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About my mum?

(15 Posts)
shelfy74 Tue 10-May-11 12:39:35

Hi. Wondered what you would all make of my mum? My gorgeous son is now 7 weeks old. From the start mum hasn't been as interested in this baby as she was my first, now nearly 3. For example she knitted for my first and said she was too busy (she works 4 hours a week) to knit anything for the new baby.

Mum and dad live 50 mins drive away, it's about 30 miles. Dad is 82 and developing dementia over past few years. I am their only child and there were arguments some years back just after my first son was born about dad driving as he has visual hallucinations. Mum said she felt unsafe with him driving too. Eventually it was agreed he wouldnt drive distance anymore and since then they have barely visited. They have been on bus 4 times in past 4 years but this takes 3 hours each way so not practical. Mum can drive but refuses to drive here as the most direct way involves a short stretch of motorway which she won't drive on. There are several other non motorway routes but she won't try them despite me offering to accompany her, have her follow me etc. So basically she says that she lives too far away to come to me.

When I was pregnant my biggest worry was who would care for my son when I was in labour. I asked mum. She said shed come and I spoke about getting a taxi arranged and prepaid etc for her. However nearer the time she said she didn't think she could leave my dad and I should make other arrangements. I was really hurt and struggled to make these I think mainly because I felt this should have been my mums role. But I did arrange for friend to take him..

Anyway to cut a long story short my labour was horrendous, 69 hours culminating in an emergency c section. I lost 2 litres of blood and was very unwell. My partner told my mum following the birth and she said she would visit in 2 days time, not the next day as she had to work (she is a self employed yoga teacher, she runs a 2 hour class). At this point DP had words with her, he felt strongly she should cancel work but she refused. Anyway the next day she got my dad to ring my DP to say it wasn't worth coming for 1 hour (hospital visiting hours). Another row ensued and they turned up the next day having got a lift with friends of theirs.

Because my son then became unwell with severe jaundice we were in hospital for 9 days after the birth. They didn't visit again.

On return home again no visit was arranged however this was academic because within 2 days my son was back in hospital this time with bronchiolitis. This was terrifying and he ended up on a ventilator (cpap machine) and in hospital for a further 9 days. On top of this I was not recovering well from surgery and had a wound infection. It may sound dramatic now but at the time I thought my baby might die. Also we had major problems with sorting childcare for my older son so we could both be at the hospital. My mum came for 1 night and again made it clear she would have to return to go to work and care for my dad (though she happily leaves him for several hours most days to go shopping). She said she couldn't let her class down and needed the money. Money is not an issue for them she has since purchased a brand new car.

Thankfully we are all home and recovered now. I still can't drive following my section though and still sore. We have been over to mums once with the kids. She hasn't been here again. She is putting some press for me to visit again, making comments like she doesnt know what the baby looks like but she hasn't made any offer to come here.

Am I being unreasonable not to want to go over? I feel it's her duty to come to me. However when my older son was born I drove over weekly so they could see him and the same is clearly expected now. She doesn't seem to realise (or care?) what I have been through physically or emotionally.
What do other people think?

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GrannyTunnocks Tue 10-May-11 13:24:44

How old is your Mum. If she is fit and well then I think she is being unreasonable. I would drive half an hour to help my daughter if she did not live abroad. I would fly to where she lives if it was necessary and often do to let them have a weekend away. Perhaps she feels she cant leave your Dad for long in which case why not bring him with her. Hope things improve for you soon.

shelfy74 Tue 10-May-11 13:35:40

She is 70 but very fit and well, as I said she teaches yoga. My dad never wants to go anywhere and struggles a bit with mobility but there is no real reason he couldn't come along too.

GrannyTunnocks Tue 10-May-11 13:38:33

I would try to encourage her to come and bring your Dad. He would probably enjoy seeing his grandchildren. She would have to time it between the yoga classes then. Good luck.

slinky Tue 10-May-11 13:55:26

It all sounds a bit odd. My parents live in Australia and when they need me I've been known to leap on a plane at a days notice.

I'm 61.

Are you sure your mother isn't suffering from depression because of your fathers declining health?

It could be that she's very worried about this and it's getting the better of her.

HildaW Tue 10-May-11 21:55:28

We looked after my father in law for 12 months as complete 24 hr carers.....I never want to do it again........he had a form of Dementia....and could appear fairly 'normal' to those who might sit with him for an hour or so...but day in day out and 24 sucked the life out of us. Everything was repeated.he saw things and horses in garden.totally illogical things....but he felt they must be true. However, he was able to still call on his intelligence for conversations with visitors who would then seem surprised when we said we could not leave him alone at all.

I have no idea what your father's condition is like, but if your Mum is living 24/7 with an 82 year old with any form of dementia...she is fighting quite a battle. Make sure she has had some support - Drs, Age concern etc etc Your father will need as assessment to see what help she will need as a carer. Deep down I am sure she would love to be more supportive, but she might be running on empty herself. I hope that you and she can work this out.

Jangran Wed 11-May-11 12:42:43

It sounds as if there is something wrong with your mum, especially if she has changed towards your family after your elder child was born.

In one way you are lucky that she is not apparently seeking your support in caring for your father, though.

Perhaps she thinks you are being unsupportive to her by not being in a position to offer help? That would be an unreasonable way to react, but if your mother is suffering from depression, she won't be reasonable.

Obviously her behaviour is selfish and unreasonable, but you cannot change it.

Acceptance can be the only way of dealing with the situation.

FlicketyB Wed 11-May-11 17:39:49

Both of you have been/are going through a difficult times which are physically and psychologically exhausting but please do not be so hard on your mother. Looking after someone with dementia is a 24/7 responsibility. Frequently the demented person, particularly in the early years, appears reasonable to family members and even medical professionals during a day visit but is actually very difficult and demanding when you have full care of them.

I took on the care of an elderly relative when his wife was rushed to hospital. Before the hospital admission we would get together once a month and go out for a meal and he always appeared affable and with-it. Once I started to care for him I discovered how difficult he could be. He wouldnt eat properly, or wash regularly. I discovered he was faecially incontinent. He remained throughout his courteous and friendly self but totally uncooperative. I was 65 and fit and healthy but just 8 weeks of caring for him brought me near to breaking point.

Your mother is not young. Her job and shopping may be the breathers that keep her able to cope with your father. However these breaks do not necessarily mean that he is safe to be left alone. She has probably reached the stage where caring for your father is so physically and mentally wearing that as much as she may wish to help you she simply cannot cope with it. Rather than admit her exhaustion she will make excuses for not visiting. Many older people lose confidence about driving as they get older and she may also be worried about driving with your father in the car because he may suddenly do something that could endanger both of them.

You know how exhausted, tired and distressed you have been with all the problems you have had over the birth of your new baby. Your mother, for different reasons probably feels much the same. See if you can have an honest and gentle talk with her about your father and how she is coping with caring for him.

Are there any other members of your family you can turn to for help and support? Is your mother getting any help from Social Services? She should be. Speak to Age Concern or the Alzheimers Society they will also be able to help and advise. Sadly you are one of the 'sandwich generation' caught between the competing care needs of your parents and children.

jangly Wed 11-May-11 17:57:42

That is such a good post FlicketyB

HildaW Wed 11-May-11 21:27:41, my dear so well said...much better than I is so very difficult to explain Dementia - even what is classed as a fairly mild case to those not coping with it 24/7. Thankfully my daughter fully understood our commitments and even though I could not be with her when she had her baby we have a wonderfully close relationship. We were eventually released from our caring commitments but not before a fight to find decent respite and eventually full time care. Both my husband and I went through a sort of breakdown that has taken us quite a few months to recover from. Looking back we now realize how wrapped up we were in the day to day grind of coping with everything from angry outbursts, incontinence, inchoherant ramblings etc etc, all from a sweet gentelmanly old man. More and more I think we will end up mourning the loss of our parents before they have technically died. I have told my daughters that when I start to get troublesome....they have my permission to ... ..well....we joke about it........but I'd hate for them to be faced with what we went through.

sandra Thu 12-May-11 14:12:14

26 years ago my son was born 2 months prematurely. We had another son, 2 yeras old and lived about 20 miles away from my parents. They had a car and the journey took about 40 mins. We also lived a 20 min train ride away. So, easily accessable, in my opinion. My son was in hospital for nearly 6 weeks after his birth, they visited ONCE!
Our baby's life was in danger more than once, I had a 2 year old to care for, I didn't have a car and my husband, who was self-employed, worked 6 days a week.
I felt so terribly let down that I don't think I ever got over what I saw as their lack of love and support. When my parents became old and needed support Im afraid they got very little from me.
My mother-in-Law on the other hand was the most supportive, kind and caring person and I feel truly grateful for everything she did for me and her whole family loved and cared for her to the end. She is terribly missed by us all
My family are grown up now and our 3 son's have wonderful partners whom I love as if they were my own. I would do anything for them and I know they would do the same for us. My first grandchild is due in November and I intend to be as supportive as I can (when needed)
I think when it comes to relationships we truly reap what we sow.

milliej Thu 12-May-11 18:30:30

I had both my children abroad, with no family help so I'm not in the best position to say except that sometimes we just have to cope on our own and get on with it! I didn't even realise in those days there was such a thing as post natal depression but it was awful and I was so homesick, but I just got on with it because thats what I had to do!
Your mother is old, try and be more generous about her, I missed my parents terribly when they died regretting all the things I hadn't done, could have done and didn't do!
I think you are being somewhat unreasonable but it's understandable because you are still suffering post natal stuff, I hope you can sort this out as you may regret it one day if you don't (both of you!). It's like marriage, give and take!

grannyrosie Sat 14-May-11 22:08:42

I am sure there is a good reason why your mum is being like she is - you must concentrate on your partner, who may be feeling a little left out as you will be giving the new baby lots of attention, and both your children and enjoy them.

I think you need to go and talk to your doctor about your concerns. Your mum sounds as though she too is having a difficult time - I am sure your partner could drive you over with the children. We all have difficult times - try and be positive. Your are a lucky girl to have a Mum and Dad nearby - mine lived abroad when I was having my children and my husband was at sea most of the time.

jackyann Mon 16-May-11 13:55:45

My heart goes out to you all.

I have experience of how dementia affects so many people in the vicinity, depressing & exhausting them until they are hardly recognisable.
From your comments it seems as if your mum does do other things, but she has probably worked out how to work them around your dad. She may feel that she cannot cope with visits / travel but cannot explain this to you.
Dementia seems to have this effect on partners.
It is so sad & unfair that this is happening when you need support yourself.

First of all you need to look after yourself and recover, and if you have to do that without your mum, then use all the help around you that you can.
The you need to visit your parents, try to arrange for someone else to care for/sit with dad so you can let your mum know how much you & the family miss her.
See if you can organise something - she may be frightened to travel with your dad, but be unable to tell him that she is visiting you without him. It can only be organised if you talk about it - and you can only do thst when you have the strength to do so.

maxgran Wed 18-May-11 14:33:45

It sounds like you have had a really awful time with the birth and your son's illness. It also sounds like your Mum's life is no bed of roses either.
I doubt she is not interested in your baby. Your Mum would have been very excited about your first baby but perhaps she has too much on her mind with your Dad to be able to be as involved with this baby ?

Your Mum does not have a duty to come and see you - It would be nice if she did but once you are grown up and have your own family your parents have already 'done their duty'
Growing up is about letting go of the dependency on your parents - besides, would yuo want your Mum to come because of a sense of duty ??

I don't mean to sound harsh because I really feel for you - I had Post Natal depression after my first baby and my parents never made any effort to come and see us after an initial visit to see the baby. It can be upsetting.