Happy Good Friday everyone!
Today was a mixed bag.
Called my Aunt in ALF in Ca this morning. She's always so pleasant to talk to. So grateful to hear from me. I call her every other day, but she doesn't remember. She has started asking about going home again. Ugh! I have had to go back to deflecting or changing the subject. It's so painful to have to hear her concerns about her house, but I will keep fighting the good fight for her sake. Telling her the truth didn't work!
Spent the morning out (facemask and gloves) shopping for Easter basket stuff for Mom. Wine, chocolate, jelly beans and her favorite huckleberry gummy bears.
Adorned with fresh flowers and all tied up with cellophane and lots of ribbon.
Drove the 30 minutes to her AFL, talked to her thru the window. Left the basket outside the door and watched one of the staff take it inside to her.
She never once said "Thank you."
No acknowledgment what so ever!
She has no mental decline. She has mobility issues, nothing more.
I know it shouldn't surprise me, however, I can't help but feel kinda hurt.
How do we stop hoping for positive feedback from our parents?
Good Lord I am in my 50's. Will it ever cease!

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I think we always appreciate someone at least acknowledging our efforts despite the circumstances. But what’s that old saying...
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results."
To me you have to decide that you are doing what you do for yourself. That you enjoy giving a nice gift. How she chooses to behave is on her. She may have lost the ability to be grateful. It’s a terrible loss for her.
I’ve told this story before about my old mom. She would be fussing from the moment I arrived. So I told her I wanted to hear one nice thing before she started complaining. So the next week when I came in with all her food and supplies she said “It’s good to see you .,..I guess”. It was so unexpected. All of it. I burst out laughing and gave her a hug. That was the best she could do so I took it. But I had to ask for it. She must have thought about what I had said all week. I could tell it was a real effort. The “I guess” was my favorite part. It was so honest and vulnerable. Sometimes I think very old age is easier for the ones with dementia. I wish I had the chance to hug her again.
xrayjodib, I would say you buy her gifts because you love her and let it go at that. She can’t give you what she doesn’t have.
Helpful Answer (13)
What a great story. It’s so real. I love your appreciation of her and acceptance of who she is and not what you desired her to be.

Relationships can be complex. Some work out and some don’t for various reasons. I love that you acknowledge what worked even if everything isn’t what we sometimes hope for.

Thanks for sharing that. It made me smile.
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When you have parents who have never praised you, or made you feel loved just for being you it hurts. Those people don’t change just because they get old.

It sounds as if you have had a lifetime of this, when you are brought up in this kind of emotionally abusive situation, even at 50 our parents can make us feel the same as we were when we were living under their roof, miserable and then we try harder to get the thanks or praise just to be knocked back again.

I would suggest that you accept you will never be thanked, or praised, that your mum won’t ever change.

It will hurt, but when you start accepting things it will also be freeing. Stop going out of your way to make someone who does not appreciate anything you do, happy. You are not a bad person, sometimes we get crappy parents.
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You hit the nail on the head! Sometimes we want people to change so much and be sorry that we live in a fantasy world, hoping and praying for that change.

We want healing. We want to forgive because we want the freakin fairytale ending. Then, eventually reality sets in and we accept that change doesn’t usually happen.

In time, the pain lessons. We move on. The bad days still exist but are fewer and further away from each other. I suppose that is the healing process taking place.
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I love the answers here.

You may want to give up now any hope of gratitude. It seems to gradually vanish as some (though not all) folks age, with or without dementia.

I noticed long before her dementia diagnosis my mom becoming more insular, remote, and self-absorbed. She wasn't interested in the needs, wants, hopes and dreams of those around her; only what impacted her. She has always been self absorbed and lacking in empathy, but sadly she became even more so.

Efforts to bring sunshine to her life (visits, gifts, outings, events) are met with a sense of entitlement, like she deserves it, never considering the time, effort, expense or sacrifice of the giver. There are no thanks. Just guilt trips for not having done it sooner, or outright scorn or rejection of the expenditure of time, love, effort. You get it.

Eighteen solid months of therapy taught me this: Don't do anything for others accompanied by resentment. Do what you want to do willingly, without expectation of thanks or appreciation. Here's what feels right to me; a faith-based approach you can practice or not:

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24).

In caring for my mom, I do what I can do, knowing she will neither appreciate or express thanks. But God knows and understands. And that is what keeps me going.

I know how it feels. ((((Hugs))))
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xrayjodib Apr 2020
Great advice Catdance. Thanks!
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From one daughter to is so hard to wrap our brains around the fact that we do xyz for our mothers and they just believe that it is their right and our job to give them what they want and when we do just falls flat! It is hurtful because we were program to ensure our mothers happiness and whatever else they programmed us for. We just want them to appreciate us and what we do for them!!

So how did I stop expecting her to thank me or wanting her to appreciate me? I tell myself that my mother can not give me what she doesn't have. My mother doesn't really love herself so how can she love me! My mother has many personalities disorders and as long as she believes she isn't doing anything wrong then there is nothing I can say or do to get her to believe different. She doesn't have the ability to see what she is doing (no insight)! Does that make sense? Can't change what she doesn't acknowledge! She was this way before dementia!!

I still do things for her because it is the right thing to do, but I don't expect anything from her.

CantDance is right! Do things for the Lord not for people! Just do what you feel is right and what you can live with. But I must warn you, if you decide to do these wonderful gifts and she doesn't thank you you may continue to feel hurt and you will have to remind yourself that it isn't you, but her. That she can't give you what she doesn't have. It takes practice and time!!!

Your Easter basket sounds wonderful! Your a good daughter; probably better then what she deserves. I hope you know that!

Sending you lots of hugs!!! 🐇🐥
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xrayjodib Apr 2020
Thanks Shell,
I have been going to counseling!
Praying every day for God to help me let go!
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Xray - I hear you. My Mom is a "what have you done for me lately" kind of gal. Here is how my Mom rolls..."I wish you would make me a lemon meringue pie." I go get the ingredients, spend an afternoon making her the pie and take it to her.... not a "thank you" from her, instead she doesn't want it, she changed her mind, she wants a cherry pie instead. Doh! she got me again!

Don't expect your Mom to change. It's not going to happen and it will eat you alive if you let it. Scale back on what you do for her, way back if you have to and try to laugh about it when you can.

My husband and I get a lot of mileage out of the pie incident. It's now a running joke between us. A random "what no cherry pie?!" gets us laughing every time.

Hang in there. You are not alone.
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Shell38314 Apr 2020

My mother has done the same thing to me in the past and now my SO and I laugh about it. However, my mother still will say things like "I sure would love a carrot cake" and I say "mom, I don't like carrot cake; therefore I don't know how to make one and don't want to learn either." Then my mother will try something else. I just keep making excuses!

But I did giggle about the pie! Sorry!
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Please and thank you's go a long way to validate our efforts.
But I did notice there was no "Thank you" anymore. Wondered why, but only briefly. Too busy "taking care of" what I considered to be the patient, an aging relative. (creates a professional distance to think of them as a patient).
So I did not have an answer for your most interesting question, Jodib.
Looked this up for you: (Borrowed from the psychology websites:)
[Appreciate Ourselves]
"It's important to remember that valuing and appreciating ourselves is vital when it’s not forthcoming from others. Expecting or seeking compliments can keep us spinning our wheels and set us up for resentment. But it’s something to cherish when it comes our way, however small it might seem. As Ralph Waldo Emerson reminds us, “The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.”
Remember too that if you’re feeling deprived of compliments, you may want to experiment with being more generous in conveying appreciation. In an extraordinary letter written in 1855 from Ralph Waldo Emerson to a young Walt Whitman, Emerson wrote:
“One concentrated effort I’ve made in the past year has been the regular practice of sending notes of appreciation to strangers — writers, artists, varied creators — whose work has moved me in some way, beamed some light into my day. It’s so wonderfully vitalizing for us ordinary mortals to send and receive such little reminders of one another’s humanity — especially in a culture where it’s easier to be a critic than a celebrator. “
It can feel good to float appreciation toward others. And it just might lead to more compliments drifting your way."

So, I was thinking. Specifically about the incident of talking to your Mom through the window. And a staff member handing her your gift. A lot going on at once. If ever there was a time to thank you, even just a wave and a smile, this would have been it. But if your Mom was 100%, she couldn't for some reason.

Changing our expectations of aging parents may help you.

I have noticed, as there is cognitive decline, the person can often turn to mimicking, copying, or repeating as a way to cope and keep communicating. So if your Mom heard others around her saying "thank you", she might take it up.

But then, the pitiful thought is that: It won't count as a real thank you, because she no longer understands the meaning. She might just as well have thanked the staff member for giving it to her.

When all is said and done, it was you, sweet jodib, standing outside Mom's window to show your love, and bring her a thoughtful gift. That speaks volumes, not only about who you are, but who your Mom may have been in the past, as a mother.
So thank you, speaking for all the mothers out there who no longer say thank you.
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xrayjodib Apr 2020
That was beautiful! Thank you!
If Mom had any type of mental decline it might be easier to understand.
She's still the same woman that told me she was jealous of me when I was 16. I know she loves me the best she can. It's odd, but she's not proud of my accomplishments, she's proud of herself for my accomplishments.
WOW!!! Sorry!!
Guess my counselor has opened Pandora's box.🤯
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You stop expecting "Thank you" when you have accepted that your LO is as she is and she is not going to change no matter how much you do for her. It will never be enough nor good enough.

You are still young in your 50s. I am 82. My mother was like that all her life -106 years. I don't remember exactly when I accepted it, but eventually I did. I am sure I was older than you. I finally realized that she wasn't going to change and that I needed to emotionally and physically distance myself for my own mental health. It still wasn't easy but it was better. ((((((hugs)))))
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xrayjodib Apr 2020
I know you're right! The last 6 months have been brutal. So on the advice from folks on this site, I sought out a Christian counselor.
It has brought to light so many issues.
Unfortunately distancing is a tough situation. Mom just moved here to Montana to be closer to me. With the lockdown in place, I am all she has. I am working on boundaries with her. Hopefully when the virus is gone, she can cultivate friendships where she is.
In the meantime I will keep praying that I can forgive and have nothing but love for her!
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Hi xrayjodib,

My father has always expected gifts for his birthday, Christmas and Father's Day.
The last time I remember him buying me a gift is when I was 14, (I'm in my 50's now). For many years he has ignored my birthday, and ruined Christmas for the family by always being drunk.
Last year I felt I'd had enough. Usually there was a run up to these events, with him starting a month earlier, telling me what he wanted for the particular occasion. Last year I told him I was done buying him gifts. He was upset and demanded to know why, so I told him. He never said thank you and would trash the gift a few days later. I was sick of the game.
So he didn't get any gifts, for Christmas, his birthday or Father's Day. He was hurt for a day and wouldn't speak to me. I didn't care.
What I realised was this was his way of upsetting me (I firmly believe my father is a narcissist, he constantly plays power games) and when I stopped turning up to be hurt, there was no game to play.
I didn't feel guilty, I felt relief. That was over. Giving to someone who couldn't say thank you.
You did a very kind thing for your Mother, but be just as kind to yourself. Don't put yourself out there for someone to hurt you. It's an awful game and someone has to stop playing.
Enjoy yourself this Easter.
Be kind to yourself.
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xrayjodib Apr 2020
My is in fact a narcissist.
Great observation! Thanks
Xrayjodib, your Easter basket sounds lovely and creative. I hope you had fun pulling it together. (The fresh flower adornment got me!) I also gave gifts that were not appreciated or even acknowledged. For years, I did it for the self-satisfaction of a creative task, well executed. Eventually, though, this got old. Why give this type of person yet another way to kick you? Now I give utilitarian gifts (hand soaps, chocolates) just to mark an occasion. No thought or creativity required.

I don't understand people like your mom. If you gave me that beautiful basket, I would probably burst into tears of gratitude. You are a nice person.
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xrayjodib Apr 2020
Good advice here. Intrinsic motivation is obviously why you are a giving person. So do whatever you do without expectations from the other person(s). Don't let others influence what you want to do for them. It took me 50 years to realize that my mother would never be thankful, instead expected and often demanded what I chose to do for her. I'm 64 now and the last 14 years have been better since I accepted what she could give to me and developed and kept the boundaries that keep me from allowing her to get to me as much as she used to. Build a strong support system among your family and friends and counseling does help. Your mother seems to have some narcissistic tendencies like my mother. At 50, that is another revelation that helped me understand, accept, and love her without losing myself. Knowledge is power, so learn as much as you can about your mother, yourself, and your dynamic so you can develop healthy boundaries. It takes time and determination, but it will help you enjoy your last years with her. I wish you and everyone on this journey the best!
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xrayjodib Apr 2020
Great advice Pattiac,
And yes, I just recently realized after research that Mom is a narcissist. I'm still learning how to deal with it. Obviously I'm not doing a very good job of it yet! Lol
Thank you!
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