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Can someone give me some perspective on this ?

(26 Posts)
GibraltarRock42 Sun 06-Dec-20 16:07:08

Hi there
I would love to get a bit of perspective from you as “older parents” on this…… My Dad passed away a few years ago, after a very short illness. It was a traditional marriage for its time with him doing a lot for my Mum in terms of looking after finances/bills/holidays etc and her putting a lot of trust in him. My Dad was a difficult man at times and we clashed particularly in later life - as a child, I was always upset at the things he said to my Mum to “belittle” her at times and his moods were quite unpredictable, which I resented and I suspect I ended up being a bit of a peacemaker. I would say I favoured her and we got on well and if I’m truthful, I found my childhood stressful (I was a sensitive child). Later in life when I got married, I have found peace with my life, my husband and my kids and am determined to give my three kids a more “level” day to day life. My mum is kind but not always confident. She has a strength to her and I always admired how she dealt with my Dad’s illness. Fast forward a couple of years and after some financial issues (my Dad didn’t leave the finances in a great state), she has a new home, is quite independent, happy to drive, shop etc, has some friends (although a few have died in the last few years) and there are three of us children. I live close’ish, but the other two don’t but not massively far away. One of them is brilliant in terms of “helping” the load by going over and having her to stay, but the other isn’t so much. I have noticed more and more since we deal with her, without my Dad that she is very “bitter” about how her life is now, I think she was more demanding of my Dad than we realised and is quite determined to get her own way – that might have added to the irritation he had with her, I now realise. Financially she has her own home, a pension and a small amount of money over and above what she “needs” for bills etc but having had a “good life” financially is now resentful that she can’t pretty much do what she wants. She will constantly say things like, “oh I can’t afford to do that” or “it’s nice this “x” in your kitchen, I can’t afford one of these”… or, “I don’t know if I’ll ever go on holiday again” or, “I watch far too much telly, life is so dull”……you maybe get the picture a bit. I feel a bit resentful that my Dad was so selfish to leave the finances this way (and we have had many discussions over the years about them trying to make plans for the future (20 years ago I had that discussion and was “shut” down) ), but we can’t turn back the clock. I also resent that it’s fine for one sibling to never call her, yet I don’t call the minute and it is commented on. I meet her for coffee/ lunch/ invite her over for Sunday lunches but still we tell her stuff “Oh that’s nice, shame I don’t get to do things like that anymore”. It is quite wearing in that I will edit what I have done so it doesn’t fuel her fire and I get resentful that, when she was our age, they led a very full life.

I then feel guilty that I don’t do enough and I go round in circles. I have also had to point out to her sometimes that we all, as children, lost a dad, that we all have kids (teenagers), we work and I have a husband who also has ageing parents. My husband is really good with her but, understandably, doesn’t want her here every weekend because she’s a bit lonely.

This was like this pre-covid I might add -I would love her to maybe volunteer somewhere to maybe feel a bit more fulfilled and give something back, to go and see that her life is actually quite good in the grand scheme of things. Then I think, maybe I’ll end up like this too and so I shouldn’t judge !

Thank you for letting me rant a bit and having put all this down, I don’t really know what I am seeking other than a different perspective from the one I get from similar folk my age with ageing parents !!!

Astral Sun 06-Dec-20 16:19:50

This sounds like a difficult situation for you and honestly, it isn't OK for your mum to put you on a guilt trip all the time, sometimes it is hard to figure out if it is deliberate or if they don't realise they do it.

Some people do not understand the value of what they actually have and its very sad. I would simply keep reminding her of that. If she will make you feel bad for sharing things you do without her, perhaps keep conversation on what you have done or do together.

She is probably depressed and perhaps needs help.

I really do understand how it feels when people are negative too often and it is draining.

GibraltarRock42 Sun 06-Dec-20 16:30:33

Thank you for taking the time to read and reply - I think she probably is depressed but will neither speak to the doctor nor a counsellor on the basis that she has ‘us’ to speak to - I am all for speaking with a third party - have done it myself as sometimes it’s a massively helpful perspective and stops you from burdening friends and family with the same old same old......

Charleygirl5 Sun 06-Dec-20 16:30:58

Sorry, I cannot read this because the first large part is written without any paragraphs.

Daddima Sun 06-Dec-20 16:33:50

I must say that sounds very like my late mother-in-law, who was a very bitter woman even before she was widowed, and she then became a hundred times worse. It was sometimes difficult not to buy into the guilt trip, but we sometimes had to go along with things, as, following him having had an abusive childhood, the Bodach was still hoping for some kind of approval from her. At the same time I had to keep contact with her to a level he could cope with, for the sake of his mental health.
Anyway, I notice you mention volunteering. I was working at a hospice which was very near her home, so I suggested she volunteered as a receptionist. It worked a treat, got her involved in something worthwhile, and also out of the house. I would recommend giving it a try.

Eviebeanz Sun 06-Dec-20 16:44:05

Could the other sibling be encouraged to visit more? It always amazed me with my own MIL that the person who visited/helped less got thought better of...
Does she have any particular interests?

Eviebeanz Sun 06-Dec-20 16:45:45

Could the "children" pop in on her now and then if it is not too far away?

MawBe Sun 06-Dec-20 16:51:35

I think you needed to let that out and I hope just venting has helped.
However there is a world of difference between losing a parent and losing ones life partner.
You have your husband, teenage children, a job, all to give you company, a role in life something to talk about and security.
She has nothing . Her life may be “quite good in the grand scheme of things”: but she is rudderless. You don’t need her, your kids don’t need her, your DH doesn’t want her with you every weekend - but you admit she is lonely.
Until you are bereaved it is hard to understand what that sort of loneliness means. I am not saying you should do this or that but three years into widowhood (how I hate that word) I could not begin to list what it does to your life, to your personality, to your confidence even to your mental health.
Give her a break. Yes you have lost a dad - but that is the natural order of things.
After Covid, perhaps you can help her to build a new sort of life for herself (does it have to be volunteering? It’s not for everybody! ) but give her a break.

cornishpatsy Sun 06-Dec-20 16:59:00

You are not responsible for her happiness. The more people try to help her the less she will do for herself.

You could point her in the right direction, if she is unaware of what happening in her area, and then leave her to find her own activities.

Casdon Sun 06-Dec-20 17:01:24

Your mum isn’t your responsibility, financial or otherwise, but it sounds as though she is making you feel that she is. You’ve obviously got a very busy life, and by guilt tripping you the way she is she must be making you feel that you’re failing her - you aren’t, it sounds to me like you’re doing far more to support her than most adult children do, or are expected to do.

It may be that you need to step away for your own wellbeing, cut down on the support for a while and tell your siblings what you’re doing and why - if all three of you give her the consistent message that she needs to take some responsibility for herself, in the end she probably will.

Blossoming Sun 06-Dec-20 17:09:28

My big sis is a bit like that GibraltarRock42

If I tell her I bought something or did something (Pre-Covid) it’s all big sighs and ‘wish I could do that’. If she has a cold it’s the worst illness anybody ever had in the whole universe.

The thing is, I have some severe impairments as a result of a brain injury years ago, chronic kidney disease, hypertension, thyroid disease and cancer. Getting out is difficult for me but I do it. She could do so much more than I can but she doesn’t. She wants someone else to arrange holidays, trips, transport, etc. Perhaps your father had to organise things to some extent because your mother wouldn’t.

I tend to let it wash over me, not always easy!

MawBe Sun 06-Dec-20 17:33:47


You are not responsible for her happiness. The more people try to help her the less she will do for herself.

You could point her in the right direction, if she is unaware of what happening in her area, and then leave her to find her own activities.

I can hardly believe I am reading this.

“Leave her to find her own activities” -yeah right, we have Tiers if not a Lockdown, remember?
Your mum isn’t your responsibility -who brought up up, wiped your tears or your bottom and probably put you before her own needs?
You say your father was not an easy man I think - just think what your mum might have had to put up with while you were growing up.
I have read many self-pitying “estrangement” threads/posts and I am beginning to wonder if family relationships break down because it is all me, me, me first.

Smileless2012 Sun 06-Dec-20 17:51:31

I totally agree with MawB's post GibraltaRock; your mum has lost her life partner. Despite having enough financially, perhaps she realises that had your dad managed things better her financial position *now could well have been better.

Rather than seeing the things she says as 'guilt tripping', perhaps you could entertain the possibility that she's voicing the frustration she feels at not being as well off as she could have been.

I hope you'll be able to do as MawB has suggested and "give her a break". I remember how difficult it was when my f.i.l. died for my m.i.l., who said exactly the same things your mum is saying now.

Hetty58 Sun 06-Dec-20 18:00:29

GibraltarRock42, your mum has got into the habit of complaining about things. She's a 'glass half empty' person.

Whatever you do, she'll probably continue that way - or get worse. Don't take it to heart - just accept how she is.

Siblings very rarely take an equal, 'fair' role in helping elderly parents. We all have different personalities, varying in our amount of patience and motivation. We have quite different relationships with our parents, too. Don't get resentful if others don't do their share.

My mother always wanted my older sister (her favourite) and expressed her disappointment when I arrived, as 'substitute'.

I once explained that my sister needed time off. Mum said 'That makes no sense to me. She could have been an only child!'

She constantly complained (when with me, not others) and assigned me the 'fixer' role. She'd have a list of minor things to put right or resolve.

At one point, I lost patience with her spoilt, selfish behaviour (after a hard day at work). I said 'I've just come to see you, to check that you're OK, chat and have tea. I've not come here to be ordered around like a servant!' - that made her stop and think, at least.

SuzieHi Sun 06-Dec-20 18:23:37

Hoping that ‘offloading’ has made you feel a little better.
It sounds like you are supporting her a lot. Your mum is making you feel guilty- she shouldn’t be doing that to you. Some people are envious and put a negative spin on things. Let it wash over you.
Listen, sympathise but try not to feel guilty or totally responsible for your mum. Contact your siblings - do you discuss your mum? Maybe explain to them how she makes you feel? See if they can phone, text or visit a little more? Encourage your mum to keep any of her own friendships up & maybe she could contact some she’s let lapse( so she’s not so reliant on you)
Allow yourself some time off- think your husband has this right !
When your mum starts making negative comments try telling her how well off she is....own home, good health, 3 healthy children/ grandchildren etc Tell her looking on the bright side will help her keep upbeat.

GibraltarRock42 Sun 06-Dec-20 18:32:32

Thank you all so much for your input - none of the answers surprised or offended me......

@Eviebeanz - sadly the other sibling apparently is too even send a text in a 5 minute moment !!!....... I have suggested that a quick call or text is enough to check in and keep her chipper until the next visit !!

@MawB and Smileless2012 - I totally understand what you are saying and of course she feels rudderless and lost, I acknowledge that and also that this is just another chapter where roles are reversed and our input as their children becomes greater. I suppose it is getting me down at the moment. Lockdown has been hard for so many and particularly those on their own. But we each have a story and an experience and it isn't a competition... I find I am just about able to keep my own emotions in check, so add on top the teenagers, husband and then my Mum who almost wants me to make her feel better when I'm already digging deep, selfish or not, I am being really honest and am finding it hard.

She is who she is and I think the other thing is that I have realised a lot more about the relationship my parents must have had and that maybe it wasn't quite as one sided as it seemed to me at the time. That in itself has been interesting.

I have always been a "doer" and lend an ear to friends and family. My mum was similar to an extent and always been sociable but I realise that my Dad did a lot for her, fixed stuff or did the confrontation - she now wants a replacement "fixer" and I think in many ways wants me to "fix" her life for her. I have suggested lots of things, but what she "wants" to do and what I think would be good things to do don't always match up !.... and do you know, sometimes I get a bit tired of being everyone's fixer !.....

I listen and nod and let her vent and keep her posted on my day to day drudge and what the kids do. I don't think I can do much more.....

Casdon Sun 06-Dec-20 18:41:05

But MawBe her mum isn’t her responsibility, I stand by what I said. We don’t have children so they can look after us when we get old.
I’m a widow myself, and brought my children up on my own, but there’s no way I’d ever want them to feel that I was their responsibility, I am responsible for myself. I’m probably swimming against the Gransnet tide by saying this, but I wonder how often family estrangements are because parents think their children have a duty to them?

Septimia Sun 06-Dec-20 18:52:22

Well, Casdon, I'm glad I was brought up to have a sense of duty towards my parents - and in-laws (my FiL was the last and I did all sorts of things for him). But I do think that it should be a willing duty, born of affection and caring.

I certainly hope that my DS will care about my welfare as I get older although, like many others, I wouldn't want to be a burden.

GibraltarRock42 I sympathise with your difficulties. Could you perhaps get your mother involved with volunteering or some sort of activity where she meets other people (not easy at the moment, of course) by taking her with you initially to do something that you can cope with, and then gradually withdraw yourself from it a bit when she starts to make friends?

Jaxjacky Sun 06-Dec-20 18:57:46

You have made your very astute assessment, it’s hard to be everyone’s rock, sometimes it feels it defines you! My Mum was similar in a way and I’m not sure if true of your parents, but my Dad was the more sociable one, very popular and Mum was less confident, but grew through him. When he died, her self esteem waned, she drove, went to appointments, but was not confident enough to sustain ‘relationships’, she became rather resentful.
I don’t have magic answers I’m afraid, I used to make it as lighthearted as I could with her, I wish you luck.

rockgran Sun 06-Dec-20 19:01:34

I agree with Casdon that we should not make our children feel responsible for our happiness. If you are friends with your child as an adult that is a bonus. I would hate my child to feel beholden - they didn't ask to be born. I'm always grateful for any attention paid and hope it is out of love and not duty.

petra Sun 06-Dec-20 19:03:47

Always remember: Don't rescue to the point where you have to be rescued. You sound very worn down by your mother.
Sad to say, but it's time to put the big girl knickers on 😉 and tell her a few home truths because it sounds as if nobody has.
You might be pleasantly surprised at what a change it might have on your mother. Good luck, you can do it 😀

sodapop Sun 06-Dec-20 19:12:33

I agree with Hetty58 your Mum has got into the habit of complaining to you GibraltarRock she is unhappy and misses your father whatever differences they had. You are helping by just listening and being there for her, try to keep her a bit more upbeat but its difficult when someone is entrenched in this sort of behaviour.
I agree with your husband you need some weekends to yourselves as a family. Good luck.

lemsip Sun 06-Dec-20 19:17:28

I wonder that if the other two siblings were to write on this site, how they would see things!. maybe you should get together and discuss the situation!

GibraltarRock42 Sun 06-Dec-20 19:49:43

@lemsip - we tend to agree on how it is - we have had to have some chats in the past about stuff and generally take the same view which is good. We are close as siblings even if it feels a bit ‘unequal’....

FarNorth Sun 06-Dec-20 20:04:58


Always remember: Don't rescue to the point where you have to be rescued. You sound very worn down by your mother.
Sad to say, but it's time to put the big girl knickers on 😉 and tell her a few home truths because it sounds as if nobody has.
You might be pleasantly surprised at what a change it might have on your mother. Good luck, you can do it 😀

I realise that my Dad did a lot for her, fixed stuff or did the confrontation - she now wants a replacement "fixer" and I think in many ways wants me to "fix" her life for her.

It really isn't your responsibility to 'fix' her whole life, or to put up with her moaning about things that can't be changed, or that aren't really moan-worthy at all.

I agree that you may have to make clear to your Mum that she is turning into a complaining burden to you.