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First, I appreciate this group and it's comforting to see others in my situation. This is my first post. I hope this isn't a boring read!! I could use some advice.


A little background: My mom is 83 years old and lives alone in an independent living facility. I am an only child and live about 10 minutes away. My sweet dad passed away 14 years ago and my mom never remarried. Her health is fairly good; she has type 2 diabetes and severe peripheral neuropathy in her feet and hands. She uses a walker and has had many falls; thankfully nothing severe.


She depends on me quite a bit and I feel like whatever I do is never enough and most of the time it's never completely correct. She has been very hurtful in the past about my weight and about things she dreams up that I have or have not done that hurt her feelings. Despite my many shortcomings, I think if she had it her way I would be with her 24 hours every day, lol. She wants to know where I am constantly and is upset if I don't answer the phone every time she calls or if I am not immediately available to do something she needs. It gets exhausting and suffocating. I think she has the beginnings of dementia.


I have 3 children and 6 grandchildren. One of my daughters lives 4 hours away and I would like to go on Monday to spend a few days with her and the kids. Her husband is away for work and I relish the thought of just being with her for a visit. I am dreading telling my mom because I know she will insist that she goes with me. I feel like she's always considered my children to also be her children and she insists on going with me whenever I see them. I really just want to go alone but I feel SO guilty about not asking my mom to go. One one hand I feel like I should be able to do what I want; to see my daughter if I please. On the other, I feel like a monster for not wanting to take my mom.


This sounds horrible and selfish: When I take mom on trips, I am not able to relax; I am a babysitter for her. I fetch this and that, cook for her, clean up after her, worry about her falling, help her get dressed, and basically do her bidding the entire time we're gone.


I just want to do this for me. Am I a horrible daughter? How do I tell her I'm going and what do I say when she insists on going?


Thank you for your honesty in advance!


Suz

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You are not a horrible daughter. Go visit your daughter - mother her and be grandmother to your children. Take a break from your selfish mom. Just go and tell her when you get back - "I decided last minute when her DH had to travel"
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Your mom is lucky to have you nearby, don't you think?

It sounds like she's doing her best to burn you out. She sounds quite selfish, which is not unusual in elders, especially in those who have some cognitive loss.

Your are a fully adult person with your own family. It is of the utmost importance that you set some limits on your mom, as she has lost her ability to empathize with your very normal need to have some private time, to yourself, with your daughter, whatever you deem needed.

" No, mom, I need some time to myself right now, need to recharge the batteries". Be reassuring, but firm. If she gets upset say you'll be back when she's feeling more like herself. Dont argue, don't ask her to be understanding.
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NeedHelpWithMom Feb 5, 2019
Barb,

I love that answer! Especially the not arguing part. I have a tendency to want to be understood and I suppose those feelings are normal but elders can become a bit selfish. Maybe not even intentionally. Unless that is their character, I don’t think they even realize an unhealthy cycle has started.

I get so frustrated with myself when I foolishly think I can reason with people that aren’t always interested or capable of reasoning.

It’s kind of like any type of addiction. The person never sees themselves losing control and becoming addicted, no matter what others point out to them.

My issue is because I love my mom I put her first, truly believing that is what I should do, then the inevitable happens such as burning out, even becoming resentful, let’s not forget the horrible guilt that follows. It’s a cycle that we have to break and learn to realize that we are equally as important as the person that we care for, yes even if it is our mom! How many times have I sad, “I have to do this. It’s for my mom!” We lose ourselves and become robots.
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Hey Everyone!!

Well, I called her Sunday night at 9:30 p.m. and let her know I was going Monday morning, and incredibly enough, she didn't give me one bit of trouble. She didn't ask to go, she didn't whine, she didn't have a pity party..nothing. She said have a great time and be careful!!!! I high-tailed it out of town this morning!! Lol! So around 2 hours after I left, I get a call from where she lives that she's being taken to the hospital by ambulance with left-sided weakness and now she's being admitted for observation. I started to turn around and then Mom called me and said she couldn't grab anything with her hand and her left arm was weak. She also said to keep going and don't come home, that she was feeling fine and she just wanted to get it checked out. No guilt trip, no pitiful voice..nothing. I kept going and am at my daughter's house now, having a great time. I've been in touch with mom and so far all tests are negative for stroke. My husband checked in on her and my best friend did, too. So here I sit, eating my words for a bedtime snack, lol. Thank you for all of your encouragement. I think she did great this time, but I know this is subject to change in a moment's notice. You all really helped me decide to go and I appreciate it greatly.

God bless!
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Zdarov Feb 5, 2019
Great job!! It always happens this way for me, the more resolute and prepared I get the less I needed all of it. Lol. So sorry she had that scare, hope it all works out.
Other folks have already covered ‘boundaries,’ but as an only child in a similar situation to yours I’ll just say that I make a point to blur the lines on every aspect of my life and my schedule in general, so when I need to do something it ‘fits’ better with the norm. I’m grown and she has no right or need for specific details.
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You can fool yourself into doing this comparatively easily, you know.

1. Plan the journey.
2. Pack what you'll need.
3. Visualise yourself arriving at your daughter's house and enjoying your few days there, alone. Keep your mother out of the picture.

This is the prize to focus on. You are going to take a break for a few days and not even think about your mother.

Now, then. Telling your mother.

You don't actually *have* to tell her, when it comes down to it. You could just leave your emergency contact details with the facility managers and tell them when you'll be back. But this would not be normally considerate, and it would be better to treat your mother with standard courtesy.

So... When you visit your mother tomorrow you tell her that your son in law is going to be away for work and you have been asked to help with the children. When your mother says that she must come and put her shoulder to the wheel, too, you reply "that's quite impossible, I'm afraid." You do not explain, you do not apologise. It might be helpful to Google wall or rock techniques for this conversation, too - 1001 ways of saying no without offering points for comeback.

For example, if you say "there'll be too much work to do" your mother will argue that she can help. And you don't need to give her reasons.

If you say "I want some one-to-one time with Daughter" you'll get a stream of consciousness about how selfish you are and how much more important grandmothers are. And this whole exercise is not about your mother and, to be blunt, is not her business. What's to discuss?

So you keep saying no, presenting it as a matter of course and not a subject for discussion. As I say, have a look on Google and see what methods suit your personal style.

When it comes to the actual crunch, you avoid taking her by not going to see her once you set off on Monday. If your car isn't outside the ILF, after all, she can't get into it, can she? This is why the detailed journey plan is so crucial: you fix your eyes on your route and you do not deviate from it.

Ditto, the packing. Your packing list does not include the items your mother would need, which I imagine would be quite a bundle. Instead, while you pack your case, take a moment to enjoy the luxury of thinking only about what you'll want to wear, and what toiletries you prefer for a treat.

Finally. The more unshakeable you are on this occasion, the better the effect it will have on your ongoing relationship with your mother. Your making a free choice will be a shock for her, naturally; but it won't do her any harm. The opposite, in fact; because after this you'll be doing nice things for her because you want to, and not because you're afraid of her bullying you.

Don't be afraid. You're going to have a great week, and your mother is going to be fine. This is a GOOD idea.
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NeedHelpWithMom Feb 5, 2019
Countrymouse,

Wow! I wish I would have been as smart as you are. Would have saved me tons of anguish dealing with my situation with my mom. It certainly would have saved me from all of the negative feelings and I could have actually had a healthy perspective on what I needed and deserved.
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Suz,

First of all, you're not a horrible daughter! Your mom has conditioned you to believe you are (horrible) if you don't respond to her every whim; you know, like the organ grinder's monkey. (Here Jocko, you get a pretzel if you dance a jig), the pretzel being (in our case) approval or absence of punishment.

Do a search on boundaries at this site. You will find a lot of good advice. Healthy boundaries are a concept I wasn't brought up with. My mom convinced me I was an extension of herself; that I was expected to subjugate my wants and needs to hers. Otherwise approval was withheld. Love wasn't part of the equation. There wasn't any. So I evolved into a non-person who didn't know who she was or what she wanted. I wasted decades of my life trying to squeeze love and approval from a turnip. What a waste. And how hard to not be bitter.

Establishing boundaries and keeping them isn't an overnight transformation. It takes a lot of mindful practice until finally it becomes second nature. Healthy boundaries don't mean selfishness. Healthy boundaries are the foundation of self-esteem, which is something you deserve. Best of luck to you on your journey!!!
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NeedHelpWithMom Feb 5, 2019
Great answer!
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Just the incontinence would keep me from taking her. Four hours could turn into 6 with rest stops. And trying to clean her up in a public rest area...sorry people I do not do well with bodily functions.😊

You need to get away. Even for a few days will make a difference. Tell Mom what you have said here, that the husband is away and you want some Mother daughter time with her. (Your daughter may appreciate not having Grandma because you two really don't get to visit catering to Mom.) If she insists, just say sorry Mom, not this time. I need to do something for ME. Leave it at that. Short and sweet like you would do for a child. If she gets mad, she gets mad. If she starts getting verbally abusive, say I'll see you later.

What I feel we owe our parents is to make sure they are safe and cared for. This does not need to be directly done by us. We do not owe them our lives. Did ur Mom give her life up for her parents?

I am saying go! But is there someone at the Independent living who can look in on Mom? From what you have posted, I think Mom is ready for the next faze, an Assisted Living.
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You’re not a horrible daughter. You SHOULD have a life outside of your mother. It would be super unhealthy if you didn’t. Not only do YOU need that alone time with your daughter and grandkids, they need it with you too!!

Didn’t you take time for yourself when your kids were small? Did you take them every single place you went? Of course you didn’t. It would’ve been super unhealthy for you to. This is the same. Only it’s your mom. Not selfish at all. Very necessary in fact.

Can you tell your mom you have a work obligation? I never understand why people feel obligated to explain or tell they’re parents where they’re going. My mom is 71 and also has the same expectations to do things with me when my kids are visiting and when I visit my kids she expects to be included but it’s an expectation of HERS not an obligation of MINE. same applies to your mom. She’s allowed to have an expectation but you’re not required to meet them. Esp things that are crossing your BOUNDARIES.

Listen, boundaries are a beautiful thing and they’re highly necessary IN EVERY RELATIONSHIP. We always can tell when someone has crossed into them because it feels yucky and when that happens too many times, the other side is bitterness and resentment. Be kind to yourself and your feelings as you are to your mom. You don’t need her permission to do so either :)
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Harpcat Feb 5, 2019
Excellent!
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You are an adult and can do whatever you want. You are allowed to have relationships outside of your mother. You do not need to tell her about this trip. If you are so afraid to tell her you have gone, when she calls tell her you are sick and will be home bound for a few days. If that is what it takes, I have no problem with a little white lie. Do not tell her about this trip if it will cause hard feelings.

I feel the same way about taking my father any place. It is too much work. Maybe that makes me sound bad but that is it....it is too much work! Please please please go on this trip and have fun!!!
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JoAnn29 Feb 2, 2019
You are not a bad person. My husband used to say "its no problem". Well, he wasn't the one who had to get her ready, and hope she didn't have an accident while out. Its like having a child. You didn't always take your kids why do you have to take Mom everywhere.
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Years ago husband, kids and I took Mom with us on one of those 3-city European whirlwind vacations. I invited her because I thought she'd enjoy it. I mean, what mother wouldn't be thrilled to be included on daughter and family's European tour? Well, think again. My mom is the Queen of Malcontent. Nothing or nobody is ever "good enough." Least of all, me. But that's another story.

Anyway, she spent the entire 10 days in Europe instructing the entire family on proper continental conduct, etc, which really got on all of our nerves. I mean, sure, we were Americans in Europe, but we didn't need Mom's nonstop criticism on how we were standing on the wrong side of the escalator, etc. (We weren't). Throughout I'm confident we conducted ourselves with proper manners and decorum. On the way home Mom says, "Well, I'm disappointed. It just didn't meet my expectations."

I didn't respond other than to say I was sorry for her disappointment, but I vowed from that point on, I wouldn't include mom on any more long-distance excursions. And we didn't! Ten years later she took me to task over this, saying "Well, I'll have you know I'd like to have been included more with some of the things your family has done!" As I recall, I set her straight. Don't remember exactly what I said, but I suppose it was a real turning point for me, recognizing what a total ingrate Mom was and how lofty her expectations were.

Your mom shouldn't expect to go with you on every vacation. Period. And if she pouts, she can get glad the same way she got mad.
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paulfoel123 Feb 5, 2019
Had it once with my MIL. Took her away for the weekend. She took one look at where we were staying (it wasnt that bad and I was between jobs at the time) and said "Hmmm I wouldn't have booked this place".

No, you didn't book it and you didn't pay a penny towards it !!!! Grrrrr
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HI Three things that helped me:
1. I told my mom that I would have more energy when I see her if I had some time for myself to get filled up.
2. You do not know yourself how long of a time this is going to be so you need breaks.
3. I find no matter what I did I could always find something I felt guilty about. I heard a Pod Cast where the interviewer asked a psychiatrist ,what is the one thing you hear the most from adult patients? They answered: the adults most commonly say they regret that they postponed their life until their parents' passed.
It is hard especially when you care so much for them.
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