I said no to my Mom today...

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My Mom lives a mile away at my sister's. My sister does quite a bit for Mom (brothers nothing at all). I work 4 days/week and take Mom on all my days off as I want to share the responsibility. It's hard, though, because Mom knows the days I am not working and books me for everything without even asking (doctors appointments, hair dresser, shopping...) Today I was planning a respite day for myself as I had to work extra days this weekend and will have her for the next 3 days. She called and asked me to run her errands - 5 stops in all. Nothing emergent, just stuff she wanted done (she doesn't drive). For the first time in months (years?) I declined, told her I had too much to do. In truth I sat on the deck in the sun and read a book that's been sitting on my nightstand since Christmas. I feel a twinge of guilt but honestly think this may be a bit of a breakthrough. I think it's ok to say no sometimes.

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Awesome! You did the right thing for self. Self care is so important! My break from my mom is going to work Mon-Fri..she has dementia and the caregiver is with her all day. Mom lives with me and so I have no time off from her on weekends and weeknights unless someone in the family feels so bad for me (no more than 3 times a year) to keep her. I'm hoping to plan a birthday trip away this year so I am giving my family enough notice because my birthday is in December so someone can watch her for me to celebrate my birthday.
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Moecam I love the #youtoo idea!

In addition to caring for my Mom, I work as a Pediatrician and so have quite a bit of insight into women's lives. In any given day, 85% of people who bring kids to see me are Moms - regardless of how many hours they work in and outside of the home. It seems to me this caregiver gender role imbalance is very clearly still in place as we care for our aging parents.

I think it might be that there was an unexpected dark side to the Women's Movement. Of course, it gave us a tremendous amount of opportunity and I am eternally grateful for the women who came before me and faught so hard. With that opportunity, though, came a lot more social and financial responsibility. And here it is... the problem with the Women's Movement is that there was not a corresponding and equal Men's Movement. As women took on more responsibilities outside of the home, men didn't for the most part pick up the domestic slack. Of course, there are wonderful exceptions but from my view point, spending my days talking with Moms (and now fellow elderly parents caregivers) as I do, these aren't all that common.

I'm 52 and think of myself as in a kind of cusp generation. Not really a Baby Boomer, not exactly Gen X either. My peers and I have seen a lot of change in our lifetimes. When I was a kid, most Moms were home - working Moms weren't common - their children were "latch key kids" (when was the last time you heard that one?). For me, though, there were very different expectations. It wasn't a matter of would I go to college and have a career - it was a matter of which one? So I happily went along, preparing myself for a productive life as a physician, married along the way and then BAM! - kids came into my life. I had no idea how to balance work and kids - had no role model. I had to, in effect, be both my mother AND my father.

In those early days, my husband spent a lot of time fishing. Yes, I did learn to let him know what I needed him to do and yes when prompted he did step up to the plate but really?? Do men really need a list?

In the past few years, as my kids have moving slowly toward independence, my parents (just Mom now) have started the slow slide toward total dependence. Again, I find myself at the helm in providing care, and when I look around what is see for the most part is other women doing the same. It's not hauling strollers and car seats around in parking lots any more - now it's cane and walkers. It doesn't really feel that different.

So yeah, Moecam, right on with the #youtoo. Sign me up.
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Good for you! Enjoy more days in the future! I too feel guilty if I don’t call my dad every single day and go take him to town every other day. I would like to just say no occasionally. You have given me inspiration.
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If the guys are not asked they won't help but by asking then you plant a seed that they can help - we ladies become enablers of the men in our lives who don't help just as much as if we were driving to a liquor store & buying booze for an alcoholic -

It doesn't matter if the towels are folded just right as long as they are clean because you can take them out of a laundry basket & use them without them ever sitting on a shelf - help come in many forms - eg. the brothers could even take on the gardening at the sisters' places or home maintenance to free up time on the sisters' roster if they find themselves incapable of directly helping their mom but generally it is just excuses as they expect sis to pick up the slack

This doesn't come easy to anyone but women generally see a job that needs to be done & do it whereas men don't see that job at all - sometimes men just need to be awakened to what is necessary - I mean that the sons help & not that they pawn it off on their wives because this is their mom/dad when all is said & done
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As far as the men stepping up, it is as others have said they are told they are not caregivers. After more than a year of bathing and doing bedtime care for my FIL, I explained to my husband that I didn't want to continue having every evening tied up, for an indefinite period. He said would be willing, but did not feel comfortable doing it and asked me to walk him through it several times. He then started giving care every other evening. (His sister, when she came to visit did not pick up the care.) My husband was glad he could serve his dad in that manner. As far as my parents go, my 5 brothers have all done various things to help my parents. Although I probably do the most, my brothers step up when I ask for a specific need. Also, by asking them to step in, my dad has learned he can ask them too. It has been a learning curve for all of us to change our life long roles. I do have one brother who has not been as responsive. I think it is he has not properly grieved his wife's death at the age of 44. My mom is in a memory care unit for 5 years and he has visited her 1 time, because another brother insisted he go with him. He had been the momma's baby growing up. This is to say there are emotional issues that also determine how we interact with our parents.
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You go Girl !!! I take care of my sister 24/7 (Alzheimer's) and I find that saying "in a minute" or "not right now" or "as soon as I'm ready" gives me just that little bit of control over my own life that I so desperately need. She'll hand me a piece of tissue for me to throw away. If I moved every time she asked me to, I'd be nothing but skin and bones!!! Good for you for standing your ground! Sometimes healthy people with dementia get really good at manipulating us ! I love my sister to pieces, but I have no problem telling her she can do it herself and I'll watch. lol
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First hats off to those men who DO assist (sons, son-in-laws, brothers, friends, dads, husbands, etc.) Although there are a lot less of them who get into any part of this care-giving, they are out there! Kudos to you guys!!!

Secondly, I agree with those who said you can honor your mother without kow-towing to her. Growing up I believe NO is one of the first words we learn!!! There are plenty of NOs we get over the years from our mothers and fathers. Saying no outright all the time is not the answer, but OP did not do this all the time - she took a sanity day. Same thing many of us do when work and other issues take a toll and you take a "sick" day just to unwind. Errands can be deferred (not emergencies though.)

As for my brothers - almost useless. Our mother has been moved to MC from her condo, so none of us actually took her in to care for her. After the first place we looked at and they found out the cost, BOTH of them said "Gee, for that price I'LL take her in..." Neither had ANY idea what that would entail. Despite trying to share what I learned, neither was very receptive, one even calling me a "know-it-all." I can ASSURE everyone here that probably within one month (or less!) they would throw in the towel!!! As for all that I take care of? The younger (other POA) does not manage his own affairs/finances very well, I cannot envision him handling any of this properly! The other has no POA, in addition to not living local, so many items cannot be handled (for instance without POA he can't manage the bank account, cannot get medical info, or order her meds online.) He also has no clue about the Medicaid issues if you spend anything of hers for yourself (he has periodically told me to take some from the trust we set up for myself. Despite informing him, he still continues to suggest I pay myself and 1) this is not documented anywhere and 2) Just NO. The trust may not last long enough, in which case we would have to rely on Medicaid and taking those funds would be a huge problem!

I had been doing my research when I suspected dementia was creeping in, so I was aware of where this would go and KNEW I could not care for her (physical would be bad enough, not doable, and my house would not be accommodating, but she has also long been able to drive me batty, sometimes in very short order, so no way Jose will she be moving in with me.)

One brother is 10 years younger, so still must work. What are you going to do with her all day and at night too? The other has periodically picked up employment although he is now over SS FRA. Even if he stopped working, he is not local and would have no idea how to care for her (during this latest visit, he rebuffed suggestions to just go visit her!! He does not know how to interact with her!!!) nor would we be able to "spell" him (2 day drive.)

The scary part is the younger one and I are POA, but I have been doing everything and it IS becoming an issue (there is a lot to do even when not caring hands-on.) The condo has been sitting for almost a year and a half because I cannot get them to help me clear it out. Older brother came up (again) to get this done, the other has done very little. We did not even get a full week in when that 'visiting/assisting' brother physically man-handled me, so I ordered him out of my house, and have NO intention to have ANY contact after that incident. I had thought that he had outgrown his verbal and physical abusive nature while we were growing up - guess I thought wrong (I also confirmed with someone else that this is NOT the first time, or even second time he has done this to someone.)  The plan was to go over the list of things I manage with both of them  and come up with a plan, at least for the case of something happening to me, but even better to offload some things. CLUELESS THE TWO OF THEM!!! So I have a list, with some explanations, but it needs to be done in person and that plan fell apart after I had to kick him out. Often I cannot even get a text response from the other brother. 
:-|

The killer is when I show up to visit mom or take her to appointments, there are two questions I get every time: "What are you doing here?" and "Where did you come from?" So, brother comes to visit, and doesn't mom fawn all over him, her first born darling baby boy!!! I don't want her fawning over me, but it does feel like a smack in the face to see what he gets vs what I get.

So yeah, there are a lot of men out there than need to "man up" and help provide something for their parent(s). It may never be even, but every little thing someone else can take on helps to spread that burden out. The OPs mom has errands to run? Sheeeet, those "boys" can drive and haul whatever is purchased just as well or better than we "girls." They can take mom to hairdresser or doctor, THAT is not women's work. It is just something that needs to be done. In my case, one brother cannot provide that help since he is not local (and I do NOT want him around anymore now!!), the other bitches about the time off from work to run the doctor appointments or whatever (there are no real "errands" that can be run.) It would be difficult to split out the financials and other paperwork, but he *should* be working with me in the event that he needs to take over (he is the only other POA.) Of course I do believe that he only visits on those special days when I try to "coordinate" us to be there (birthdays, Christmas, Mother's day, etc.) If I did not do this, who knows if he'd even go there?!?!?!?! It is clear already that the other likely would not visit much (if at all) if he WAS local. I don't even have a good or special relationship with mom, but if it were not for me being proactive and taking charge of things, more than likely the condo would be in serious trouble AND mom would be dead already.
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Last I checked this was a support group not a judgement group. It amazes me every time someone will post an admonition  that you are an awful daughter for not "honoring your mother". To that I call BS. To that person, you do what feels right to you and don’t criticize what another poster what feels is right for her. There is nothing wrong with setting boundaries and self care. I’m sure her mother did it too when her daughters asked for a favor. Mothers do not always bend over backwards for their kids. My mom said "no" to me plenty of times. They only bend over backwards if they don’t have a spine. Have another lovely day off AOT! (Smile and high five)
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Don't tell her when you have a "new" day off. That way she won't know and you can keep it to yourself and not feel guilty about it. And I have worthless brothers, too. God Bless you, girl!
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Gender issues with husbands and brothers are hard to shake as well as unfair. I was heavily into each of us doing everything, until I married again to a farmer who did work I simply couldn’t do. I can now see better how we got socialised into this bind. A lot of us are only three generations away from a farm.

Getting brothers to be ‘carers’ can be a very hard call. Getting mothers to raise their expectations of brothers can be just as hard. Perhaps specific jobs would be easier to transfer. If they organised the shopping, or drop off and pick up at the hairdressers, at least you might have a more enjoyable time with your mother. Driving does at least rate better as a ‘boy thing’. Mother might think of grocery shopping as ‘getting out’ but I bet you don’t enjoy it all that much. Perhaps you might manufacture your own difficulties in driving, parking, twisting to look backwards etc? If you think some of the suggested 'family meeting' approaches are too hard, some small things could help and also bring your brothers into the loop more generally.
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