I want my life back!

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I've been reading input from other very interesting discussions. Glad to know I'm not the only one tearing my hair out. My dilemma is a bit different though just as agonizing.

Six years ago it seemed like a good idea to invite my then 85 year old mother to sell her home and move in with me. I was divorced with my kids grown. I was enjoying my career and free time. Mom was, and still is, in excellent physical health for her age with astonishing energy. My very large home offered plenty of room.

Lifelong experience should have warned me that when Mom moved in she would take complete control of my home and life. I once dreamed of selling my over large home and buying a cozy condo. But soon my rooms were filled with her entire household of things she wont part with. My kitchen became her kitchen; right down to replacing my stored away dishes and skillets with hers.

At first, I found my new situation amusing. I was so busy I was more than happy to let my mom play in my house. And I honestly never thought it would be for very long.

Fast forward 6 years. I am disabled from illness and retired at age 54. She will be 91 soon. I am thrust into reliving my adolescence. Any effort to leave my home, be it for lunch with friends, an errand, or a medical appointment, is met with "I'm going with you. Are you wearing that? Put on some make-up. Where are you going, With who?" She calls multiple times while I am out and grills me for details when I return.

I have absolutely no privacy. She races to sort through the mail before giving me mine. If I set aside a personal letter to read in private she demands to know what it is. She rifles through papers on my desk and blatantly studies my bank statements. She listens behind closed doors to my phone conversations. Thank God she never learned to use my computer.

I have to fight to use my own kitchen. She becomes extremely agitated when I inform her that I intend to plan meals for company. She complains bitterly about unfamiliar grocery items I purchase and store in "her" pantry and fridge.

Even if she tolerates me in the kitchen, our routine meals must meet her strict requirements. Soft, bland, canned, and processed. Spam, hot dogs, hamburger and bacon. She critiques my every step of food prep. She slams doors and pouts when I run her off.

I have a lovely herb garden but can't use them in her food. This summer I put up garden grown tomatoes, beans, and corn. She rushed to the store and bought copious quarts of jarred sauce and cans of vegetables.

She has use of 3 upstairs bedrooms for her bedroom, TV den, and junk room. She also has her own full bath. But if I invite guests into my living room she invariably insists she wants to watch TV in there. When I ride my exercise bike or do my yoga she sits in the room and watches me.

She still drives and probably shouldn't. She shops at least every other day; hauling in a dozen or more bags of groceries each trip. The freezer is stuffed and she has turned my office into an overflow room for canned goods and cleaning supplies.

I used to have a dog. Its my mother's dog now. She spends at least $30 to $40 a week on dog treats. She hides them in her rooms now since I dared complain. The dog is so overweight her legs are bowed.

I have one brother and SIL who have made it clear that the mom problem shall not become their problem. Our only contact with them is when she calls him every few days to complain when she doesn't get her way. Then he will call me to chew me out. I no longer answer his calls. They must be terribly concerned about her complaints. They have not visited our mom in months.

My adult children chastised me when I tried to confide my anguish. But she's so sweet and cute! How could I possibly not simply adore the National Bank of Grandma! Her interference in my child rearing is an old issue now replaced by the current one. Lately my eldest acknowledges and empathizes with my situation. She has tried to talk to my mother with as much success as I have had.

Except for the crazed grocery shopping, my mother pays nothing toward my household expenses. I even pay for her car insurance. Every dime that she made from the sale of her house sits tidily in the bank. I monitor her finances and pay her health insurance and credit card in full each month from her accounts.. She withdraws $200 each week from an ATM. I have no idea where she spends it as she uses her credit card for her incessant grocery shopping. She becomes irate when I have asked her. I suspect she spends it on lottery tickets.

Whenever I try to discuss changes in living arrangements with her she makes life just miserable. She does require some oversight. If I insist she leave it would still fall to me to look after her. She absolutely refuses to consider an assisted living arrangement. How much longer do I have to wait? This is MY house! I want to sell it, but I don't want to take her or her house full of old stuff with me

5 Comments

If this woman were your child would you let her overstep her bounds in this way? I think most likely not. I normally suggest setting boundaries, but your case sounds extreme and I think it calls for extreme measures.
1. Stop paying for Mom's needs. She should be paying for all her things and pitching in with household expenses to. She would have to pay so much more if she were in an ALF.
2. If you are considering selling your home, this is the perfect time for change. Gather information about assisted living facilities in your area. Visit them. I made a spreadsheet with columns that listed services that Mom really needed. This way I kept track of all the information and it helped me make a decision. Narrow your search to 2 or 3 places and show your Mom the information. She will not be a happy camper, but at least you have started the process.
3. Let her know that you are putting the house up for sale, and need to clear her things out so the house will "show" better. Rent storage in her name, and clear everything out. This will help you and her sort through the stuff she wants to keep when she moves to the ALF.
4. Let her know all along the way that you are going to continue to be involved in her care as her DAUGHTER not the unpaid gopher/whipping post. Make sure she knows that you will visit her and take her for outings, but it is time that the two of you find your own space.
5. If you sib goes ballistic, tell him your Mom's move out date, and if would like her to move in with him, he is more than welcome to offer that option to her. Then wait for the silence. He's a bully and bullies are cowards.
6. Reclaim your dog and put it on a diet. It is being abused. Or send it to live with a friend until it gets its health back.
7. Tell your children and your sib to come over and stay with Mom for a week while you are on vacation....they need a giant wake up call...how dare they talk down to you!
You are not doing your Mom any favors by allowing her to show disrespect to you and your home. You are not doing yourself any favors by not living your life the way you want.
Use tough love, draw boundaries and stick to them, and for your own peace of mind, find a nice ALF, make a deposit, and set a move out date. You may want to do this before you put your house on the market....both are extremely stressful events.
good luck
Lilliput is right. No one is going to give you your life back, your going to have to take it back. Folks might get upset in the process, but they'll get over it and you will be in a much better place in your life if you do it sooner than later. Good Luck!
if mom can drive and shop, cook and has money, good grief, she can be on her own. get her to a senior apartment building. and if your brother doesn't like it, then she can move in with him.
Thanks everyone for reading my rant!
Just having my concerns validated is like a weight being lifted from me. Also a comfort to know I'm not alone with elder parent issues. Especially with the added sibling drama. Really gaining insight reading all the discussions, too.
Just want to share a quick update. The family is now informed the house is going up for sale. Reactions were bearable and down right amusing. The fact that I plan to move and not take mom was completely blown off. However, mom was receptive to getting rid of a large portion of household items. It's a start! A local charity is scheduled for a pick-up...Hooray!

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