I'm burning out caring for my Japanese MIL!
Pretty unusual situation. I'm British/Aussie married to a Japanese. We returned to Japan for a year, but I decided to stay on while he went back to US for his work. I prefer the schools and support for me and the kids. Intercultural marriages are difficult, he's a researcher, dedicated to his work, didn't help much with the kids. Didn't know how to so not his fault. Also, I felt his parents weren't going to be around much longer. Seems I was right. Our dear Japanese FIL died last November. It's not out of Japanese obligation, just felt I was in a position to look after MIL as not working, in a large house. Two sisters are really incapable of even looking after themselves let alone another person. Clearly no mother and daughter relationship anyway. I don't feel any resentment towards them. They never contact, meaning no interference. Think husband asked them not to. He has taken over all affairs for mum, as should be in this country.
So, here I am, in Japan, alone caring for my 7 and 10 yr old, and MIL. My Japanese is passable. It's not a problem as I love Japan, love the kid's school, and generally living here. I've always been a go getter and giver.
My 83 mother in law has pretty advanced dementia. I know I should be more patient and understanding. I've been through all stages of her transition to her new life. Over medication caused frustration so she went thru a stage of bullying me, the kids and the staff at the Day Center she attends. Tough behaviour, hey, I can take that....I'm Australian! Our Care Manager has been wonderful and supportive. I'm no stranger to asking for help. We have two ladies come in weekly to help me with cleaning and her stuff, but not when she's here as she drove them away when going through her mean streak. We usually have a laugh over things like her long johns, baggy and ugly, that she doesn't remember owning and says their mine. We talked with her doctor, who agreed to get her off all the crap and just medicate her blood pressure etc. The aggression improved.
My issue now is which is worse, the zombie medicated mean kicking MIL or the very active and harassing MIL? What happened to all of our images of elderly Japanese, sweet and docile? She had a terrible lifestyle before. Sleeping a couple of hours then awake a couple. I have kids in the house. We can't have her waking us up all night. The doc gave her sleep aid medication to get her off for a couple of hours, but she fights it trying to stay on her old sleep/awake pattern. She harasses me ALL day. "I want to sleep", "where's my lunch" "I'm constipated, you need to help me", "fetch this or that!". One day I was beside myself. "Which do you want first, lunch or me to go to the pharmacist to talk about what to get for your constipation?" "Lunch" but when I made it and served she refused to eat due to the constipation. She asks me the same questions over and over again. It's exhausting in another language. I'm drinking at night to relax, unwind, not hear her to where I feel so unhealthy. I've put on weight, suddenly gone grey!
I seriously contemplated ending it all on Mother's Day. Got nothing from my husband or kids. Oh, but did get her cold! Flowers husband sent to MIL but later said "oh yeah, and they're for you too" He is usually pretty good. Skypes every morning and talks with me and the Care Manager lots.
Mostly I can't handle how I'm losing my patience with her and frightened I will hurt her. She never listens. Even with the "DON'T FLUSH' (in Japanese of course) sign she still flushes, waking me and the kids up. Calling out to us. Accuses the kids of things. Never a nice word to them, but expects them to be her slave. The care manager suggested we tell her to do it herself, good exercise etc, which is working for me, but culturally the kids can't say it to her.
I'm beginning to really hate her. Remembering the time when she told my husband to divorce me, when the kids were 4 and 1, drives me more. I need to snap out of this whirlpool of hatred, resentment, unhealthy lifestyle.
I've never been a "give up" person and like most Aussies always there to help others. I want my kids to see that and know their Japanese cultural side, the importance of caring for elders. I must say the care for elders is excellent here. Everyone keeps telling me what I am doing is so wonderful, especially as I'm a foreign DIL, but I still feel angry and frustrated. I swear I could write a book on what I've learnt over the last 6 months.