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Christmas - balancing act!!!

(41 Posts)
daisybel1 Wed 26-Mar-14 11:22:57

I know its a long way off but its already causing anxiety!
I am an only child of 81 year old widowed mother who lives 200 miles away. We were always expected to go to her at Xmas and she is adept at emotional blackmail. Last year she came to us and will expect to do the same again this year.
However, my daughter has recently had second baby and needs a lot of practical help as her husband is disabled. In addition there are 3 older children from his former marriage who visit regularly. They would love to take all 5 children to Disneyworld next Xmas as a special treat for all. They have asked us to go too as they really need assistance.
How do I even broach this with my mother? Instead of this being an exciting and special event, I'm feeling riddled with guilt as she'll be "on her own" - yes she has friends and I know they'd invite her but that won't stop the guilt trip because she'll feel left out. She could come but has some health problems and can't walk far so I really don't know how we'd manage with so many physical and practical demands. I'm not sure she'd really want to make the trip but that won't stop her being difficult about it.
I thought about booking her a holiday in Uk or a hotel for Xmas to make it special but I'm not sure she'd go on her own. Does anyone know of any good places?
I know this sounds selfish but I can only support my daughter and family or my mother on this occasion. Quite honestly I'm getting a bit tired of feeling pulled at both ends!

Aka Wed 26-Mar-14 11:35:13

Why not be upfront with her and lay this problem at her door?

I know she's adept at emotional blackmail but you can be ready for that if you know her well. She might surprise you and if she doesn't ... Well you're no worse off and at least you've broached the subject.

Elegran Wed 26-Mar-14 11:44:41

Can you postpone her Christmas visit to New Year?

Make much of how much help you will be able to give to your daughter and her family on their trip to Disneyland, and how much you will then look forward to being back in your own home and seeing her the following week for a delayed Christmas celebration.

Have all the arrangements clear so that it is set out before her as a fait accompli for her to agree with, rather than a vague suggestion that she can get up in arms about and make you change. Your daughter has as much of a call on you as your mother.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 26-Mar-14 11:56:47

Could you take her, and then just take her on very little trips round Disneyworld? Then make her comfortable back at the hotel with the television on and some nice things to eat.

I would think Disneyworld would have some wheelchairs available.

Mishap Wed 26-Mar-14 15:11:10

Tell her the situation; organise to skype and phone her and send loads of pics of the GC; then make a big deal of New Year. You MUST go!!!

gillybob Wed 26-Mar-14 15:48:18

Oh I understand exactly how you must feel daisybel1.

Almost my last 10 years have revolved around problems with my parents ill health and my grandma. It has got so bad that I dread thinking about time away or holidays as I worry myself sick wondering who will look after them/do the shopping/visit/hospital appointments etc. My DH is very understanding although he does get extremely frustrated as I do have a younger sister and 2 much younger cousins who could/should help out but don't.

Having said all of this I would urge you to think about yourself and go. Do whatever you have to do. Tell white lies, arrange 3rd party help (carers) or whatever but please go. I can't tell you how often I regret the things I did not do and will never get the chance to do again.

I agree that the sooner you get it out in the open the better.

Nelliemoser Wed 26-Mar-14 16:01:56

daisybel1 Just go go for it! Work something out, even if you have to play the emotional blackmail game. When I first read the thread title I thought OMG who's on about Christmas this soon but I can see why now.

kittylester Wed 26-Mar-14 16:08:29

I can't see there is any option but to go! I would be quite firm about not taking your Mum too! I'm sure your daughter will really appreciate the help you can give her but that would all be diluted if you took your Mum along too.

If she has friends who will invite her, try to have a word with them before you tackle your Mum.

Lots of us on here have Mums (!!) who practice emotional blackmail and you will get lots of support - I have [nuff said!!]

I thought that too Nellie and we haven't even had the fair yet confused

HildaW Wed 26-Mar-14 16:17:47

As soon as my children were old enough to have reasons to spend their Christmases elsewhere I let it be known that Christmas would be whenever we could get together, not just the 25th December (none of us is particularly religious). What with parents (now gone) and in-laws its always been complicated so we tend to have two or three celebrations over the Christmas/New Year period. Its true that you cant beat having small children in the house on Christmas morning but I'd far rather have happy relaxed visits that everyone is happy to arrange than insisting everyone puts in an appearance on a certain day at a certain time.
I think as long as you make arrangements to treat your Mum to something else either side of the holiday you have done your bit.

harrigran Wed 26-Mar-14 17:33:06

Good grief 81 is not old, your mother should be able to organise an alternative Christmas for herself. It is time to think about yourself and your DC and DGC and have a holiday to remember.

rosesarered Wed 26-Mar-14 21:40:35

You should go with your daughter, but NOT take your Mother.You need to be able to focus on them after all, and also yourself.I would do as others suggest and present it as arranged fairly soon.

Charleygirl Wed 26-Mar-14 22:16:07

I agree 100% with*rosesarered*. Present it as fait accomplis. If she has a tantrum, tough, you also have a life.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 26-Mar-14 22:36:03

School children get two weeks off school at Christmas. Why do you have to go actually for Christmas itself?

And anyway, Christmas is a family time. Why would anyone want to take children to a commercial, tacky, concern like Disneyland at such a special time of the year? Give the children some memories that will be worth having. Memories that involve a bit of family love and care for others. hmm

Aka Wed 26-Mar-14 23:00:31

Could never understand the appeal of Disneyland either jingl. It's just a big money making enterprise for over-indulged and over-fed children. Give the money to Children in Need instead and stay at home.

(Pulls duvet over head and pretends to be asleep)

TOOBIGFORTHEIRBOOTS Thu 27-Mar-14 04:44:22

daisybel1 just tell your mum what's happening because there really are times when people just have to accept 'things are going to be different this year'. I wouldn't even beat around the bush, I'd just say, 'its happening because of x, y, and z, and on this occasion their needs outweigh yours'. It would take a real horror of a granny to not understand, and if she doesn't then all the more reason for saying, 'well I'm sorry but it's what's happening'.

As for granny going? Well I was in the Florida Disney with my brother and his wife for 2 weeks last year, it was magical by the way, so magical we are going again this year for 5 days after our Cruise, and I did see older people being taken around in wheelchairs but very few of them looked happy. I think they had perhaps been taken because no one wanted to leave them at home because of a situation similar to yours, or they had gone along thinking they would like it. Its a really tiring day when not in a wheel chair such is the level of excitement and plain daftness smile, a wheel chair wouldn't lessen how tiring it can be.

As it is you have a disabled son in law, a not very well daughter, a newish baby, and a squad of kids - I don't know how you'd add granny in to the mix and this comes from someone who regularly does Euro Disney with just one disabled person. And if its Florida you're going to, my goodness its huge and if I remember correctly the entire Euro Disney park fits into one of the Florida Disney Car Parks. It took us 2 solid weeks to do and see everything and it was the best fun I had ever had. It was Disney morning, noon, and night. I really only went along to spend time with my brother and his wife but all my reservations vanished the moment we drove up to the entrance and I loved it.

I hope you get this sorted. I do understand how it is to have to take a much loved older relatives needs into account, my very elderly sister in law lives with us but the reality is that unless the person has specific needs they really should be able to cope whilst others have a break, and not just when someone else in the family has a disability.

One last thing however - be warned that that Christmas time is probably the busiest time of the year to visit.

Here's to you all getting away on your holiday smile

kittylester Thu 27-Mar-14 05:16:01

I imagine going to Disneyland is probably going to happen once and for the children will be another magical Christmas memory. DH and I hated but the children thought it was brilliant and lots of their friends have probably been, so go for it! sunshine

gillybob Thu 27-Mar-14 10:03:31

Often easier said than done (especially for an outsider) Toobigfortheirboots (your first paragraph). I tend to beat around the bush for days, weeks, months as I dread telling my family (the older ones not the young ones) that I am going away for a few days never mind two weeks.

daisybel1 Thu 27-Mar-14 12:00:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Nonu Thu 27-Mar-14 12:17:56

Good luck Sue , keep posting !

sunseeker Thu 27-Mar-14 12:41:57

I agree with what others have said. Present it to your mother as a done deal and ask her whether she wants you to arrange for her to go to friends or an hotel.

My mother is also very adept at emotional blackmail. She used to live with my brother and went with him to visit his son and daughter in law, mother had fallen out with the grand daughter in law and refused to get out of the car. My brother simply told her not to make him choose between her and his son because she would lose.

I think we tend to tip toe around our parents thinking we should give in to them at all times but that just makes them worse. You have nothing to feel guilty about - you probably do lots for her as it is so you deserve to spend a holiday with your daughter and grandchildren. Let us know how you get on. flowers

gillybob Thu 27-Mar-14 13:08:09

Oh how right you are sunseeker I tip-toe around my parents all of the time like some stupid schoolgirl. I cannot bear their disapproval. Pathetic isn't it?

gillybob Thu 27-Mar-14 13:08:58

My sister on the other hand, does what she wants, when she wants, if she wants. Always has, always will.

Eloethan Thu 27-Mar-14 13:46:57

I can understand just how you feel - I also feel guilty about issues like this. When I look back, I realise that my mum and dad were quite unreasonable in expecting us to have them to stay every Easter, Christmas, etc., etc. With two children and both working hard, we had very little time - other than these holidays - to ourselves to relax. After dad died, mum came with my husband and I abroad on holiday every year - and we were still working and it was our only holiday. This caused much resentment from my husband, particularly as mum, though then sprightly, was unwilling to walk and didn't like being left to sit somewhere while we went for a walk.

She is 93 now and the last couple of years she has not come on holiday with us. This is partly due to the difficulty of getting insurance and partly due to the fact that we have holidayed with our son and his partner and their two young children, which Mum would find tiring. She questions me about what we are doing for a holiday this year but, now that her mobility and eyesight are poorer, it would be too stressful to take her abroad with us. Last year I went with her on a short coach break at a Warners Hotel. She didn't seem to get that much enjoyment from it and I found it very stressful, but she wants to go again this year and we will probably do so.

It would definitely not be a good idea to take your mum with you to Disneyworld at Christmas. It is not the sort of environment that most elderly people would enjoy, and, if she's anything like my mum, she would resent being left in a hotel on her own.

Everybody is different and their choice of holiday reflects those differences. I don't particularly fancy going on a cruise but many people love them, ditto skiing holidays.

Granny23 Thu 27-Mar-14 14:50:32

Those of us with larger or extended families are never able to have the whole family together on Christmas day - it is just a fact of life. We cope by adhering to the mantra that 'Christmas is a season, not just one day' and thereby benefit from a series of get-togethers around Christmas/New Year and a relatively stress free Christmas Day.

I am wondering if your family have agreed with your stepDGC's other family about them being away in the USA over Christmas, which might be tricky to negotiate. I would not broach the subject with your DM until you are sure the trip will go ahead. Also why not sweeten the pill by booking a short break in a nice hotel for just yourself and your mum in January, February when there are lots of bargain offers. It could be your DM's Christmas Present.

TOOBIGFORTHEIRBOOTS Thu 27-Mar-14 16:52:59

Yes Gilly, an outsider to the the OP's family but not an outsider to knowing what its like living with an elderly loved one, whilst also having to take into account the needs of a disabled adult child who still lives at home as well as having other children and grandchildren to think about.

My reply was based on experience.