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To want time for myself?

(53 Posts)
Bluegal Wed 20-Jun-18 17:48:43

Ok so life has its ups and downs. Have posted that my life is fab but then suddenly...its turned on a dime (Quote Patrick Swayzee). My 89 year old mother has suddenly become so demanding I can't cope! (to put you in the picture I am 65, work part time, have ten GC I look after in relay and have a dog not to mention a husband!)

Anyway, Mum has suddenly decided, she needs me there more than anyone else. When am at work she phones constantly telling me things ranging from the neighbours have parked outside her house to she thinks she's dying. If I don't respond immediately, she gives me a hard time.

My daughters and brothers (2) often phone to say they are going round but mum puts them off; saying things like she is just going out or she has other visitors. Yet when I phone she tells me she has not seen or heard from anyone all week.

I have set aside Thursdays to go and clean her house and do her shopping. I also take her to Doctors/hospital appointments and often have young kids in tow. Mum loves the kids but wants me all to herself so I try to arrange it round her. I also arrange to work around her EXCEPT this week we had an emergency at work and I had to work more than usual. Mum was livid and we ended up arguing about it (mainly because I was so tired) To put you in the picture - I had gone to work Tuesday morning at 7.30 a.m and didn't come home until Wednesday at 10.30 a.m, then took 2 youngest GC to playschool until 12.30 and then walked the dog and gone to see mum at She started arguing with me about not caring about HER!!!! I got so mad, I walked out......

We will sort it - but AIBU to think that I might just want a life of my own at some point? OR do I just resign myself to the fact I am lucky to have such fabulous grandchildren AND still have my mum around? I do appreciate it but just sometimes I want to shut the door on all of them AIBU

grandtanteJE65 Thu 21-Jun-18 10:39:09

Poor you! If your mother is not senile, and you don't say that she is, then I suggest that you turn off your mobile while you are at work and tell the person on the switchboard at work that she is not to put calls from your mother through to you while you are at work, but to give you a message that mum has rung up.

Tell your mum that your boss is annoyed about the amount of time you are spending on the phone dealing with private matters while at work. This may be a lie, but it is necessary. Say in a real emergency she may leave a message with the switchboard at your work.

Try to find someone your mum can phone during working hours if she really does need help at once.

I know this sounds harsh, but I got to the point where I had to unplug my landline at home to get any work done, because my mother would phone up and say, "Am I interrupting?" and when I replied that she was talk for fifteen minutes before I could get her off the line, and it was never anything that could not have waited.

Shinyredcar Thu 21-Jun-18 11:00:33

You will have to be as strong looking after yourself, as you are looking after all the other people in your life. It is, as for so many on Gransnet, a case of been there, done that, for me too. I left it too late and ended up broken, with depression and exhaustion which took months to begin to sort out. Don't let that happen to you, and don't feel guilty about some self defence. There have been some helpful suggestions here about how to do that.

My father had fought against having Mum in residential care but after he finally had to accept it was best for both of them, couldn't tell everyone else quickly enough how stupid he had been before. He nagged other people (including me) who he could see doing the same thing, into taking better care of themselves.

Your Mum may well have some brain changes which are causing her to act like this, as others have said. I was told that personality traits can be emphasised by multiple TIAs (mini-strokes) which don't show themselves to others, so that a forceful person or a self-centred one, will just get worse.

We only get one life. You have a right to enjoy yours, just like the people you are helping.

MagicWriter2016 Thu 21-Jun-18 11:12:42

If you have a good relationship with your siblings, ask them to meet up with you all together, tell them what is happening and how it is affecting you and draw up a schedule between you of who can visit your mother/call her then take it to her. Do not negotiate with her, tell her this is what you have ALL decided on and that if she doesn't like it, she will have no one to visit/care for her. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. Then tell your kids that you need at least a couple of child free days as you are exhausted. If you become ill, who will be left to help them out? Take care and hope you resolve things soon xx

Beloulou Thu 21-Jun-18 11:16:41

A wise woman once said to me, 'If you never say no, what is your 'yes' worth?'
It worked for me, because I learned to take some time out. It took me a bit longer not to feel guilty about it, but still?.
Now, I don't feel taken for granted so much and I have the courage to say no a bit more often. As a result, I am less hassled and much less tired. ?For you?.

quizqueen Thu 21-Jun-18 11:28:59

This is emotional blackmail, as I'm sure you aware, so the family needs to draw up a weekly rota of when they are willing and available to help. Tell her you cannot manage certain days so she will have to rely on the others and make sure you firm about this. Tell her if she refuses help from the others then you are not available to step in to cover those days as you working/child minding etc. She will have to get used to it or do without. Also, say you have been told off at work for taking personal calls so she has to stop calling you during those times and you are not able to answer your phone to her. She can call other family in an emergency.

Make sure you have some non contact days each week to give you a break but each time you see her tell her you love her very much but you also need some family time to yourself. She calls you all the time because you have responded to her so it's you who has to implement the change, I'm afraid.

petra Thu 21-Jun-18 11:36:33

Don't rescue to the point where you have to be rescued.
20 yrs ago you me and many more could juggle all the balls in the air at the same time, but those days have gone.
Many yrs ago I was the go to person for people's needs in work and home. I was the one who boasted "no, not me, I'll never crack up" and then, one day, out of the blue, it did, and spectacularly in my office at work.
Your tank is running on empty, be careful flowers

ReadyMeals Thu 21-Jun-18 11:41:19

You'd think she'd be flattered if her grandchildren want to see her! Next time you go to the doctor with her, ask about a dementia test. If she has dementia it would explain her attitudes. If she doesn't, she might be so mortified at you asking for the test that she manages without you next time ;)

sarahellenwhitney Thu 21-Jun-18 12:11:48

No ifs or buts get your mother a carer. I had a similar problem with my mother who lived with her widowed sister, my aunt. 300 miles from me.Her choice, although I had found her a small property where I lived, she wanted to be with her sister. I always knew when they had' words' as' aunty' would phone me saying ' your mother is ill and wants you to come and look after her'.I did this once and got the message Its all about control and although my mother had made friends when she moved to be with her sister it was always me who was approached. What hurt me most was when one of her friends! got on the phone to me and said I was being unreasonable. I could not stop myself and said Remember it was my mothers choice to live 300 hundred miles from me when she had been given a choice.My mother was not without money so when unfortunately my aunt passed away I obtained a carer for her who would visit my mother twice a day. I visited her when I could until at 91 she passed away. I did my best but had DH to think about as he had health issues. Your mother is being selfish, you have to be firm, what if you become ill which as you are at her beck and call you may well become. A carer has to be the answer whether your mother likes it or not.

JoJo58 Thu 21-Jun-18 12:13:31

BLUEGAL I was in the same situation as you are in only it was MIL she became demanding so politely told her I was unable to carry on and that as she was financially sound that it might be an idea to get in a cleaner, gardener so that I didn't let her down and I knew that she was sorted, she was ok with that so it gives me some time not a lot as I have two Gc stay with me 3 or 4 nights a week so I am kept busy as ever and work 4 days a week so fit everything around the school runs but still doing her washing (at my house) and shopping for her, she's 89 so at the age where a little needy I'm afraid, just keep smiling through.

pen50 Thu 21-Jun-18 12:17:16

I hate to say this but it could a sign of the beginnings of some form of dementia...

inishowen Thu 21-Jun-18 12:55:43

Maybe you should be doing less babysitting now that your mother has become so demanding. I find babysitting absolutely exhausting so I don't know how you manage. I have no job and no demanding mother! I think a quiet word with the family would be in order. Tell them you are finding it all too much. Insist that others help with your mother. They can go round without letting her put them off.

luzdoh Thu 21-Jun-18 13:18:17

Bluegal In a word: NO!

Time to take care of yourself.

On the internet are lots of self-help guides about how to say "no".

By complete coincidence I have just been listening to
'When the Body Says No -- Caring for ourselves while caring for others. Dr. Gabor Maté" on YouTube. It's a bit depressing. Better to just look up YouTubes that teach you to look after yourself. Look for how to set boundaries and even learn what being codependent means, it isn't what I first thought it meant at all, it's about always doing things for everyone else and never for ourselves.

try googling how to cope with demanding family/people
I found;
Has anyone assessed your mother to see if she may have a
bit of dementia? That would account for her being so unreasonable. Whatever her health situation, you must not take on her care as her only carer. Please organise help and make it clear to her that the helpers are there for her daily needs, you are not her dogs-body, you simply cannot take on any more jobs. If she has dementia she will have no idea of your (or her own) age and may imagine you are a young girl without any responsibilities beyond running around for her. But please, go to your GP, explain how you are being run into the ground by all these demands and ask for all the help that is available, especially for your mother.
Wishing you lots of luck and please put yourself first. flowers brew

nipsmum Thu 21-Jun-18 13:20:49

Having worked with the elderly for many years, I know how manipulative mother's can be with family. Please speak to your GP and ask that she be referred for assessment by the social care team. They are very used to people denying that they need help and actually seeing brought the denials. If you are not so available she might take notice. You must take care of yourself, or you are no use to anyone. Please don't feel guilty for saying NO sometimes. She won't come to much harm if she is as able as you think she is.

luzdoh Thu 21-Jun-18 13:31:07

petra I'm very moved by your giving your own hard experience as a message to help Bluegal see she must look after herself. It's such a valuable message, and so very generous of you to share it. I have a very arrogant daughter now in her mid 30s who declares loudly she will never have any of the disabling conditions I have. I was hit by another driver on the motorway and also have severe arthritis and it is in the family, so I can't quite understand how she can be so sure she has control over what will happen to her! I realise this is a different subject but I find her so judgemental because she seems to regard my disabilities as my own fault and the fact that I have to live a simple life (which I like) something she looks down on. But that's not a subject for this thread. I just wanted to thank you for your brave and kind words.

VIOLETTE Thu 21-Jun-18 14:06:31

This is hard for you ....we all feel responsible and that it should be our 'duty' to look after aging parents .....but you need to take care of yourself too. Elderly people can be so manipulative and you feel so guilty if you don't respond ! My husband's mother was 98 and only one of her daughters lived near enough to be constantly called by her the middle of the night, when at work, when in hospital herself even !! She would say she was dying and her daughter would leap out of bed, drive round immediately and find she was fine and just wanted a cup of tea making !! In the end, the daughter arranged care two days a week, plus one day at an elderly activities centre ,,,the people who ran it said how much she enjoyed it ....but she would tell her daughter it was horrible and she was being pushed out to grass !..... I think a lot of it was the fact that she was afraid of dying alone ...she was not ill then, not even dementia or any other problem so it was just that she wanted to control every aspect of her daughter's life . Have you spoken to Age UK or Silver Line ? even social services (although any help is virtually non existent nowadays sadly !) You cannot allow this situation to continue. You could take some leaflets round and leave them for her .....for care homes....saying 'youwould be looked after 24/7 and I could still visit , as I am finding it too stressful to keep up with all the care and attention you need'......and see if she improves ! A lot of mothers know we feel guilty, on the basis 'look what we gave up for you'..........seems to me you have given up enough ...if your brothers are willing to take some of the strain let them ......she can complain, but she will still be getting attention ! My ex husband's nanna nearly 99 was the same .....'no one has been near me all week'.....when we knew her son, dil, daughter and others popped in every day. My own daughter told me, when she was about 25 ..I'm not looking after you when you get old, Im putting you in a home'....ha ha I just said I hope youcan afford it .... you have to be firm ...difficult and there may be tears and tantrums but you will cope !!! flowers

luzdoh Thu 21-Jun-18 14:39:15

Bluegal me again. sorry, because there are so many really good answers here such as tessagee whose advice is so good .

The youtube I said I was listening to was a doctor saying how people got sick and died young because they overworked looking after other people and did things exactly as you have described! He points out how our society gets everything backwards by praising people for allowing themselves to be bullied. He ends telling everyone to "Stay Authentic and say No when you need to say it!" I.e. you must listen to your body and yourself and do what it tells you. It is essential that we say 'no' when necessary in the areas of our life where we are being bullied, and it sounds to me as if you are letting work be one of them as well as your mother. I even feel like saying "Why are you being such a martyr?" If you step back, it looks as if you behave as if the world can't revolve unless you keep it spinning. It's time to stop! Tell them ALL you have retired. Retired from full-time work, lots of baby-sitting (let them pay some-one) and you visit your mum for social reasons not as a cleaner. You have retired from cleaning her house too.
Maybe if you can do these things, you will save your life. Please try!!

GabriellaG Thu 21-Jun-18 14:43:13

Wow! Just WOW!
I'd halve the time you spend doing things for other people.
I do realise that you count your blessings regarding GC and DM but it sounds as if your DH doesn't get a look in.
Of course you need (and must) have time to recharge your batteries and even do nothing. Being so readily available has led to everyone, especially your DM, thinking they own you.
Think about it. P/t work, 10 GC on a rota to look after and take/collect from schools, possibly feed and ferry back to parents, shopping/cleaning and caring for your mum plus all your own shopping, cooking, cleaning, washing and other household stuff. Whew! I'm worn out just thinking about it.
Please do yourself a favour and switch your phone off when in work and make sure your DM has your brothers on speed dial. Tell her you can't take calls in work any more as it's too disruptive and making you on edge. Surely she recognises that it's not a good idea.
You then need to cut back on the childcare unless you like being an unpaid childminder. To an extent, it's fun but you sound as if you are run ragged. Time to say NO with a smile.

fluttERBY123 Thu 21-Jun-18 18:55:04

Siblings shirking cos they see you doing it all and keep quiet - put them on the line. Not are you going but when, then tell mum when they are going and put the phone down quickly. Tell everyone you have to look after yourself or in the end will not be able to look after them. Like with the oxygen masks on the plane.

Hm999 Thu 21-Jun-18 20:02:52

Tell her you've been spoken to about her ringing you at work.

petra Thu 21-Jun-18 20:52:14

Thank you. If I think about it, I'm so ashamed at the things I said to a very nice man when all he had done was come into my office and say: " 'Petra' could you just" it was the last 'could you just' that broke the camels back.
Looking back on my breakdown, the worst part was not being able to form a thought. Part of me wanted to think but my brain wouldn't let me. Natures way of healing smile

alig99 Thu 21-Jun-18 21:33:02

Just wondering why you have to look after grandkids could their parents find/make alternative arrangements?

Rocknroll5me Thu 21-Jun-18 23:24:18

your feelings are normal. so are your mums. mine use to drive me to distraction. i don't think it is manipulative and wish people didn't keep saying that. Life isn't fair. It's tough. She loves you the most and you'll just have to put up with it smile. They'll be a time when you will have plenty of time to yourself. Now's not it. Now you are superwoman loved by all, so buff up your halo..and onwards. well done...don't feel a martyr, when you feel you need some space take it and say so. good luck. Let's all hope we will behave well in our dotage.

Bluegal Sat 23-Jun-18 09:04:09

Just want to say thank you to all you responses. As usual, you GN's have really helped me to get into perspective (need to put in practice now) Especially to Petra - thanks for that and I hope you are much better now. Thanks everyone BG

annep Sun 24-Jun-18 15:47:21

I haven't read all this. will read properly later tonight. I would just say two things though. Firstly you must look after yourself. Secondly be gentle with your mum. She sounds like my mum when she had early dementia.

annep Sun 24-Jun-18 17:48:50

I think mum takes priority over gc. B7ug others need to help too.