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Am I wrong to not spend more time there?

(81 Posts)
JacknJill Fri 06-May-22 10:35:38

I need some help please.
I'm in my 50s have grown up children and one at home still in school. My lovely Dad passed away a few years ago, he was my Mum's carer. I live over 100 miles away. My Mum lives in a 3 bed house and is able to do her own washing cooking etc she's only mid 70s so not old. Her mobility issues are due to her weight and therefore she needs to be in a wheelchair when she leaves the house. She would like me to spend every weekend at her house with her to keep her company and take her out but I work full time and just cannot commit to that. She calls me to tell me she cannot go on like she is etc and I'm really struggling with the guilt.

Bridgeit Fri 06-May-22 18:48:12

Noooo you are not in the wrong.

MerylStreep Fri 06-May-22 18:50:07

Remember: Don’t rescue to the point where you have to be rescued.
If you carry on as you are, you will be the one being rescued while your selfish mother is sitting pretty in her wheelchair with all and sundry dancing attendance to her.

JacknJill Fri 06-May-22 18:50:21

Yes she does feel vulnerable and has a ring doorbell to keep an eye on what's going on outside the house. I think that helps for sure. She does her groceries online and uses social media etc. She also knits and crochets every day.

Shandy57 Fri 06-May-22 18:55:03

I am sorry JacknJill your situation is so similar to my friend's. When her Dad died her Mum wanted her in his place, even to the point of DIY like repairing kitchen cupboards etc. Have a chat to your sister and see if you can come up with a plan.

JacknJill Fri 06-May-22 19:04:21

I have tried talking to my brother but he says my Dad would want us to try to continue what he had done and says 'she's doing really well I'm proud of her for doing her own cooking and washing etc' so I don't bother anymore, I'm actually not proud of her for carrying out basic tasks. I have friends in their 80s and 90s who are a lot more independent.

icanhandthemback Fri 06-May-22 19:06:05

Have a really good think about what works for you with your mother and work towards a goal where YOU are happy. The trouble with mothers who have had somebody running around after them is that they think that is their right. It isn't. I have slid into a life where my mother's needs have outweighed mine and I am working to turn in around. My advice is to try not to get into that position because it is hard to extricate yourself.
You are definitely not being unreasonable and there are very few posts on GN where you get resounding agreement.

Germanshepherdsmum Fri 06-May-22 19:10:42

Good for you! Please don’t feel guilty. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but your Mum has had her life and now it’s your turn. Your children and grandchild need you, as does your partner if you have one (sorry, haven’t checked back). My parents were never at all demanding but I felt a responsibility to them as they became frail. I was a solicitor juggling a stressful job with a family and living much closer than you are but I was an only child. I think it’s impossible for older people to understand the pressures of modern working life. Unlike me, you have a sister who sees her frequently and she has other visitors. Try to cut down on the number of calls - even if you called her once a day (and then turned your phone off) she would be extremely fortunate. There are other people, geographically closer, for her to contact if there’s a problem and you could perhaps get her one of those pendant alarms to use in the event of an emergency. You are still young and a lot of us are your mother’s age or older. Please don’t waste these precious years and put your health at risk over this. Your mother is a great deal better off, and has far more human contact and companionship, than many. Amusing herself for a while between visits and phone calls isn’t the end of the world. Perhaps she would like to absorb herself in a jigsaw, some puzzles, reading, like an older housebound friend of mine.

JacknJill Fri 06-May-22 19:47:08

You're right about some older people not understanding, she has never worked so cannot put herself in my shoes. She can't sit up a table to do a jigsaw apparently her legs hurt and holding a book makes her arms ache ?
Honestly you couldn't make it up!

VioletSky Fri 06-May-22 19:53:27

This guilt doesnt belong to you, her lifestyle choices have lead to this.

Dont carry a burden that isnt yours

M0nica Fri 06-May-22 20:02:58

The unreasonable person in this situaton is your mother. You say you have had therapy. I think it is your mother that requires it. Is there anyway she could be encouraged to consider it.

You say your sibling lives near her and visits a couple of hours a week. In which case why is your mother demanding so much more from you? Why does she think her excessive weight is normal for her? What is is her diet like? It must be very disordered.

I agree with others that she may be depressed, but I think she faces a problem that occurs with monontonous frequency on GN in so many threads. One person has got used to being waited on hand and foot by another person and is completely affronted and takes it personally when told that it cannot continue and they need to manage for themselves. It waiting on hand and foot is done through love and cencren for that person but is, in the long term being cruel to be kind

JacknJill Fri 06-May-22 20:50:53

I agree she does need therapy but wouldn't hear of it sadly.
Her diet is poor, lot's of sugar, fat, white bread etc, no fruits or vegetables unless the veg are in a casserole or apple in a pie or crumble. She has takeaways delivered 3 times each week and her tesco delivery is £100 per week. She has no pets.
When I next visit I am going to suggest she speaks to her GP about her mental health.

Elegran Fri 06-May-22 20:54:37

You say she knits or crochets, which is good, but if she could lose herself in a book the time alone would pass much faster. She might even forget to phone you and ask "Where the hell have you been!"
Would she use a Kindle or other electronic reader? they are much lighter than a printed book, and wouldn't make her arms ache.
She could possibly put it on a little table to slide over her knees (you can get cases that them prop up at an angle to make them easier to read), then she wouldn't need to hold it at all.

I think I would invent if necessary find that I have unavoidable things to do on most weekends so sadly I would only be able to visit her once a month or so. I have an aunt who I do a zoom call with once a week. My brother is also included in the zoom call, but his unavoidable appointments seems to concentrate around that time. Coincidence, of course (?)

I would cut down on phone calls too.

M0nica Fri 06-May-22 21:10:42

I must say that if my mother had been like yours JacknJill I would have been sorely tempted to tell her that I would only help her as much as she helped herself. Except, of course, most of us love our mother's and the thought may be there but we never would say it.

Could you bargain with her suggest you will do one thing, if she does another?

Allsorts Fri 06-May-22 21:14:56

It does sound incredibly hard, juggling your own family at home and trying to be there for mom. It is hard on your own, has your mother considered sheltered living if she needs more company? I know it costs more than managing in your own home and it leaves reduced inheritance, but it’s worth it to make your quality of life better. No good being lonely on your own. It’s their own money so it should be used to be happy l
If you were widowed and in your seventies, with mobility issues, how often would you expect to see your own children or speak to them? I do think that in your seventies you cannot do what you were doing easily in your fifties.

Hetty58 Fri 06-May-22 21:23:48

We don't have children so that they can look after us (and keep us company) when we're old - do we?. Your mother is being selfish, attention-seeking and unreasonable. It's all too common in the elderly.

You need to distance yourself and cut down on visits. Arrange whatever local outside help and social opportunities you can find - and take a big step back. Suggest that she moves into residential care if she's really lonely.

icanhandthemback Fri 06-May-22 23:20:12

Hetty58 We don't have children so that they can look after us (and keep us company) when we're old - do we?

Please could you tell my Mum that. It is exactly why she had her children and she gets really upset when they won't play ball!

My son asked me the other day what I wanted him to do if I got disabled with dementia like my mother. I told him that I want him to put me in a home but I would appreciate a visit every so often. I don't want my children to feel obliged to care for me, they have their own lives.

Germanshepherdsmum Sat 07-May-22 08:55:39

My thoughts exactly icanhandthemback. No way do I ever want to be a burden to my son. He has his own life to lead. I’ve had mine.

Yammy Sat 07-May-22 09:06:56

Don't feel guilty, I know from experience the more you do the more that will be expected. I lived over 200 hundred miles from my mum who would have liked me there every weekend even though I worked and had school-age children and a husband who often worked weekends when my father died.
In the end, I did not tell when I was going away and would not phone when she tried to dictate I did.
Her friend summed it up when she phoned me to say they were going away on a six week holiday together, obviously planned for months and not a whisper to me.
Live your life your mum is making her choices time for you to make yours.

MargotLedbetter Sat 07-May-22 09:29:03

OP, I find myself wondering whether there is an underlying mental health issue going on here, and whether your mum and dad had got themselves into a co-dependent relationship where he did the caring and she settled for being cared for. If your dad died a few years ago and he had been caring for her for some time it does sound as if she gave up her independence very early in life.

I don't think there's a lot you're going to be able to do at this stage because she's been coached for years to be dependent. Some people are naturally the dependant sort and others wildly independent to the end. What you can do for yourself is to build stronger boundaries agains the emotional blackmail and put in place strategies to share the burden. I think it's great that one of your adult children is there this weekend. Is that something that could be arranged every couple of months?

Are there any day centres she might attend? Befriending schemes in her area? When my MiL was very lonely and vulnerable (and a five-hour journey distant from us) we found a semi-retired nurse who lived only a. few miles away and paid her to call in and belfried MiL three times a week. She was worth her weight in gold. You are never going to be able to give her enough time and energy, so it's a case of casting a wide net and seeking a brigade of people who, together, an hour or two at a time, will fill the gaps.

GrandmaVagene Sat 07-May-22 09:31:48

I only joined this group yesterday and it’s great to see everyone is so supportive of each other. My mum is just coming up to 90 and lives alone. I have 5 siblings and we all have her 1 night a week for a meal at our homes or a restaurant. 3 of us take it in turns having her on a Sunday and she speaks to all of us most days on the phone or we pop in for a cuppa. My brother and his wife do her weekly shop and some housework and one of my sisters cleans her house on a weekend, for which she gets paid at my mums insistence. I support her with medical appointments and going for walks. Yet it still isn’t enough. As a family we have a WhatsApp group which we use to keep us all up to date with the support she is getting from each of us. She is reasonably mobile although sometimes unsteady so use a stick when she goes out. She is a sociable person and keeps in touch with people on the phone. She as 20 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren so there are many family occasions that she joins in with but it still not enough. We sometimes ignore phone calls from her when we know she has just had visitors as we don’t want to hear her say she hasn’t seen anyone. We have resigned ourselves that she won’t be here for ever and we ignore her barbed comments, however we have also made it clear that we won’t be at her beck and call. I’m so glad that I have siblings so we can share out the support we give. I know some people aren’t that fortunate

MargotLedbetter Sat 07-May-22 09:38:57


I agree she does need therapy but wouldn't hear of it sadly.
Her diet is poor, lot's of sugar, fat, white bread etc, no fruits or vegetables unless the veg are in a casserole or apple in a pie or crumble. She has takeaways delivered 3 times each week and her tesco delivery is £100 per week. She has no pets.
When I next visit I am going to suggest she speaks to her GP about her mental health.

I've just seen this. Your mum clearly has major issues with food, which would explain the weight issue and the immobility. It sounds like an addiction. This is an MH disorder. Unfortunately food addictions are notoriously hard to deal with. Depression can often be a part of it. Are you in a position where you could talk to her GP and find out if she's receiving any support for her MH? The NHS is shockingly bad on these issues. They seem to think that just nagging patients to lose weight and handing out diet sheets or telling people to go to Slimming World will fix it. It clearly doesn't work, otherwise we'd all be a size 10.

Shandy57 Sat 07-May-22 13:02:38

I identify with your Mum's diet, she's a comfort eater like me. I've still not got used to eating alone and often stuff myself with unsuitable rubbish. Having the take aways gives your Mum something to look forward to.

humptydumpty Sat 07-May-22 13:06:12

If she has no company at the weekends, does she have any local friends? If not, could she move (a lot!) nearer to you?

JacknJill Sat 07-May-22 14:29:14

Thanks you all for the good ideas and support, my mum's belief is actually that this is why we have children and also to pay for your funeral (she has said this)
Yes I'm sure she has a bad relationship with food and can relate to comfort eating however certain foods are great for a treat just not on a regular basis.
About 25 years ago I went away on holiday with my kids and were having a lovely time, we decided to stay for a second week (in the uk) I phoned my mum and kids were excited to tell her, she cried and her and my dad turned up to visit on our holiday the following day.
Her belief is that we don't need friends in our lives because we have family so she's never really been one to build those relationships.
We also set up a family WhatsApp group when my Dad died and would put in there when we would all be visiting to give her some structure but it was unsustainable and began to cause friction between people. I called it a day and dipped out.

JacknJill Sat 07-May-22 14:34:52

I should have said, we were living in the same town when my children were younger and we went on holiday. So mum would see them regularly.