How do I not let Mom get to me?

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Her anxiety triggers my anxiety. She is constantly having problems. She sounds so desperate, anxious on the phone with each problem and it gets to me. I respond emotionally. This sounds weird but the last problem she called about was my brothers laundry (underpants). The woman that is washing my mom's and brothers clothes when he stays over has stopped washing his underpants. Mom calls me frantically, please go to K-Mart and get me several packages of underpants for my brother. He can wash clothes but he told mom he didn't know what button to push. She said push anyone. But he didn't was his underpants. He did use the washer and dryer when she was in the Nursing Home for a few weeks. Kmart didn't have his size so I ordered some online and had it sent to me. Mom calls me several days later and says did the underpants come it yet. I say no. She sounds very upset and says send them to me as soon as you possible can. I get anxious and they come a few hours later. So I go out to mail them right away even though it will soon be dark and I do like to drive when it's dark. The post office is closed. The only close place is a storage company that also has UPS service. They don't have a box the right size it is way too big. But I'm feeling some of the franticness of mom and say use the big box and get it mailed. I couldn't mail the package until late in the afternoon the next day. I had to be somewhere. And all I could think of was mom has to get this package as soon as possible. Am I also crazy? I just react to her anxiety with mine and can't think clearly. Also, I'm so used to doing what she says for so many years that it's hard not to now.

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Hadnuff, wouldn't it be nice if your brother learned to use the washing machine so that he can wash both is his own clothes AND his mother's clothes, so that your Mom wouldn't need to pay someone to do the washing. It's time for your brother to put on some big boy pants.
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Hadnuff, I agree with looloo. An emergency would be if your mother had a heart attack, your brother cut one of his appendages off or at least someone landed in the hospital. Not having clean underwear or whatever else your mother pulls out of her hat is NOT.
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That little voice in your head that's saying "How the h--l is this even an emergency?" Listen to it. It's time to inform your mother and brother that a) your brother can wash his own clothes, or b) he can purchase his own underwear, or c) since the two of them are such an awesome team, they can figure it out.
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Well, it's easy to see where you rank in this equation. You'll have to rank yourself higher if she won't.
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My mother can't wash anything. She uses a walker and the washer and dryer is in the basement. That is why a woman comes each week to wash the clothes. My brother can figure out how to wash his clothes, he is just lazy. He doesn't have the money to buy new underwear. Mom would give it to him. But he would say I don't need to buy more. Mom needs to fire the woman and get someone who will wash his underwear. He did say to mom, to fire her and get someone who would was his underwear. Mom is co-dependent with him and very protective of him. She treats him like he is a little kid that she has to take care of. She doesn't. But nobody can tell her that, she has always been that way with him and always will.
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I wondered why someone just didn't wash the dirty underwear. It would have been a whole lot easier than the solution that was chosen.

I understand so much about elders catastrophizing small things. Apparently your mother was afraid that your brother would be displeased and it would be the end of the world as we know it. Something has to be done RIGHT NOW. It does get tiring. In this circumstance I would have said, "Mom, put them in the washing machine. No, I'm not going to the store tonight and shipping you some new ones." We often have to pull back from the imagined catastrophe and use our judgment about how to respond. This one would have been easy.

Washing machines have gotten a bit more complex, because you have to hit a power button first, then select what type wash you want, load the machine, and push the start button. Still it is easy. I'm sure your brother could do it -- he did when she was in the NH. If he suddenly can't, I agree with others. He can buy his own shorts or go commando. Does you brother have any health problems that keep him from doing simple things?
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Please don't let your mother's emergencies become your emergencies. Anyone who can read can run a washer. They need to learn to fend for themselves. Mailing underpants? Your brother could wear dirty ones or go commando.
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Hadnuff, unless your brother is 5 years old, why doesn't he buy his own underwear?
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Sorry, my sister has been gone 2 years.
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My mother treated my sister the same way. I did not live there and I would beg Christine - "Do not answer the phone. Do not take your phone into the restaurant, etc." But, she continued the same scenario, day after day.

Mother drove my sister to an early grave. She has been gone 2 weeks. Mom is fine. She is great. She is the best ever, in a NH at age 95.

Do not answer your phone. The 2 adults in that home knew how to wash underwear or order some more. Set some boundaries. Read Caring For My Difficult Elderly Parent. You can get away.
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