My mom doesn't see anything wrong with my husband and I taking care of her for 15+ years, with no help from my siblings.


My Mom is 76 and lives with my husband and I. She moved in with us when my father died unexpectedly and she was left with only a Social Security check each month. I was forced to quit work to stay home with her, as she has many health issues. My husband has a good job, but there are still no extras. We built a house because she was not "comfortable" in the apartment we had. We gave her the master suite, largest closet, by far, and the roomiest bathroom. I taxi her to doctor's appointments and other medical facilities constantly. We buy her things all the time, feed her, entertain her, take her out to shows and dinners, etc. The whole nine yards. She does not appreciate any of it and, in fact, she grumbles when things are not exactly the way she expects them. She acts as though the house is hers and we are simply her servants. My husband is too kind and respectful to ever say anything.
Anyway, I have two siblings, both of which are married, but no kids. They haven't offered a penny or anything else the whole time she's been with us. And when I mention it, which has only been a few times because I do not enjoy asking, they act as though I am running a scam and just trying to make money off of them. But, what's worse, is my mom's reaction. It is something akin to, "You know they both have either medical problems or financial problems, they cannot help." And she actually gets mad st me for even considering it. Meanwhile my sister and her husband have $400,000 house with a pool, and just bought a &100,000 RV to vacation in every weekend. My brother has always been the black sheep and he is constantly getting himself into trouble and whining to everyone who will listen. Mother, of course, is one of his biggest sympathizers. He's actually one of the reasons she's in this boat. He took out a mortgage on her, paid for the house for a "money venture" and it went sour and she lost her house. She will never admit that it was his fault, however, and makes up stories to her friends and family. She's been coddling him his whole life.
I am just beside myself with frustration, anger, and I am ready to throw in the towel. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. I love her very much but I just think my husband and I are getting a raw deal.

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Another thought as struck me. It may be off base, but consider it before dismissing it.

Your mother was a school teacher and a pastor's wife and had a seriously ill daughter to tend to, through many long hospitalizations. She certainly couldn't have had a lot of time for you. (No criticism intended. Just an observation.)

And your father was severely depressed. He probably didn't have a lot of time for you, either. And then he did the unthinkable of leaving you forever.

Could you possibly be trying to win your mother's attention and her love now? And as that begins to look increasingly unsuccessful, you are having regrets now?

Just a thought to consider ...

You moved into a house and gave Mom the biggest suite. Because she deserves the best. And you don't? Why does she deserve more than you and your husband? Why is her happiness more important than yours? And why is it your responsibility?

It sounds like your mother had many challenges in her adult life. But none of them were your fault. Why did you think you had to atone for them? Your ill sister was not your fault. It is awful for a parent to have a seriously ill child. But you know what, it is awful for a child to have seriously ill sister, and a mother who has to (or chooses to) devote a lot of attention to the ill child. Who is making that up to you? You certainly suffered immensely from your father's suicide and the congregation's rejection. Who is giving you the best of everything to make up for that suffering?

Be nice to your mother, certainly. But what made you think you had to compensate her for a tough life? Many, many people -- certainly including you -- have had tough issues in their lives. And they somehow manage to get on with their lives without exploiting the goodwill and kindness of others.

Your mother is quite young, which makes me wonder how old you were 15 years ago. Were you acting from the idealism of youth, lacking in all practical consideration?

You and your husband gave yourself a raw deal. This has nothing to do with your siblings. And your siblings are not going to be the ones to solve this for you.

Thank you All for your words of wisdom and encouragement... and even for the criticism😊.. but mostly your time...
You have given me a lot to think about and honestly I do not know, yet, what I'm going to do, but I have a lot to work with now!
May the Lord bless each and every one of you!

I agree with all of the very insightful, well written and well-meaning comments above.
I am a firm believer that we teach people how to treat us. Through your wanting to give your Mum a better life than the one you perceived she had lived previously, you decided to allow her desires to dictate where you lived. You then spent money that you clearly did not have on outings, whether they be restaurants, shows, etc., because, again, they all added to the enhanced life that you wanted to give your mother in an attempt to somehow make-up for the life she had led. You have set this up yourself without realising what you were doing. While intending to do something wonderful for your Mum you did something detrimental to your life, marriage, financial stability and future.
Your decisions regarding your Mum are based on your perceptions of what her life had been like in her own marriage. That was the life she built for herself based on choices she made for herself. Of course she did not choose for your father to take his own life bit she most certainly chose to be a wife, mother and pastor's wife, including all that entailed. At any point in time if she had wanted to change something about that life she had the ability to do so just as any of us do. What happened in your childhood between you and your Mum that you decided as an adult that it was your responsibility, even more than hers, to right all of the perceived wrongs that had been done to her? That was your decision alone to make and, once made, why should your siblings have felt obligated to join in? Even with your youngest brother, the house that was lost was not coerced from your Mum. She was competent and of right mind at the time she made that decision. Why was it your job to make amends for her poor judgement then and continued questionable choices in making excuses for his behavior now?
Perhaps some of what I have raised accounts for a few of the sources of what feels like palpable resentment coming off the page. You and your husband are solely responsible for your Mum behaving like an arrogant, entitled queen now. In your desire to make her life better you have neglected your own. You are now looking back over 15 years of countless thousands of dollars spent that you did not have or need to spend all in an attempt to make someone happy. That someone is unhappy, despite your efforts and money spent, and now expects you to keep her in the style to which she has become accustomed. Again, we teach people how to treat us. The only way I see to move forward while building a healthy home for you and your husband is to separate aspects of your life from your Mum. You do not need it be her sole caregiver. She does not need to be living in your home and making demands of all of your time and energy.
Social services and Elder Care exist for a reason. I am not sure what medical issues your Mum has but it appears to be time to look at either having her live elsewhere or getting someone in to help tend to some or all of her needs.
You owe it to you and your husband to begin this change now. If you wait until your Mum dies to make changes you may no longer have a marriage left to make changes to.
I know facing all of this can be daunting and very draining. I agree that a therapist would serve you well to help you sort through why and how you got here and how to move on to a different way of being a loving and attentive daughter to your mother. I also think a therapist can help you work through the issues that have grown over the years regarding your siblings. In all honesty if I were them I too would have refused to help, not because I could not afford to financially but because I likely would have seen it as enabling your Mum at a time when it might have been beneficial to her to experience the pride and self-confidence that can come from taking care of yourself.
Wishing you peace in all you do!
With gratitude and grace XO

Let me put out another question here. How much do your siblings have invested in you continuing to house and care for your mother? Because as far as I can see, that's the only leverage you have. If sis and bro are thinking you're crazy to have taken this on and that Mom would do just as well in a senior facility, then you have no leverage at all. On the other hand, if they have a big stake in keeping Mom where she is, they should be willing to do their part(s) to keep that arrangement in place.

If you want them to help out of the goodness of their hearts or their own sense of justice and fairness, I think that train has left the station. But if you tell them, "I can only continue to care for Mom if I get x amount of days of respite and y dollars of financial contributions, and they really don't want to have to worry about what would happen to Mom if you bowed out, maybe they'll be willing to contribute on that basis.

P.s. I tried this with my sibs. It didn't work. That's why I backed out eventually.

It sounds like you took this on feeling your mom deserved the best and now it is getting to be too much (15 years is a long time!!!!!) - and resent your siblings.

Honestly - whether the siblings have time or money or not - you do NOT get to tell them what they should contribute. This is your mom's life - she is responsible for it. Likewise - you have your own life. It sounds like it is time to separate your mom's life so much from yours. I'd recommend her moving to a good assisted living. Get some of your life back. but fuming about your siblings won't change anything and it is misdirecting the anger. You need to make changes to make yourself happy. From your responses above - it does not sound like this is a message you are ready to accept yet. Perhaps start with counseling to get perspective and help making decisions. Good luck!!!

I have to agree with Carla, you took this on. Your mother was young enough to go to work and rebuild her life but instead you took her in and catered to her and now she continues to expect to be catered to and it has gotten old for you.

I am saying this as an only child,please do not blame your siblings for not getting involved in this hot mess. You took this on and now realize it is much more than anticipated and now you want them to bail you out. They were smart enough not to get into this. Your mom is responsible for taking care of herself, no one else owes her a life. You made the choice to help her out and that was very nice but you can't demand others do the same.

If you want things to change you need to change, not make others change.

I don;t mean to sound cruel, but I sence a creeping sence of resentment overcoming your feelings of Mom deserves everything we can do for her. That as in YOU.. you took this on, and left the others off the hook. Of course they are not going to want to step up after you have been doing this for 15 years. They just expect this to go on as it has. And you are worried about leaving an inheritance for your son? Most of us who have taken on caregiving are not going to have an inheritance.. that is why we have hopefully taught our children to make sure they can make thier own way in life, and try to plan our futures so we don;t suck up thiers.

Entitlement instead of appreciation. H'm.

But as you yourself said, she deserves the best. Doesn't that make her, quite so, entitled?

I don't think you're petty. I do think you have - you don't have to earn it, you just get this as part of being a human being - every right to feel as you feel.

But what I do think is that you have been sitting on top of a huge, molten mass of emotions and it is beginning to boil over. And, so, what you really need to do is figure out what you feel, and even more importantly how you want to act to change what needs changing.

There is your mother's history, her current needs and how they should be met and by whom.

There is the tragedy of your father's depression and his taking his own life. I am very sorry that you and your family have had to live with this, and that you felt so betrayed by your community. But I also note that you frame this terrible thing in terms of what happened to your mother. What about what happened to you?

There is the involvement or otherwise of your siblings, their contributions or lack of them.

There is the history of your marriage, and how your mother's needs have impacted on it.

There is what you want to happen next. What do you want to happen next?

If you don't already talk to a counsellor or therapist, it might be a really good idea to find one you are comfortable with. Because you have been holding this in for far too long, and if you now just try to release some of that mixed anger, resentment, hurt and loss without somebody very skilled to guide you, it could become a highly destructive process instead of a healing, growing one.

You sketch an outline of this history and then mention that you don't want to sound petty when you express a little of how you feel about everything. Petty isn't the word that springs to mind. I have an impression that you are about to explode.

Mkamazonas - I think you certainly have the right to feel this way. I think almost everyone in your situation feels that way. When a parent is unappreciative, when the caregiving becomes a major sacrifice, and when the other family members are going merrily about their lives just ignoring your plight and being happy that they're not the ones who have to do it, it really bites.

Many of us are quite familiar with the kind of hurt and resentment you describe.  When you see the facebook posts of their pool parties and their vacations, their new RV and all the other fun they're having. I've been there. But I learned the hard way that I was not able to change my siblings' feelings or behavior, and challenging them only led to ill will and conflict. I had to let go of it. I also had to pull back a lot in my caregiving for my mother, in order to keep my resentment and anger from flaring up. I had to stop cooking for her, for example, because I resented the hell out of the way she sat there expecting to be waited on, and then complained about whatever I cooked. I was always seething inside, thinking "She has 7 children, why am I the only one doing this?" So I stopped doing it. She's not happy, but I'm less crazed about it than before.

I've let go of a lot of my other responsibilities too. I got a neighbor woman to move in with her and she handles a lot of the day to day in exchange for free rent. I see my mother maybe once or twice a week. I still help her, but not to the extent that I feel burdened, because my next step after feeling burdened is feeling resentful that I'm the only one bearing this burden all the time.

For me to solve the problem for myself, I learned to do only what I could do without feeling resentful. I will never forgive my siblings for their lack of support and their unwillingness to share the burden when I was so unhappy for so long, but they don't occupy space in my brain now. I'm living my own life and not thinking about them, just as they always lived their lives and didn't think about me. That's what worked for me, and that's why I'm sharing it with you. Take it for what it's worth to you, if anything.

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