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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

Philippa60 Sun 08-Aug-21 10:41:09

Hi, yes, it's a retirement home, where she has an independent unit and apart from lunch provided in the dining room, she takes care of herself and enjoys lots of activities.
If and when the time comes, there is a care unit, but she is not there yet.
It's almost like being in a hotel!
And yet she still makes me feel imposed on especially with things like shopping and doctors' appointments and her expectation to be included in everything.
Thanks for all the support here!

EBear Sun 08-Aug-21 11:59:48

Good morning

We are in a very similar situation my DM is narcissistic and it has taken me many long years to realise it. She is now in a care home with dementia and I feel so angry that I never addressed her behaviour towards me ( I am an only child) and now I never will be able to. Before the care home and before the dementia took hold she made my life unbearable, if it wasn’t for the support and advice from my AC and DH I would have cracked long ago. I was expected to do or organise everything as though it was her right to expect it but I did withdraw at times and the advice not to tell her what is going on is good, that way you’re not lying just not telling her so she’ll never know. Now I have guilt that she is in a home and strangely it feels like I’ve abandoned her even though she treated me so badly and cruelly as a child. I have tried counselling remotely and it has helped but I don’t think I can move on fully while she is still here. All the advice on this thread has been helpful for me and I hope for you too.

Philippa60 Sun 08-Aug-21 12:05:56

EBear, absolutely it really has, so sorry for what you are going through as well.

greenlady102 Sun 08-Aug-21 12:07:22


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.

I am a retired occupational therapist and part of my job was helping families plan and agree what support they could give their elderly relis long term. My advice always started with "Keep time for yourself" "be realistic in what you offer" and "Don't feel guilty for not doing more"
This acually is down to you to find ways to manage your feelings which I know is not always easy.

I would say DON"T let your heart or your feelings of guilt rule your head....its a sure way to ending resenting the situation even for the most loving child.

Caleo Sun 08-Aug-21 12:10:39

Poor old things!

I used to have friend of many years until she died, This friend complained a lot, most of them actually, and used me to complain to. I did love her as she was also understanding and had a sense of humour and fun.

The thing is, when you become very old, old friends and companions tend to have died or become demented. Younger relatives tend to find us boring or 'difficult' for good reason.

Younger relatives' feelings of guilt help nobody. It is not your fault the aged woman is who she is.

Allsorts Sat 21-Aug-21 06:51:41

I know how hard it must be for you Phillips and you need to allocate time for yourself. Your mother is old and probably just has you, your grandchildren are her great grandchildren as yours will be one day. When you’re old and two of your children are far away and have in a way opted out of sharing her care, her world has become smaller and she relies on you and still wants to be part of your world.
It is very hard getting older and feeling alone, she has always been selfish and self absorbed and I do think traits become more as you get older. You need to decide what time you are prepared to give to your mother, perhaps quick ring her most days or send a message her, share family gatherings that you want her at, have others where she’s not. This negativity, can’t you call it out a little, once she starts moaning say try cutting the visit shorter or say to her why have you always to think of the negatives and not the positives it’s getting you down, she probably doesn’t realise how bad she is because it’s become her normal. Only you can decide what us acceptable to you and reclaim your life back.

eazybee Sat 21-Aug-21 09:02:30

Your mother is clever, isn't she? To move to another country when elderly is quite an undertaking, and I would say your mother has a will of iron and is as tough as old boots.

Based on what you write it sounds as though she was not getting the attention she demanded from your brothers, who seized the opportunity to offload the responsibility on to you, because that is what sisters are for, isn't it?
You need to remind yourself frequently that your mother does not need your attention, although she may want it. She is safe, cared for and with plenty to occupy her; you do not have to worry about her eating habits, being ill, being vulnerable, being lonely.

She however, is determined to have you at her beck and call and she won't give up, so you have to be strong and set strict limits on how much time you give her. You have to resist her guilt manipulation by focusing on your family and job, and it will not be easy; I saw my domineering paternal grandmother ruin my parents' marriage, a friend's mother who died aged 104 thwarting her daughter's plans to start a new life following retirement, and a colleague who had to give up her job because her mother pestered her at work all day, everyday. All women whose only concern was themselves.

Start by refusing the daily phone calls, too busy with work.
I have no doubt after knowingly spoilt your day with her negativity your mother goes on her way, refreshed.

Wisner Fri 27-Aug-21 00:53:42

eazybee has it.

You'll be her wee slavey before you know it. If you aren’t already.

You “have” to speak to her every day against your will? Even though she’s perfectly fine and is living the holiday lifestyle. But needs to keep you at her beck and call too?!

I think a counsellor would be very useful for you on this. He/she could help you enforce your boundaries and deal with any resistance and fallout and unpleasantness that may come your way as a result of your new boundaries. Also help you see what makes you happy in this scenario. It’s harder to do it completely by yourself if you have a selfish parent intent on pursuing their own interests.

For myself I spoke to my mother about every 5 days on the phone and that became an increasingly miserable chore. As she was occasionally abusive as well at times and gave me the Silent Treatment we are no longer in contact, there is a relief of sorts. You might just have to lower contact though to make things better.

A counsellor could really help you stand up for yourself and change the dynamics.

Wisner Fri 27-Aug-21 01:03:25

Made me think, all this “female duty” that’s constantly shoved at us, isn’t it misery-making? What would happen if we just did what we liked (like men mostly do in fact)? The world would still turn.

Philippa60 Sat 11-Sep-21 10:59:57

So true, Wisner!
The ironic thing is that my mother complained endlessly about her own mother and her demands, but doesn't see that she is the same (or worse) towards me!

Hetty58 Sat 11-Sep-21 14:32:40

I was never close to my mother (another selfish woman with a difficult personality) but, thankfully, I wasn't her favourite either.

I did my duty with weekly visits, watching out for her welfare and making arrangements - to help out my sister. It's very difficult when someone makes it so clear that they don't like you.

I often thought that I could do the same, or better, for any random old lady - and I would have preferred that. Of course, I felt relieved when she died. She wasn't enjoying her life, and yes I resented even the little I did.

Hetty58 Sat 11-Sep-21 14:37:58

And, yet again, my brother did virtually nothing - it seemed that he wasn't expected to.