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Feel resentment towards elderly mother

(63 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

Hithere Fri 06-Aug-21 16:30:15

Team not unreasonable

Your mother was self centered now and still in the present, hasn't changed

Reclaim your life, establish boundaries with her.
Decide how many hours a week/month you would like to invest on her and stick to it

justwokeup Fri 06-Aug-21 16:43:59

Try to think that this behaviour is only going to get worse, so think of coping strategies now. I understand, I felt I was living my DP’s life not mine, and you actually have to get tough with yourself and prioritise yourself and your family. I would definitely say ‘I’ll come round every week on a Tuesday (for example) but not in between’. You say she has a good social life so try to see her a day when she’s free and let her arrange the rest of the week herself. She may not like it at first but it’s surprising how quickly she’ll get used to that. Also, if she’s in a retirement home, surely they have DIY contacts or handymen? Give your DH a breather too. Maybe she could visit family for a holiday- airlines will accompany her through the airport. Make sure you take holidays away from her too. It is a fact that she will appreciate you more if you’re not always at her beck and call.

H1954 Fri 06-Aug-21 17:00:53

So, your mum is in a residential home with a great social life and is happy. It seems to me that your mum is playing you and manipulating you into giving her more and more of your time.
Compromise with inviting her to one family event per month, this will enable her to see her great grandchildren and you of course but still give you the time to yourself that you deserve.
It seems to me that her negativity towards you is rooted in control.

maddyone Fri 06-Aug-21 17:33:58

I have a similar mother. There is no doubt that this type of mother is controlling and always has been. They really only see you as a way of making sure their needs are met. When I went to Somerset for a week a few weeks ago, I phoned my mother thinking she would like a call from me. She would barely speak to me, said she didn’t know what she’d been given for dinner the previous evening (when I asked) because she’d hardly eaten any of it. She said she was too ill to talk. I spoke to the carer on her floor at the care home who said mother was not ill and had eaten all her meals. The carer said they often refuse to speak to relatives if the relatives have the absolute audacity to go away on holiday!

Katyj Fri 06-Aug-21 18:53:38

I’m in the same position, only my mum lives independently and I’m an only one. It’s a very difficult thing to say how you feel about your mum, but please don’t feel guilty there’s a lot of us in the same position.
You have all my sympathy. If you do try counseling please come back and let us know if it helps, I’ve often thought about it for myself. I sometimes think the problem is with me not her. I just can’t cope with it which isn’t her fault.

Kali2 Fri 06-Aug-21 19:07:45

Very difficult situation. Just wondering, hoe was the decision made for her to move abroad to be near you? Was it all her own decision without your say so and input?

Oopsadaisy1 Fri 06-Aug-21 19:29:33

Can I suggest that you ring the home once or twice a week to check that all is ok.
Speak to your Mother once a week and visit her once a fortnight.
Any family gatherings invite her just once a month.

She is having a great time, make the most of what freedom you have whilst you are still able to.
And don’t feel any guilt.

Nannagarra Fri 06-Aug-21 20:44:08

I’ve been there, so has my SiL and two very close friends. We all resented our loss of freedom, the expectation that we’d fill the role of the missing parent and excessive demands.
In no way are you “horrible” or a “bitch”. You’re merely stressed by a negative, self-indulgent parent. All replies to you have rightly shown understanding.
There’s absolutely no reason why your mother can’t be more independent of you in this lovely home. Limit the time you spend with her as your brothers suggest. Only see her when and as often as it suits you - not her. Don’t be too ready to answer the phone to her when you want to do something else. She has an active social life and is well cared for; relax in the knowledge of this.
Counselling wasn’t available when I was in your shoes. I remember many Sunday evenings writing to an agony aunt and then tearing up what I’d written as it made me feel better.
With hindsight I might have been better able to cope. At the time I thought it would last for 20 years of it but in fact it was less than three. My friend thought it would be short-lived but found it to be 15 years. Set out your stall now so you can cope is my advice.

Nannagarra Fri 06-Aug-21 20:45:55

Edit button/ proof reading needed. Ignore ‘of it’ please.

Philippa60 Sat 07-Aug-21 07:25:53

It was a "joint" decision with my brothers, but I felt a lot of pressure to agree, not fully realizing what it would mean to our lives.... Now with Covid meaning they can't travel, it is all on me. In the past, and since my father died, whenever there was an issue with her, I would jump on a plane and travel to London to take over, so it's a very different situation today

Philippa60 Sat 07-Aug-21 07:27:55

Thank you all for helping me to see that I am not being unreasonable in feeling this way. I am going to try and limit contact a bit. For example she expects a phone call every morning, just to check in, which is generally her telling me everything that is wrong with her health and me just listening. On the one hand it is not a big deal but I find it gets my day off to a miserable start. I will see what happens if I try and move to every other day....!

Katyj Sat 07-Aug-21 07:39:30

Definitely move to every other day. This is my problem too I have to ring everyday and I dread it ! It’s never good news, usually means I have to go over to sort something out, or make an appointment for for Drs, opticians dentist etc. At least your mum is in a home and cared for, mine is depressed and lonely. Take care of yourself.

Grammaretto Sat 07-Aug-21 07:57:55

Just agreement from me. and the reminder that nothing lasts forever and soon your brothers will be able to travel and perhaps you will have a chance to unburden with them.
I've just spent a cathartic week with my DSis and BiL often talking about our difficult mum, who died 12 years ago but was narcissistic - we just called it selfish. We loved and admired her but she lived with me for 3 years and I nearly had a nervous breakdown.
My sister is writing our mother's life story!

Now I am recently widowed but I don't think and hope I could ever be like DM.

V3ra Sat 07-Aug-21 08:43:13

Philippa60 there's no reason for you to phone your mum every morning to check on her if she's in a supportive living environment, that's the job of the carers and what her fees will be paying for. Totally different if she were living alone, but she's not. So you can start to phase that out with a clear conscience.

Speak to the carers about your feelings and thoughts and ask their advice on how to manage both your needs. They'll have seen it all before and will have some kind but realistic suggestions for you.
You might not have your brothers nearby but you're not alone in looking after your mother, so don't feel you have to be all things to her.

Philippa60 Sat 07-Aug-21 11:28:35

So I followed the advice here and didn't call her this morning (I usually call around 9) and then at 11 she called me "just to check in". I guess I could have ignored the call but I didn't.
I did say to her "Mum, if I can't call or answer the phone, just send me a text if it's anything urgent".
I hope she understood. I really need to space out the calls a bit more.
When my Dad was alive and she was doing fine, she rarely called, but now she feels this need to speak EVERY DAY which I find so hard.
I've also told my brothers to please take on more of the daily phone contact (which they can do as easily as me!).
And we are going to my DD and SiL for lunch soon without her!! I didn't even tell Mum about it.
I am following advice from you all and really appreciate it so much.
Thank you
Phillipa60 (now 63!)
Let's see if it helps.

AGAA4 Sat 07-Aug-21 11:41:28

I do hate to see selfish elderly people taking over their children's lives. I have seen someone almost fall apart with the demands of her very elderly mum.
As long as they are cared for children should only do what they comfortably can and not be at their beck and call.

DiscoDancer1975 Sat 07-Aug-21 12:33:42

I don’t have this problem, because we were all estranged long before my mum and MIL died, but I wouldn’t have wanted to do it either. You reap what you sew, comes to mind. Your mother now has to understand that.

That doesn’t mean never seeing her, but it should be at your convenience. Definitely if she obviously hasn’t seen the error of her ways, and is behaving the same.

Could you arrange to visit, say for one hour, once a week? Then stick to it. You are definitely not a bitch. You are the product of your upbringing. No fault of yours.

Enjoy being with the people you love, and who love you back. Don’t waste time on anyone else. No matter who they are. ?

Keeper1 Sat 07-Aug-21 12:48:56

So she chose to move to another country to be near you when she could have moved closer to one of your brothers. I wonder why is it that she couldn't manipulate them? Your are not selfish or being a bitch but only give her as much time as suits you. She chose to move you already have a life don't let her play you anymore.

maddyone Sat 07-Aug-21 13:17:16

I’ve made the decision to only go every other day to visit my mum in her care home. She is there currently curtesy of the NHS following her third fall in six months, this time she sustained a broken shoulder. At the moment she cannot weight bear on her legs or arm and until she can, the NHS will pay. After that, she’ll have to pay herself or go back to her sheltered apartment.

Hithere Sat 07-Aug-21 13:30:22


I would also give your mother your definition of emergency.

Emergency for her could be "it is raining and cannot go on my walk"

Caleo Sat 07-Aug-21 16:39:13

Is there some health and safety reason your mother uses you as her on call person? If she uses this facility too often or too much you need to tell her so. Certainly the old lady needs to be monitored, and I assume the care home does this for her.

I am 90 this month and I can phone them but I am extremely careful not to intrude by long chats and complaints. I never expect to be included in their family get-togethers even although they live nearby.

I suggest you learn how to cheerfully say "No" and say what you are prepared to do. If you initiate the phone calls or the visits you have the social right to politely and cheerfully terminate them. No doubt you will fell guilty when the old lady dies, however dead relatives often have this effect.

The one practical thing that you can do that will make you feel better , and possibly satisfy the old lady, is telephone her regularly once a day at a fixed time . You could tell her you want to do this and you name the duration of the call. If she objects, tell her you have a lot of demands on your time but you will be there for her if she really needs you.

Hithere Sat 07-Aug-21 18:01:38

Would warrant sorry

Hithere Sat 07-Aug-21 18:02:09

Oops wrong thread

Grammaretto Sun 08-Aug-21 10:24:53

Well done Phillipa. It is a start.

It reminded me of when DM used to try to make me feel guilty by telling me how often other people's DDs phoned.

This was when she lived alone though. Your DM is in a Retirement home but I guess not the same as a care home but at least you don't have to check she''s not had a fall or is quite ill or do you?
DM used to complain about her Carers who sometimes missed her out entirely on their twice daily rounds so my DSis and I would have to phone the agency. At that stage my DSis was living a couple of miles from Mum so would drop everything and rush round.

I don't think it's ever easy to find the right balance. Good luck to you.

Grandma70s Sun 08-Aug-21 10:40:41

I feel a bit sad reading this thread. I phoned my mother every day, and after she died I talked to my father every day. I enjoyed our talks. I was lucky in that my father cared for my mother until she died, and never needed much help from me. He had a home help, cleaners and so on, cooked for himself for a long time and then had WiltShire Farm Foods. He died aged 94.