< Back to article

"I Love My Mother, But I Don't Like Her"

498 Comments

Readying through these I realize I'm not alone. And I have it somewhat better than some of these caregivers but I am facing extreme burnout. I work full-time, fully support myself as I'm single and mom has moved back in with me again. She is 90 and thankfully still very independent and can drive. She's NEVER been happy - and I have many memories of her berating me, criticizing me and treating very different than she would a total stranger. People thank we are so lucky to have our parents and I keep struggling with the guilt of just wanting this to be over. We have lived together off and on for 17 years! (NOT counting the years from birth to 18 when I moved out). I'm 56 so that is a lot of my life I've given up being her errand girl taking her shopping, and to the doctor, being her companion, and/or whipping post when she's mad at the world and takes it out on me, and I'm tired of trying to obtain her approval. I've reached the moment where I don't care what she says about me. I know I'm an awesome, caring person who deserves a life of my own. She's always tried to control me and never even told me she loved me until I pointed all this out in along letter (after a huge fight). She has done some really nasting things to me - been very emotionally abusive. I thought with age she seemed to mellow and started showing more respect for me and even telling she is proud of my accomplishments etc. I have 2 brothers - neither help out hardly at all. One lives 10 minutes from my house - it's been 6 weeks....nothing. No visit - a call here and there. I truly think my family thinks I'm Superwoman and can handle all of this on my own. The resentment is growing and I pray I can make it through this without going crazy myself. I recently got to go out with friends and enjoy a normal day with people my own age - it felt amazing!!! At the moment she is mad at me after I basically challenged her acting very crotchety towards me - for no reason. She said I yelled at her...ahhhhh no - you cannot hear and I have to repeat everything to you. And nothing I do is enough - so I have taken a time out. I'm not sure what I'm going to do in the future but I now know that NO ONE wants to deal with aging relatives! So I plan to seek help outside as I refuse to give up my job - I need to hang onto my home which is paid for. God Bless all you caretakers out there. Thankful for this site and it allowing me to vent without being told I'm lucky I still have my mom, and how amazing she is, etc., etc., etc. Or it could be worse..yea really? It could be worse but I'm freaking tired emotionally, and lately physically!

Well, I am not a day to day caregiver, but I'm the person Mom reaches out to when things go wrong. I felt like I was always second fiddle to my younger brother, who was so cute, so smart, just everything. Now I won academic honors and all, but yeah I had the crooked teeth, the messed up nose, and was overweight. I was the butt of all the jokes. My dad died when I was just entering my teens; we had more in common than I do with my mom - the same interests. She has since that time played the role of the young widow, life was so hard,she had to do it all. In reality, yes she was the only parent around, but she did not have to go to work (she was the typical stay at home mom), did not have to worry about money, but she was controlling. We could never do things right, so she did do a lot of the yardwork. When she would spend money on us, we still hear about it to this day. Everything in her world is tit for tat. She would help us move - any relative, because again she's very controlling. She did a lot of the work, but we never heard the end of it. The last time I moved into my new house, I did not want her help. She cried and cried. Finally, I went to get her (she lives over 4 hours away). Nothing I did was right, of course. Now, she is much older, and any time she has any sort of malady, which hasn't been anything life threatening - just stuff that happens when you get older, it is endless drama. No one has ever been as sick, hurt as bad. The past weekend I visited as she was crying on the phone. Constipated first - which I get constipated every time I visit her now (just a tad anxious), then her hemorrhoids were "acting up". She wouldn't even get out of bed when I got there; I got one of those plastic sitz baths (after asking her if she thought she'd use it). Oh don't pressure me, don't yell at me. I just was saying let's try it, so you won't hurt. Yelling and crying at me. I went into another room. I even looked at her rear, and honestly, it didn't look that bad. Good thing I'm not squeamish as she was pooping and farting as I looked. I cleaned up stuff, after she spilled the sitz bath all over the bathroom. I did laundry, made meals, ran errands. We tried every home remedy I had found and researched online. I think she expected that I had a magic wand to cure it. She does whine a lot and I made the mistake of saying something about her whining. Not a good move, more tears. I drove back home and she was all aloof when I called, then said oh I'm so lonely when you leave, as the guilt trip started up. Spoke with her yesterday and she was all upbeat. Today she calls me while I am at work multiple times, crying and saying what a horrible day she had, how rotten I was. I didn't put the bath towels in the right laundry basket, I didn't clean out the fridge, I didn't pull back the shower curtain the way it should be. Then I heard how she was pooping non stop; I am sure she took more laxatives as she said she felt bloated. (I'd also told her if the hemorrhoid didn't ease up within a week or so, she'd need to go to the doctor as it could be something else. Nope, that wasn't going to happen - doesn't like her doctor as he doesn't fall all over her with sympathy and knows she's all about the drama. Plus her medical book (from 1991) said it goes away. Nothing for the doctor to do). She had to clean up herself multiple times, and I'm just rotten for not having her live with me. A year or so ago, she started telling me how selfish I was to go and buy a house without her seeing it, plus we were going to buy one together - that was her plan. Her "dream" was for us to live together. Never, ever did she ever say that to me. Maybe I blocked it from memory, but no way no how. She would stay with me sometimes during the winter for a couple of weeks, and we'd really fight. I'd make up stories that I had to go into work just to leave my own house/apartment. She now says oh we got along so well. Nope. People thought I had pink eye because I had been crying so hard. She came to my house one time, complaining how cold the bedroom was; it's upstairs and it's always hot upstairs. She slept with her coat on, and saying how my house looked like a "honky tonk" (her way of saying a whorehouse). That was her last visit to my home. She also ruined furniture and an appliance, to which she said 'oh well'. She took it upon herself to rearrange things, too. When I told her why she had not been invited back, she said no I never did that, then I was rotten she never thought she'd have a daughter like me. Like every other week we go through this; she's up and sunny, then it's back to I'm rotten, I'm the worst ever. Oh and I bought a two story house (I live in a large metro area, so ranch homes are not plentiful plus more expensive) as part of my evil plot to keep her away. Yeah, I'm just the devil. My brother, the prince, runs errands for her as he lives in the same area. A friend told me after I replayed the last 40 years, she's definitely envious of you, you're independent, she wants to control you, she cannot. Now she did provide support when I was in college, but it was something my dad had said they were going to do - pay for college. My dad inherited securities from his parents; mom basically has lived off that income (in addition to Soc Security). She always distanced herself from his family (his siblings) as she thought she was better I think. She also had issues with her own family (who are all gone). I recognized the theme of me, me, me. Not sure she's NPD, but definitely traits, along with bipolar. You're either on her side or not. And I read in a book where it said someone's face 'clouded over' and boy I got that reference. If she gets mad, her entire facial structure changes; she will also pout when angry and does some passive aggressive moves - like we should know whey she's angry or upset. She called today - to my cell phone, as there were top execs of the company in our office. I was going to say I can't speak now - but I know she'd say well I am your #1 priority - tell them that! I was speechless when she was talking one time about dad dying so young. How bad it'd been for her. Not for us, for her. I then said well what about dad, wasn't it bad for him? Nope. He had it easy. He didn't have to work like I did. I was the one cheated. I almost said how selfish can you possibly be? She has a good 40 years more of life than he did; not my problem she chose to live as a bitter person. I told her that once - that she was taking things out on me (basically I am her whipping post) because she was old, bitter, and life hadn't turned out the way she planned. That went over like a lead weight. I did call a few times after I got off work tonight, to which there was no answer. Typical as she is now pouting. She was going on "why me, why does this happen to me, I always am worrying about the other people, I have helped everyone". Like I said earlier yeah there's help, but help with very strong strings attached. She does have a few friends left, but she presents herself totally different with them, unless she feels they've done her wrong. Then she cuts them off, sometimes with no explanation, just does not return calls. I never know what persona I'm going to encounter when I call or visit. I even suggested that she could maybe go into a senior living place close to where I live. Nope, she's not going into no nursing home! Today she said because I chose to live elsewhere (ok there are no jobs in my hometown) and not to invite her to live with me, then tough I would have to go there more often. That's not happening. I'm seriously thinking it will be several months before I even think of returning. I feel badly, but I do not deserve to be treated badly when I bust my butt doing stuff for her when there; as a friend said today, whatever you do will never be enough - she's got a real grudge with you. If things would improve, I'd think about having her for a very short visit. I was thinking that maybe it'd appease her a bit - and keep it short. I doubt she'd want to live here as she's lived her whole life in one town, and to her that town is the best place ever (around 100k population, nothing special at all). She doesn't do well with change, so again, I think she'd say no way could I live here. I would also try to lay out some guidelines ahead of time. Thanks for letting me vent. It helps a lot. I know you all understand.

Jess... I was thinking also along those lines... And, for all those that commented.

Heart, great blog. I found myself wondering how old her parents were and if her tune would change if they started needing care.

Interesting read...nextavenue

I've thought similar things, JessieBelle. My mom has complained it's not much of a life, and I have to agree. Some people do well as they age, though. My mother-in-law is two months older than my mom, and she is active. She drives. She has a great memory. She's curious about politics and is better informed than just about everyone else I know about it. She tends to her roses. She cooks, reads, socializes with her kids, grandkids, sisters and other in-laws. Then there's my mom, who sits around and complains all day and just goes to the bathroom and eats and occasionally does a word puzzle and smokes. She would have contacts and friends, except whenever she was unhappy (much of her life) her approach was to move or cast people from her life. So now she's nearly 80 with a strained relationship with her daughter and decades' worth of family and friends who she tossed from her life.
I don't know why some people, the light goes out, but sometimes it just can't be much of a life. I hope if I make it to 80 or whatever I can still enjoy movies or books or little things in life, and not turn into a grumpy old vegetable nursing grudges! I don't want to be the person who just eats and pees and poops all day.

It's another day. I think of how the last 10% of my life has been going through the same routine each day. Again today I am worried about that dirty, dirty bedroom of my mother's. She covers it with blankets so the cold air can't blow through the "cracks in the floor." She has old shoes and clothes stuffed about. She won't get rid of them, even though she can't wear them. It's impossible to clean, but I know I really should try. How did it ever come down to this?

My mother's life is really the life of a zombie. There is really no life left in her. She walks back and forth to the bathroom all day. She does cook her own breakfast right now and does a bit of laundry. But that is all. And I know that doctors and my care are the only things keeping her alive. I wonder how it has ever come down to this.

As families and as society we really do need to work to solve the problem of elder care. We can't shorten lives, but we also can't expect people in the future to continue doing what we are doing. Traditionally families have taken care of their elders, but traditionally elders haven't needed extensive care for 10-20 years. Modern medicine has created a huge problem that we're not prepared to handle. When you're in the middle of it, you wonder why in the world you're donating your life to someone so they can walk back and forth to the bathroom all day. And you are really stuck because they might fall. But then you have to wonder, so what if they fall? Goodness, medications and we are the only things propping them up. It just makes no sense at all.

And then they're mean to us?? If someone did for me a small fraction of what we do for our parent, I would never be able to say thank you enough.

Heart2Heart, basket of gold. I looked it up, and it says it's not always ideal in humid climates, so it may not work well in Michigan, but it's pretty. And seems related to Alyssums, which are so pretty and smell so good. I'll have to keep an eye open nonetheless...
JessieBelle: The Thomas poem, I always thought it was about seeing life through to the end, too. I need to go re-read it now, and mull over the details, but I never saw it was being angry about the end, or trying to be bitter at the end.
As for Mother's Day, I was having a panic attack Saturday en route to my mom. I found an old Xanax and took half of it, just in case. Turns out the visit went OK. Did a bit of shopping and took her to a diner she likes, and the sun was out, which seems to influence her moods. A snowy, overcast day, and she acts like a tantrum-prone toddler, but with the sun and it being pleasant out, it reflected her mood. I was grateful that she wasn't angry.
She brought up the power of attorney stuff, and I told her I have nothing to do with it. I get no money, I handle no bills, etc. The attorney is in charge of it all. End of story. She said she was happy to resolve it. (For now, I'm thinking...)
Of course she then called me the next day and said it was a good day and reiterated she was happy to resolve that issue because she didn't want to start up a bunch of lawsuits and have me put in jail. OK. Whatever! I'm sure she'll want to sue again, and I say go for it. It doesn't take a lot to see there are problems with her. She'd be in court for five minutes -- if she could even take anything that far -- and she can't even carry a clear thought or hear what people say, so ... whatever. Let her daydream. Some people fantasize about getting away to Aruba or buying a dream house. She fantasizes about revenge.

I had the same mom as most of you. My mother had narcissistic personality but had two sides. One was what no one else saw behind closed doors with her family and another face she put on elsewhere. In 60 years she never said one kind, nurturing or loving thing to say to me. No recognition of the many achievements I worked hard for. She was also extremely physically abusive until I was 55 and she raised her hand to hit me and I put her up against a wall and told her if she ever did that again first I would rip her arm out of the socket and secondly I would have her arrested for assault. At 30 I moved 1500 miles away to get as far away as I could. I came back to Dallas 25 years later thinking I SHOULD to be here if she needed me in her final years. Huge mistake. Last year she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. I took care of her until the day she died and was also taking care of my longtime boyfriend who was severely handicapped from a TBI and had dementia at 56. He had become a nasty, miserable and abusive person because of his illness too. So I was taking care of two ungrateful narcissists each of them hurling venom at me constantly. I'm not sure how I managed to refrain from putting a bullet in my head. Probably only because of the grace of God.
You would think that if someone was on their death bed you might spend sometime with them remembering the past good times (not many of those) or telling each other you loved them or exchange a few kind remarks but not from MY mom. Three days before she passed I brought her cane in (she only used it when she was not at home - and she was never going to use it again) that she had left in my car. I hung it on the doorknob where she usually put it but hung it on the right side of the doorknob instead of the left side like she liked it. She started screaming for me to get my sorry ass over there and hang it the right way. I simply said "Does it really matter?" Then she yelled "I swear to God I will never ask you to do another thing for me for the rest of my life!!!" REALLY!!!! I said "I would take that back if I were you." Of course she refused until I reminder her who had the morphine and dilaudin. When she passed I was so relieved that that source of torment was over for me. But the joke was on me. While cleaning out her house I realized there was not ONE single photograph of me anywhere. Tons of pics of my sister who had not spoken to my mom in over 20 years but no documentation of my life existed. I am trying to put 60 years of hatred behind me but I don't think you ever REALLY recover from being treated with such disregard. I have never been to the cemetery where both of my parents now reside and I will never go. Why put myself through that? To dredge up memories of an unloving and abusive mom and a father who never stood up for or defended his children. No thanks. I'm gonna let sleeping dogs . . .
No matter how much you try you can't change them and trying to figure out where things went wrong is just wasted energy. Don't expect something miraculous will happen at the end of their lives. It won't. Having said that I bought a big bottle of white wine to break open and drink on Mothers Day. I'm the mother to a two year old rescued Great Dane/ Sherperd who loves me unconditionally. For now that's good enough reason to celebrate!!!!!! God bless all you survivors out there. You are in good company on this site.

comment

I wish that this was posted years ago. I am still dealing with the repercussions from caring for my mom. I do not feel any guilt about her but I do with my own family.