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I don't know if anyone else can relate to this - my mother is still working, and lives in a massive house with a massive property. It's full of junk. I mean, FULL. My sister and her kids are living with her, partly out of necessity, partly to help out, and I travel over 2 hours every weekend to try to help with the property, but we're both sick, we both have disabled kids, and she's actually healthy. My sister recently had a nervous breakdown, anxiety attacks, and has several very serious health issues, and I have cervical cancer, arthritis, and a host of other issues. The electricity in parts of the house has stopped working, and I don't know how to make her hire someone - she keeps asking me to get a friend of mine to drive down to fix it - for free! She does have some mobility issues but refuses to accept them (though they're a fine excuse for not doing the shopping, most of the cooking, organizing things, etc.). In a perfect world, she'd sell the house (which she's been saying she was going to do for about 20 years now, it's always "I want to sell this house in the next 2 years, so 'this' has to be cleaned up/cleared out/fixed/redone" but they're still there. If she sold the house, at least she could get an apartment and my sister could afford to live on her own - I really don't think my mother realizes how much she leans on my sister and I. She's perfectly capable of living on her own, but leans on EVERYONE, including her friend's husbands, to get things done for her. I'm exhausted - downright exhausted - mentally and physically, from the things going on in my own life as a single mom, but this travelling is killing me, and my sister definitely has the worst of it. Nothing is ever done 'right,' she gets upset if she thinks my sister spent money on things she shouldn't have (even though she works full time too) and I have gotten to the point where I even considered moving back to take the load off her. She's selfish and demanding, and has anxieties about just about everything - so you can't do ANYTHING without asking several times, just to be sure, and even then she gets upset. 'Put this lightbulb in the upstairs bedroom, and this one in the kitchen.' So you do. Then she changes her mind, but instead of saying 'I changed my mind' she says 'no, you put them in the wrong rooms!' It's literally that bad. I'm still hurt by the abuse that went on when I was a kid, and while I feel an obligation to help get the house ready to 'sell,' and I made a promise to my father on his deathbed that I'd always take care of her, I feel like my life, and the lives of my kids (and my sister and her kids) are being sacrificed - it feels like a continuation and even a worsening of the abuse I grew up with. Are there such things as 'Elderly Interventions?' I feel like there should be - an expert who can sit down with the whole family and point out the realities then work to a solution. But my mother doesn't live in reality - she hops off to work, then to volunteer, pops in for naps and dinner, then when she's not busy, orders my sister and I around like we're slaves - and never, never says thank you ONCE. It's like she gets HER happiness by helping others, then demands to be treated like she's too old to do anything in her own home. That house is 40 years old and hasn't been maintained. How do we say 'it's impossible, mom - let it go and sell it?'

It's mind boggling how selfish some old people are. Silverlining, your mother is one SELFISH old woman.

Your slavery to her needs and wants will stop when YOU decide to stop.

Mom: I want/need you to blah blah....
You: Sorry, I can't do it mom.
Mom: But I blah blah.... and you need to blah blah...
You: Sorry, I can't do it mom.

Rinse, and repeat
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NeedHelpWithMom Jan 8, 2020
So well said, Polar
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Why exactly should mom sell the house & move? Her life is quite cushy as it currently is. Heck, if I were your mom I would be the same way — keeping things as they are. Come & go as I please while everyone else — 2 daughters & their families — do all the heavy lifting & errands. She has quite the life. Seriously, the only way to get a change is for YOU to change what you’re doing. As someone said earlier, stop enabling both sister & Mom.

Helping is doing something for someone that they are not capable of doing for themselves.  

Enabling is doing things for someone that they can and should be doing for themselves.
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dysFUNction Jan 9, 2020
Helping vs Enabling.....wish my Dad could have read this when he was living!
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This is real life, not a Hollywood movie or a Victorian novel. Deathbed promises are extortions — attempts to control survivors’ lives because the life of the expiring person is over. Please just give that one up.
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shad250 Jan 10, 2020
Lol
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Stop enabling your Mom. Stop going there. Stop enabling your sister, tell her to get out and find her own place. You both need to live your lives and leave Mom to her fate.
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I agree with everyone else. Since your sister can afford to move out she needs to. Your mom is 'independent' because she has two daughters propping her up. Stop it. Your weekly visits are now once a month visits....and you are there just to visit, not work (unless it is to help your sister move out). It really is as simple as that.
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NeedHelpWithMom Jan 8, 2020
This is so true. We are not responsible for managing others lives.
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Learn this sentence: "I can't possibly do that, mom. You need to hire someone for that".

Repeat it as often as necessary.

There us a book called "Boundaries", by Townsend and Cloud. Get a copy and get one for your sister.

It has often been my observation here that it's very often adult children of abusive parents who think that it's their job to obey their parents' every demand.

Those with healthier boundaries growing up were taught that saying "no", even to their parent is a necessary part of adulthood
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silverlinings73 Jan 8, 2020
Thanks for the book reference - I'll send for a few copies right away!
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Well, I think you said it best yourself. Read the last sentence of what you wrote, “It’s impossible, Mom. Sell the house.”

I can’t think of a better way to say it. Is it awkward and uncomfortable to do? Yes, but do you and your sister want to continue to be her slaves? It sounds like you have had enough and have done way more than your share.

So, take a deep breath. Have the talk that needs to be done. Express that you are grateful that she helped the two of you out when you needed help but that it’s time, actually past time for making changes in lifestyles for all of you. Tell her that you were happy to help her out but it is becoming too much for you. You have other responsibilities that you must attend to.

There comes a time when a large home is no longer needed and if it isn’t maintained it becomes a money pit too.

Best wishes to you and your family.
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silverlinings73 Jan 8, 2020
thanks for that...isn't it funny how the answers are SO obvious but you sometimes need someone else to say it to realize it? I already made up a list of senior support services for her (trusted 'senior stamped' electrician, plumber, etc) so I think I'm going to give her a call and outline all of this very simply, and then send her the list. I don't know why I always felt like I was making excuses whenever I didn't go due to illness or injury, but God, did I feel guilty. And looking at it now, it's probably because she MADE me feel guilty. I wish I could help her with what she needs, but I can't put up with the demands and the attitude. Why can't people be NICE. I'd be more than happy to help out however I could within my limits if she was grateful, if she was NICE - but she just isn't, and everyone is exhausted and miserable.
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You stop the weekly trips to enable your mom AND your sis.
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I can see parallels with my mother's situation with a large property and lack of maintenance, not to mention us increasingly attending to her wants/demands, wanting professionals and trades people to work for free (I am a war widow, you know!) and drawing on every government handout going, despite her being sufficiently well off to pay for everything - and some. At least in my mother's case the situation was resolved when her acreage and huge house were sold to developers and she had to move. Even though she signed the contract she still resented what was, in effect, pulling the rug out from under 35 years of a rose-tinted life. I appreciate it is how she felt, and have always taken that into account when she has wished for her old life back. But your mother and her property issues are in a whole class of their own. Talk about a toxic situation!
Here is a tip - your mother will never sell while she has people at her beck and call, fetching and carrying, jumping to attention every time she barks. You and your sister are, most definitely, her unpaid slaves. And while you remain her slaves that magic two year time frame in which to sell the property will be continually extended to another two and another two. That woman simply does not want to move from a situation where she has total control over other people. She is most definitely a bully.
As difficult as it may seem, possibly the first thing you both need to do is put aside resentment and hurt over what appears to have been a dreadful childhood at the hands of your mother. One often reads that forgiveness is essential to be able to move on to a satisfying life. Not important for the abuser but essential for the abused. It seems to be clouding your ability to think this situation through with any clarity. I don't know that I could do it with any conviction, but it may be worth a try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Incidentally, that suggestion does not come from any religious belief that requires one to honour the parents, do unto others etc, a state of perfection which is counter-productive in toxic situations.
Even though you had no control over your mother's abuse during your childhood, you are both enabling your mother's atrocious behaviour NOW. In your sister's case I suppose she is between a rock and a hard place, needing a roof over her head and that of her children's. If there is an alternative living arrangement she could enter into, even if it is inadequate in the short term, perhaps she needs to take a leap of faith and move out in the hope of finding something better in the very near future. She certainly needs distancing from this soul destroying life. And you need to rescue yourself from the bullying too.
If your mother is able to hold down a job and undertake volunteer work, she is most certainly capable of looking out for herself and attending to her property. If you and your sister were unconscious in hospital for weeks and months on end, she would manage. She would just have to pay for assistance where she may well have some physical difficulties copying.
I live in a different country so I have no idea about elder intervention. I suppose your mother's doctor is the most obvious person to approach first. It did not help in my mother's case when we were trying to ease her into permanent care, despite his excellent advice. But faced with either keeping a relationship with her children and being alone, you never know something might penetrate her thick hide.
I can only think of simply walking away. Whether your sister can, or even wood, is for her to decide. I just hope someone else in this forum has better suggestions for you.
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rovana Jan 8, 2020
Could I just add that "honoring your parents" does not mean enabling them to evil things. Not ever.  There is no honor here in allowing bullying.  I would say that in this situation I would interpret "honoring my parent" as standing up to her bullying, walking away and basically forcing her to do some thinking about her abuse of her kids (and probably others). That, IMO, in the moral path.
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Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Complete lack of empathy or awareness of another person’s time, preferences, needs..

I went through this issue with my mom.

YOU need to set boundaries. She will scream and shout but you are enabling this behavior by not setting boundaries. She only gets away with this because you let her.

Think of it this way- do you allow a 3 year old in a room with priceless vases? No because they will break them.

Same with selfish parents. I wasted 10 years of my life and badly missed chunks of time with my small kids by being a slave ( across the Atlantic) to my selfish non planning NPD parents. That time doesn’t come back. I was trapped in a pattern of ‘wanting mom’s approval’ borne of a lifetime of emotional abuse.

Read ‘Will I ever be good enough’

You only have 1 life. You don’t get a redo.

My mum started falling at home. She is now in residential care. I used the falls as a pivot to ‘accompany her’ there. Early Alzheimers made her more compliant but she is still toxic as hell.
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marymary2 Jan 10, 2020
You are so correct, Pannacotta8. All I could think of was Narcissistic Mother when I read the post - mostly as I could identify with it. We both know, we'll never be good enough. The narcissist mother thrives on the attention she gets when she helps others. We can't give that same "narcissistic feed" (as the experts call it), so we'll never be thanked or appreciated or get her help.

Silverlining, you'll get great advice when you look up NPD. In the meanwhile, the advice here is good too about boundaries. Don't waste any more years of your life (as I did). Prepare yourself though, if she's like my mother (who also said she wanted to sell), once you do sell, you won't have gotten enough money, "forced" her to move, etc etc - expect complaints and hurtful false accusations about that too.
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