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Feel resentment towards elderly mother

(62 Posts)
Philippa60 Fri 06-Aug-21 11:42:44

In the past the kind people on this forum have offered me wonderful advice, so I am taking the liberty of trying again.

My elderly mother recently moved to live near me - I don't live in the UK any more. We thought this would just be for a short while (ha!) during Covid, but it has now become a permanent move. She is in a very nice retirement home where she has a great social life and is happy, although her personality is very negative and she goes on and on about what is wrong, never about what is good.

Both of my brothers and most of my family are still in the UK, so I now feel like the entire responsibility for her rests on my shoulders. While Covid is still rampant, they cannot come here and visit her.

I have never been close to my Mum, and for my whole life she has been extremely selfish / self-centered to a massive degree.
I am finding it incredibly difficult to adjust to being "on-call" for her all the time, feeling that I need to include her in all of our family get-togethers here etc. (I have one daughter here with her family and one son in the UK with his wife).

I am sure I sound horrible, but I just feel so resentful that my life is now so taken up with her needs.
I still work, have 3 grandkids who I want to spend time with, and a ton of other things to keep me busy.

I feel that my mother has no understanding of how she has turned my life upside down! While she was still in London she was much much less demanding of my brothers, and they keep telling me not to give her so much attention but that is easier said than done.

Not sure if anyone has any suggestions or even empathy for this situation? I don't think anything can be changed about the actual situation but I need to get my head in a better place.
I really hate feeling like a bitch, and I try to be loving towards her, but inside I am struggling and cannot share these feelings with anyone.

I am considering seeing a counselor as it's really getting me down.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts

maddyone Fri 06-Aug-21 11:50:38

Hi Phillipa, I will send you a PM later in the day when I’ve got more time. I absolutely understand your point of view because I have a similar situation ongoing in my life. I didn’t want to just scroll by, but I haven’t time to give you a proper reply just now. Having said all that, I’m not sure that there are any easy answers to this situation. We’ll speak later. Keep your chin up.

Sardinia2020 Fri 06-Aug-21 12:08:26

You don’t sound horrible at all and I completely understand how you feel being in a similar situation myself with my father. I suppose it’s a bit different because he was ok when he was younger but now just moans and complains all the time. You have to try to get the balance right- give your mother some of your time but leave time for yourself and for doing the things you want to do and have to do. You absolutely don’t have to include her in family things. I know it probably sounds horrible but just don’t tell her about them. Don’t let yourself be a martyr which we women are good at doing. We’re also good at feeling guilty that we’re not doing enough. Know that you’re doing more than enough and keeping yourself sane and being happy is the most important thing.

Philippa60 Fri 06-Aug-21 12:09:00

Thank you, maddyone. Just knowing you understand really helps!

Philippa60 Fri 06-Aug-21 12:11:19

Thank you, Sardinia2020, I really appreciate your comments!

Philippa60 Fri 06-Aug-21 12:13:48

I think a bit part of the issue is that my Mum was never a warm, giving person towards us as kids, and so I don't have that memory of her that makes me want to "give back" now (on the contrary actually) but then I feel guilty all the time.
I am a very very different mother and grandmother than she was / is!

jaylucy Fri 06-Aug-21 12:15:25

You can't help the way that you feel about your mother if some of the things that has happened in your past have affected you in any way.
We all seem to have this inbuilt fear that we are wrong if we don't even like close family members, especially parents and feel guilty because we are supposed to love them and even like them even if they have been the parents from hell!
As she seems happy in her home, she is being well looked after , there is no reason why you can't spend more time with the rest of your family.
Maybe visit mum on a regular basis, and when she starts rolling out her lists of moans, grit your teeth and change the subject . If she continues to moan, cut your visit short.
The only time is if she complains about the way the staff are or the way that she feels she is being treated in the home. Then you could raise the concerns with the person in charge, who will hopefully have a sensible explanation.
Why not see a counselor? Talking things over with someone totally unconnected may well be a big help to you.

Philippa60 Fri 06-Aug-21 12:17:21

Thanks Jaylucy. She is very well treated there. She is just a naturally negative person who ONLY sees what's wrong in any given situation. The half empty cup, that's her!

Calendargirl Fri 06-Aug-21 12:21:40

As others have said, just don’t tell her about some of the family get togethers. You are not obliged to invite her to everything.

MissElly Fri 06-Aug-21 12:33:40

Hi Phillipa, I’m not sure I can give you any advice but I just wanted to say that I understand as I also had a similar situation. My mother was a very narcissistic quite cruel woman but as I am an only girl and my brother lives in the US it fell to me to look after her and I did resent it as nothing was ever good enough, or indeed, enough. It is very difficult to have to keep being supportive and kind to someone who is so difficult but if that is your nature you will be glad you did when she is no longer here. I felt such relief when she died which was so sad but at least I feel that I did what I could and what I believe is right and treated her with compassion and kindness as are you. One thing I would say to you is, if she is happy in the home, let her be. Can you make a point of having a couple of days every week, maybe even the weekend which are yours and sacred. If she is anything like my mum was you’ll never do enough anyway so make some boundaries for yourself. It sounds like your brothers did this and she is probably taking advantage of your soft nature now. One of the best things I ever did was research narcissistic mothers online. I felt like I was reading my life story and I learned a lot of coping strategies and was able to see how I was being manipulated. I really do feel for you. It is all consuming while you’re in it but you are lucky at least in that she is not alone in a house relying on you. If you ever want a rant please feel free to pm me. I would have loved a rant every now and again when I was in your position and as a stranger you can say what you want to me!!!! I’m so sorry you have a mother like this. Take heart that you have managed to be a kind loving person in spite of her.

hazel93 Fri 06-Aug-21 12:41:57

This brings back memories ! Not my Mum who I adored but my MIL.
May I ask what feedback you have had from the staff in her retirement home ?

ElaineI Fri 06-Aug-21 13:24:12

Hi Philippa can feel your distress. I think many older people are like that. DH is like glass never had anything in it in the first place! I think the others and your brothers are right - your Mum is well cared for and has a good social life in her care home so there is no need to invite her to everything - just limit it. Don't be wound in by her complaints as it sounds like she is probably forgetting the good things. My Mum is like that a bit too - my brother is wonderful as he stripped and repainted her railings and does so much. He is up once a month from Northumberland to Scotland - now allowed. Meanwhile I see to everything else. I know she appreciates me but it is very grating! Your Mum is well looked after so give yourself a break. Your health is also important.

Shandy57 Fri 06-Aug-21 13:58:31

So very sorry, I do hope you can build some 'me time' into your life.

My friend was really good to her Mum, and juggled a part time job and four children at the same time. When her Dad died her Mum became really demanding, even expecting my friend to do DIY jobs, which her Dad knew how to do.

I realised her Mum was self absorbed when I bumped into her in a charity shop and she very loadly moaned my friend didn't have her round for Sunday lunch - she saw her six days a week. I just said she was very lucky to have such a lovely daughter. She followed my friend when she moved to another county and was still very demanding until her death, there was just no pleasing her.

Redhead56 Fri 06-Aug-21 14:12:33

I have been in a similar position being the nearest to my mum even when she went into a care home. My eldest sisters live abroad and others were too busy I felt everything was on my shoulders.

My mum had dementia so it was different moods each time I saw her. It was heartbreaking she had a hard life and eight children. She was a caring mum and did not deserve what happened to her.

It’s a very stressful time dealing with ageing parents and having a family getting the balance right is difficult. If you don’t have a very good relationship obviously that won’t help. I think you need to give your mum a wider berth it would be better for you. She is in a care home being looked after so you don’t really need to be at her beck and call.

You can separate your family life from your mums. As she is in a care home she does not need to know everything that is going on. You could structure you time better too don’t commit all your time to visit her. You need days away from visits and give others the opportunity to visit her. She can spend that time socially with other occupants at the home.

When I had days off from mum I felt when she did see me I was appreciated more. Whether your mum will appreciate you more I do not know. I do hope you make a change about visiting. You have good advice on this forum but I will say you do not need a counsellor you need space.

Nanna58 Fri 06-Aug-21 14:23:09

You are definitely not horrible Philippa60, you must look after your own health and life. My 95 year old Mother has dementia and many health issues and dealing with this has brought my sister and myself to the brink of burnout and it’s only getting worse. I have no advice really for caring for an elderly parent , but I do have endless sympathy for anyone who is. ?

flaxwoven Fri 06-Aug-21 14:35:41

I was in a similar situation a few years ago so many demands on my time, and not only did I feel so guilty I was not doing enough, but the carers made me feel like it too! No, you don't sound horrible. I was so stressed out by the situation I spoke to a social worker who gave me some good advice i.e. visit as and when you can, on your own terms, not always on the same day so she doesn't expect it, and invite her to family events when it suits you. We cannot turn the clock back and give them their lives as before, it is not our fault. She is in a good retirement home with a good social life so I would advise you to try and back off and make time and space for yourself. It's not being selfish, it's self preservation.

Tea3 Fri 06-Aug-21 14:49:57


You are definitely not horrible Philippa60, you must look after your own health and life. My 95 year old Mother has dementia and many health issues and dealing with this has brought my sister and myself to the brink of burnout and it’s only getting worse. I have no advice really for caring for an elderly parent , but I do have endless sympathy for anyone who is. ?

Goodness yes! Keeping people alive for so much longer isn’t so wonderful for families having to cope with the crotchety, the creaking doors and the ‘just been plain horrible all their lives’.

Skydancer Fri 06-Aug-21 14:55:43

I've PMd you. I know all about this and I have suffered high BP because of trying to care for an elderly parent and my hair fell out with the stress. Eventually I decided enough is enough and Mum is now with my sibling. I've started looking after myself. Best decision I ever made. Take care of yourself.

Philippa60 Fri 06-Aug-21 15:25:40

Thank you all, I really appreciate the advice, and especially the understanding. My Mum has always been incredibly selfish and was awful to her own mother, resenting her imposing on her life, and now here she is doing exactly the same to me.
Luckily my husband is pretty good with her and runs around whenever she needs something fixed etc. but he rarely gets a thank you, neither do I.
It's only about HER needs - drives me mad because I look back and wonder why she thinks she deserves everything we do for her!
But I truly want to be a good person towards her, and cannot bring myself to be too cold..
It's a tough balancing act.
Thank you all so much!

Philippa60 Fri 06-Aug-21 15:32:58

MissElly I did just look up narcisstic mothers and there are definitely several elements which are exactly her!
These in particular:
She constantly makes the conversation to be about her
Brags about your achievements to others, but rarely validates or acknowledges you personally
Blames others for any problems you may have that stem from her behavior
Is well-liked and important to others, but controlling and harsh when no one is looking
Harshly opinionated at home but puts up a front for people she dislikes

Luckygirl Fri 06-Aug-21 15:43:28

I do understand your situation and sympathise. If she were someone with whom you had a close and warm relationship then it might feel very different.

It is hard when a precedent has been set that she will be included in everything that you are doing - it is hard to break once established.

I also get this situation from the other side. I was widowed last year and 2 of my DDs live within 20 minutes of me. I always worry that they will feel they have to include me in things all the time - clearly this is not right for them or their families, but they are good kind women and feel concerned for my welfare.

Yesterday I had a major weepy day - it happens occasionally - how I wish it wouldn't. They mopped me up and I went to DD2 for tea with her and the children. Feeling better today thankfully. DD2 has messaged to ask me over for tea again today - and I would love to, but do not want to set a pattern where she feels she has to keep asking me. I* will go, as I have made a good old stodgy pudding for them that her children will love.

Ditto holidays - I have been away with them once or twice, but was clear it was not a precedent and that I fully understand that holidays as a nuclear family are precious to them.

Smileless2012 Fri 06-Aug-21 15:58:09

Hi Philippa you say in your OP that your mum is in a nice retirement home where she is happy and has a good social life.

You need to keep this uppermost in your mind together with your brothers saying that you don't need to give her so much of your attention.

You work, have 3 GC and a busy life. Your mum is a part of your life, not your whole life and this is what you need to be able to see, without feeling that you are on some level letting her down.

You need to start making your self and your lovely husband less available. She's unlikely to change and will no doubt have plenty to say about this but for your own sake, you need to start taking the emotional control away from your mum and having control over your own life.

Good luckflowers.

FarNorth Fri 06-Aug-21 16:05:12

While she was still in London she was much much less demanding of my brothers, and they keep telling me not to give her so much attention but that is easier said than done.

This is the main point.
Your mother expects more from you than from your brothers, and you feel obliged to give in to her.
All you can change is your willingness to give in.
I hope that counselling can help you with that.

Shropshirelass Fri 06-Aug-21 16:07:12

I understand what you are feeling. I have spent the last 6 years looking after my parents and another elderly relative, although they were not demanding in any way, they had moved about 150 miles away which was fine initially but later when they needed help (which they didn’t expect me to take on) it was very difficult. It all fell on me, I have a sibling who was happy to sit back and let me shoulder the responsibility of making sure our parents were fine. Every excuse not to help was thrown at me. I am glad I was able to do it as sadly they are no longer with us. I know I couldn’t have done more for them and without me they would have really struggled. I have peace of mind that I looked after them. It was very difficult for me as my DH is disabled, but I loved them very much and although I now have my life back I wouldn’t change a thing. It is hard but do what is in your heart.

Luckygirl Fri 06-Aug-21 16:24:46

By the way ..... you are not a bitch!!!! smile