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Is she too demanding or am I too soft?

(54 Posts)
dreamspirit Sun 31-Mar-19 16:07:00

I was standing behind the door when they handed out spines, with the result I have had neck problems, knee problems, shoulder problems, lower back problems, you name it, all my life: nothing major, just different aches and pains requiring osteopathy, physio, chiro etc. to keep me 'upright', as I put it, (lol) since I was a teenager. Now, at 72, naturally these problems are not improving! However, I take every step I can to alleviate them. Every morning when I wake, I have pain somewhere - it might be my neck, my shoulders, my hips etc. etc., but I can gently unfold myself and do various appropriate stretches, until I reach reasonable mobility. If I'm still not reasonably comfortable, I take anti-inflammatories. I then go out walking my dog - which, of course, oils my joints and helps a lot. I follow that with yoga. Now .... I have explained to my daughter, who lives 35 minutes away, that I can no longer 'jump' out of bed and tear around as when I had to get to work, and I need more time to 'unfold', or I have more muscle spasms to deal with. She, of course, only sees me once I've got everything moving and I'm quite a 'sparky', fit granny. I have explained to her that I do not want to babysit at 9 a.m. which requires me to get up at about 6.30 a.m. to do all the above, including walking the dog, in order to leave my house at 8.20 to get to hers. I love seeing my grandsons and am happy to start at, say, 10,30, but, I've just received another request list from her of possible school holiday 'duties', starting at .... yes ... 9 a.m. again!! I'm exasperated! How many different ways can I explain that I just can't do it? I made the mistake of making an exception once in an emergency (for which my back suffered!), but that set a precedent, so I laid out the law and and told her 'sorry, but no babysitting before 10.30 because I can suffer for days otherwise', but now, this request from her AGAIN! It makes me feel mean and I hate that. How on earth can I make her understand? We have a good relationship and she's a wonderful daughter, but this seems to be a complete blank spot, and she doesn't seem to realise how much pain I'm in most of the time, presumably because I'm slim, active (once I'm oiled!) and don't LOOK decrepit! Any tips, without us falling out?

rosecarmel Mon 01-Apr-19 14:40:05

Nobody can properly care for their own well being, not mentally or physically, when they over-extend themselves while caring for others -

I personally cannot think of a single individual who didn't neglect themselves while engaged in a caretaker situation - Myself included -

I had to learn to say no AND not be afraid to say so - And if doing so caused a rift it revealed that the relationship didn't sit on a healthy foundation to begin with -

Saying no forces others to examine the path they themselves chose - And once faced with that task may become frustrated and distance themselves a bit - In time they begin to realize how much they themselves expected of someone else once faced with managing the tasks on their own -

Barmeyoldbat Mon 01-Apr-19 15:33:34

Dreamspirit your morning routine is the same as mine and I am slim and active. Ij can cycle 20 miles plus with no problems (cycling not weight bearing) but I really suffer at times and have now invested in a TENS machine which seems to help when I have to sit in a car for any length of time. I do not do anything early unless I really have to, I don't do child minding or lifting, my disabled daughter knows the score and now has to be more helpful when I visit. Its not easy, but you really have to think of your own health and I would just keep saying no and not feel guilty.

quizqueen Mon 01-Apr-19 17:10:57

Either stay at your daughter's house the night before to, at least, cut out the journey part or tell your daughter she has to bring the grandchildren to you for 9am. You're the one doing her the favour, so it's your rules!

Tillybelle Mon 01-Apr-19 17:52:34

dreamspirit. Oh dear! You have made me feel guilty! I think you are managing extremely well and I sincerely congratulate you on all you do! I do so much less than that! For different reasons - perhaps - I too have spinal problems and I have been disabled for 20 years. I am a few months off 70.
It took my 3 DDs quite a long time to realise I can't do things and even now I am not sure they can quite take it in when I tell them I can't do such and such.
I think you and I may have been similar. I was extremely active and did everything. My husband died when I was only just 42 and from then on, I put up shelves, did decorating, drove hundreds of miles to universities, baked 40 assorted large cakes for a wedding, walked the dog every day, had my teaching job, did another degree.dug the garden. I was blooming wonder-woman!... until boink! a car crash (not my fault) push me into old age with a spine I was told looked a good 20 yrs older than it should. It has deteriorated since and continues to rapidly do so and, like you, getting mobile in the morning is eye-wateringly painful and slow.

There is only one way as far as I have discovered. You have to be very tough and get her the flat truth, away from the children - you don't want to scare them! Tell her quite resoundingly that she does not seem to have taken in what you are saying. You are now in your 70s and you have very painful back problems which stop you doing things. You cannot start your day before 10.30 (or whatever) and you can only take on one demanding activity every three days (or whatever). Say to her she must take heed of this. There are no alternatives except for a serious emergency when you can't be relied on so she needs to have a more physically able back-up for such an occurrence but of course you would do what you could. She has to be told in no uncertain terms in my experience. Even then she may not be able to believe it!

I don't think they are spoilt exactly. I think they just can't imagine us that poorly. It might be a head in the sand refusal to accept our old-age out of fear! I had a dreadful time when I had flu one Christmas about 5 years ago and couldn't drive to my daughter's. She was very upset. She had gone to a lot of trouble and was really disappointed. However I could hardly get to the bathroom and would not have got as far as the car let alone the next 4 hours driving! I really was very ill. But she and her husband kept phoning me and would not accept I was ill! They became quite nasty and said I couldn't be ill or I would call the Doctor! My Doctor would not have come out Christmas Eve. They don't do home visits (Another thread!). But it was flu and I just had to sleep.... There we go! Children can't accept their parents being ill. We have to be so tough when we are and either not tell them or just be quite blunt with them! I have had to tell mine so many times. They even see my wheelchair and Disabled Parking Badge, but it doesn't sink in that this is because of pain! A lot of pain! They are better than they were but it has taken about ten years!

It still has not quite sunk in with my children but they live a long way away from me and so I rarely see them or the GC. I often feel sad that I can't go and see them but that is life. I have to accept it!

So my only help is to say - be tough and tell her straight! Even write down "Granny's availability times and capabilities". With a sub-heading: "Due to blooming awful pain".

Mind you, one of mine would have said "Then go to the Doctor" as if the Doc can drum up a magic cure!

Tillybelle Mon 01-Apr-19 18:29:49

rosecarmel. That is so good! I love the way you have said it too! Thank you. I shall think of it a lot.

Loulelady Mon 01-Apr-19 18:38:46

I’d be tempted to email/text in reply: “So sorry, darling, I can’t” and leave it like that.
She’ll then panic and leave it for her to follow up and then clarify that as you’ve said before, you can only do 10.30 on.
You don’t owe her any child care, but it’s lovely and helpful that have been and are willing to continue doing so.

sarahellenwhitney Mon 01-Apr-19 18:57:29

For sure your aches and pains are not going to disappear
and if like myself, now having to limit my activities, then you are not being unreasonable on advising DD you will continue to help only starting later but not at 9.30am.

LJP1 Mon 01-Apr-19 20:28:37

Maybe she thinks the encouragement will help to keep you active - the best way of keeping painful joints mobile.

rosecarmel Mon 01-Apr-19 20:33:06

Health, help, time and finances are finite - When the offering of a portion is met with a request for more? Who for even just a second wouldn't be aghast initally? Or wonder for a fleeting moment am I being asked to be taken advantage of?My brother, of course - He depleted his finances, his health, his time in the guise of helping his adult child - Bent over backwards, the man went to the ends of the earth with effort until he himself turned to dirt - Literally - He's now in an urn -

One word would have extended his life - One word would have provided his adult child the opportunity to work through issues collectively and learn instead of being taught to be dependent upon one person - That one word is no-

sharon103 Mon 01-Apr-19 20:59:24

Well said rosecarmel

notanan2 Mon 01-Apr-19 22:49:59

then you are not being unreasonable on advising DD you will continue to help only starting later but not at 9.30am.

That is unreasonable though!

It just makes things awkward and more difficult and sends mixed messages. The DD may feel the OP doesnt want the Dd to find alternative child care even though the OP cannot do the hours required

it is not helpful to keep offering "help" that is not the help that is reauired

OP needs to face up to the fact that if she cant start at the time DD needs to go to work, she cannot be of ANY "help" with holiday childcare! Stop telling her to confuse matters by saying she can help with a prohibitive "but.." !

Amagran Mon 01-Apr-19 22:51:15

Dreamspirit, have you been checked out for polymyalgia? Your symptoms sound a bit like it. If so, Prednisolone works wonders.

GreenGran78 Tue 02-Apr-19 01:01:28

I have rather the opposite problem. I have developed osteoarthritis fairly quickly, and it is now quite painful and slows me down considerably. My daughter lives nearby. Since she has realised that I don't cope as well as I used to she is killing me with kindness. She spent several hours of her day off from work, last week, jet-washing my garden paths. She is a divorced mum with two teenagers, a big house to look after, and a full-time job.
She is always urging me to see my GP, finding out about treatments, and constantly asks me how I am feeling..
I love her to bits, and really appreciate her concern, but her constant 'mothering' is beginning to irritate me. I feel that I am being ungrateful, and it makes me feel very guilty.
I am going to have to learn to be more gracious, and your daughter will have to learn to be more understanding!

Anja Tue 02-Apr-19 07:27:58

Yes, two suggestions that might work. Ask that GSs stay over at your house. This is what I do as I’m like a bear with a sore head until my second cup of coffee and a paracetamol. Since they are school age they are much less hassle and can occupy themselves until I’m up.

Or stay with your DD overnight and take your dog with you. Then she can bring you a cup of tea in bed.

These might work for one-offs?

MamaCaz Tue 02-Apr-19 07:53:25

I disagree with those who say that the OP not being able to help before 10.30 means she can't help at all in the school holidays.

Perhaps the daughter could find some responsible person, a sixth-former perhaps, who would jump at the chance to do 1.5 hours of paid work per day, looking after the children until Grandma can start?

Lilyflower Tue 02-Apr-19 09:16:52

Your daughter needs an au pair.

Greyduster Tue 02-Apr-19 09:23:32

This has been on my mind, too, of late. I am the same age as the OP and I wake up every morning feeling like I have been in a car crash; everything hurts and it takes me longer and longer to come round. I agree with those who say think about having your GC overnight. Fortunately, our GS, who is twelve now, doesn’t get up at some ungodly hour when he stays over, which he did when he was younger, but even then it facilitated an easier start to the day. If we had to be over at his house to accommodate their working pattern, it would be a real struggle. But apart from that, he is very active and it gets harder and harder to accommodate his love of kicking a ball around non-stop, or some other strenuous activity we have always done with him. I am 72, DH is 75. The last thing I want to do is see him sitting on his phone all day, or in front of the TV when he is here, so we are trying to steer him towards gentler activities. It’s hard for children to grasp the concept of ageing bodies and aching muscles and fear of falling, and it’s sad, too, for us knowing we are very close to not being able to cut the mustard anymore!

notanan2 Tue 02-Apr-19 12:28:32

Most babysitters specify a 4 hr minimum booking (and if you want them for less you still pay 4hrs). Holiday clubs will charge for a full half day even if you collect early. School friends parents will only be willing to take the DDs kids if they can tag on to the families plans for the day, not if they have to wait in all morning because Dd is dropping before 9 then OP is collecting at 10.30

No, 1.5hrs childcare is not worth it from the providers point of view.

But the OP asking to DD to find these hens teeth solutions is sending a message to the DD that the OP will be upset if she is totally replaced by holiday club etc.

It is not fair on the DD as she is running out of time to find alternatives.

notanan2 Tue 02-Apr-19 12:35:06

Oh and the kids that only do a morning at holiday club get to sit and watch the all day kids go off on fun outtings/trips too.

The OP cannot provide help with the holidays she is actually creating the opposite: a problem, the DD may think, and it may be true, that the OP doesnt want to not help and will feel bad if she is no longer able to help at all. The DD may feel emotionally blackmailed against using all day care.

But if this isnt nipped in the bud, and the OP keeps saying that she IS helping just with "buts". It will get to a point where the alternatives are all booked up and DD may (justifiably) say "YOU said over and over you wanted them during the holidays, well this is the time I have to drop them." IYKWIM

notanan2 Tue 02-Apr-19 12:40:32

Just say no. Cant do chilf care, but would love to see them for a visit or family outing over easter,

And let DD off the hook from finding non existant 1.5hrs of care so she can get on with getting all day childcare booked before its too late. She must be getting pretty stressed about it at this point.

MamaCaz Tue 02-Apr-19 12:49:34

As I understand it, the OP's daughter has been given time to find alternatives, but appears to have ignored her mum's stipulation about not being able to start at 9pm:

... but, I've just received another request list from her of possible school holiday 'duties', starting at .... yes ... 9 a.m. again! (The words 'another' and 'again' are key)

If the daughter didn't explore other possibilities when the OP first told her that she could no longer do early starts (not that we know if she did or not), I don't think that her mum is being unfair now. Quite the opposite.

notanan2 Tue 02-Apr-19 13:25:06

But if the mum is still saying that SHE WANTS to help from 10.30, even after the daughter has told her that that is not the help that is needed, the daughter might feel under pressure to find a way to not make her mum feel completely redundand IYKWIM.

When I had my first my mother put a lot of pressure on me to let her "help". However the "help" was never actually "helpful" but I went along with it because she seemed to want and need to be involved....

Later on found out that she was painting a picture of a put-upon GM with a denanding DD to others. A picture many still believe to this day. She never once actually "helped" in a way that was needed though, I just thought at the time I was being nice to her by letting her be involved even when it actually caused more work from my end IYKWIM

notanan2 Tue 02-Apr-19 13:32:43

So if the OP is STILL insisting that she does want to help, just from 10.30, the DD isnt UR to repeat again that okay, OP, but if you want to help, the help is needed from 9.... will go round and round like that until the OP just says "fine, I cant help with holiday childcare any more"

notanan2 Tue 02-Apr-19 13:35:24

Maybe the OP is scared to say an outright "no" to help incase it means she wont get to see the GCs over the holidays at all? In which case she needs to say what she means, i.e. "I DO want to see them, but I cant provide childcare cover, is there something else we can arrange together over the holidays?"

MamaCaz Tue 02-Apr-19 13:39:59


Isn't it strange, how we read the same words but picture different scenarios playing out behind the scenes!

Personally, nothing in the OP makes me think that the daughter has been trying to find 1.5 hrs of childcare, or that dreamspirit is as keen as you suggest to do the rest of the day's childcare.

That is probably because when I am asked to do something similar, but can't do exactly what is requested, I usually preface my reply with "I can't do .... but I am happy to ... (if that is any help)"

In reality, I might (secretly) be anything but happy about it, but those words are simply my way of leading in to the closest solution I can offer.

However, I suppose we all draw conclusions based on our own lives, and yours is just as likely as mine to be the right one here. 😊