I feel so conflicted about my mother.

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My mom lives 1000 miles from me. I am in my early 40's, and have a severely disabled teenage daughter, who is non verbal, and very behavioral. I do have help during the day, but it is while I am at work. All of my help have other cases in the afternoon, so they cannot stay past a certain time....anyway, my mom has always had health issues...one after the other, it seems, since I was a child. She expects a lot of attention, and sympathy, and I feel that she "tests" to see who will "be there" for her. She is estranged from her one sister (for her negative attitude), and my brother sees her when he can, as he works, and has a family to take care of.
I did fly down to stay with her 3 times over the last 2 years, for different surgeries. It was very hard for me, as I have to arrange care for my daughter...but she tells me to "put her in a facility"...
She is hospitalized again, as a result of a faulty procedure she had done a few months ago. I call her twice a day, and with each call, she complains how no one is there for her....I cannnot fly there for every surgery...If it wasn't so often, I could, but it's constant...my mom SEEKS surgery...the last one that put her in this predicament was elective...She has never come to help me with my daughter...not that she has to, but it would have been nice....when I go to see her with my daughter, I have to stay in a hotel, because she didn't even have the courtesy of thinking about her granddaughter when she decorated her home...so, that's another reason I can't go...maybe if she was more thoughtful, I could have brought my daughter, too....but,nope....
I do a lot to show support...I pay her bills, send her spending money, call every day (which I dread)....my brother does the same for her...but it's never enough...so, here's where the conflict of feelings come in....yes, she's my mother, yes, I should be at the hospital with her...AGAIN....but, I can't deal with it anymore....she was a very difficult woman to grow up with...unstable, moody, depressive, impulsive....and I can't help but wonder if this affected how I feel about her. Not once has she thought about my life, and how hard it can be taking care of a 16 year old toddler. All our conversations revolve around her, her money troubles, and her health...I'm tired of it, and feel guilty about it :(

3 Comments

Sorry - what's the conflict?

Your brother has a family and a job. You have a family and a job. I should follow his example, if I were you, except that it sounds as though you could both do with less contact and a change of perspective regarding your mother.

I'm sorry for her issues. People are rarely unstable, moody, depressive and impulsive for the sheer fun of it, and no doubt she has her own underlying problems. So her self-centredness and lack of support for you and your brother may not be her "fault." But they're not yours either. And what's more, given that you both have plenty on your plates, they're not even your problem.

Your mother is an autonomous adult. I'm sorry if she's lonely, I'm sorry if she has unmet needs, I'm sorry she can't be happy in her own skin. But the solution to these things lies in her own hands. And given that you two have run in ever-decreasing circles for decades, and she's still lonely, sad, dissatisfied etc., well, it's not working is it? Your help for her doesn't help her and torments you.

So you both need to suit yourselves, and work on those boundaries.

It is sad not to have the standard, concerned, loving, approving mother - and most mothers, whatever their failings, are those things at heart. But what's worse than the sadness is the cruel illusion that if you try hard enough and find the magic key, your inadequate parent will suddenly become the one you deserved to have. Shed the illusion and you can work on the sadness, and even better work on a plan that will allow you to call your mother without dreading it.
Sometimes, there are reasons that parents are not considerate of their children's feelings and needs. Both while they are little kids and even in adulthood. Was your mother treated for mental illness? Do you know if she might have some kind of disorder that causes her to be that way?

Sadly, once they are a senior, it's unlikely they will change. You sound like a terrific daughter. You're doing so much for her long distance. That's not easy. You know what you do and that she should be grateful. That may have to be enough. Let's hope that even though she may not seem to appreciate you, she does inside.

I might try to lower my expectations of her behavior. Some people are not able or willing to be supportive or appreciative. It could be just the way she is or some cognitive decline. And if she continues to talk about her problems, just change the subject or end the call. I have found that many seniors like to complain about their health, bowel movements, aches, pains, doctor appointments, etc. So, it's not just her who does that.

I might make plans for her future care, since if she becomes unable to live alone, she'll need help or placement.

I'm not understanding why you feel guilty. Can you explain?
"she was a very difficult woman to grow up with...unstable, moody, depressive, impulsive....and I can't help but wonder if this affected how I feel about her."

Of course it has. Sounds like your mother has a mental illness of some kind and is quite self centered or narcissistic. If that is the case, nothing you do will ever satisfy. It sounds to me that you are doing quite a lot with financial and other support. A healthy mother would be very grateful and also understanding that you have a big load at home with your daughter.

Set limits in what you can and can't do, and work on shedding the guilt which you have no valid reason to feel. It is false guilt due to not meeting the unrealistic expectations of your mother, not true guilt from you having done anything wrong. You haven't.

I so understand that you are tired of it. Give yourself a break, call less often, do what is good for you and your immediate family. Your mother is fortunate that you have done as much as you have. (((((((hugs)))))))

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