Parent chooses not to remember my attempts to help.

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I've travelled with my family for years following the military traditional way of life. One assignment took me to a state that the parent visited and then delcared she did not want to move to. Every phone call she would mention how she wanted me to move back to her state. At one point I offered a suggestion to sublet her regular apartment while she "tried" an assisted living facility. I said it would help me to move to a place I was familiar with in that town because I had to find placements for my kids in school. It was during the school year. One cannot just "yank" kids out of school. This was not a move sponsored by a military assignment, so no helps in place there for us. I told her if I could just have a few months subletting (and paying my way) then I could find a new place if she did not like the Asst Living place, then she could have her original apt back and I would've found a new place for the family by then. My spouse was thinking at the time that he would retire @ 20 yr mark. She said "no" right off the bat and I was left with no other workable idea. So, I let the subject drop, and continued on living in another state. I just completed my weekly (suggested by a counselor) phone call. She said that I'd told her we would all move back to that state, that town, when my spouse was at 20 yrs. She said it in a way that was designed to make me feel guilty as if I'd broken a promise to her. I was flabbergasted and angry -- I suggested an idea that would've worked. I just needed a place to know I could move to to get the family situated for the kids, then if I had them set then I could find a job and be looking for job opportunities for my spouse after active-duty. It seems logical to me and her demands -- she is just bored and I cannot help that! She is afraid of "out there" and just wants to be entertained. We've offered to help her move here but she refuses. I am so tired of being the only child with the "duty" and never seeming to do it right. I make a lot of trips out there. She is excited for the first few minutes, then toddles off to her room (for a drink) or tunes on the tv and I'm left to sit there and watch her watch the tv. She does not know what she wants and I'm tired of having my "chain" jerked. Why won't she acknowledge that I've tried and offered to do it her way but she doesn't want that either? Help! Thoughts???? What can I say to her? What is a good comeback reply?


By the way, to clarify a point -- when I mentioned the idea of my subletting her apt so she could try an Assisted Living facility -- I was not trying to push her out of her current apt. It was in a regular apartment complex with all ages. She'd had the Asst. Living place suggested to her because of the recreation and peer- aged neighbors. It sounded like a good idea. I thought my suggestion would give her a chance to "try" without burning bridges with her old apt complex.
Doesn't sound like she needs your help, but hates that you have a life.
I'd leave her to her own misery. How can you let her manipulate you?
You have children who need a strong mother who makes wise decisions for her growing family. She doesn't sound like she would contribute any grandmotherly qualities, but rather TAKE all the attention and ruin it for your kids.
She created her life so don't step in until she can't do anything for herself.
She's a manipulator for her own enjoyment. Free yourself. xo
This sounds like a situation where the wants of the one elder is outweighing the needs of everyone around. You don't mention your mother's age and health problem, onlyoneholly. From what you wrote, I suspect that she is a manipulator who wants to stay in her present home, even if the situation is no longer working for her. My advice to you is don't fall for it. To me it sounds like your mother is doing fine living independently and she is a good candidate for assisted living when it comes time.

My mother was a major manipulator. She started about 15 years ago trying to get me home. It is about the time my father stopped driving. Her favorite was telling me that she and my father were probably going to die soon. The truth is that she wanted a chauffeur and maid, and the cost to me was not a consideration.

Our parents are not bad people, but often as they age they enter survival mode. When they become like this, they can see little outside their present need or want. Sometimes they use obligation and guilt to try to force us into what they want us to do. It can end up hurting severely. We have to do what we feel is best for everyone involved, putting special importance on yourself, your husband, and your children. There are many options for care for your mother when she needs it, so there is no need to harm yourselves so that she does not have to face a change.
onlyoneholly - from what I read here you are trying to change your mother. I don't think it will work. She is how she is - and nothing that you suggest is working for you - even your visits to her are not working for you. You can only change you. Yes, she is jerking your chain, and only you can stop that. You mention that she goes to her room for a drink. Does she drink much? Her behaviour would fit with that, or maybe she is somewhat self centered - narcissistic - and is manipulating you. Never seeming to do it right sounds familiar. Why do you make a lot of trips there if they are not beneficial for either if you? My mother is narcissistic and does not remember my attempts to help either. She also took an off hand comment I made as a promise to move near her, and then tried to blame me for her being alone when I denied having made that commitment. It is called emotional blackmail, They will use FOG -fear, obligation and guilt to manipulate.

Do what is good for you and your family. Your mother is apparently able to look after herself. I would not try to strike any deals with her, as I think that will only result in more grief. Make your own plans, and if she chooses to be unhappy be sure there is nothing you can do to make her happy. ((((((((hugs)))))))) I know it isn't easy.
Thank you so much for your inputs. I was bouncing off the walls with frustration after that phone call. It's been a "simmering" situation for years. The year we thought my spouse might retire at 20 yrs was 2002. After the Sept 11, 2001 tragedy, many things were changing for military personnel. The Stop-Loss measure put retirements on hold to keep personnel numbers strong. The next year my spouse made next rank, and continued enlistment w/ the current assignment. Stop-Loss continued, and decisions changed. I explained it to my mother and told her that the "window of opportunity" was closed to move the family. She's still been invited to move here, but has chosen not to. Yes, I make the trips to be dutiful. You all know how that goes. I guess I hope the "next" trip will be the one that "satisfies" her so if she passes away suddenly it won't be with the emotional trauma/drama that I cannot get there in time (I live two driving days or one day plane trip away).

Today's phone conversation dredging up the past just threw me for a loop. I had to excuse myself rapidly from the phone call to avoid saying things that would've been great for me but would've starting a major pissing contest with her for at least a week. Been there, done that. So, there I sat with words rising to my lips and felt like I wanted to scream. Typed initial comment, then vaccuumed the house to work off frustration;-)

You all are wonderful to help with insights. I guess the adage "you reap what you sow" is applicable here. She's had friends, but pushed them away. She is a manipulator, and is using "innocent" digs to provoke me because I'm the only kin left. I'm just having a bad day thinking of all the years wasted staying dutiful and it's not appreciated. Hugs to all of you. Thanks for the perspective.
holly, I know about those innocent digs. They definitely put us on the defensive and are just a way to push our buttons. I don't know why some parents do it to their children and can take a toll on the self esteem. I know how you're feeling. When she does it, just remember it is her, not you.
She jerks your chain.

Disconnect the chain.

This will be very, very difficult, because it has been embedded for all those years since she first put it there. But you are obviously a strong person and you can do it! Even strong people deserve help, so seek counseling if disconnecting that chain causes you much pain.

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