The evening my dad passed (16 years ago), I was the person who laid in bed with him - telling him "its ok to go"... In hopes that he would, I made a promise saying, "I will always take care of mom....". The funny thing is, she and I just don't like each other. I have always been a thorn in her side...and hers in mine.

Dad was gentle, kind and a very loving dad...but I was the wild child...I think by the time I came along, they were too overwhelmed in life - with work, family, their parents...they were just too busy for me. I was always alone and cared for "pawned off" to others. It haunts me that I am the caretaker - of parents who really didn't take care of me.....

My siblings are now both retired and live out of state. I am 59 and work at a very high pressured job, I have 3 grown children (1 with a birth defect)...and oh yah - I have a husband who is a President of a business and has an auto immune disorder that caused havoc with his health and mind over the past two years. Family and friends are life for me. My only hobby is golf and I force myself to run a league-just so I can get out and play once a week. Golf is the only sport that allows my mind to be clear of thought - so it's great relaxation for me.....despite having to run the league with 24 players.

For the past 6 years, my mother has lived 4 blocks down the street from my place of employment. She was living (after dad passed) in Florida but my brother convinced her to invest into an apartment in his home so he could watch over her... 6 years later, she was fighting so much with his spouse, mom was asked to leave (without any financial compensation - giving him over $130K) and I helped her move up here. She had $7K in her pocket.
She is now 86 and recently had a major fall (she tripped) on her chin breaking 4 front teeth 12 hours before we were all scheduled to depart for a family cruise. I made the executive decision that she stay home and paid to fly my sister out the next morning so we could enjoy our vacation and not worry about mom. I cried for the first 3 days - I was filled with guilt....but I needed this vacation. My sister was already planning on coming east so she just arrived earlier than planned. She lived and stayed with mom for 3 weeks - waiting on my mother hand and foot - going to doctor's appointments, reviewing all of her meds and noticing mom wasn't taking the correct medications and mixing them up. I had just done this 1 year ago. She commented to me how mom didn't seem to have any food in the house and had major concerns about her living alone. She said, "If I didn't have my husband to care for and lived alone, I would have mom live with me...." Yeah RIGHT! Anyways, my mother soaked up the non stop attention....and actually is more resentful towards me now because I'm not willing to do this. In reality, I think my mother blames me for her injury and is angry I told her she couldn't come on the trip after the fall....even though doctors advised against it.

When younger, Mom was always too busy to be a mom yet her memories of being a mom so different than mine. I have longed for a close mother-daughter relationship with her...I have bent over backwards trying to please her - all my life - but it's never enough.
I have seen her destroy people with words and actions. She's very negative and jealous of everyone...she'd rather see a person sink than swim....even me. I have worked so hard to remain positive in life and not dwell on the past, but I am really struggling with her attacks and arguments. I can be with her for 10 minutes (or talk with her on the phone)...and it destroys the rest of my day.
I don't know what to do.
I made a promise I can not keep to my dying father...the guilt I have inside is from my own making...but I don't know how to stop the guilt.
Mom complains that I'm always too busy for her...but I call her every day - sometimes twice a day and I plan my days off - with her. Yet she complains to my siblings that she hasn't heard from me or seen me in weeks... She calls them when we've had arguments... I'll admit, I'm stubborn, and like a bull...but I do care a great deal...she's my mother. I don't think I can handle this responsibility...but neither can anyone else in our family.
For my entire life, I have dropped everything, gone without food on my family's table - so I could help my parents when they needed it. I called doctors, argued with nurses in hospitals - I was the "go to person" to help them figure out everything...yet Mom won't allow me to be listed as a contact for medical. I fear I'm failing as a caretaker. I am filled with anger, guilt and resentment. I can't keep going like this... Mom refuses help...she calls it welfare. She wants to prove to her siblings that she's better than them.
I don't want to be mom in my elder years....I don't know how to deal with having her pass some day and having me remain resentful and guilty.

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When our mom got this way, we moved her to assisted living. She is much happier there than she was alone in her own home. You promised to look after her, and sometimes that means knowing when she needs a team of nurses and aides. They have strength in numbers that one person can't possibly have. You won't be breaking your promise, but fulfilling it.
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Maybe time to have an honest conversation with her with your sibs face to face and reinforce that you love her and want her to live well. Will she consider AL? Would she be open to some outside help a few hrs a week? Have you visited the local senior center to see what resources are available such as dIly lunch, transportation to the senior center for those who no longer drive? In some areas there are RSVPs "retired senior volunteer persons" who will visit, be a companion, help with transportation to shopping, dr appts, etc.

You made a promise to dad to care for mom, that doesn't mean full time care responsibility and with you working, it's not right for anyone to expect you to change your life to be full time caregiver.

Have the family mtg, offer mom some options, and make a go forward plan. Mom may have to compromise. Don't feel guilty, sounds like you have been a good daughter and remember, we aren't on earth to care for our parents, we are here to love them and help them if we choose, but not expected to give up our lives for them.
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You folks with these toxic parents desperately need counseling to help you set boundaries and set aside the guilt you carry for something you didn't do! It breaks my heart to see adults twisting yourself in pretzels to please mothers who will never be happy, with your or anything else. Your parents are broken but you don't need to be! Get some counseling so you can put your life back on a positive track - you deserve it!
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Oh, my goodness. I am not even reading all of the answers here before replying.

This is something you said that really stuck with me:

"I can be with her for 10 minutes (or talk with her on the phone)...and it destroys the rest of my day."

I just read what happened at the dentist appointment. And, you know what? You are an absolute ANGEL. You have done, in my opinion, AS MUCH AS YOU CAN.

There comes a time where someone is not going to be happy or help themselves no matter how much you bend over backwards to pave the way.

There is a time to love yourself and give yourself the recognition you have probably been wanting so desperately for so long. My heart aches for you. I validate and recognize and appreciate what you are doing. Just because you don't get it from her, don't think it isn't seen.

It is time to pass the baton and enjoy your life. You have been a faithful and loving daughter. Guilt does NOT belong in your emotional house. Time for you to live.
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You promised your dad you would take care of your mom - you have been doing that, and now it's time to delegate care - hired help, assisted living etc. I don't think your dad would want you to injure yourself or your family. Also, it is a waste of time trying to "please" someone like your mom...I've found that if you show yourself as indifferent and unconcerned they may actually appreciate what you do, rather than taking you for granted. But even if they don't, you still don't need the burden of trying to accomplish the impossible.
Helpful Answer (7)

Looking after your mum does not necessarily meaning having her staying in your house. See that she has the best care possible - what ever she can afford and you can arrange. Keep your life going, your family, your interests, your job - you need them. The guilt seems to creep in. Try to let it go or accept that it is there but don't let it motivate you. Detach with love. Google that phrase and learn to detach. You will breath easier. Good luck and (((((hugs))))
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First of all, thank you for using paragraphs. It's so much easier on my eyes.

I believe our moms are twins. Our only difference is that I am an only child. I don't know if that's better or not.

I told my dad once, just a few months ago, that my husband and I would never cruise again, we'd just do road trips. This statement was made because of the guilt they heaped on my head (I say "they", but it was mostly my mom) for taking a cruise and being out of touch for a couple of days. Heavens, something could have happened! Then what?

Well, a few weeks ago, I told my dad again that I (we, my hubby and I) was going to renege (sp?) on my "promise". We are in the prime of our life and it's not fair for us to sit home and wait for something to happen, especially when they are both in good health.

(Notice I have all of these conversations with my dad. I can converse with him. My mom and I have these weird accusational sessions with each other; thus, I'd rather not speak with her at all.)

Anyway, all of that said, I understand what you are going through with your mom. I understand your relationship woes with her.

I wish I had answers. I am reading a couple of books right now. One is Boundaries, by Henry Cloud. I realize I obviously have boundary issues with her. I have to draw them. Perhaps you do, too.

And as others have posted, you won't be breaking your promise with your dad if you get other care for your mom. And what good would you be to carry out your promise if you end up in a psych ward somewhere?? :)

Keep us posted. I truly feel your pain and am interested to see what happens next.

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erthacarm - I understand the emotions you are going through as I have BTDT, got several T shirts, not going back. I have had similar conversations and confrontations with my mother. In order to survive. I have had to detach/distance myself more and more and set boundaries. You have to give up the fantasy that your mother will provide the love and approval that you so rightly seek from her, and grieve the loss of the mother that you needed, but never had. I have been to many counselors over the years and they have helped me. Continue to work on healing your heart, but follow your brain.

Your mother is toxic to you. She probably has a personality disorder or some such thing and is narcissistic. Set boundaries - there are some good books out there about boundaries and also about narcissistic mothers. Frankly if I never see my mother again, it will be OK I have done my best for my lifetime, and I continue to at a distance, hands off, to see to her care. I cannot allow her to drag me down any more. As I have gotten older, the stress affects my health more. Last winter, I stopped taking crazy destructive phone calls for my own protection, and continued detaching in a big way. Google detaching with love - you will find help there.

Let go of any guilt. You have done nothing to feel guilty about. Some parents plant guilt buttons in their children to manipulate them. It is crazy making. They use FOG fear, obligation and guilt to get their own way.

A note about siblings. If they listen to your mum's complaints and don't support you, then they have a problem too. My sis is like that and others here have difficult sibs. You have to grow a thicker hide and detach from them too.

My "family" are the people who support me, not those whose blood I share who are toxic to me. Value yourself, do something good for you every day, don't let your mum become the centre of your world which is what she wants. Come back -you will get support here. (((((hugs)))))

things that help are (in no particular order) - therapy/counselling, detaching/distancing, establishing boundaries and consequences when those boundaries are crossed, and support such as you get here.
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earthacarm, I am struggling with the same issues here as well. Mom is extremely negative and demanding of my attention. I had promised her not to put her in a NH also but now find I just can't cope by juggling a very physically demanding job and full time care. She has me down to 3 to 4 hrs of sleep a night with constantly not wanting to go to bed at night and then waking me at all hours with demands of more meds. I made an aptt with her PCP and went today to talk with him about Mom. His advice was to place her asap. He said she really doesn't have that much life span left and that the most important thing at this stage is to try to maintain what mother/daughter relationship we may have. That it was much better to support her from a distance than to continue the policeman/prisoner relationship that we have come to develop over the last few months. I have felt this also but have not been able to reconcile the vast difference in what my heart and head have to say.

Unfortunately Mom is back in the hospital as I am typing this and my relief at being able to get a full night's sleep is palpable. It's not that I'm unfeeling about her condition but just sheer exhaustion both mental and physical make me thankful that she is getting the care she needs outside my home.

Her doctor's recommendation is that I insist that the hospital place her in a NH upon release in however many days that may be from now. He told me in no uncertain terms that I WILL PHYSICALLY BREAK APART if I don't do this. Does my heart want this? NO but my head says I have to for both of our sakes.
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This is the 4th of July has not wanted to participate in any activities with us....she has done nothing (because she's too tired) all weekend. I told her she could stay home, behaving like a child having a temper tantrum or she can be an adult and spend time with the only family she has left in her life. She called me 4 times on Friday debating whether she would come over or not....ultimately, she didn't. On Saturday, I went out golfing, spent time with my children and hubby, did some gardening and just enjoyed my life. I invited mom over again, but she was too tired again. Actually, I called mom every day to make sure she was fine, but I didn't really have conversations with her....and I was a lot less stressed.

Last night she called our home at 8:45pm. I asked my husband to answer the phone because I really didn't want to deal with day had been pretty perfect... She wanted us to go over to her house to watch the local fireworks at 9pm... I appreciated the gesture. In the old days, I would have gone out of guilt...even though I was exhausted and didn't care much for being in traffic for 2hours afterwards. This time, We told her we were too tired to go out....the very same excuse she used with us all weekend. This morning, (Sunday) she called to see what our plans were for today....and asked if she could come over. I told her I'd pick her up after church...

Having a raised a very stubborn child with a birth defect who had 2-3 hour tantrums when she was little....if she didn't always get her way....I had to learn to not give her options in life, because it would always lead to tantrums. I had to tell her about things way in advance so she would be able to adjust to surprises and new experiences. I learned to not argue with her and walk away as this stopped most arguments. I didn't give her control over my emotions. I'm not sure why I didn't see my mother in the same light sooner. I don't know why I didn't see her as my child who is trying to spread her wings and show her independence. But now I do...and it is a very familiar place for me. It has empowered me to know how to deal with my moms demands...and the guilt I've allowed her to manipulate me with.

This has been an extremely therapeutic week.. Especially since receiving everyone's input....thank you! I needed to read what I've believed in my heart (and mind) to be reality. It is sad and very difficult for me to accept that I will never have the loving mother daughter relationship with my mother that I've longed for all my life.....but I accept that my life will go on without that.....and i do have a loving relationship with my husband, my children, and with many great friends in life. I do have a complete life without my mothers nurturing, love and admiration.... Although I wished with all of my heart that it would have been isn't....and I must accept this to be my reality. Hugs and my sincere thanks to everyone for your wise, suppletive and understanding input.
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