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My parents own two homes, neither of which my husband and I live. They are big farmhouse with barns and quite a few acres to maintain. That being said, my husband and I live almost an hour away. My mother has RA very badly but tries very hard to maintain her gardens and homes. My father has always been very healthy and puts many men half his age to shame.
My father however broke his back about a month ago cleaning out gutters. He fell off a ladder. After being taken to the hospital, I met him there and made sure all the medical info was correct...Then Sandy hit (the big storm that hit the N.E.) I moved into the one house. Both were without power and made sure the generator was properly working the sump pump. My mother was furious with my father for not having the generator plumbed. She was furious with my father for leaving her in such a mess. After 4 days my mom got electric back but there was still no electric at the house in which I was staying, in addition...no heat. Once my mom had electric I told her I had to go back home. She got an attitude and said very little.
My dad is home, has a brace and can do very little. My mom is still so mad at him. But she's been horrible to me. I go down as often as I can. I do teach full time and I myself have RSD which is a very painful debilitating condition. Many days it is so painful to work, I come home and collapse but she does not recognize this and says I'm still young and have no reason to complain..."suck it up"
Yesterday, Thanksgiving, my husband and I wanted to spend the morning to ourselves. We are trying to buy a home and some paperwork needed to be gathered. My mom had TOLD me that we were to be at her house to cut the holly at 12:00. I called her and told her that we couldn't be down until later. She asked if that would be "what, between 1 and 2?" I said that sounded about right and we left it at that.
We got to her house about 2:15 and she snapped "never mind, its too late." I asked if she she was upset about the time and she barked that"it would have been nice to see us earlier. What were you doing all day?" I told her what we had to do and she yelled again "well you should have gotten up earlier." I had gotten up at 6:30.
My husband and I have had no time together. My house hasn't been cleaned in such a long time but I go down to help her whenever I can. When I am there she is condescending, yells, and is very very mean.
I've typed a lot but as I look over it, it does not express how its been. I can't seem to express how I feel.
I don't know how to talk to her. Every time I do, I say the wrong thing.
I don't know how to help her. There are so many things to do, some of which I can't do.
I don't know who to talk to myself.
Help?

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Thank you for the good advice. I pulled back and protected myself today and it seemed to help. One big problem for me is intellectually I usually understand why people like Mom, do what they do. But I also let that give them a bye sometimes which is not in my best interest. I must protect myself better and posting here is a start. Thanks again.
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Thank you Jeanne and JessieBelle.
I realized later I should have started a new post and this would be an old post. Glad you didnt mind and responded. I needed that. Big hugs to both of you.

What you have stated is definitely the dilemma. Do I stick around? Make excuses in my head like she is an 87 year old woman with mild dementia or try to set up some boundaries? Part of me knows it is all about her. But part of me really hurts, especially since she hit all my sore spots yesterday. The bottom line from her is "I am not good enough the way I am." Also reinforced repeatedly as a youth. The other message being I need to suck it up and make sacrifices and get less, but nobody else in the family has too. It is all so sick, my head and stomach hurt. Unfortunately I enjoyed the better treatment and status in the family when she asked me to help her with the estate. Truthfully, I fear losing that. At the time it healed a lot of wounds from my childhood. I told her that yesterday. But I have pride too and want to do what is right for me. Ugh! I think I will start with some boundaries with her. Change up the routine a bit. Not be there every time like she expects. Thank you so much. I can breath a little again.
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My mother grew up in that generation, too, but she definitely does not value her 3 sons over her 4 daughters. Neither did our dad. That doesn't make it less true for you Liz123 or you JessieBelle. I just don't like to see an entire generation painted with the same brush stroke.

Liz123, the part of you that says this is just like when you were a kid is right. Here we go again. You couldn't really do anything about it then. You could now. Do you want to? I guess that is the key question. It is really up to you. Stay around and accept the dysfunctional treatment; stay around and lay down some rules about fair treatment; or detach from the situation and let your brothers do the sacrificing. Your choice.

I'll bet if you tell us your choice there will be many people on here who made a similar choice and can tell you how it is going for them.
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Liz, it is fine to hijack the thread, since it was from a couple of years back. Your mother sounds a lot like mine. They grew up in a time when the men were seen as the important ones, and women were just seen as someone that would become a wife. It was the culture of the time. It bothers me to be seen as less, but I try to let it slide off of me. There's no way to change the way that our parents were brought up. All we can do is know that we are just as smart and just as worthy as the brothers.

It still gets my goat when I tell my mother something and she acts like I don't know anything. Then my 15-yo nephew can tell her and she believes him. The take-home message to me was that if I wanted her to accept something, then get a male to tell her.

One thing that I realize is that my mother thinks so little of women because she doesn't feel good about herself. I would like to say it has changed now, but when I see the 4-inch heels and faces full of make-up, I realize many women still don't feel good about themselves as people.
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I am finding myself in a similar situation with my Mom. I actually enjoyed our renewed closeness when Dad passed away over two years ago. I got little family respect growing up in a house with three brothers and a mysogonist father, although I am a very smart and accomplished woman. Mom seemed to need me after Dad died and I was glad to help. She was mostly fun to be around and we figured out the estate settling things together. She made me POA and Executrix of her estate which infuriated the boys, naturally. They all spent various time in the last two years, raging at Mom. Everything from telling her she was dead to them or unlovable, while I stood by her side and tried to find some fun in her life, plus handled most of her finances and other issues. In the past six months or so she has become more critical of me and more like she was at times when I was growing up. She hands out money to most of the boys and their children even thought they treat her horribly at times. I could use the money as I am working less while helping her but she wants strings attached for me. When I attempted to talk to her about how unfair that was she went ballistic. I gave her the check back. But now I am so hurt by it all. Part of me says she is an 87 year old woman. But part of me says I dont care. She is just mean. I dont know where it will go from here. Part of me thinks I should cut her slack because of her age but part of me says this is just like when I was a kid. I was supposed to make all the sacrifices yet reap smaller benefits. Tonight I am just hurting so bad. Thanks for listening and please forgive me if I hijacked this thread.
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Thank you all!
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(((((Gracie))))) I think many know how you feel. You are not responsible for your MIL's happiness. The demands of a parent or in law can become a bottomless pit of need, with no appreciation given. You are not obliged to give up your life for your MIL, FIL or anyone else. Take your life, your health, your family and your career off hold and look after you and your family first. If you want to be helpful, look for resources to help your inlaws. Are they living in your home or their own home? People can be hired to come in and do what is necessary. Organizations offer seniors rides to medical appointments, Most communities have resources for seniors. You do not have to sacrifice yourself. - in fact please don't -it is a downhill ride, and things will only get worse. Their needs will increase in time. Keep your ground, say "No", and don't apologise next time. She was using emotional blackmail on you. She should be the one to apologise for being mean to you. She sounds narcissistic - certainly she is bullying and manipulating you. (((((hugs))))) Joan
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Thank you so much for the advice ! It really means so much to me to know others have been through the same things!
Much appreciated !
G
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Hi Gracie, Only you know if you did the right thing to apologize, but I bet it felt better than it would have if you held out. Now you know you did what you could.

One time I snapped back at my mom. My kids and everyone who had no idea about the difficulties I was having with her, were astounded that I was disrespectful. The next day I apologized and she actually said she deserved it and that my frustration was building legitimately for a long time. I was surprised.... it lasted a short while and then she got snappy again.

As I’ve mentioned, now that it’s all said and done... personally, I am happy and at peace for being the kind of daughter that I can be proud of. I know I did the best I could, although I should have sat down with mom sooner and told her what I wanted. I thought for a long time that she could read my mind.

In a quiet moment, think about what you want and tell your MIL. Let her know what you are willing to do for her, and let her know you need some things from her ... respect, kindness... perhaps for her to just say thank you. She may not hear it right away, but it might give her something to think about.

When it’s all over, it’s all over and there is nothing that you can do. For now, you can be thoughtful about how you address the situation. Don’t give up... on her or on yourself. Let her know you are busy and have things to do and you will be there for her as much as you can, but not 100% of the time.

What do they say? You can catch more flies with honey? Keep being sweet and also let her know what you need back from her.

My dad once threatened not to show up for father’s day. He was so grumpy, that wasn’t really punishment. It was a relief... but fortunately, that didn’t last and we had a few nice fathers days since.

Another thing that helped me a lot during the WORST times. I looked up my medical insurance and found a therapist. I just met with her a few times to tell my story and she helped me to find the right words to be strong and kind at the same time, without giving up all of myself.

Best wishes to you.
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My situation is very much the same but with my Mother in Law. Caregiving started out with just a ride to the doctor but has turned into something overwhelming in just a few short months. I have put my family on hold , my career and my health to care for both my Mother in law and Father in law . Mother in law is mean and demanding like a spoiled toddler she wants what she wants and immediately ! I finally stood my ground and said no more pushing or guilting me . Her response was she was not coming to Thanksgiving if I did not apologize , I did for the sake of peace in our family . She has barley spoken to me for a week . I feel like it is not worth it to give up my life for a woman who only has regard for herself . I want to honor her and respect her but it gets more difficult daily . Your comments are very much appreciated . G
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Your comments, although the story is different, seems to feel so similar to my recent experience. It became "crushing" to me to care for my mom. She was nasty and demanding and my own life and health suffered.

Then my brother arrived. He pointed out to me that my mom was being manipulative and that she was far more intelligent than she was acting. She was behaving like she was helpless and not smart, but she really knew exactly what she was doing.

My brother lives very far away. He has a full life and a loving family and they are all healthy. His attitude is not mine, but he helped a lot last summer. He sad down and told my mother that she was driving everyone away and if she didn't stop her meanness she would be alone. Also, if she didn't do more for herself, she would die from not using her own capabilities, both physical and mental. He was very tough on her, but she seemed to listen. I wasn't there when they spoke, but after he left...

She was kinder to me. She was thankful for all that I was doing for her.

Also, my brother told me to act like a manager, not a doer. If your family has finances, help your mom hire help, but don't do all the details yourself. It was hard for me, but I tried to let go of the small things and only got involved in serious medical appointments and financial issues (both of those topics were VERY demanding).

I still did the little things, but I tried to raise myself up. I also learned on this site that I should hug my mom and tell her I love her every day. So, I did that too. No matter how nasty she was... and she was ridiculously nasty some times.... I could tell you some stories, similar to yours.

The other thought I had was that mom used her nastiness, because she had NO other power. When she felt helpless, she lashed out and was ugly. If I engaged in ugliness back or even pointed out her ugliness, then I became ugly... and I just told her that I did not want to be ugly and would not do it.

Once in awhile my husband and I would take a week off and go on vacation. Every single time we came back, mom was ill and within a week needed to go into the hospital... where I sat with her until she felt better. Felt like I was being punished...

My mom passed away a few weeks ago. I look back on my postings here and it reminds me of the truth of how difficult it was, but I also am happy that I did everything I could, I was good to her and she knew I loved her every day.

The one thing I regret is that I should have taken better care of myself and my own home, but now I have all the time in the world for that and she will never be back to tell me she loves me, that I'm intelligent and pretty (because with all the bad stuff, she was also my biggest champion).

You are a really good person, you are being great to your parents. You are a wonderful family member and you will be happy for all you've done. Just remember to be good to yourself and speak kindly as you tell your mom what you will and won't do and don't be afraid to hire people you trust to do things for your parents. My best wishes to you...
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For many of us, and this seems to have happened to you, caregiving jumps up on you suddenly, before we get a chance to lay down any ground rules. Your parents were totally self sufficient and then, boom, your father is injured and nothing is as it was. Time for a deep breath and time to figure out exactly how much time you can spend "doing" for you parents.

Many parents seem to think that there is some sort of invisible contract that allows them to reel in their children whenever they have caregiving needs. I don't know if it's because they provided care for their parents, or if the older generation doesn't "get" that we all work. It sounds as though your parents have financial resources, which can be a good thing. It also sounds like someone (you, siblings, family friends, etc) need to sit down with your parents and talk to them about scaling back on their committment to two big properties, unless they are willing/able to get outside help in to do maintenance. This is a time for honesty and clarity, not huffing and sighing (on your mom's part). Let your parents know what you are willing to commit to, but make it clear that you are not showing up to cut the holly on a regular basis!
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