Mom (93) and I had a difficult relationship while I was growing up. I'm seeking for a way to make relational headway. - AgingCare.com

Mom (93) and I had a difficult relationship while I was growing up. I'm seeking for a way to make relational headway.

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She was wrapped up in her own world - oblivious to her own childhood wounds, and was very emotionally detached, critical, micromanaging and dismissing. I have and am working through these things, but I know she still has her own unaddressed emotional issues and hurts.

My main goal is not to try to repair every little bit of damage, but to reach her and simply to improve our relationship before she is gone. I want to know I did everything I could to love her and of course, there is, unquestionably, some bit of selfish desire to see her acknowledge me fully and in a loving manner.

The desire is two-fold, for her and for me, and I'd like to know how to encourage this step. She is definitely able to understand - even if her memory isn't best - what it is we talk about. I'd like to get through before she is mentally worse or totally gone. Any been there, done that folks out there?! Thank you!

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Oblivious to her own childhood wounds, eh? Yes, that strikes a chord or two with me.

On good days, I managed to keep to my resolution to give my mother the affection and, especially, the approval that I eventually realised was the only thing that made her happy. On less good days, the frustration with her detachment from reality and all the rest of it, made taking care of her very hard work.

I'm not sure you can hope to shift her behaviour or perspective; but you can adapt the way you see her and the way you speak to her. Every time you're gentle and loving, it will give you something comforting to look back on. Aim for that, and then any other issues you can resolve, or even begin to understand better, will be a bonus.
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Remember that her ability to make new memory is disappearing--but the oldest memories will be the ones that last the longest. I recall my brother who had Parkinson's and memory issues was able to let go of some hangups he'd been carrying for years--his daughter-in-law said that it was a shame that he had to lose his mental sharpness to get to the point, but she was grateful for the peace that he gained. If I were in your shoes, I'd ask about her oldest memories--her parents and grandparents, things that would take her back maybe before the difficult issues. And pray that any difficult recollections will be forgotten.
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My mother doesn't go in for flowers or even candy. But bring her an iced coffee from Panera or Dunkin Donuts or even McDonald's drive-up window and she'll be your biggest fan. Whatever your Mom hankers for that she can't provide for herself these days - that's the ticket!
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Maggie's comment reminded me that as my mother was aging and life became more challenging, I began purchasing bouquets of flowers for every visit. Between their beauty and fragrance, it made a world of difference. She always perked up, smiled broadly and became so energized.

Mom was a gardener for years and I'm sure she missed being able to grow her own flowers.
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Blessings right on back to you and mom.
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MaggieMarshall.... had I been the other kind of daughter, your answer would have been so right on... I do appreciate a good kick in the butt when it's called for! LOL... glad you responded again, I know you always have great advice here... and I appreciate what you have offered. She does love little gifts sprinkled here and there... I will do more of it... and keep "safe and happy" as the best medicine possible. Blessings to you!
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Jocelyn, kind response from you considering the harshness of my reply. I misunderstood your post and went back ten years to a short-time walking buddy I had whose goal was more twisted than kind. Now for a new answer from a different perspective.

Mom was with for one tough year before she died. As her dementia worsened, she became lost to me. Long before she passed peacefully in her sleep. Unlike you, my mom was an angel walking. I was her only. We were each other's biggest fans. So, with her lost to me, what could I do?

I decided on "safe and happy." If I could make her feel even just one of those things, I was on the right track for both of us. I kidded with her, poked a bit of very good natured fun at her, made her fave foods as often as her restricted diet would allow. "Mom! Guess what you're having tonight!" Bought her bunches of flowers every few weeks...I'd pick her up a cheap pair of dangly ear rings at Walgreens..buy her an inexpensive article of clothing from Blair. In short, I pleased her with pretties, as she, with her southern heritage called little gifts.

I'm thinking that, along with the other excellent advice you've gotten here, that a few and occasional pretties thrown in can't hurt. Her surprise and your generosity -- in light of your troubled relationship -- may be healthy food for both your hearts.

I wish you well.
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Jocelyn, I wish your mother a speedy recovery. That fall she took in July sounds like a pretty painful one.
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Well, MaggieMarshall, I sure got your goat! Don't be so quick to think the worst... and respond accordingly. I did clearly say that “my main goal is not to try to repair every little bit of damage, but to reach her and simply to improve our relationship before she is gone..."

It is not my desire to drag us through some in depth process of rehashing everything. I am seeing her come to the end of her days... and frankly... she is the one who is suffering more than I am. None of her kids call her or write to her because she doesn’t know how to relate heart to heart with us. She is too busy being important or smart or “just fine all the time” ... and “never lonely.”

CarlaCB said it right “I don't think Jocelyne's purpose is to clear the air. I think it's to set the relationship on a different basis than what happened in the past.”

I AM getting much comfort in loving and caring for her. I do look into her eyes and tell her I love her, and give her plenty of chances to reciprocate…. and with no strings attached. I just wanted to hear what others would have to say and I appreciate all who have reminded me kindly not to set my hopes up too high.

Sendme2help: I love your quote from Scripture… perfectly applicable. My mom is doing better. She took a fall on July 9th, down 6 steps, broke 3-4 ribs and her collar bone, so she’s at the nursing home until her oxygen level improves. She’s very tough and is pretty much back to her feisty self!

GardenArtist: Quoting you “I often wonder how many issues with our parents arose and became problematic after psychoanalysis became more well known …” I hear you.

This is just a sincere request, wanting to learn how to connect in a way we never have before. That’s my whole point… and I am very thankful for all the great advice I have already received.
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I often wonder how many issues with our parents arose and became problematic after psychoanalysis became more well known, after celebrities published memoirs about relationships with parents, and after sharing personal family relationships became more of an acceptable norm.
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