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I hate talking about mum, but........

(80 Posts)
grannymy Wed 22-Jan-20 16:18:31

I'm almost 62. Have worked since I left college at 17. Never been out of a job. I have gradually cut down my hours and now work 21 hours a week. My partner is retired but we don't live together. I've worked in the NHS for over 30 years. I believe I'm at the stage where I would like to retire, but can't because I didn't pay my works pension until the last few years. (big mistake!) I have a brother who hasn't worked for about 20 years. He has an alcohol problem and looks pretty awful at times. His ex wife, who is close to my mum, has had anxiety problems for over 20 years and doesn't go out of the house. My mum relies on me as the "worker" of the family. Any time I am off sick, which is rarely, she can't wait to say "will you be back tomorrow?" If I tell her I'd love to retire, she'll say "you would only get bored." My mum really only has me to depend on as my brother can't offer much help and my sil none, although my mum will always say "S would be here at the drop of a hat if I needed her." I end up running around like a headless chicken when mum goes into hospital. I try to make her life as smooth as possible. I said the other day "It's horrible going out to work in the morning when it's pitch black." "Oh well, she said. Think of all those others who have to do so." I can't make a comment about work without being told "oh well, you only work 21 hours." It probably sounds very trivial, but it doesn't half get me down sometimes. She has every sympathy with my brother. She gives him money for food, which he uses for gambling and alcohol. I could do with a bit of extra money sometimes, not from her, but I am forgotten about! Sorry for the rant. If it's up to mum I'll be working until I drop, probably so that she can say "my daughter is working." My partner gets annoyed, but I can't stand up to my mum and I'm very respectful, but it's depressing some time.

GrannyLaine Wed 22-Jan-20 16:23:12

Do you mean that your Mum relies on you financially grannymy?

vampirequeen Wed 22-Jan-20 16:28:27

It's not trivial at all. It's not surprising this is getting you down. Sadly some parents seem oblivious to the time and effort one child gives to them whilst another child, who does little or nothing, is golden.

Namsnanny Wed 22-Jan-20 16:49:23

Oh dear! Grannymy that sounds a horrible way to live to me.
Your mother is being neither honest or fair, but I don't see a way of making her see this at her age (around 80 ish I would guess?)
Could you start a mantra that you repeat to her at every opportunity, such as
'I love you mum but I'm getting older too, and I cant do this forever'
So she begins to accept (at some later stage) that other situations may have to be put in place for her care.

Some how you will have to find a way to put yourself first at some point.

Esther1 Wed 22-Jan-20 17:12:04

I really feel for you, it must all be so dispiriting. I suspect your Mum is fully aware of how much she depends on you and is dismissive of your own issues because she wants you to keep going on as you are so makes light of how hard it is for you. Very hard for you.

Summerlove Wed 22-Jan-20 17:27:18

Being respectful doesn’t mean taking everything she is saying to you without saying something back.

Personally, I would stop running around like a headless chicken every time she needs you, and I would let the people she says would drop everything for her do it. Maybe then she will start to respect you a little bit more and how much you do for her

I’m not saying abandon her, but stop doing everything

grannymy Wed 22-Jan-20 18:23:45

Thank you for your replies. It's almost as though I'm not allowed to want to stop working. The days I don't work are lovely. I can get up and do what I want most of the time. AS long as I know mum is okay. I phone her every day to check on her the days that I don't see her. I make sure she has everything she needs. For once I'd just love her to say that it would be nice if I could retire. She constantly defends my brother and sister in law because they can't work (or won't.) I've spend the last few weeks going to the pharmacy to pick up her dosset box and decided to tell them to deliver it on a Friday, when she rarely goes out. When I told her she said "so I've got to stay in then." I just can't win. She has had a few hospital stays in the last year and she has me making sure my brother stays at her's to watch the cat and has me buying him shopping whilst he's there. All he has to do is sit and watch tv and feed the cat. I take my phone into the ward every day to let her phone her friends and dil and make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. She tells my brother and sil not to visit her in hospital as it's too much for them. It's soul destroying listening to it all. Sorry, I'm just getting this all off my chest as I don't even tell my friends. I just can't feel the same as her towards certain people and I know she wants me to, but I just can't. I'm a very empathetic person, but it's just all too much. Because of it all I have very little self confidence in myself.

eazybee Wed 22-Jan-20 18:31:04

Have you considered that if you retire your mother will be even more demanding; she will expect you to be available all the time?
You have to start being firm now because it won't get easier, it will get worse.
Your mother does sound selfish, and the determination of some of the elderly to have their own way is frightening.

CanadianGran Wed 22-Jan-20 18:50:04

Aw, I feel bad for you, but you do have to take a stand and back off a bit. There's no reason your brother can't do a bit more for her.

My husband is retired early, and his mother tends to take him for granted. He visits 4 days a week, his brother visits 2, and I visit 1. So she has someone every day, but she never asks for any small favours of anyone except my hubby. Whether it's picking up medication, or fixing the vacuum etc. He gets a bit fed up, but tries to be patient. For some reason some people seem more open to help and so are taken for granted.

You need to tell your brother to step up a bit to relieve your burden.

GrannyLaine Wed 22-Jan-20 19:05:26

You don't say how old she is grannymy but much of what you describe sounds familiar to me, though not exact parallels. I lost my beloved Mum last summer, aged 92. She always saw me as very competent and I know she loved me dearly but she found it hard to express that. She behaved quite differently to my brother but I understood the reasons behind that. As she got older, she found it hard to show empathy for any discomforts I might have with ageing as she always had the trump card there. She lived alone and I think became more self centred - and why not at that age? I lived quite a distance from her, so couldn't be around as often as I would have liked. I guess what I'm saying is that being elderly does change the way they think and behave and sometimes the person they love most is the one they lean on hardest. You won't have her forever: can you find a way to talk about how you feel about the things that matter? Please understand, I'm not trying to undermine what you are feeling - I've been there many times. Sometimes its more about the way we look at things.

grannymy Wed 22-Jan-20 19:23:35

Thanks again for your replies. My mum is 86. She lost my dad three years ago after a long marriage. It must have been very difficult for her. A complete change of life. She sees her neighbour almost every day who pops in for a cuppa. Goes to her friend's on a Monday afternoon. A friendly hour on a Tuesday afternoon. She has people who phone her almost every day, but she's recently been telling people "I don't see many people so when I do I can't stop talking." There are people who don't see one person in the space of weeks or longer! I'm surprised in her being to selfish. Makes me feel terrible that she feels sorry for herself that she never sees or talks to anyone, apparently.
She won't allow my brother to help any more. She says he's not fit enough. He's fit enough to walk to the off sales and bookmakers when he wants to.
I just can't tell her how I feel as I'm not that open with her. I've closed myself off as the time has gone on and only tell her what I have to as she fusses about everything and makes a mountain out of a molehill and I end up stressed to the hilt. We can sit and chat, but I won't go anywhere deep as it would be a waste of time. She judges everything. I now wonder how my dear dad had to listen to it all those years. He was such a gentle, kind soul. What makes me feel worse is that most people think mum is a lovely person with a heart of gold and they don't really know how opinionated she is and it has affected my life to an extent.
Thank you for listening and I'll regret saying all this

sodapop Wed 22-Jan-20 20:25:01

Don't regret saying it grannymy reading your posts back and the replies may help clarify things for you.
You do have to stand back a little, as eazybee said things will only get worse when you retire. Don't let your brother opt out even if your mother is reluctant to let him help.
Try not to take things to heart so much and live a little for yourself. Good luck.

SueDonim Wed 22-Jan-20 20:34:30

My mum is in her 90’s and I’d echo what GrannyLaine has said in that my mum is now very inward-looking. She doesn’t get out and about that much nowadays, although she is in her own home and apart from a cleaner still looks after herself without help.

She really only sees things through a prism of herself now. Anything that happens anywhere is reduced to how it will affect her, not anyone or anything else. Her world is closing in, I suppose.

We’ve never been close but I try to just go with the flow, let her have her rant and hope she feels better for it. However, unlike you, I’m not nearby, but a two hour drive away so it’s bearable as I don’t see her that often.

I do think you need to protect your own health and well-being, though. Perhaps try not responding to some of the things your mum says. If she gets no reaction, she may get bored with it.

Anniebach Wed 22-Jan-20 20:43:44

Can it be your mother is making excuses for her son, if he has
an alchol problem quite possibly an alcholic.

His ex wife hasn’t left the house for 20 years, does she still
live with her ex ?

She may find excuses easier than admitting the truth about

M0nica Wed 22-Jan-20 20:48:23

grannymy Your post reads like another thread where a poster has an abusive husband.

Your mother is not abusive, let me make that clear, but the effect of her behaviour on you is the same - and with good reason. Nevertheless, she is a frightened woman because she knows how much she depends on you and your willingness to do anything she requires and she doesn't want to know about anything that hints at you not being able to continue your level of care.

Therefore you need to take some action to protect yourself because if you go an as you are doing now, it is you who is going to have breakdown and be in hospital - and what good is that to anybody?

You do not feel up to confronting your mother, and that is understandable, these things never end up the way you want them. But you do need to reduce the burden you are bearing.

To start with get the dossett box delivered on a Friday and if your mother says 'So I have to stay in?' Just say quietly, yes, you will. Then step back and look for other things you can do that can give you some freedom. You say you and your partner do not live together. Do you ever take a break together? A weekend or a few days midweek? Consider it and then tell your brother what he must do in your absence and then tell your mother you are going away and what you have asked your brother in your absence.

Just now and again. Give yourself a break and leave others to cope.

Hetty58 Wed 22-Jan-20 21:03:18

I think you need to distance yourself (mentally and emotionally) so that you don't take what she says to heart.

Many elderly people become totally self absorbed and don't realise (or even care) about the hurt they cause others.

They can live in their own comfortable little fantasy bubble by repeating the lies they tell themselves.

She won't change (might get even worse) so just don't let her words upset you.

My mother said ridiculous things in her later years. I didn't bother arguing, had trouble not laughing, and wasn't really listening.

She's assigned you as family 'worker and carer'. Don't play along, don't be too available, find other things to do.

annep1 Thu 23-Jan-20 07:07:13

I agree with Grannylaine.
I would add that as your brother is an alcoholic which is very sad he can't be depended on to look after himself never mind anyone else.

Katyj Thu 23-Jan-20 07:47:59

Granny I have similar problems, im the same age as you working partime looking after dgc too.I haven't any siblings, to help, but mum has a brother and sister reasonably nearby that are both heavy drinkers, they come out with every excuse in the book why they can't visit, one still drives but won't drive until after lunch and has to be home before dark, neither of them visit her in hospital. I'm also sick to death of her making excuses for them both, while she seems to see me as the sensible one with no life.I would love a life, where she didn't invade my thoughts every minute of every day, as she is now disabled and can't get out on her own, there is always something to do.Sorry I'm going on a bit now, and not being a lot of help, but I do sympathise and know what your going through.I think the only way ahead is to limit your visits as much as possible, I visit 2 or 3 times a week,I have the dosset box delivered same time each week, and try really hard to have a couple of days away now and then, were I enlist mums family to help, if they don't, then I can't do anything about it.She also has a panic button, and a Keysafe to summon help if needs be.Good luck.

Jaffacake2 Thu 23-Jan-20 08:01:57

I can empathise with you as I was in the same position in the last 8 years of my mum's life. Also worked 4 days a week for the nhs, single mum with teenager at home. Mum lived in sheltered accommodation and I looked after all her shopping, medical appointments and generally be on call for emotional support. My brother and wife would do the impressive outings every now and then for meals out but not the endless daily practical chores.
It came to a head when my daughter was very ill with a tumour and mum initially was upset but somehow coped without me. She was an amazing resilient old lady who survived to 94 .
But it took a toll on me and I was ill shortly after her death and have struggled the last year's with an autoimmune disorder.
My advice to you would be please look after your own health whilst still caring for mum.

Grammaretto Thu 23-Jan-20 08:09:46

I feel for you too and think you may have to sacrifice some personal pride in order to protect your sanity.
My in-laws live close by and we see them regularly. DH is having medical treatment and it's often me who does any running around. Their cooker and TV went wrong this week. BiL is good but doesn't drive and lives further away. SiL is their darling but phones us to say how worried she is about them!!
Yes I can empathise. Even my DC gently suggest we don't do enough for the DGP.
There are support groups for carers. Is there one near you?

TwiceAsNice Thu 23-Jan-20 08:23:57

You do deserve a life you know! If your mum says your SIL would drop things to help her say “ that’s great perhaps she could come and do so and so, or perhaps she could come every Wednesday” call her bluff a bit maybe?

Does she have enough money to pay for some things? Someone to come and feed the cat whilst you have a little holiday ? Keep the arrangement on a Friday and say she has to be in for it and have Friday as a day you don’t go and do something really nice for yourself that day. You don’t have to abandon her but you’re not her slave either

Jaycee5 Thu 23-Jan-20 08:42:09

It may be that you don't have to do as much as you feel. Sometimes just responding harshly once can work. I had to give up work before I wanted to because of ill health which meant closing down a business, selling my house and moving into rented accomodation. My mother's idea of help was to suggest jobs that I should be applying for. Vague things like 'research'. It was really upsetting until I couldn't take it one day and crossly said 'why don't you believe I'm ill'. She was really shocked and changed, a bit at least. Now that she is in her 90s I am the only person in the family who rings her regularly and I think that she is realising that her favouritism was misplaced.
I also like the idea of finding a mantra that you can just repeat. That worked for me with my sister. I spent decades trying to make her understand how her bullying made me feel (before I understood about gaslighting) but one day I just said 'thank you for that correction' everying she criticised and after I had said it about 20 times an hour she stopped it for about 2 years. It was such an ingrained habit that she started again but if you can think of the right expression and just say it unemotionally, she won't be able to avoid it for ever. Maybe something like 'A bit of support would be good Mum'.
Whatever you decide, you clearly can't go on as it is adversely affecting your life too much. Step back a bit. You have your partner's support which is good.
Are you sure that you wouldn't be able to cope? State pensions are not that bad and if you have even a small top up from your NHS pension, it might not be as hard as you think.

Yehbutnobut Thu 23-Jan-20 08:45:03

Don’t confide in your mum so much. Telling her how you feel seems to draw out a negative reaction. Just stick to day to day topics.

Have you no one to confide in yourself?

Hithere Thu 23-Jan-20 08:53:12


You are the scapegoat and your brother and ex are the golden children.

This must stop immediately. A whole life of enabling has taken you where you are now, with no end in sight.

Concentrate on yourself and what you need to retire. you are your main priority.

Your mother is clearly not appreciating what you have done and are doing for her - stop everything you do. She will and has always taken you for granted.

Your mother will find another person to latch on and serve her needs. She will be ok.

Hetty58 Thu 23-Jan-20 08:59:31

It seems that people fall into set roles, often to fulfill the expectations of their 'oldies' or to prevent guilty feelings.

My sister visited Mum (in her care home) every day. They were always close.

I went every week (quite enough) out of duty. I refused to make it a regular day, though, just let them know the day before.