How do you deal with a self centered, attention craving elderly mother-in-law?
WOW! Where to begin. My husband and I are caregivers to his 83 year old mother. She is diabetic, takes 20 pills a day for other medical issue and had to go on dialysis last year. We have given up our home and moved into her home so that we could provide care and not remove her from her surroundings ~ thankfully our daughters are grown and in college, but it's still a sacrifice when this is the time in our lives when we are supposed to be able to just pick up do what we'd like as a couple. I don't want to sound sound selfish in saying that but everything I'm reading says that we have to take care of our lives too. He is an only child so it's all up to us.
His mother is THE MOST narcissistic, self-centered person I have ever known. It doesn't matter what we do, it's never enough.
My husband is a only child. His mother lost her father when she was 15. I think she never got over it ~ I think that she aged, got married and had this child but she never matured. During his childhood if he did something she didn't like she wouldn't speak with him for days at a time ~ this has continued his entire life, even to this day.
Our relationship got off to a rocky start because he and I were both previously married and she couldn't accept that her son was getting divorced. Suffice it to say that my (at the time) 3 year old daughter suffered at her hands as well. Example ~ at Christmas she would deliberately give more gifts to his daughter in front of my daughter and make a big deal out of it ~ I'm sorry but you just don't treat children like that. I always said if she wanted to spend a million dollars on his daughter I didn't care but there was no need to flaunt it in front of another child.
I think the worst thing ever was when my mother was going through cancer. It was a time when she wasn't speaking to my husband (and that lasted for over a year!!). He saw her and my father-in-law, now deceased, in a store. She said she wanted to take his daughter to the opera and had bought tickets. He told her that my mother had cancer and we had plans to have a party to celebrate the end of her chemotherapy ~ her response ~~~ Rachel is not part of that family so why does she need to go the party. My husband said that she was part of the family and she was my step daughter. Her response ~ she doesn't need a step-mother, she has a mother. Did she make a comment about my mother's cancer, NO ~ not, "I'm sorry to hear that", not "how is she doing", NOTHING!!!!!
Things have improved over the years but there is still so much resentment for so many things.
She is constantly seeking attention, negative or positive, it doesn't matter ~ just attention. Conversations are always turned to her, how wonderful everyone thinks she is, how she has the best doctors in their fields and how much they love her. She can't get over her past and is constantly complaining about how her brothers and sisters abused her. She had a problem with a needle in her arm when my husband was born, 56 years ago, and still to this day has to go through the whole freaking story when someone has to give her a shot about how sensitive her arms are, how she's Johns Hopkins hospital's walking miracle (yeah, in her own mind).
My husband says that every major occasionfor him growing up and into adulthood she would cause a scene to the point where at times he had to ask her to leave his home. We had a major scene this past Christmas and it just totally ruined the entire day.
During renovations she just had to have a new bedspread and curtains so I found something and ordered it for her and then of course it wasn't right and I had to send it back. I flat out told her that it would now have to wait until all of our renovations were done and we could get our lives settled. So, fast forward to now. Just ordered new ones, hung them Saturday, she said they look beautiful. This morning she tells my husband that they don't look right, the sheer panels need to come out further toward the sides of the windows. I want to scream!!!!!
None of her brothers and sisters have spoken to her for years and years. I can see why ~ she needs to be the center of attention wherever she is. I'm sure she was that way growing up.
My husband feels obligated to take care of her and so here we are. I love him very much and want to support him so what to do?!?!?! We are both frustrated and exhausted by her constant need for attention and validation. He has suggested that she speak with someone about her life so that she can face things and let them go, but of course she doesn't see that there's a problem.
Like I said, where to begin? Thanks for letting me vent!!!