When you caregive out of duty rather than love...

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I saw a woman crying today at the Assisted Living facility where my mother lives. She was being comforted by staff because her mother just died. Once again I was confronted with my lack of love for my own mother. I have helped her for 18 years doing increasing levels of care until she moved to AL over a year ago. I still visit regularly, pay her bills, get her sundries, clothes, go to appointments. I strive for patience. Resist manipulation and I lie a lot. The biggest lie is saying I love her. I feel compassion, responsibility, duty. That's as good as it gets. Or ever will.


Thank you for this perspective.
I could have written this post. Recently, I heard a woman during Sunday school class talking about her father who was very ill. She spoke with such love and concern and I just marvelled at her. I remember a time when I loved my mother fiercely and I recall driving home from college as a freshman when I could hardly wait to see her. I don't know when my feelings toward her changed, but what you stated describes my feelings also. My mother has suffered with manic depression (bipolar nowadays) and after more hospitalizations and episodes than I can count, I believe my emotions toward her have been numbed. Years ago, as she needed more care, I asked God to fill my heart with love for her, to help me see her as He did. Did I get the warm fuzzies? No, but I have moments when I do remember the love and I recognize how funny she is when she is mentally well. Responsibility, compassion, duty. You know, those are not bad attitudes to have toward our fellow man. I tell you this, Rosyday, I know I will cry when my mother dies as well as feel a sense of relief because she has suffered so much throughout her life. I would not be surprised if you cry too. 
Dear Rosyday,

You are a good daughter. After so many years of responsibility, duty and care there is also a lot of anger and resentment and that can dampen any feelings of love. It is so hard.

We never said "I love you" or "I care about you" or even asked "How are you feeling?" in my family. I think your actions do convey love. In my mind actions speak louder than words.

Compassion, duty, responsibility. Those are good things, aren't they? I'm not sure what meaning love has if it doesn't produce them when they're needed, anyway.

Do you feel you're missing something?
You aren't alone, Rosyday. My stepmother and I always had a fraught relationship. She married my dad when I was 11 and she resented any time or money he spent on me. I never would have believed that 50 years later I'd be responsible for her.

Before my dad passed away he asked me to promise that I would be sure she was taken care of. I was also given power of attorney over all their affairs. He wanted me to promise that I'd always keep her at home but I told him that I couldn't promise that because of her dementia.

She hasn't recognized me for over a year. I visit her in the NH 3 or 4 times a week, do her laundry, and make sure that the staff are meeting her needs. I do this out of love for my dad and compassion for her as a human being.
Oh lord, I know what you mean!

My mom certainly cared for her mother out of a sense of duty, and not the kind of love (the kind that produces copious weeping at death) that you mean.

I wept when my mother died, but mostly from relief that her long ordeal was over.

I am trying, almost 4 months later, to capture some of the good moments that mom and I had in my childhood. I didn't have a bad childhood, just not a particularly joyful one.

My heart goes out to you.
Thank you everyone. It is sometimes hard when people assume you feel what they do. I did love my father and my heart broke when he died. I don't know if I ever loved my mother. Our relationship was so difficult and required me to constantly lie or hide the truth to keep the peace. Even about trivial matters, I lied. "Yes, mother you are right. Blue is my favorite color. Not green. I'm sorry I ever said I liked green."I don't think it's possible to love without ever being truthful. That she is broken allows compassion. That she tried so hard to break me, stops love.
I think there are a lot of us out there that feel like you do. I know I do.
Yup, me too. My mother was not physically or verbally demonstrative in the love category and she fits all the criteria for being narcissistic.
I was an "oops" baby. Mom and dad both drank too much, dad remained an alcoholic til he died, mom quit in her late 60's.

It "pains" me to have to hug her and kissing her makes me shudder. I feel weird and sick.
I'm her only kid (fancy that) and, thus, I have a responsibility no one else can fill. Her last husband died 30 years ago. Her bros and sisters are near her age (94).
You and I are doing our best. We visit and make sure all the responsibilities are taken care of. We pay the bills and bring little goodies.
This is all I can do. I tried to take care of her in my home and it didn't work out.
I don't hate her, I just don't feel the motherly love I've seen some girls have with their mothers. I'd even settle for a "girlfriend" relationship but it wasn't meant to be.

I wanted so much to change history when I had my son. I hugged and kissed him a lot, very loving and hands on. He's 28 and doesn't want a relationship with me. It really hurts, especially since I WAS NOT at all like my mother. Oh well.

Please don't feel bad for what it is. There is a reason you feel this way and are giving her everything she needs.
Not  everyone was born with a perfect mother.
My sister and I have always had a weird relationship. I have never known why; something happened before I was born. She is 18 years my senior. Now she is in the early stages of dementia and I am the only one left to look out for her. She is in an assisted living facility. We never visited much; she never visited me and I would go see her about twice a year. But now I feel if I don't go see her, no one else will. Right now I am her POA and try to handle her affairs, but I feel that I am going to be running out of steam real soon so far as going to see her, especially now that it is getting cold. I do try to call her every few days but she never has really talked to me on the phone and now is no different. I know I just need to persevere but I just needed to vent a little. I say all that to say, I can definitely relate.

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