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I managed to have a whole day out yesterday with 2 of my sisters filling in to stay with Mom in my absence. She loves being with them, but when I came home I got the silent treatment, and it went on through the evening. When I asked what was wrong she said she was so bored from staying at home all day. At bedtime she apologized for being “pouty” with me. I told her it was all right and we would make tomorrow a better day. She then offered she had been blue and lonely from being home all day. I do so much for her willingly and keep her engaged with activities she can still do, outings as often as we can, etc. Today I feel it wasn’t worth it to leave her with how low I feel this morning. After almost 4 years of caregiving, this has happened before, but not to this degree. I’m sure this is normal, but how do you handle similar situations?

How could she have been bored with her two daughters with her. I think there is some controlling here. Mom, I need some time to myself every so often. I take you places but there are times I need to do something for me. I wouldn't say I am sorry. That's an addmission of guilt.

I really think that parents need to understand that we have lives too. Were they with us 24/7. No, we went to school, had activities. If they wanted to go out they got babysitters. Are we really suppose to spend every minute with a parent we r caring for. Not even husbands and wives should spend every minute together. We all need time to wind down, get away.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 17, 2019
JoAnn,

I adore this answer! Our parents do expect a lot. I am going to read this answer over and over for me! Thanks!
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What!!!??? Your mom was bored although she spent the day with her other two daughters? That is very manipulative behavior of her's designed to make you feel badly. Shame on her. See it for what it is and do not let that be an excuse to not get out and have time for herself. You will need to get a thick skin and learn to let this type of behavior roll off your back. She will survive your absence and if she wants to pout so be it. Once she sees it doesn’t change your behavior, and she isn’t rewarded for it, she will realize it doesn’t work. Plan more outings. She can read, watch TV or talk with her lovely daughters. Once we realize that only they are responsible for their happiness and not us, we will cope better.
you do not mention in your profile if she has dementia. If she does then the tactic mentioned above is a good statement. Validation and empathy but do not give away your right to good mental health by not taking breaks.
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Kathie333 Mar 19, 2019
Great response!!!
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Dear Beejaycee, I deal with similar guilt when I go out to play and don’t bring mom along. When I remember her complaint is a bid for empathy and can say with real complassion “oh it must be a long lonely day here at home” or something similar, mom feels validated for her own feelings and then can have compassion for me and my need to be independent of her. This is hard to remember to do when I feel the need to defend myself. It is simple and effective when I can really be there in the moment with her. Good luck.
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PandabearAUS Mar 19, 2019
Good advice. A perfect example of being assertive but not aggressive.
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Beejay, my sister once told me, "Nobody can make you feel guilty without your permission." This was because our mother, rest her soul, was a past master at dishing out the guilt trips! I'm so grateful she told me that, and I'm glad that over time, with practice, I came to believe and understand that she was right! Nobody is in control of my emotions but me. I can choose whether to feel guilty or not, especially if I have done nothing wrong. People will try, but this is a form of manipulation and passive-aggression. Don't buy into it! You did nothing wrong and therefore have *nothing!* to feel guilty about. You did not do anything to hurt your Loved One (LO). Your LO may be feeling sad, lonely, and neglected because you (quite rightly) took some needed time to yourself, but that's just too bad. She doesn't get to own you 24/7. And you are not responsible for how she chooses to feel about you doing that! When she tells you she felt sad, blue, lonely, or neglected during your absence, you might respond by saying something like, "Oh really? That's too bad." And then change the subject. Because just as she is not responsible for your emotions, so you are not responsible for hers. Detach. Good luck! And enjoy your time off, everybody is entitled to it. 😉💖
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 17, 2019
Desert,

That’s true. No one can make us feel guilty. Oh, can they try though! I haven’t mastered how not to let it drive me crazy. Know what I mean?

Changing subject doesn’t work with her so I end up having to walk out of the room.
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I think they get attached to one person and when that person is not there they feel lonely. No disrespect intended but our beloved dog was like this. The house could be full of people but only my dh mattered to her. Waiting patiently by the door until he returned and yes, sometimes a little distant even when he got home. When my daughter was a small child she would do the same when we went on a trip without her. She’s bonded with you in a different way than them. The sisters could have taken her out and I bet she would have still missed you. Hopefully your sisters aren’t offended by her not enjoying her time with them as much as you. And if anything, you probably need to go out more often, not less, so that it’s not so unusual to her to be without you.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 17, 2019
97,

So true! My mom has always been closest to me. I don’t think she intentionally tries to make me miserable. She just feels closest to me, not even realizing that her feeling of being closest to me can sometimes be a burden to me.

We do bond with certain people more than others. I dated lots of people and enjoyed their company but my husband stole my heart.

I overlook her comments or silence because I love her so much. When I reach my limit I have to explain to her that I have needs to. I try to do so as calmly as I can but I am human and make mistakes too. Sometimes I am frustrated and not as kind as I should be. She will then agree with me and say that she is sorry. I tell her that I am sorry for raising my voice.

She is more passive aggressive, haha, never raises her voice so she can say to me that she NEVER raises her voice at others. That drives me crazy! I would rather someone tell me off than be passive aggressive. Anyway, pet peeve, I suppose.

I tell her that all of us make mistakes, misunderstandings occur at times, and so forth. It’s sad that we put so much pressure on each other to be perfect. No one can be perfect.

We are going to screw up and all we can do is start over. Makes no sense at all to beat ourselves up. We can feel badly about something to motivate ourselves to improve, but if our guilt ends up hurting ourselves then it has the opposite effect, self abuse. No good can come out of that.
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You have no reason to feel guilty. You did nothing wrong! You have to take care of yourself to take care of her. Please don't let guilt control your life or self-care.

This kind of guilt is useless. How do you get over it? You keep telling yourself that you need to take care of yourself so you can take care of your mom, and just keep doing outings and it will get easier the more you do them. As long as mom is in good hands while you are out than you are good!

I know it is difficult for your mom to understand that you need time to yourself, but just keep explaining how it is important for you to have this time to yourself, and that you will do whatever she wants in turn. Don't reward bad behavior, but a little reward for being good goes a long way. Get what I am telling you?
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I’ve been in charge of f/t caring for my 89 yr old mother since Feb 2017. I have hired help so I get a lot of this almost daily but I remember the roles have reversed. It’s not her fault and the mother that raised me would be appalled at her own behavior if she could see it. I tell her & myself that she lived a good life, she took her trips, she got together with friends. I can only stay sane through this if I do the same. I do take her out & laugh with her but not 24/7. It’s hard not to feel guilty but you have to analyze the situation & not accept blame that’s not deserved. Be objective and think if you have a child & you couldn’t help acting this way would you want them to feel guilty & stop living? I know my sane mother wouldn’t want that. Tell yourself what you would tell a friend in this situation. I’m always amazed we are kinder to our friends than to ourselves.
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How do I handle it?  I do not feel guilty.  If I were caring for my mother, old habits of behavior might have kicked in, but I am not. I do not need my aunt's approval to feel good about myself, or to remember that I need to be well in order to do caregiving.  You do also.  You do not need to justify self care.  You do not 'cause' her feelings, either.  If this continues to bother you, try counseling as many of us have.
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Hi Bee,

The sentiment I see most often from former caregivers when their caregiving has come to an end is "I wish I took more time for myself." I try to remember that every time I leave the house and leave mom with someone else.

YOU have to take time for you, it is a non-negotiable. Maybe if you switched the perspective a little from "mom was unhappy" to "mom was safe." Sometimes you're not going to get happy from them, but as long as they are safe you are doing your job.

Hang in there and keep trying, it will get easier.
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Reply to PaniniSandwich
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She is being MANIPULATIVE, just like children do. Don't buy into it.
Do it regularly to keep your sanity and avoid burnout. Same time each week will develop a routine for you. She'll get used to it.
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