when topic of dealing with parents comes up. I find that painful to deal with. I thought FILs death drew a line - and in some ways it has - but he struggles. Other issue is he doesn't fully accept all of what I am saying. SIL behaves as if her mum is 40 and fighting fit!

DH will try take everything on, but it will take him away from me and DCs. He doesn't have much time either.

I am still pushing him to deal with it, but it traumatises him every time it gets discussed. I really resent that we are back in this space.

SisterMoonshine Thu 17-Mar-16 09:29:47

Oh no. You work from home and have a granny cottage?
The family so have their eye on that.
It might come to you being quite ruda and hard in the future. And when it comes to it, letting social services be involved and make it clear you're not helping.
It might mean some awkward moments with the family though.

have2nc Thu 17-Mar-16 09:32:59

My family live in a different country and rarely see DCs. We bought this house partly so we could one day finish granny flat and they could visit more often so my DCs know them too. MIL is not living there, no matter what. They will think I'm putting my family first but if DH tries to do that to me it would be a serious problem in my marriage.

Bullshitbingo Thu 17-Mar-16 09:43:15

flowers OP

I could almost have written your post, slightly different family details, but the gist is the same. PP have given really good advice about boundary setting and being clear with your DH and his family about what you're prepared to do and not do.
However, I'm sorry to sound negative, but none of that will really matter if she makes this move and you're the only one to hand. If she rings you cos she's had a fall, or locked herself out or forgotten where she's parked her car or any of a thousand other mini crises that will happen to an elderly person (never mind the dementia) are you realistically going to be able to hang up and tell her to ring your sil or your DH who might be ages away? Even if you were prepared to do that and stick to your guns, how long before your dh is calling you heartless and arguing with you because he's stressed and tired and doesn't understand why you can't help out more? You of course can remind him of the discussions you're having now, but really, when his mother is deteriorating, and he's having to deal with it, your relationship with him is going to suffer and you will end up in exactly the position you don't want to be. Either as a part time carer or with mil living in your house/granny cottage.
It's not being cruel to be realistic about who you are and what you can handle. Spell out to your DH that they need to explore other options, or he could be looking at being divorced or with a deeply unhappy spouse in a few years. If he cares less about your happiness than about his own inability to talk to his own mother and sister, then you have a big DH problem.

Sorry if I sound harsh but I feel like I can see exactly where this is going and you're going to get shafted. When it comes to unpaid care work, it's always women who end up doing the lions share, and in this scenario you really shouldn't have to.

paxillin Thu 17-Mar-16 09:46:25

The only thing you can really do is making abundantly clear you won't be the carer. Not daily, not weekly. You will have to say this to SIL as well as DH. And continue to make clear she cannot move into the granny annexe. Again, say it out loud to SIL and DH.

whatevva Thu 17-Mar-16 09:46:35

If the plans are on hold until autumn, that is the thin end of the wedge grin Make the most of it. Moving is usually easier in spring/summer anyway so it may not happen in the winter............. If she is not so sprightly, ideas may change in that time. It is probably the 'sweeping it under the carpet' way of dealing with it.

Does DH realise that if he is going to drive to DM's at her bidding, take her to hospital appts etc, that it will mean he does not have time with his family (and you will have to pick up the slack here). This may go on for years.

I would be researching private 'sheltered' housing (some of it is not so sheltered, some of it more communal), health services, all the financial ins and outs of care packages etc (complicated) and dumping it on DH.

Queenie73 Thu 17-Mar-16 09:51:37

Could the granny cottage be converted into some sort of office/storage space? I work from home too and I'd be tempted to convert it for my work needs, to make it quite clear that it wasn't going to be used for grannies(or at any rate, this granny).
I cared for my MIL for the last few months of her life. I was very young and had no kids yet, but it was really tough on every level. I'm glad I did it because I loved my MIL, but any sort of dependent relationship which starts out with resentment is only going to get worse. As much as I avoid confrontation normally, I do think you need to speak out and make it really clear that you will not be available for little errands, or for having her round every time she feels a bit lonely ( I am plagued by people who think that working from home means that I am available for coffee/gossip/errands at any time).

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