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So, I've been posting for the last couple of years about my 90-year-old MIL with dementia who moved in with us from France. She has been living with us for 3 1/2 years - we have bent over backwards to make her comfortable and cater to her every need. We got her a subscription to French TV, make sure her every meal is more than ultra cooked, cut in small pieces, and skinless (she has no teeth), listen to her stories and smile even though we have heard the same ones dozens of times. We have not been able to take much time away due to the difficulty of finding a caregiver who speaks French.


She has multiple health problems - macular degeneration, aortic stenosis, hearing loss, terrible eczema, and most recently fractured neck. She still smokes like a sailor; while she can light up a cigarette with the most incredible dexterity, for the life of me, I can't figure out why she can't put cream on her arms and legs. So my husband puts cream on in the evenings.


My husband is an only son. His mom sits in the front seat when the three of us are in the car. The difficult part for me is that I feel this tremendous tug and pull of her wanting to be the woman of the house; she has a tendency to weigh in on every household matter and is very controlling. I have become much better at asserting my role, but it's been a struggle - French MIL's, and add to that old school marms, are notorious for being rigid and tough creatures.


We are also dealing with our own health issues as well as providing financial and emotional support for our two 20-something adult kids, so are doing double duty.


Anyway, my husband was exhausted today after a long day of work and she kept coming to our room to talk about her taxes. There was no rush in the matter. so he told her he was tired and that everything was under control. She does not process so kept harping on the same points. I know with her dementia, it's hard to retain info.


But MIL stormed off saying that it was the worse mistake she ever made coming here, as she has done dozens of times. This seems to be her go to response when she does not get the attention she feels she deserves.


Five years ago, when they started the immigration process, she really wanted to come. She was emaciated when she came here (she was living on her own and not eating) and has put on 25 pounds since moving to our home. She has more social contact here. And she more often than not has us as captive audience to wait on her hand and foot. With little gratitude.


I generally just let these comments pass but there are times like tonight that I wanted to respond. But I didn't. It makes me feel so resentful and angry especially given all the sacrifices we have made. I feel like we have completely reorganized our lives for MIL and are tethered to her on so many levels.


In my dreams, I would say, " Fine, how about if we get you on the first plane back to France if you want to go back so much." I know, many of you have said in the past, just ship her back, but the truth is that she can no longer fly because of her heart condition. So we are stuck.


It's Valentine's Day and all I can think is how worn out I feel and how MIL has invaded our lives. And I just want to say something that makes me feel comforted when she has a hissy fit, even though I know the communication will likely fail to have any meaningful impact. I'm wondering what would you say or do if you were in my shoes?

Big Hug Selma,
Many of us here are in your shoes. We often don't realize how uncomfortable those shoes are going to be until we put them on. I can understand your frustrations. When you move a Loved on in your home, in my case it was two(Dad and Mom), we never imagined how it would change our life. Nor the struggles we would face, individually and in our relationships. My DH and I have no privacy.
we have had no privacy for going on 5 years has really been a struggle. Even more difficult is sharing the house with another female, as a female. That is rough. I have had to step aside in my own home, and now I feel as if I am a kid living with my Mom at times. It is hard, but my situation varies from yours in that these are my parents, that is your MIL. That is harder. Because I love my Mom dearly and will do anything I can with God's help, to allow her a carefree and love filled life. I di d for my Dad til he passed and I will for my Mom. Even though I love her dearly and I have the utmost faith in our Lord Jesus, this is still hard.
I pray a lot, that is what helps me. I use to cry a lot, but that has lessened. However, I do have days.
My patience gets better with practice and prayer. But still does not help with these human feelings of feeling displaced. I understand why I feel this way, and I understand the situation, and therefore I can maintain and grow. So me personally, being somewhat in your shoes, I just do what I gotta do, and do it with love and just do my best. Realizing that this life is only temporary, that I will not always have my Mom. Losing my Dad really made me aware of what I want to accomplish in loving Mom, because I do not want regrets. I just get up each day and pray that I will do better than the day before. It is like physical fitness, when you keep at it, you get stronger, more muscles, lose the fat that weighs us down. Well caregiving is keeping at it, getting emotionally stronger, and losing those ill feelings, that weigh us down.
Best wishes to you, I hope that you find the answers you seek and that things get better for you or at least more manageable.
You are wise not to respond to the ill remarks.
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sorryselma Feb 15, 2019
This is so beautifully written, smeshque.

Your words come from a deep sense of doing the right thing and your obvious amazing inner strength. I love the idea that we can build emotional strength from caregiving akin to being at the gym. I have seen so much resilience in posters like yourself on this forum, it really is heartening. But I do want to add that we have to nurture ourselves, it feels for the last several years my needs have taken a far back seat to MIL's needs. And that doesn't always feel healthy or right.

The pureness of your kindness and generosity shine through in your comments. Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and insights.
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Aww, this is is so painful, Sorryselma. Obviously your MIL made what was actually the BEST decision of her life coming to live with and be cared for by her very loving son and daughter in law. How tragic that her illness prevents her from seeing this.

I'm not sure what to say in this situation and I certainly wish there was a better solution to her seemingly endless care, which sounds beyond exhausting.

Blessings to you and your husband for being so very kind to someone who can't respond at all appropriately to what you are giving her.
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sorryselma Feb 15, 2019
SnoopyLove,

Thanks for your lovely comments; your blessings and kind words mean so much. I'm not always convinced it was the best decision to move MIL into our home because we feel so in over our heads, but I can say that we are doing the best that we can possibly do given the challenges. And your post gave us the important validation every caregiver needs - so grateful to you for that!
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Hi sorryselma

I remember your posts. You always sound like such a nice person. I can’t even imagine you saying something snarky.

I see your problem being your husband. He is the one who places your MIL above you. I don’t think you would mind so much if he made it clear to her by his actions that you were the lady of the house. At the same time, he is dealing with a very old culture that is ingrained. So I’m sure it’s not easy for either of you.
Ask him to ride in the back and tell him you’ll drive.
See if that makes you feel better.
Can’t see that happening? Then luxuriate in all the space in the back. Chat on your phone. Take along some magazines. Take a nap. Make it work for you.

You are probably asking too much of her to expect her to be empathetic to your situation, even in the best of times.

You hear people say, “don’t give your power away. Don’t allow her to diminish you.”
That’s good to remember but really, deciding to rise above it altogether so that it doesn’t touch you, might serve you even better.

In India they have a custom. Place the hands together in front of the heart chakra and bow to the other person and say “Namaste”.
“The spirit in me greets the spirit in you” is what I was taught that means. The divine spark in me recognizes the divine spark in you. I may not care for your nasty cigs or your haughty manner but I have a touch of the divine within me and that divine spirit in me acknowledges the same in you. The rest of you can go fly a kite. (that last part I made up.lol).
So Namaste sorryselma. Happy Valentines. ❤️
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sorryselma Feb 15, 2019
Namaste 97yroldmom,
I love, love, love the idea of bringing in the divine into our caregiving worlds. It feels like it takes away so much of the edge and emotion of caregiving to allow myself to rise above some of the territorial issues I feel. You are hilarious - maybe that should be the response in my head, "go fly a kite" when she has her hissy fit and I can chuckle and remember this post! You are wonderful - thank you so much for brightening my Valentine's Day. Have a happy one too.
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You have so much on your plate. I can’t speak to the issue of ALZ because I am not educated enough on the topic but I can speak about what you and many other caregivers, including myself and husband feel. It is emotionally and physically exhausting at times. I know it doesn’t help you hearing me say that. I hope it is somewhat comforting to you to know that others in your shoes understand and truly care.

I love my mother (93 with Parkinson’s) but it’s hard all around. Hard for her, hard for us. I can tell by your writing that you and your husband care or she wouldn’t be in your home. It’s also clear to me that you get frustrated like the rest of us. You don’t need me to tell you that it’s completely normal to be frustrated and even annoyed under these circumstances.

Go ahead and vent! I’ve used this forum for that and it is terrific to hear other perspectives on a topic.

I don’t have magic answers. I finally figured out I don’t have the power to change other’s actions. I used to think it was my fault because I didn’t express myself clearly enough for others to understand, NOT TRUE! Sure, I say things that come out wrong sometimes, like anyone else but for the most part if people don’t want to understand they will make excuses and place the blame on others. With ALZ, I don’t know how it fits in.

Perhaps you could walk away for a bit. I’ve had to do that. Go make myself a cup of coffee or tea, call a friend on the phone, read, etc. Because if I stew about something I can quickly become my worst enemy. What I hate the most is when I take my frustration out on my hubby. He doesn’t deserve that but sometimes it happens. I’m not perfect and I try so hard not to do that. I always apologize afterwards and he does understand that I had a really rough day and knows I didn’t mean to snap at him.

My husband is better than I am with handling stressful conditions. He never brings his work home with him. It stays at the office. He’s never done that. He rarely makes comments about stressful times at work. Of course, I listen to him when he does and he appreciates it but he’s never made it a habit. I so admire that! I have to work hard at not over burdening him. Because some days I can’t help bu b****!

I hope things get better and others with ALZ experience can help you cope. Take care.
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NeedHelpWithMom Feb 15, 2019
Sorry that I said ALZ, I see it’s dementia.
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I think I might be tempted to reach for my copy of L'Etranger and read it with an ostentatiously thoughtful expression on my face and the occasional sideways glance at her. 🤔

However. What to do about your belle-mère, mmm.

Not to beat about the bush: if you were to look ahead how much longer do you expect this to go on?

If it's any length of time, and you're not already doing it, you need to bump respite breaks for you and DH higher up the list of priorities. It really doesn't matter if MIL spends five days not talking to anyone in her native language, it won't do her any lasting harm; but it does matter if you and DH get no down time.

And seriously, now - were you ever expecting her to be grateful? Really?
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sorryselma Feb 15, 2019
Thanks Countrymouse,

Your posts always are the funniest and make me laugh. I'll definitely pull out my copy of Albert Camus' L'Etranger. Yes ironically belle-mère in French translates to mother-in-law but literally means 'beautiful mother."

MIL was just put on hospice after her neck fracture but you would never know because she is still Micromanager-in-Chief. She is one tough lady.

And we get 5 days of free respite in a fabulous state-of-the art care facility in town, but hubby thinks it's too long for her to handle there. I am pushing for it because we are both so drained.

And you're right, the gratitude part is unrealistic. Maybe my good deeds are for something though.
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You will never be appreciated for what you do for her. She has lost that ability. She has lost her reasoning, processing and being able to comprehend. They get like children. Wanting attention and being self centered. Like children, they want it now.

I suggest that Mom sit in the back. There was a poster that said her Mom opened the car door while he car was in motion. The back seat has child saftey locks and same with windows. The door can only be opened from the outside. You may want to tell her you would like to sit next to your husband one day. Work into two days, etc, until you are now sitting in front seat.
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Countrymouse Feb 15, 2019
You could try that. I have to say, rather you than me.

This MIL expects to sit in the front because where she comes from that would be "correct" and "normal"; and even the words themselves have much more significance than they do in English.

When in Rome and all that, I know; but I wouldn't underestimate how genuinely insulted she would be to be made to sit in the back.

But - How about if the OP drives and DH goes in the back, once in a while?! 💡
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I'd be likely to agree with her that yes, this was the worst decision you ALL ever made..but what I think and what falls out of my mouth are not the same.

My MIL JUMPS into the front seat when DH and I take her out. Well, used to, I won't go with them anymore. She acted as if I weren't there and honestly, it was never "fun" for me. She'd sit by him at dinner, or the play--whatever--and I felt like a 5th wheel so I stepped out.

If she lived with "us" there would BE no "us".

It took me far too many years to get DH to see that I would like to be a part of his life, w/o his mother calling the shots. He has NEVER and I mean NEVER stood up for me in 43 years of life together and he never will.

So, I changed. I do not talk to her, and I never plan to again, unless circumstance insists.

But I have the ability to stay away from her, I really don't know if you could approach her in any way w/o DH standing right by you, agreeing with you.

Just--know you aren't alone in this. Can you put a lock on your bedroom door? (One hopes you already have one). Add a "do not disturb" door hanger from a hotel (they'll give you one, trust me) and let he pound on that door.

Oh---and read about "boundaries". Sounds like MIL is really trampling on yours.
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sorryselma Feb 15, 2019
Hi Midkid58,

I totally get what you're saying, I do often feel invisible when I am with the two of them. She talks to DH as though I am not present. In French, you have the "tu" singular pronoun for you and "vous" plural pronoun for you, so it's even more marked than in English. She most often uses "tu" directed at my husband. At times, my husband stands up for me like when she addresses him in a way that implies it is his house, his decision solely to do this or that, etc But on the other hand he gets annoyed when I bring up frequent issues to him like her smoking because I hate that the odor and fumes still get in the house.

Plus MIL feels the need to interfere in everything we do. It's so hard to have friends over; though they don't speak French we have to spend the evening translating for her. When we were painting closet doors in the family room, she expressed her dismay over and over about the color we had chosen. Finally, my husband said, "It's our house. We get to pick the color we want."

One of the things you commented on that rang so true for me is that if your MIL were to move in there would no longer be an "us." That hit a raw cord. I have felt that way since she moved in; there is no true "us" anymore and our relationship has been redefined where "us" means 2 + 1, and odd numbers are always problematic.

There is no way to get MIL to respect our space. We have not been successful in setting boundaries because she is everywhere and has nothing to do but seek us out at home. Closed doors do not hinder her. Because she is legally blind, watching TV or reading books to keep busy are impossible. We are her sole activity besides smoking and eating cookies.

You were so smart for putting your foot down and setting boundaries. I still love my husband a lot but the experience of having her live with us has created so much angst and at times made a solid relationship feel shaky. I just feel like on auto pilot all the time with little joy in my heart.
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Just for the record, it was my mom who grabbed the wheel from my husband while he was driving. I was in the back seat.

When we reached our destination, I told my brother (who had POA) that mother would never get into a car with me ever again. She was transported by ambulette from there on in.

There is no telling when a person with dementia gets it into their head that they are being kidnapped. I'd play it safe and keep her in the back. And make sure that she has no access to things that can be used to hit, like a cane or an ice brush.
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gdaughter Feb 18, 2019
or a machete!
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If your MIL still understands what she reads, you might try writing her messages about some repeated issue (like the taxes) and see if that works. My mother doesn't have ALZ but her short term memory is completely shot. When she hears a great-grandson playing in a bedroom down the hall she sometimes thinks someone is trying to break into the house. She will call for me every 3-5 minutes asking who's in the house. Writing a post it not that says "J is playing in the guest room" and sticking it on the wall by her recliner usually solves the problem.
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I do empathize. I'm not sure about your options. Responding to her in any way is really pointless. People with dementia aren't able to process the comments and/or reason, so, it would just add to the problem. Try to keep in mind that her words are coming from a damaged brain and are not really based on fact or truth. I imagine that it would bother me if my husband wasn't more in tune with how stressful this is for you. Are there any reasonable options? Is there anywhere else she could live? Could you get away for some respite time? I don't think that I could take it long term. In good health, even with dementia, she could live for years more....so, I do feel your pain. It's good you are able to share your feelings online with others who are dealing with similar issues. Sometimes, that helps too.
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My first thought is why are you supporting your 20-something kids: my 20 year old is taking a full load in college and working on our farm, that's why we support him - he earns his support. Those kids can get a job and start working on their resume. This is part of what the author of The Millionaire Next Door calls "economic outpatient care" - you are trying to help them but it is damaging to the kids in the long run. The handouts make them tied to the parents' apron strings for a long time (hmm). The Boundaries book will help you say no to the bank account transfers.

Second thought is to get into couples' counseling so you two can work on your relationship. It sounds like you HAVE become a 3rd wheel and Mamie is the woman of the house, in the front seat literally and figuratively. If your hubby won't take the respite offered by hospice, you should plan the event when Hospice can take her and go by yourself. If your hubby is to chicken to take her and drop her off, at least you can have some time away to think in peace!

Third, we are all reading Dorker's saga of her MIL just flying back from IL. None of us want that. However, I'm guessing Mamie would be just fine in an assisted living with some French speaking islanders working there. It might be a drive for your husband but it would put some distance between you and her.
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Selma there is gallows humour to it but this isn't even supposed to be funny: Midkid's MIL is a - well, I hardly like to say, really - but your MIL is French, and although there might seem to be similarities they are only coincidental.

My younger DD is about to acquire a French MIL. She's a good thirty years younger than yours, and a very nice lady indeed, I like her a lot, but all the same - there just are those stiff social rules which still apply no matter how relaxed and global we're all supposed to be nowadays.

Sigh. I don't know how you please someone there is no pleasing.

I suppose it is *completely* out of the question that you and DH move to France and leave her behind..?

I just did a quick dig to see if I could find any web forums full of French people trying to cope with their parents. No luck with that but I did find this:

"The report by France's National Ethics Committee (CCNE) reveals that reaching old age in France often means being sidelined by society, receiving inadequate care and the suffering of both you and your carers.  
 
There are 6.1 million people aged over 75 in the French population, 61 percent of whom are women. Among this number, 25 percent live alone, 50 percent no longer have an active friendship network and 41 percent have little or no contact with their children."

A few blessings in there for MIL to count. Yes, she may not be grateful, but what you're doing for her must be about the best karma there is or else there's no justice.
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Riverdale Feb 15, 2019
That 41 % figure is amazing. I can't imagine how one can live that way to the end although I certainly understand the desire. My parental burdens are mostly emotional. I feel for those doing all the physical jobs involved with caretaking. While an emotional issue is different it does tend to make one feel as though they metaphorically are never standing on solid ground.
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You could say, "Yes, you are right. At least we agree on one thing today."

Is it possible to explain to your husband that he plays a role in making this easier for you. Maybe that would help him to not let mom walk on you.

For the cig-stink, There are candles that are sold in vets offices that are great for getting rid of cigarette odor. I used to smoke but hated my house to smell, these worked so well that my mom who is the world's worst reformed smoker, actually said it was a good thing I didn't smoke in doors. I laughed and said only out of courtesy to you, when you are not here, I smoke inside. They are "Pet odor Exterminator candle" perhaps they will help you.

You are doing a great job in a tough situation. Tell your husband that anyone can handle any situation for 5 days. He needs to be the man of the house and take care of the woman he promised to forsake all others for. She will live through it and best of all you will be able to continue helping her. Old people tend to behave like children and you must not get caught up in the tantrums. Tell your husband the things people have said about taking care of yourselves and how important reconnecting as a couple is to your wellbeing. To much of a good thing is just that, too much. How much more when it is a hard thing.

Find laughter where you can, picture her with a kite tail flying away to respite.

God bless you and give you strength.
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Dear Sorryselma, I absolutely feel for you in your situation. You clearly are a compassionate, caring person to have your MIL living in your home!!! My MIL cannot stand me. Luckily she lives on the other side of the country. However when she visits I am the recipient of her nonstop critiques & criticisms. For decades I tried very hard to win her approval. Now I basically ignore her. She still criticizes but I don't acknowledge the negative. My husband has never stood up for me. He said if I have a problem with her it is not his problem. His response was more painful than anything MIL ever said to me.
You could try saying to yourself "Right this minute, it certainly seems to be the worst decision ever made, but I am choosing to think about the positive aspects." You can choose your reaction. It might help to imagine your MIL as a cookie eating, chain smoking 4 y/o in a flouncy dress & hair bows. She truly has no power over you, unless you give her the power. She feels powerless or she wouldn't lash out. You mention that she is blind so that reading & watching TV are no longer distracting her. Perhaps audible books in French would be an acceptable alternative. Or find someone for her to help speaking in French: she could boss them around, correct their pronunciation & tell them her stories. Give her someone else on which to focus negative attention.
For sure you must take advantage of the respite opportunity, whether your husband does or not!!! Take care of yourself & recharge your spirit. You need this break. Go ahead & enjoy yourself!!! Then post again with details of your break so we can celebrate with you. Best of luck. Hugs!
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sorryselma Feb 17, 2019
Just wanted to thank you so much, Longears. I was really touched by your thoughtful remarks and encouragement. I love the beautiful visualization and the idea that we can choose our reactions. I don't believe my MIL is bad or evil, that's just the way she is. And I felt very empowered by your post. Yes, and I'll come back to report about my respite time. Hugs back to you!!!!
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The front passenger seat of the car is the most dangerous seat, so the fact that she wants to sit there is good for you. You get the safe back seat! One way to cope is to look at the situation differently. That is what I just did with the first two sentences.
Can she afford to move to an assisted living? If so, she should be glad to move.
The only other advice I can give is that your marriage relationship should, in my opinion, be giving top priority. Try to get some alone time with your husband. Set a specific time in the evening when you retire to your bedroom. Explain to her about the new alone time rule. Put a lock on the bedroom door. If she's out there knocking, ignore it. I went to a psychologist for training in setting boundaries with a parent. If you go, be specific in wanting this training otherwise they want to fix your whole life. It only took a few sessions to turn things around. You teach people how to treat you.
In the book The Art of War by Sun Tzu, one principle is to not fight every battle, but only the ones you can win, ie "choose your battles". Techniques that we learn from raising children can be used with anyone. If a child throws a hissy fit, we are taught to walk away and ignore them--it works.
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shb1964 Feb 18, 2019
The irony of "The Art of War" teaching us how to deal with our parents (and in-laws) is both hysterical and frightfully true!

Sorryselma, validation is a great thing. From your original post and subsequent ones, you sound like you're doing a heck of a job in a difficult situation. Husband is caught between being the son of the first woman in his life, and the woman he chose to be with as an adult male. Not enviable but it's nice that he has stood up to her on occasion...even if it is about the color of a closet. Every day is a new day. I hope you have more better days than bad ones - or bad moments.
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You all gave lovely kind answers, however, no matter what you do, it will get progressively worse. I know. The only solution is to move her into assisted living or her own senior apartment where a caregiver comes in. There is no nice way to do it but life is short are losing some yours everyday in this situation..
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DesertGrl53 Feb 18, 2019
This is true. Only you can know when "enough is enough" and the day has come when she can no longer live with you. Perhaps you can make the arrangements ahead of time, and then as kindly as possible explain to her that since she is no longer happy in your home you have found her another place to live and then take her there.

I just don't see that you should be miserable in your own home. Many years ago, my husband at the time let his alcoholic dad come stay with us. We had two small children. After about a week it became obvious that the old drunk wasn't going anywhere, and husband wouldn't kick him out. One day after church the kids and I went to spend the day with a friend. I called husband and had him meet me at a restaurant for dinner, where I informed him the kids and I had packed bags of clothing and were prepared to stay with my friend (lady friend) indefinitely, and weren't coming home till the old sot was gone.

He was gone by morning. I'm saying there are ways of motivating husbands. Sometimes it takes action rather than words to make them see that we've had enough. A few nights in a nice motel might just be very good for your soul anyway.
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Oh, I was in your shoes but not nearly as badly, before my MIL passed away recently. She interfered with how I raised my grandson, that was the worst. She never wanted him corrected or ddisciplined, and that's a problem. She didn't hear well but had to know all about every conversation, even if it didn't involve her. And if I objected when she countermanded my child-raising, she would get all weepy and say she was going to move out and into an old folks' home because she wasn't wanted or needed here. The first couple of times that happened, I apologized profusely for hurting her delicate feelings and begged her to stay. Later I realized she had no intention of moving out, so I either ignored her or simply said I'd miss her. That put an end to all that drama.

I loved her dearly but remembered not to get addicted to abusive, controlling behavior. When necessary, I calmly put my foot down and told her that certain behavior was unacceptable and would not be tolerated in my house, and after her initial surprise, that was the end of it.
But I have to qualify all this by saying she was only showing signs of mild cognitive decline. She was not in full-blown dementia by any means. Still, when I had to spend as much time searching for utensils and washing bowls and pans that had been put away dirty as I did actually cooking, my strategy for survival was to remind myself that she would not live forever and that I would miss her when she was gone.

She didn't, and I do.
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gdaughter Feb 18, 2019
I constantly curse under my breath in the kitchen when everything is rearranged or often dirty and I know as much as it makes me insane and angry and frustrated I will feel guilt and remorse when she isn't there doing it. Or planting fresh cut flowers in a pot of dirt....
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Gees is she a trip. A moment to be grateful for singlehood! Speaking of trips, is her health really that frail that she cannot fly home? And so bad a heart yet the smoking continues...that alone would be enough for her to not be in my house. And coming to your space, your bedroom to whine and complain? I'd be having a lock on that door and being nonresponsive...but then again we go back to worrying about the dementia and her being in need. So, if planes are out...any chance she could cruise back? Even if your husband escorted her and then flew home? I know the point of desperation you must feel and am not coping with nearly as much as you. My mother has mixed dementia. It is a hassle to get her motivated and up and dressed which she can do on her own if she doesn't want to. The other day Dad got her rolling for her biweekly hair appt. Which she quite accurately said she didn't make. It is the only way her hair gets washed. She was totally pissed when she stormed out of the house with her coat on and got in the car where I waited and launched into how she just wanted to get away from ALL of us (me and dad). Oh how that would possibly lighten my load. She'd like to move. I said that would be (the name of the local nursing home). Would you like a tour? She had no further comment. And then we get there and she is all sweetness to the hairdresser. Any chance a long term care or assisted living would be a possibility? I'm sorry to say I would not be nice and in answer to your question my temptation would be to tell her to shut up. Sparing that, I'd need a place to get away from her, totally off limits. IN fact, I don't know about your finances or space, but what about a totally separate suite on your property...for either her to live in, or you?
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sorryselma Feb 18, 2019
Gdaughter,

Separate quarters sound heavenly. To think that I have sat through over 1000 meals with MIL in the past 3 1/2 years... We have an older home with space to build, but with permits and contractors, it could take a couple of years. I love your approach to your mom, sometimes you gotta do tough love. As I've mentioned in other posts, assisted living is not an option because she has no long term care or real savings and no Medicare or Medicaid. It would also be tough financially for us to shell out the money to put her in a facility. Yes, it's the intrusiveness in our lives that's hardest for me, whether it's her frequent visits to our bedroom or the horrible smell of cigarettes that permeates our home. It's hard to see her as frail though I know her heart is in bad shape. MIL is one tough lady who wants to interject, always throwing in her two cents. She has been on door and light patrol at night since Day 1 of moving in and will come to see us sometimes multiple times just to make sure we shut the lights and locked the doors. It kind of sometimes feels like I have a strict and controlling parent living with me, like I'm a teen again. Though my parents growing up were pretty cool and hands off.
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somebody smart: figure out how we say "go fly a kite" in French!
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Countrymouse Feb 18, 2019
Somebody even smarter will also have to tell you how you say that without having your blood frozen at twenty paces by the look only French ladies know how to send out.
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My husband refuses to send his mother (98) back to his sister, so I told him he is going to take care of all her needs: dementia/balance issues/hearing loss/almost blind, etc. I only do 7% of her care, he does the rest. Would you ask him to take care of your mom? NO, You would be the one doing all the work. Before the dementia, she was a delight to have in our house. I do love her very much, but she is his responsibility. I have my own mom to visit in a Home, she also has dementia and is disabled. Good Luck.
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gdaughter Feb 18, 2019
country mouse...jewish mothers know the look too!
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Sorry Selma, I hear what you are says d sympathize with you. Ignoring the comments is the easiest way out for me. Hopefully one day it will be paid forward to you. I ask God for patience, strength and tolerance every day to deal with my mom. By the way, it is amazing how some things are done automatically by the elders, like lighting the cigarette and some things they are incapable. SUV allows me to sit in the front with my husband because it is as comfortable in the back as it is in the front.
you need to find a way to get away periodically because no matter how you live them it is exhausting. Consider temporary care for your mother in law while you go away and do something fun and rest and relax.
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If you and your husband are supporting your kids, make them earn their way by spending quality time with grand-mere. Preferably when you two need some alone time.
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kdcm1011 Feb 18, 2019
This was my thought as well.
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En avoir ras le bol
But maybe that is too harsh yet deserving.
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sorryselma Feb 18, 2019
Riverdale,
So many French speakers on this forum. :) I think that captures the sentiment quite well. "En avoir ras le bol" means "to be fed up" in English. I think that you hit the nail on the head - yes, I may have finally reached my saturation point. People always tell me how nice I am, but sometimes being too nice does not serve us well. Thanks for your great comment.
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You and your husband have been generous to take on this responsibility as well as you have. Kudos to you. Now make plans to save yourselves...your mental health, your physical health, your relationship with each other and your children. Find the best dementia assisted living you can afford, move her in, and visit often. It won't be easy for several months, but as she deteriorates, you will know she is safe and you will have much needed time for yourselves while still managing her care. Sorry to be so blunt, but you have done a lot for her. Now take better care of yourselves. If she becomes angry or depressed, there are meds that can help. If she tries to manipulate and stops eating, that's her choice. Don't let her disease take you and yours down.
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Is there any way that an in-law apartment attached to your home could be arranged? She needs to be living with you, but not living with you. Specific boundaries need to be delineated....she is the mistress of her domain, you of yours. In terms of the car seat, I wouldn't sweat that one. The front seats are more comfortable, but at her age she benefits greatly. Does your husband know how you feel? He is at work all day and therefore has respite from maman. You do not. Assign each son to a specific time (once a week) they must spend occupying you MILs attention. Game night, movie, what have you. What if any suggestions does he have regarding this matter? Also, you say he is an only son. Does he have sisters? If so, where are they? Last, you say that she cannot fly any longer so can't return to France. There are ocean cruises......
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Considering that she would be unable to fly, would it be worth offering to accompany her on a ship sailing back to France? This could be both a way of getting her to appreciate where she is, and also something you would be willing to carry out if this is something she seriously wants. She could go into a nursing home or whatever equivalent is in France if she decides to accept your offer.
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ArtistDaughter Feb 18, 2019
The thing is, she most likely does not really want to go back to France. She's frustrated and afraid and can't get to those feelings, so replaces them with anger and hurtful remarks.
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I was lucky. My MIL was not abusive. She did, however, get confused as to where she was and why. I would sit down with her and remind her: carefully, methodically, sometimes more kindly than others. I told her the story of her recent life, her apartment, her fall, her hospitalization, her subsequent inability to live alone, her pretty sweet life here with us. We were lucky, I know--she had a mean streak that that my husband reminded her to not exercise in our home, and God Love Her, she took that to heart. As for the "I wish I had not moved here schtick, My mantra began, 'I am so sorry you feel that way. We are here to help. We are all trying to help you and make this situation work. You are here because---and I would again tell her the story of how this living arrangement came to be.'" My key was the line about being sorry she felt that way. Over and over and over and over. Good luck and God Bless.
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You're not in an easy space right now & there doesn't seem to be an end. But, once day there will be & you'll see alone with your husband. What will that day look like? Will you both be happy to spend the time together or be strangers to each other? You do need to nurture your relationship but you both should work on it. If he thinks everything will be fine, then maybe you can get some alone time even if it's only an hour here & there.
So what did you do before MIL came to live with you? Can you try to bring just a bit of that back.
I particularly like the idea of your kids getting into the situation & help you out there.
You mention some of the things your husband has done to "stand" for you. But what does he do to help you out besides putting on some lotion? He could help prepare her meals - i.e. let him cut up her food. Take care of some of her needs so you get a break.
When DH & MIL free talking using the familiar "tu" instead of "vous", ask him to include you in the conversation and use the "vous" so you feel included. She can still use "tu" but at least you know he's got your back covered.
The idea of offering this suffering up is a good idea. We can ask God to consider your suffering as a prayer. He'll understand & we you the graces you need to weather the situation
Good luck & God bless.
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SorrySelma,

I sorry to hear about your situation. I've read a lot of the comments below and take issue with the ones that say tolerate the abuse. I offer this, Life is wonderful, but the truth of the matter is we don't know how long we have on this earth. You need to have peace and love in your life and your home to counteract the everyday busyness. When you have someone in your home that is causing dissension everyday, and you can't find a moment you aren't thinking about the comments and disruption of this person, it is time to change the situation. Does it make sense to hate the very place you built you and your family's comfort. See if you can find an Assistant living facility close by and go visit her. We put my mother in a facility and fixed her room up so she had the things she enjoyed and go to visit often. As soon as she moved the feeling and the energy in the house was different.

It is wonderful to care for your elderly, but no one ever talks about the drain it can put on your life and well being.
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vonrock Feb 18, 2019
And we’re strong in that love. My mom would say things she’d never thought or said in Her life.
she instilled a sense of humor with the love she taught knowing it would be handy. “Your so funny” a kiss
then a happy distraction. It must be so frustrating.
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Selma, you can't put her on an plane, but can you take over on a transatlantic repositioning cruise?
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sorryselma Feb 18, 2019
Hi BarbBrooklyn,

Thanks for the suggestion. Other posters have asked about a Transatlantic cruise. It sounds very cool but because we live in Cali, I don't see that happening. And that would be super long to travel.
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