To have told my mum it's not the 1950's when discussing housework!(14 Posts)
I need to set the scene first.
I'm a lone parent who works 25 hours Monday to Friday. I live 3 miles from my parents (in their 70's) as does my married brother.
I'm on leave this week as is my brother. I've obviously made plans for the week and my DD (9) and I have been busy until today.
I had lunch with my parents Sunday just gone so 3 days ago. I told my mum I had plans majority of the week etc as I wanted to spend it with DD.
My mum has had a urine infection and I'd asked if she needed me to do anything on Sunday, she said no and it had now gone.
My brother only sees my parents when he picks his kids up from my parents who do a lot of childcare for him and his wife. His wife usually does pick up, so he sees them probably once a month. I see them at least twice a week and speak 2/3 times a week on the phone.
I've just had this passive aggressive phone conversation with my mum.
Oh you're in then, yes mum you ok?
No I've been in bed all week ill, oh right, I didn't know we've been mad busy.
Yes, I've not warranted a phone call from you have I, you're not interested in me.
No mum, I saw you on Sunday and I didn't know you've been poorly as we've been out all week.
Then a barrage of unpleasantness came of how I don't care, her bed needs changing and housework needs doing.
So I said we were going to call to see her anyway today, so I'll change bed etc later.
She wanted to know what time, I said sometime this afternoon and that wasn't good enough! (She's not going out today either).
I said you can ask 'x' my brother for help as he's off this week and she said 'you can't ask a man to do housework or change beds'.
I said it's not the 1950's you know and she said it's a woman's job.
I just give up, I'm always her first call to shout at and have a go. My brother does nothing and leads a charmed life.
So I'll go up there and the bed will be changed already and she'll moan I wasn't willing to help and how poorly she is and is worse now she's changed the bed.
My dad is awful to her as he finds her constant trips to the GP and illnesses draining (he doesn't believe her). This sounds horrible but every time I see her she only talks about the next hospital appointment or illness and they all merge into one with us all and we can't keep up.
So do I try to reason with her or just do the housework and smile sweetly!
I can't confront my brother as it will all blow up in a massive argument and it will be twisted to be my fault.
I don't think it's necessarily a gender thing as I get this and I only have sisters. They both only see my mum about once a month but I am round the corner so it's always me who does everything but gets it in the neck. My mum is at her most unpleasant and demanding during school holidays because the attention is off of her. We had a massive falling out at half term and I've scaled right back on the unimportant demands. I've found that it's slowly making a difference to her attitude. You have my empathy as I know that feeling of not being able to do anything right.
Sounds like she's feeling really poorly and snappy, urine infections can make you feel dreadful.
...and your Dad isn't doing the housework because....?
Your dad doesn't believe her. Do you believe her?
I think women of her generation, brought up to be 'nice' and put their needs last, often resort to overplaying illnesses and upsets etc as they feel it a legitimate method of getting care (asking straight out would be unwomanly and selfish).
I also find that often mothers who have or feel they have made sacrifices for others (my mother is of this generation) seem to feel it is 'their turn' when it comes to their daughters (not their sons) and demand similar sacrifice.
You have a right to spend time with your dd and not dance attendance all the time. If she really can't do housework/change the bed, she needs a care package (or your father to step up), as it sounds as if you can't (and shouldn't) always drop everything to come running.
Agree with Symphony. I and DH were the only ones who did anything for either set of parents or for my grandmother (who's the most evil old cowboy you could ever imagine) and the result was that we got complained at and about, blamed for everything that wasn't done , or not done quite the way they wanted, and all of our siblings (whom parents saw once a year when they brought their kids round for their christmas presents) were so biddy wonderful and "if S had done that, he would have made a better job of it" (why the hell didn't he then? he only lives round the corner) and "Oh, I wish M didn't have to work so hard then she could come and visit me" (she's sitting in a wine bar with her mates - not at work at all).
I think it's "familiarity breeds contempt" coupled with the worry that if they upset the others then they'll NEVER see them at all - and of course, if you don't have a lot to do with somebody, it's less likely you'll fall out with them.
Of course there is no reason your brother can't do housework but if you over later on today I would just offer help with whatever. If your mum has already changed bed and moans she feeling ill you can point out you said you would do it this afternoon. If she would not wait that is her fault. I don't do passive aggressive and would not put up with it. Also whatever is wrong with your dad helping out? Your mum sounds very old fashioned. Has she not heard of equality?
They have defined rolls in the house, he does the outside etc, she does inside.
She won't ask him to change the bed, they barely speak to each other.
I do believe her about some illnesses but it is very draining as she talks of nothing else. Her friends have distanced themselves as she moves every conversation round to her health.
For example, Christmas morning, brother and family and us are opening presents and she starts the first conversation about her latest hospital appointment. Graphic details and we're trying to be polite but are really wanting to focus on the kids!
I had an op last year, I was very poorly and in hospital for a week. She came for 20 mins, never to be seen again. Then compared my problems to hers and she was worse than me.
I know I sound impatient with her but it's so hard
OP are you sure you didn't ring my mum in error? The fixation on their illness is very draining
You are trying hard to please your Mum, but it sounds like she'll never be pleased. It's really hard to feel unappreciated by a parent, and that your efforts are not being acknowledged.
You know she'll never change. So all you can do, really, is decide where your boundaries lie.
Penfold - it is isn't it. My lovely SIL's mum died recently from cancer. Even then, when she was so poorly my mum still tried to talk to her about her own health.
It was mortifying, this woman was dying and my mother was more concerned about herself. My SIL would look at me with this pained face and is try to get my mum to shut up, but still she carried on
I'm sitting here trying to delay going as I know what's coming. My brother has just put a post on Facebook of him out with his kids ... sigh!
Utis can make you feel really ill. If she's regularly Ill I'd guess she was really struggling with the set up as it is
Try to see past the comments (which yes do sound stuck in 1950s. My mum's the same) and see the person struggling behind. Doesn't mean you need to fix it but may help to frame your response if she's quite ill.
I would instigate a conversation with your parents, saying that you all (both parents, brother and you) need to make a plan if Mum's age / illness is making it difficult for her to do what they've always done.
- do they want to arrange for some regular help in the house?
- do they want you and brother to agree to do some set things weekly (eg, change the sheets)
- do they want you and your brother to both commit to 'being available to help with whatever needs doing' fo 1/2 a day on alternate weeks, or what, and get it out in the open now before they begin to need more and more care.
Young children and elderly parents are.a tough one.
As your brother is off this week, can you not just send him a friendly text along the lines 'spoken to mum today and she is feeling a bit low with an infection, is there any chance of helping out with a few things at the house?' Explain you have lots of things on and you will get there later in the week. At least give him the chance to help out. A friendly text needn't turn into a drama.
I do think it's an age thing. I know with my elderly mother, little things become the focus of the whole day and can be blown out of proportion. A phone call or visit if not on the dot can cause barbed comments. I have now started saying, I did want to talk to you/see you but I'll call/visit when you are in a better mood.
I agree with the poster above about boundaries. If she starts, say 'mum I am here to help but if you carry on like this I am going to leave.' And do. Do let her drag you into a slanging match.
What about a cleaner? If your brother cannot help out physically, can he chip in for a cleaner weekly. He seems to be saving a bit on childcare.
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