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Ailing father, difficult mother. I need to rant

(24 Posts)
frami Sat 28-Nov-15 10:15:08

Apologies from start this is going to be a long one and you are probably all going to think me the most uncaring B* ever but I need to talk/rant whatever. My father has advanced dementia my mother is his main carer. The two of us have always had a fraught relationship as she controls me by emotional bullying. She has "moods" whereby she will speak in one word with face like she's sucking on a lemon. She does not show affection and when I was a child would punish me by withdrawal of it. This is how she controlled my father too. I know it is difficult for my Mum but she makes it worse. I should say now that my parents moved to my mother's home town in Ireland 30 years ago. From the start I made it clear that that I was not going to follow which has always been a sore point. I was already married when they went (still am to same person) and emigrating was not what we wanted. Also my Mum loathes my DH, always has done, he's "not one of us" whatever that may be. Basically he came from a family where a spade is a spade, they didn't do emotional manipulation and he is indifferent to my Mum's foibles so she can't control him. She is further frustrated that she cannot criticise him for being a bad husband. We are happy and have all we need. My mother is in a horrible situation but makes it worse on herself. She is surrounded by loving siblings and their numerous offspring all of whom she's managed to alienate due to her behaviour towards them. She is also quite wealthy (I manage her finances over here and I know that there is a lot more where that came from.) and could afford to pay for more help. Not that she has to I have lost count of the times that I have arranged more help (to be financed by me - have a nest egg that I inherited). I have organised everything from an account with a taxi firm to full time carer. All have been rejected as in my Mum's opinion this should be done by me. She also refuses to phone me (too expensive), can only answer the phone at certain times but gets uptight if I don't call and gives me the monsyllabic treatment down the phone. I've discussed this with her sister whom she treats the same. I have a sister who lives nearby whom I love dearly but she has now started following Mum's example and treats me like Sh**t. Little wonder as all the burden of care falls on her, but saying that she has always been the perfect daughter, the gorgeous little girl of fairy stories, she's a nurse the career my mother approved of (my degree was pointless) she's married to a man Mum introduced her to and adores. Anyway to the point. This last year things have got worse. In March I had the first of many calls that my father is dying. I rushed over, he recovered for which I was delighted. Immediately I came back from this trip I fell really ill with a virus that was doing the rounds and which I had "put off" a few days later I went to put my hair up and noticed a large bald patch. I was diagnosed with stress alopecia, it continued and I now wear a wig. (I may add my mother thinks it's "nothing"). I have since had 3 more such calls and have been in the dog house for weeks as I couldn't go in at the last one as I broke my ankle in September and was in plaster (still have an Aircast boot). My mother does not really believe
but that is normal. It got to the stage that if I don't want to pick up the phone when I see it's my Mum as I know the conversation will go:
"your father's ill"
"What do you mean he's ill? What do the Drs say?
"He's just ill" that's all.
Then it proceeds with a demand to come over which I try to meet with all the difficulties involve. Call family one son at uni, other works for emergency services so 24/7 shifts 365 days a year, arrange school stuff for younger 2 who are both in exam year, find dog minder (dog is another sore point). Following the ankle call I took counselling and yesterday I got another call and I said NO. I know that I should go but I just can't. I have said I will make arrangements for a flying visit next week but unless my Dad dies it will be just that. DDs had leading roles in a big school Christmas musical last night and I refused to pull them from it or miss it. Nor would I make them miss a big trip that they have with the Guides today. I cannot keep taking them from school. My mother has this vision of everyone sat round the bed while my father passes like in a film. Counselling has shown me that geography and modern life probably means that this won't happen. My attempt to explain this last night saw probably the first ever real row that I have had with my mother she was truely horrible and know what I didn't cry I felt so so so ANGRY with her, I actually put the phone down and hate to say it but it was catharthic but now the guilt trip is starting. I have to phone her and I just don't want to. It will be the same if I call my sister and I will end up stressed and crying. Even worse I'm afraid that when my Dad does die I shall not be able to cry, I'm someone who cried quietly anyway and will not be able to mourn in the correct way but inside I've been mourning the person my Dad was the last 8 years.
Thanks for reading this, rant over.

Blarblarblar Sat 28-Nov-15 10:32:41

frami what horrible situation. You must feel awful. You haven't done anything wrong. You have it seems been a kind and supportive daughter. Your mum is being unrealistic and unfair in her expectations. You don't need to call her. You can leave it have a break from the manipulation and bullying. You can't change her, you can't make her more understanding, you can't make her kinder or more considerate you can just stop playing her game. It will hurt I'm sure and you'll feel guilty but this is your life she doesn't get to be the director.

frami Sat 28-Nov-15 10:57:05

Thanks this is what my ever patient DH says. I can't be the person she wants but I feel so guilty. It's all the subtefuge I have to do as well. Like I dare not tell her that I've let my girls go on their trip today or that we have our Christmas overnight family theatre trip next week which I am not going to cancel unless Dad dies.Even worse I have to involve my kids in the lies. I can't even tell her that my gorgeous (I hope) future DIL is coming again for Christmas (neve mentioned it the previous time) Mum has never met her but has a dislike to her because she's American (not one of us). I don't want hopefully future DIL being treated the same as DH. I also fear having to involve future DIL in the lies as Number 2 DS is bisexual, she has no problem with this, my father knew this so does most of the world but DS2 and I agreed long ago that for Nanny it was a no no. She would cast him out. DS2 is actually studying in Ireland and on each call has jumped on the bus to Mum, but he has exams this week and can't do it and I'm not asking him too. (He's also flying over for the theatre trip Shssh not a word) My mother should be proudfo him, rest of family are and my Dad would be. He's in the top Uni in Ireland but all my mother does is her nasty digs and implied critcism. Boys should do "proper" jobs, get a trade.

Blarblarblar Sat 28-Nov-15 12:20:09

She sounds such hard work. So difficult that you and your family have to hide your lives from her.
You sound like you have a wonderful and close family. She can only get what you have by bullying and shaming others, your family want to be with you through love and respect. She's clearly never shown any to others but expects it. It's very sad, but not your problem.
It's easy for your DH and I to say though because she's not our mother.

frami Sat 28-Nov-15 13:19:35

Funny enough my DH always says she's jealous. My Dad was fortunate to make enough money to leave his UK job and semi retire. The income from the interest alone was enough to live on supplemented with his carpentry skills (he was a fully qualified craftsman). He was able to work when he wanted doing what he loved. The idea was that they would travel, do all the things they planned but Mum insisted on going out to work full time and also childminding my sisters kids at weekends. She was always making excuses not to do stuff and now it's too late.

frami Sat 28-Nov-15 13:26:00

BTW Blarblarblar I've kept away from the phone so far am determined to take control!

Pancakeflipper Sat 28-Nov-15 13:41:42

Blimey your mother is hard work. How did you turn out sounding reasonable and proactive? I think you've analysed and Sussex out your family dynamics really well.
My mother is very similar to yours and its so draining at times. And obviously with your father being so ill you cannot ignore her.

Do what your heart and gut tell you. And when in doubt ask that DH of yours who sounds like he knows what's what. Your dad knows you love him. He's had years of joy being your dad watching you become independent, decent and raising your own family. Don't feel guilt. He would fully understand what's going on and would hate you to feel pulled apart with this.

frami Sat 28-Nov-15 14:08:40

I'm like am by distancing myself. Moved out for uni never went back. Met DH there who would never put up with me when I imitated my Mum. Still tells me if I'm copying her and his wonderful, well adjusted parents. In recent years I've bene involved with young people on the Aspergers spectrum and actually think my Mum displays a lot of their traits. She comes from an enormous family (11 kids) and always brings up how devoted she was to her parents. Yet I've heard different elsewhere and know that her devotion which basically meant making herself into household slave whenever we went there for the summer (another problem she's obsessive housekeeper whereas I'm the other extreme) actually caused problems as she would play the martyr giving others a hard time. She's also detests public displays of affection (middle class nonsense all false) except to babies and my father. Her parents didn't do that stuff but she always knew how much they loved her was a retort I once had when I tried to get her to reason. Keeping her at a distance made coping easier (large expanse of sea helps! :-) ) but Dad's condition has altered the dynamic. It's payback time for her and boy am I paying!

frami Sun 29-Nov-15 15:31:13

Well I'm feeling guilty but also proud of myself. I didn't ring, unplugged the phone in the evening to prevent my mother getting to hear that I'd gone out, and sent a text to my sister to the effect that the phone was out of order so ring mobile. (Not a complete lie phone has been playing up) There has been no attempt to communicate with me on either device, by any family member, meaning I am probably so deep in S***t that I may as well be drowned, but that on the plus side that Dad is holding his own. I have also had the conversation that I should have had with my children years ago as I never wanted them to think badly of Nanny. Turns out they also fear that they will not be sufficiently upset when their grandad dies, because he's not their grandad anymore, with his personality gone he's "just an old man in a bed". Turns out they discussed this with their cousins and had been warned by them never to say anything when Nanny's around as apparently she had overheard my nephew saying such to his sister (Mum's an awful snooper, and evesdropper) and as a result he'd had the silent treatment for weeks. All of them it seems has experienced Nanny's moods etc. Now to talk to DSs 1&2 and to make arrangements for an intial quick visit. I shall be in hell but can cope. Thanks for the support. So good to have a sounding board. Feeling so much more in control.

DartmoorDoughnut Sun 29-Nov-15 15:44:22

Glad you're feeling more in control, your M sounds massively hard work bless you.

Clobbered Sun 29-Nov-15 15:58:59

Good that you have been honest with your kids and they have been able to tell you how they were feeling. At least you don't have to pretend with them any more.
Does your Dad still recognise you when you visit?

frami Mon 07-Dec-15 12:18:07

Thanks everyone for your support I thought I'd update you all. To answer your question Clobbered: no my father hasn't a clue who anyone is. He is bedridden and requires help for absolutely everything. My mother has a very good care team, and her numerous siblilngs constantly call round and as I wrote above she could easily have paid full-time nurse to care but won't. (In fact she made a point of telling me how awful her evening team are compared to the Health Service ones are because they come from the agency that I arranged full time care with)

But now to update. I have had a truely horrible week. I took an early morning flight to Ireland last Monday morning 30th but from the start made it clear that I had to return to UK on Friday. Various reasons not least that I am still wearing my "Ski boot" for my broken ankle. I had to cancel my hospital appointment when I should have been given the all clear. Until then I'm not legal to drive but my mother doesn't believe that.In fact she thinks I made up the ankle and only grudgingly accepted that my leg looks swollen when she saw me exercising it. I had to take my boot in the airports, rub in Nurophen Gel so that no one noticed my limping at the car hire. Anyway as I predicted the situation was not a critical as my mother made out. My father is now in the last stages of his disease. We had a conference with his doctors and the upshot is that he is getting only pallative care. His swallow reflex is not good but he is still taking very small amounts of high energy food and drink. They cannot give a time, could be days or months even. He was very athletic, has no underlying problems with heart, lung, or controlled conditions such as diabeties and what prognosis that can be given suggests he will survive for some weeks. My Mother however maintains he is dying immediately and that I should all be there watching at his side at all times. When I was there I was barely allowed out of the house. All week my Mum practised her emotional blackmail to get me to stay longer but on Friday when it became clear I was going, it turned really nasty. I didn't think she could be quite so venemous. I was told that she:
"couldn't see how I could possibly live with myself if I were not around when my father dies"
and when I tried answer was interupted with "You must be some evil woman then".
She continued with more of the same finishing that she was calling my sister to come down and
"put me right about my father".
I still shake as a write this. Anyway I managed to find and excuse to escape the confines of the house and found myself in the church yard opposite hidden from view, crying and feeling like I was having some sort of breakdown. I called DH in the UK, he was so concerned that he got onto my sister. Mum was playing us off against each other. She was coming down but only to give me some pressies to take back and had rung Mum earlier to tell her that, not the other way round. She knew nothing of "putting me right". He also rang my aunt and she saw to it that I was not alone in the house with my mother before I left. (I found out all this on my return home.) In the meantime I was sat in the graveyard and God knows? what would have happened had not some workmen passed through forcing me to pull myself together. When I got back to the house the care team were there and then Mum's borther arrived. He made it clear he knew what was going on and after that a there was a steady stream of people including my sister (she said nothing about talking to DH). However, my Mum could not let me leave without having another go, she cornered me in the hallway and let rip again. I tried to reason pointing out that she doesn't really want me there which of course was the worse thing possible. Another spout of venom and she turned away and refused to say goodbye. No kiss nor nothing but this is normal. When I arrived she gave me the air peck on the cheek (remember she's not seen me since August) but yet after years it still hurts. Even more when she makes a great big show of hugging and talking with her care team or virtual strangers. I actually feel jealous.

So that's my sh**ty week. I rang my mother on my return and she was all jolly, laughing no mention of what had gone on and certainly no hint of any kind of apology that's normal. Called again, yesterday she started off in a martyred voice but changed as another Uncle arrived a few minutes into the call. I'm thinking that I should get all the relatives to text me when they visit so I can call when they are there :-) but joking asside I am expected back after my hospital appointment tomorrow and am absolutely terrified. I think I shall have some sort of breakdown shortly. DH says I'm not going, that we are going together on Friday night back Sunday. He is adament that I am not going there alone again. This helps but I still dread it and find myself praying for my father to die. This makes me feel even worse. Sorry to go on and thanks for reading.

Pancakeflipper Mon 07-Dec-15 13:56:55

Frami - hugs. What an emotional mess. Be true to your own feelings.let your DH and his level-head get you through this.

Said it before will say it again. Your dad knows you love him. There's nothing you can do for him now and he's fortunately got a good team of palliative care around him. You do need to look after yourself.

I don't think anyone wants their children to remember them as an old shell but the vibrant person they were whether it be educating you, showing you new places, telling hilarious jokes, giving big hugs.

Your mother .... oh boy.... I cannot find the words Frami.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Mon 07-Dec-15 14:47:49

As your poor father doesn't even know whether you are there or not I don't think I would be inclined to go again. Or go with your dh at the weekend as planned but prepare yourself to say goodbye to your father. Then inform your mother that you will be back for the funeral but that you cannot take any more of her emotional bullshit and you won't be coming back. Cut her off.

I know it's not very nice to accept that this creature is your mother. We all have the stereotypical idea of what a mother is supposed to be like but unfortunately some people are just no good at it and there's nothing you can do about that now. You can't help who you're related to and she doesn't have the right to treat anyone like that. Surely your life would be so much nicer without her in it? No stress, no guilt trips. Please don't waste your life worrying about her. She might be your parent but she's acting like a spoilt child, throwing all this guilt at you and doesn't deserve you.

Sorry about your dad. 💐

frami Wed 09-Dec-15 10:28:53

Sorry to bother all you wonderful Mumsnetters again but my mother kicked off at me again last night and I think I am going to have a breakdown. As I explained in my previous posts. She never rings anyone and I have to ring at certain times. Monday night I missed the timeslot. DH was out and DD2 had asked my to spend some 1-2-1 time with me. (Well she'd asked me to catch up with some stuff on Iplayer which I rightly interpretted as wanting to talk.) Upshot I missed the phone call time.
Yesterday I had appt at hospital to check up on my broken ankle. Left me feeling somewhat deflated as I had imagined I'd be trotting out in killer heels whereas reality is bone has still not completely regrown and I have to wear the walking cast (think giant ski boot) for at least another 4 weeks. Next appt January. Start physio today got in so fast because DD2 has metal rods in her spine (scoliosis) and has a wonderful physio who's slotting me in today alongside DD2. Have another couple of med appts to see to (including a counsellor) and have booked to return to Ireland for weekend with DH on Friday. I am actually too scared of my mother to go alone. DH has promised to shadow me like my little bulldog does when I'm at home and never leave me alone with Mum. She never verbally attacks men nor will she do it in front of anyone. "We don't wash our dirty linen in public". Since I got back I have been speaking to my only Aunt in the UK. She's always understoood how my mother is with me and has been subjected to her verbal abuse herself on several occasions. (My mother disapproves of her second husband, and opening praises her dead alcoholic 1st DH from whom she was divorced.)
Back to yesterday. The Aunt mentioned above was concerned about me and rang during the day and I was feeling fine. She told me that she had talked to another brother who's a paramedic. He'd seen Dad and said he was looking a bit grey but that he has a strong pulse etc. All the vital signs are there. With that in mind I rang my mother. Told her I was coming over, told her about my ankle (she'd never ever ask) and asked about Dad. Her reply:
"He's fading fast" (remember he wasn't going to survive the morning according to her this day last week & I have had more or less the same reponse since March)
Me: I'll be over Friday
Her: Are you bringing the children? She's knows DH1 works in emergency services can't drop everything on a whim, DS2 is in Dublin (just call him he can get a bus and be there in 2 hours), DDs are in school and I can't keep pulling them out. However I confessed that DH would be with me. Plan had been for him just to turn up.
Her "They're not coming to the funeral then"?
Me: "Of course they'll be there".
She then went on how he'll be dead by Saturday and she won't forgive us if we miss the funeral. Then she started on how everyone is "run ragged" doing stuff for her which I should be doing. The tirade went on and on, I felt my mind would burst so I put the phone down, which makes me feel even worse. DH was horrified but pointed out that if there was really something that wrong someone should have rung me and wouldn't the Priest have been called? (We're Catholic).He got me to ring the Aunt in London. She reiterated what she'd been told by her brother and rang him and her other sister living near to Mum. Brother said there was no change in Dad when he left in the morning. Sister said same and that she'd spoken to my sister (a nurse) later in the day and she said he'd been a bit of change for the worse at 4pm, but he will be up and down and that there was no imminent danger. For me I can't cope with all this. I'm not sleeping, am shaking as I write, jump everytime the phone rings, have a million jobs to do but can't do anything. Phone just rang - London Aunt checking up on me. Sorry to go on but writing helps.

SugarPlumTree Wed 09-Dec-15 10:41:02

Frami I am so sorry, this sounds horrendous flowers . At this point I think I would be very tempted to get DH to ring your Mother and tell her you are very ill in bed with seasonal flu, unable to speak on the phone and GP has said that you are most definitely fit to travel at the moment.

That gives you a bit of space to grieve for your Dad in your own safe space. There are others around for your Mother, you don't need to be there. As said above, your Dad knows you love him. You need to protect your mental and physical health right now.

frami Wed 09-Dec-15 12:12:00

SugarPlumTree that's a very tempting idea. My father is not going to be dead by Saturday even if he were to die today nothing to idicate he will it will be Sunday before he is buried. Unfortunately the flu idea is unlikely to work for apart from my ankle and the problems I'm getting as a result of M behaviour I am/was very fit a little overweight (big according to M) but healthy. However I am not picking up the phone. We don't have a phone that shows the person ringing but I can dial 1471 and if it's really important my mobile is always on (the does show the caller). I shall get DH to answer all calls & maybe say I'm not in. She won't abuse him. Probably say "tell her to ring me the moment she gets in" DH will then ask why do you need to speak to her? Give me a message or text her (she doesn't do text) because that's the wayDH is, to the point, no games, that's why she hates him but she never abuses him (she rarely rants at men) just does the monosyllabic withdrawal which washes over 99% of males anyway! smile

SugarPlumTree Wed 09-Dec-15 14:10:38

Fit and healthy people get flu, look at students and Fresher's Flu! However if you feel more comfortable screening calls then that's the way to go. It's hard to get your head around when you've been conditioned to be at someone's beck and call (I am the daughter of a master manipulator ) but you don't have to engage unless you feel strong enough.

I am so sorry about your Dad flowers

CMOTDibbler Wed 09-Dec-15 14:19:23

Gosh, your mother really is a card isn't she? You need to look after yourself and remember that another family member or the priest will call you if you really need to be there, so you don't need to jump to her every call.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Thu 10-Dec-15 23:32:47

What would actually happen if you cut her off? What would actually happen to you? Would she turn the whole family against you? Sounds to me like they've all got the measure of her. Why do you allow this to continue? I know she's your mum but jesus, you need to seriously consider some sort of end to this.

One of my dear friends has a mother like this. They're only in contact now because she feels guilty and wants to support her father. She's been bullied, emotionally blackmailed and emotionally abused by her mother all her life and I genuinely don't think she knows how else to deal with it. The mother didn't speak to her for ten years when she married. My friend says it was the best ten years of her life.

frami Wed 16-Dec-15 11:56:27

Thanks for all the support I've been getting on here. Thought I'd update you all on how it's going. I am seriously considering going NC when my Dad does die but DH is telling me to wait simply because he thinks that although they know what M is like they will all club together and because I'm related to virtually the whole town (UK would be a village) and Dad is an only child (no family on his side) I will find myself cut off. So back to now.

I went at the weekend to my mother but this time DH came with me and as promised made sure that I was never alone with my her. We arrived to find that there had been a bit of a crisis earlier with Dad's pulse dropping dramatically. We met my 2 Aunts and Uncle coming down road from house as we arrived who filled us in. Having DH with me ensured that I was saved from a rant the moment I entered (greeting was a cold peck on the cheek, as usual) my sister was there and none too happy as she had been called away from a wedding. The weekend turned into a bit of a farce with my Mum trying every tactic possible to corner me alone and DH shadowing me like my little Bulldog does at home. (I was absolutely petrified of being alone with her. She's really affecting me mentally although some counselling has helped me cope - just about.) It's amazing how many trips I made to the loo to avoid M. At one time she called me into the bedroom to check Dad's pulse:
"she couldn't feel it and doesn't know how to take one properly".
After a few minutes I knew she was about to launch a tirade when in came DH and took over. He's been his company's first aider and fire warden for past 15 years and has just a few weeks ago renewed his cert (I'd totally forgotten this.) Talk about taking the wind out of M sails! As I've said before she loathes him but will never say a word out of place to his face (like that with men generally) . While he was there DH done a heap of DIY jobs for her, which gave him a means of getting me out of the house but also shows what M is like. We got hold of one particular item which was "impossible to buy" my A informed me that she and my Uncle had told M where to buy it months ago but M wasn't interested ie she wouldn't ask them to get it for her, they were supposed to read her mind that she wanted them. Anyway I survived the weekend. M went into "Martyr Mode" on Sunday when it became clear that I was not staying any longer, avoided asking us anything about our leaving and then barely said goodbye, she took a hug but didn't ruturn it, didn't offer a kiss nor see us out the door. I know it shouldn't but it hurts. Never was I so glad to leave the place. Have phoned her twice this week. Feel bad for not doing everyday but I just can't handle the calls. Am going back again with DH this weekend. Don't want to but as DH says it gives me the upper hand. If D is still here (as most likely he will be) I am proved right in not having over 2 weeks ago and stayed there waiting, if he dies while we are there, we're there so no issue, if death occurs few days later we will have seen him before he passed. Meanwhile we shall continue with our Christmas arrangements as normal except that I jump like a bolt of electricity has been put through me everytime the phone rings!

frami Sat 12-Mar-16 21:37:00

It's been 3 months since all the above kicked off so I thought I'd post an update. Despite my mother's predictions my father is still alive and my mother continues her emotional blackmail but so far I have been able to resist, actually helped by the fact that I have been unwell as she doesn't want anyone bringing illness to the house. I still dread phoning her but have cut them to once a week and still come away from the phone feeling awful. Although I feel more in control I am also feeling paralysed. My mother has started on the "your Dad's unwell" tack again and warning against making any plans for anything and I find myself unable to do anything at all. I put off everything. It's taken me a week to write this, I procrastinate over the simplest task, everything is so overwhelming. This is not me. Has anyone else ever experienced this?

Mary500 Wed 21-Dec-16 19:58:09

Frami I just came across your thread as I sit here dreading travelling to Ireland tomorrow for Christmas. Some of your story is very similiar the phone calls, the emotional guilt. My mother died 6 years ago since then we have tried to care for our father but I have nothing left anymore to give. He has caused such upset and stress for everyone. I found getting two phones helps one for family and one for your normal life. Feel like my life is being robbed. How have things been since?

frami Mon 06-Feb-17 10:09:25

mary500 just saw your reply to my thread. To update. One year on my father is still alive and my mother continues with the moral blackmail. I've posted about her on the Stately Homes thread when she tried to make me give my my family holiday and go to her. However I've been enjoying some respite from her as the night before I was meant to go over in August I ended up seriously ill in hospital, which lead to an operation in October. Believe you me I have made the most of it. The phone idea is a great one but doesn't work for me as one of my mother's controlling ways is a refusal to phone me "it's too expensive". Calls have to be made at a specific time too. Makes for even more stress. Due to my illness I managed to get out of Christmas, hope you survived yours. If you ever want to discuss privately feel free to message me as I think only fellow Irish can understand the extra FOG that comes with the cultural expectations.

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