GodsGirl Asked June 2012

Why do I have such a hard time not feeling guilty because my mom is never happy?


My 80 year old mom moved in with me & my hubby after my dad died because she was afraid to be alone. In fact when dad was in his last few weeks of living she constantly asked, "what about me". Instead of helping me & my brother take care of my dad, she would isolate herself and take sedatives and was always being extra needy or mad. Since I knew how mentally incapable she was to take care of herself, after dad passed I took her and gave her everything anyone could ever want - a nice home with her own bedrooms connecting with her own bathroom, no bills to pay, a housekeeper, nice car (she has very limited driving - just church & sr center routes, which took forever to teach her). She has a nice tv, nice clothes, I took her to movies, on vacation & out to eat every week and she still was never happy. She will cuss you out one minute and act all sweet the next. She can go into rants that are bizarre. She not only stares but whistles ALL the time. She wants 24/7 entertainment & attention - which I can't do because I work - I have a husband and grandchildren and need time to myself occasionally. So i stopped trying to make her happy - or think it was my responsibility to make her happy. So now she stays mad all the time (no change), constantly complains, never picks up after herself, never has to cook, just complains & spies on me. She gets things out of my room when I'm not home - so I started locking bedroom doors - boy that really pissed her off, but I ignored her and just keep doing what I have to so I can have a little privacy. Ugh. I set up & take her to all her doc apps, eye appts, everything but there is no pleasing this woman. But when I think back to when I was growing up she was the same - lived in a pig sty, was hateful and been pretty much crazy her whole life. Never did anything for others just to be nice. Not even me or my brother. I don't remember having a birthday, Christmas, nothing. I never even realized it was unusual to be ignored & i was conditioned to think I was always bad no matter how hard I tried to please her. Dad was a farmer and since we lived on a farm I tried to stay out of the house as much as possible. I really think I must have been adopted & nobody told me. LoL. My Kids & Grandkids, and any extended family avoids her to this day. My husband said she'll outlive us all. Sometimes I wish i could put her away but I don't have the heart. So I'm learning to just ignore her and come & go as I need to without having to answer to her. She knows how to text me during the day if she needs something & she knows where I am (at home) every evening, but I don't try to spend time with her anymore. Now I spend more time on me. But I gotta admit its hard not letting her play the guilt game. She sneaks around in the dark sometimes and watches us when were hanging out - its creepy. If we go out back in the evening and try to relax on the patio or visit with neighbors, she'll turn all the lights off and lock the doors. It's like I love her because I have to & I'll make sure she's always taken care of but I really don't like spending time with her. I avoid her & just like when I was a child, I stay outdoors in the garden, work late - anything to avoid being in my own home. I really miss having my home to myself & wish there was a better solution.

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NancyH Jun 2012
ramoore, too bad you didn't remember how rotten she was as a loving mother BEFORE you took her in. Oh well.... there should be NO guilt if you were to tell her ' mom, this isn't working with you living here. It's time we made other arrangements'. Then do it. I believe, as long as a parent is 'taken care of' in some manner, a person should be guilt free. Being 'taken care of' DOES NOT necessarily mean having to take that parent in to live with the son/daughter, unless it's gonna work for that son/daughter. It's not logical that after 40+ years away from home, an adult son or daughter would think that living under the same roof would just naturally work out.
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trishrtrish Jun 2012
If she weren't your mother, you'd have nothing to do with her. You've managed to analyze the situation yourself, and you've seen that people are validating your analysis. Like me, for some reason, you are OVER-fulfilling your duty as a daughter. In analyzing my own situation, I've come to the conclusion that just because my own mother was somewhat unkind -- but not irresponsible -- in her motherly duties, that doesn't mean that I have to be the same; and I'm giving her what I never had. I guess that deep down I expect her to see it, but I'm being unrealistic -- and I'm guessing that's what's going on with you, too. You will NEVER be able to change her. She cannot be happy because she expects everyone else to provide her happiness. When my father died, the first words out of my mother's mouth were, "What's going to happen to me?" Well, he didn't make her happy, either, but suddenly, she expected someone else to pick up where he left off, so that she had someone else to take responsibility for everything that went wrong. She bore no responsibility for anything. She is now also 80. I made sure that she was placed in the best nursing home available -- where she refused to participate in ANY of the wonderful things that are available to her, because she knows what's best for her, according to her. It's that attitude that put her in a nursing home on oxygen 24/7 -- eating poorly and smoking like a chimney all her life. Of course, she insists that that had nothing to do with anything because other people smoked all their lives and never ended up on oxygen or in a nursing home. I handle all of her finances -- with a sister who refuses to help with anything except to try to find fault with how I'm handling things. You have every reason, as do I, not to be particularly concerned about whether or not your mother is happy, because there is NOTHING you could do or say or provide for her that will make her happy. I'm there, too. Our mothers have an "is-that-all-there-is" attitude because they have failed to participate in their own lives -- that would have meant accountability. Give yourself an A+. You're a great daughter. Make yourself happy. You've gone above and beyond.
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judyjudy Jun 2012
You are a good daughter and are doing the very best that anyone could do. It sounds as if your mother has a form of dementia that is causing much of the negativity you are wxperiencing. She is also likely suffering from grief and depression. I would suggest a psychological/psychiatric evaluation and a complete physical as well. For yourself, check into the work of Byron Katie. It wll help you deal with her negativity and might even help her. She has a free on-line site and her cd's are available through Amazon and other sites.
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labbydog Jun 2012
I agree with what the others have said. I have similar problems with my own mother, and when she started hinting about living closer to where my family lives, I firmly said, "No, Mom, that would not work out." Your husband is right; she may outlive both of you, and you have to concentrate on your own family. I would start shopping now for an independent/assisted living facility and tell her to pick one. After the way she treated you as a child, you don't "owe" her anything. As long as she is taken care of, gets meals, and is in a safe place, you have done your "duty" as a daughter. Also, where's your brother in all this? Is he helping at all? If not, ask him, even if he does not live close; it's his mother, too! BTW, I strong armed my mother and lobbied heavily for the retirement home where she is now. It wasn't easy, but she is "happier" than she has even been there, IMO.
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Debi1306 Jun 2012
Are we related? This is so close to my own situation it is scary. We have been going through the same thing for the past year. We finally took the "leap" and moved Mother into Assisted Living. She was never happy before and we could do nothing right - now that she is in Assisted Living - she complains to them and they are equiped to help her. We still visit daily as it is only 2 blocks from our home. You just have to tell yourself that you can let go of the guilt. She still tries to make us feel guilty - she gets so angry when we have answers for everything! My heart goes out to you - Just know that you can do what it takes to make your life easier where she is concerned! We looked at it this way - we were tired and exhausted from doing everything for her and she wasn't happy with us, she should be somewhere that she can socialize and be with people her own age. We no longer have to worry about her safety and wandering around the house all hours of the day and night. Good luck and huge hugs! No more guilt - let it go!
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jeannegibbs Jun 2012
You ask why you feel guilty. "Why" questions are always difficult. My guess is that you were programmed since childhood to have unrealistic self-expectations, and that you are a decent person with a strong conscience.

I am glad to see that you are able to see the situation clearly in spite of the irrational guilt and that you are taking steps to protect yourself. Good for you. You may never be able to entirely shake off the guilt feelings, but at least you are not allowing them to cripple you.

You don't have the heart to "put her away." Well my goodness, of course not! That sounds like something you would do for a terminally ill pet. Finding suitable housing for a parent is NOT putting them away. Think about the posts you have read on here where someone found/arranged good care for their loved one outside of their own home. Do you accuse all those posters of "putting away" their loved one? I don't know what you've been programmed to think along those lines, but I think a reassessment and an attitude adjustment are in order.

You wish there was a better solution. You didn't ask, but there is a better solution. Continue to take care of your mother (I don't think you could overcome your conscience enough not to) but NOT IN YOUR HOME.

I think you are doing as well as you can to minimize the unhappy-mother toxins in your environment. If Mother were 94 and in ill health, it might work OK to just keep doin' what you are doin'. But do you really want to "get by" this way for another 20 years? Do you want to be forced to stay outside of your own home for decades? Your childhood was not your time to live freely. You are not able to now. Are you willing to postpone that until your own energy levels and health may be obstacles?

"I am not responsible for my mother's happiness," is a huge truth you have learned. I think since you've mastered that the next one won't be impossible for you: "I am not obligated to include my mother in my own household."

You are strong and smart. I predict that you can come up with a better solution than the present situation.

Good luck!
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seven13 Jun 2012
Ramoore - please read the thread "how do I deal with a narcissistic mother".
You cannot blame her behaviour on dementia or alzheimer's if she has been this way all her life.
Trishrtrish - exactly the same for me - exactly. Mine started in her late 60's by chewing and complaining that I "wouldn't drive" and with "what will happen to me when I take sick"? She had put herself on a waiting list for a NH in her town but the wait time was 2- 7 YEARS!!
I also get no input from a sibling and that is a huge mistake I made when I took her in to live with us.......I should've insisted that he help pay ME for her care, and tried to make her pay a reasonable rent but she bullied me with "If I have to pay the same amount as the rent for my apartment to live in your house then I'm not coming". I should have said GOOD! Don't.........
This is a perfect example of a narcissist who called me one day and said "I should just take an overdose.....nobody cares that I'm sick all the time". You can only cry wolf so many times!!
She also orchestrated hospital visit after hospital visit and put on an academy award performance of acting dehydrated one time to get everybody to rush out to her town so she could be taken to hospital (wouldn't pay for a taxi or the ambulance).
One time in my house my daughters were over visiting her. Suddenly she sat down in the chair and "fainted". She closed her eyes and pretended to be unconscious. She wouldn't talk or open her eyes, just sat there until my one daughter called 911 and they took her to the hospital. Of course there was absolutely nothing wrong with her, she just wanted to create drama around herself and they sent her home that night.
Be prepared for lies, tricks, snooping, manipulation, stories of all kinds, a possible report on you for "elder abuse", comments to her friends by her about the horrible treatment she is receiving, criticism and total nastiness.
DO NOT allow a parasite like this into your home. You will be "mortgaging" yourself, you will allow her to kill your spirit, infect your family with evil and negativity and say goodbye to any prior family life and privacy you may have had.
I'm sure you have heard the saying "if you give them an inch.........." well, these people will go to the ends of the earth to keep it about themselves and it will ALWAYS be about them. Never underestimate them. They will always be ten steps ahead of you.
I wish you good luck and strength - you will need an abundance of both.
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palmtrees1 Jun 2012
Oh my, the "what about me" guilt trip. Boy have I heard that one. Mom is still independent, living in her home of 60 years, drives, no health problems, has money, is a widow for five years. And she has NEVER been happy, never.

My oldest daughter was married over two years ago in Boston. My brother couldn't get my healthy mother to fly up with him and his family to attend the wedding. He was paying for the ticket and holding her hand the entire way. She just "wasn't able" (her excuse for the last 10 years). Would not go. So my brother and his family left without her. She exclaimed to her neighbor, who passed the comment to me, "What about me!!!!" She expected my brother to not go to the wedding because she might need him. And she shops daily, TJ Maxx, Ross's, Belk's (at the big mall 17 miles away) But she is just not able to do one thing she doesn't want to.

She is doesn't ever want to talk about the future (she is 82) and refuses to tell me anything about her business. When I recently discussed the fact that she did not have living will and it would be nice if she thought about getting one, she didn't want to discuss it. Her comment was, "I just want you to call me every day and try and make me happy." I told her that was not my job.

Some of our parents are just impossible. Geezzzzzzzzz
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OhioGal08 Jun 2012
What a wonderful daughter you are - but it sounds like it is at the point where "you" need a little space, because no matter what you do, she isn't happy. Her world has changed, too. She no longer has a husband to talk to, she knows that this is "her" life now, she is trying to salvage any independence she can get with her mind going in all directions because she is not at peace. Your mom is now in your home & it sounds like it's time to have a Geriatric Doctor do a full assessment on her. And what other entertainment does she have, except to spy on you & complain all the while.
I'm in a little different situation where my husband is in denial his mom needs more care than I can give & I'm burned out being her primary caregiver now for a year. She does not like me & feels I am not good enough for her son. She is like a child, tattling every change she gets. I blame it on watching too many soap operas, lol. This is my 2nd marriage, married now 9 yrs., while most of these years this MIL lived in Florida on her own, very independently. She is driving us all crazy with her rants, rummaging threw my drawers in bedroom (claiming I stole her underware??) but she just like to snoop so we also have a lock on our bedroom door now. She snoops everywhere, nothing is sacred - except she had mobility issues being walker bound, otherwise I bet she would be going through every box we have in the basement. She steals things and hides them in her room, denies taking them. She lies to family members, that I don't fix her meals and she is starving (so I started taking photo, send as a text with date and short info), she has given my dogs things they should not eat (doesn't like them either) and my list can go on and on. The scariest thing I am trying to deal with, is her stealing of my kitchen knives!! I first found her carrying one in her walker, and she is a fall risk since she loses her balance easily. So I took it away, then hiding them under a cabinet. She found them one day snooping and took another one. I found it hidden in the bedroom, so I put them up higher. That darn woman found a way to get to them again, so now every single knife is locked up in my bedroom! Creepy and scary. I only tell you this because it seems your mother is going to follow in the same path I currently am in. Hugs to you & there is no rule book you that says you can't have a life & your mission is to entertain and keep your mom happy. You are doing much more that satisfying her physical needs - pat yourself on the back, smile, and go have some fun with that husband of yours. Spoil those grandbabies, too. How is your husband handling all of this? Is he supportive of you?
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teach4lisa Jul 2012
I am amazed that there are so many posts on here about narcissistic mothers. My mom is the same way, but in a retirement place a couple of miles away. I got some good advice from someone on here about walking away when my mom starts in on the negativity..It sounds like it is time for you to find a place for your mom and spend time with her when she "chooses" to be positive...I wrote my mom a letter telling her that I will not spend time with her if she is going to be nasty to me or my son, and since then she has been very civil to me, "on the phone" and is looking forward to me visiting her this week. Set up boundaries with your mom and try and find her a place and get her out of your house before it affects your safety or your relationships with your immediate family. You deserve to have a positive and happy life, even if she chooses not to be!..good luck!
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