Mom is 93. She is relatively healthy with no major health problems. She lives in her own home with no outside help. I have tried many times to enlist home care but she fires them or refuses to let them in. I live an hour away and call her everyday. I visit once a week for 5-6 hours. (Total of 8 hours when you account for travel time) I work full time and sometimes don’t get home from these visits until 9 or 10 o’clock at night. I’m 60 years old myself and it’s getting more difficult to do it all myself. Mom refuses any help. She could use some help with bathing, laundry and meal prep. Which I do when I come. She eats mostly frozen dinners. But the worst part of it all is that she is CONSTANTLY manipulating me about moving into my home. I have very clearly told her that that is not an option and that if she wants to move closer to me I would be happy to show her some places. I have said this repeatedly. Which was very difficult at first but has gotten slightly easier. Still hard on me. I think she thinks that by refusing other help she will eventually get in a situation where I have no choice. She keeps testing the fences with guilt trips and manipulation. I’m soooooooooooooooooo tired. It’s been 9 years of this. I really do feel guilty about not taking her in but to be honest, I don’t want to. And that’s part of the guilt. I just had a grandchild. My only one so far and I would like to enjoy this time. I sacrificed for my children my whole life and now that they are on their own I would like to enjoy some time for myself. My husband is completely opposed to bringing her in but says he will “live with it” if she comes. I know she will tear us apart and wear me down to nothing. Problem now is that she wants to “visit” us for extended times. Or she says she is lonely and “can I come and stay for a while?” How can you say no to that? And every time she has a health issue, minor surgery, sickness etc she comes and stays with me and then acts like a beaten puppy when I take her home. The last thing she hinted at was that she would save up her pills and kill herself because “I didn’t want her”. How do I deal with all this. I’m at the end of my rope with her.

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No, she will not stop manipulating. It's her way of getting what she wants. As for the "I'll just take all my pills!"... please. It's like 5-year-old saying they'll hold their breath until you give them what they want. She isn't suicidal; she just wants to make you feel like a terrible daughter.

Stop the extended visits in your home. I can see her getting "hurt" or "sick" while there and thus getting to stay with you indefinitely. In her mind she may see it as you being somewhat open to her living there. She's hoping that once she's there a few days, that you'll say she can stay for good.

If she asks to stay awhile, a reply along the lines of, "Well, you get so upset when it's time to go back home, and I don't like you doing that." This turns the tables on her. She currently sees it as "She makes me leave and that upsets me." This other angle frames it as "I choose to get upset when I have to leave." Then the blame sits with her, not you.

Keep reminding her you'd be happy to have her live nearby. When she scoffs at that, maybe gently suggest that if she is so unhappy or lonely living alone, that perhaps assisted living would be a good option? She'll hate that idea even more, but the purpose is to let her know in a subtle way that you're not backing down and can't be guilt-tripped into taking her in. Could point out that you wouldn't live with your grown children either, and that is the normal way it should be.
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DILKimba May 2019
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Oh, my God, she’s GOOD! When all else fails, she pulls out the suicide card! Wow!

My mom wanted to move in with me, too. She promised to pay her way, which I’m sure she would have. We would “fix up” the upstairs as an “apartment”; for her and even turn one bedroom into a mini-kitchen. At that time, I’d just been presented with my first grandson and babysat for him full time. I had his nursery upstairs and it would have been in the middle of this “apartment” of her’s. He wasn’t a difficult baby, but he did cry and demand a lot of my attention which would have irritated her. Plus, we had two dogs. She tolerated dogs but never approved of my having two. The most dangerous was that the steps were carpeted and she would have taken regular flyers down them. I deflected and redirected and finally came right out and told her no way. She would never had taken my grandma to live with her! The dilemma was solved for me when she crashed and burned with a UTI and was evaluated in the hospital. It was determined she couldn’t ,Ive alone and I placed her in a facility.

Dont put your marriage at risk for her. She will move in and take over. Step back from caregiving for her. If she refuses care you’ve set up for her, so be it. Stop. If something doesn’t get done because she refused, fine. If something doesn’t get done for her because you were with new grand baby, fine. As long as you let her use you and take over your life, she will continue. Be kind and loving in what you do, but be the iron fist in the kid glove.
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Oh my gosh!!!! Thank you all so much for your very supportive and very helpful advice. I have read all of them a few times over. It’s so affirming to hear others say that I shouldn’t feel guilty. I never needed this level of validation in my life before. I hope I can get back to a place where I don’t need it as much but right now it feels like a life preserver! I truly am so grateful for those of you who took the time to share your thoughts! Keep them coming! Perhaps they will also help others in similar circumstances. I’m starting to realize I’m not alone with my manipulative and guilt proving mom.
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Sibby58 May 2019
😂😂Momsgoto! When I first read your name, I mistakenly saw “Moms got to go” !😂😂 I just toured an assisted living place with my sister; it was very nice, and offers all the assistance my 96 year old mom needs (dressing, bathing), plus the benefit of socialization, outings, 3 meals/day....etc. Mom was living with us for years. I can’t do everything anymore. I’m your age, also have a new grand baby. Now is the time for YOU. If your mom can afford AL, it seems like it would be great for everyone. I think my mom will love it because there are people around to talk to !
My whole entire LIFE was one crisis with mother after another. She used the 'suicide card' for everything--mostly to keep us in line. It was VERY effective with 2/6 of us. I freaked out, literally when she'd get that way--imagine an 8 yo coming home from school to a totally silent home..tiptoeing down the hall and listening at mother's bedroom door to hear if she is breathing? Yep, that was my upbringing.

Finally, at age 30 (me) she pulled that old chestnut out of the fire and I HAD HAD IT! I said "Please, mother, please DO kill yourself. But don't you DARE leave a mess for me to clean up. I am pregnant and unable to bend over. I hope that this finally makes you happy" And I slammed the front door on the way out. Worse part of that is that my kiddoes were with me and 3 of them understood what she was saying!!

I know now this is abuse and manipulation of the most awful kind. I'd rather she'd hit me than lay the guilt of her unhappiness at my feet.

Now she's 89 and is slowing down a lot. we do not have a good relationship and we won't. I swear it's the most difficult moms who live for-freaking-ever.

I have friends who lose their moms and I see the grief and sorrow they feel. I simply cannot relate to that. I'm sure I will have my moments, but honestly? She made such a mess of me that I'm not sure there's enough counseling to patch me up.
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DILKimba May 2019
I’m so sorry you had to endure that. I can totally relate though. My mom was manipulative like that too, and she became an alcoholic. We had just started to repair some aspects of our relationship when she was diagnosed with cancer and died 6 mos later. It was a month after my first child was born that she was finally diagnosed. Refused treatment before that. I spent my first 6 mos of parenthood taking care of my infant son and my dying mother. I have very few clear memories of that time due to exhaustion. When we took her to the hospital the last time, she had hupercalcemia, which mimics dementia, due to the metastatic nature of her cancer leaching the calcium out of her bones. The cancer had spread to her spine and she could no longer walk or co trim her hotels or bladder. I told her we were going to put her in a nursing care facility for hospice as I could not care for her and my baby by myself in my home any more. She looked me in the eye and said “I always figured you do this to me. You are just going to throw me away like the trash.” I had taken her in when she became homeless, financially supported her, took her to doctors and hospitals even when I was pregnant and a new mom. Those were her parting words to me. I told her I had to go to the airport and pick up her sister and when we got back to the hospital 2 hrs later, she was unconscious. I left her sister and my brother at the hospital with her and went home to feed my baby and try to get a few hours sleep, and had been asleep for 30 min when I got the call that she had died. So there were never any sweet words of closure. No apologies for making my life a living hell all my teenage years bailing her out of legal issues, or working to support her and my younger brother. That was 26 years ago next month. I totally get you.
Say plainly to your mom that no, she will not be able to live with you and that you expect her to not mention this again. Then, if she does, excuse yourself and leave, or (if on phone) say you've got to go and hang up. The point is you need to take away from her - take away your presence. Right now, her starting point is your frequent care of her, and she thinks she can gain from there. She needs to understand that, conversely, she can lose from there.
If a big blow-up should happen, you'll tell her that she has several choices. Laay them all out and then add, "Coming to live with me is not one of the choices. It's not an option."
In other words, stop the manipulation by very plainly rejecting it. When she does the passive-aggressive stuff (You don't want me etc.), Just laugh and say that's nonsense, silly talk. Or say you'll talk to her later.
I love the saying repeated on this board: "No is a complete sentence." That means don't engage in her manipulative schemes; withdraw (take away your presence).
As Margaret said, turn the tables.
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How about you turn the tables and stop visiting for what is virtually the whole of one day a week? When you only have two days in a weekend anyway? Take away her washing to do at home, and leave her with essentials but not the clothes she likes best. Stop meal prep – she can mange with frozen etc. Leave her with a phone number of someone who can come and help with bathing – and remember that an all-over wash once a week is probably enough if there is no serious health issue. Tell her that job? DH? has changed and you can only stay for an hour. Perhaps all you do is help her shower - no nice long chats. Stress how much better it would be for both of you if she moved closer, accepted in home care, or moved to AL.

At present she quite likes the way things are, and thinks that she can manipulate you to make them even better her way. You say 'will she ever stop manipulating', which means that this is a long term trait and it isn't going to stop. You need to make it so that she doesn’t like the way things are and knows full well that you are not going to do what she wants. She needs to see something different as best for her, not best for you. And for everyone’s sake, STICK TO YOUR GUNS!
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I am so glad my MIL lived in Fla and us in NJ. She was passive agressive. She also used to say she would stop her blood thinner to die. Actually, when she was told she could never go home and needed to live near a son, she willed herself to die at 92. When my DH retired, her phone calls were always to come live with her. Then it was a house around her was for sale. She got me on the phone and said we should move to Fla. Told her I had Mom to care for. She said Mom could move too. Told MIL that Mom had her friends, activities and Church. Mom was in her 80s. Change would not be easy. My MIL said "we all have to compromise". Not sure what her compromise would have been.

Stick by your guns. Visit with her but don't bring her to your place. My Aunt had her Mom for a visit. She got ill while there and never left. My Aunt cared for her Mom in Aunts house till the mother died. I hear she wasn't the nicest lady.

I would continue to say NO. Sit down in front of her, look her in the eye and say "Mom you living with us will not work for many reasons. I would be glad to find someplace near us. Either an apartment, independent living, or AL" An IL or AL would have activities and transportation. Some IL have meals included. If she is still stubborn, then tell her these are her choices.

You are entitled to your life. This is the time you and husband get to enjoy life alone for a change. I am pretty sure if Mom was living with you she would expect to go everywhere u did. And pout if u tried to explain why she couldn't. Enjoy that grandchild. They are only little for so long.
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LoopyLoo May 2019
Ha! Funny how your MIL said “we all have to make sacrifices”... except her. 😅
It sounds from your posting that the problem is not deciding whether to have her move in with you. You made that decision a long time ago for several excellent reasons. The problem is the emotional wear and tear you receive from her behavior.

She continues to do it because there's something "rewarding" about it for her. Maybe she really believes she'll eventually wear you down and get her way. I suspect there's more to it, because if that's all it was, after 9 years she'd have given up. Sadly, it sounds more toxic than that. She seems to enjoy hurting you. She gets a little thrill from it. That's the "reward" that keeps the cycle going.

No reasoning or logic given to her will stop the cycle. The only thing that will is to change the reward to a penalty. Making it so it isn't fun for her anymore to keep up with her guilt tripping.

It seems like you might need some support with this situation. Can you find a counselor who can help you navigate this toxicity and maybe come up with new ideas for how to respond?

You say you're tired. Of course you are! Nobody can endure all that and not be. Can you take a short break? Maybe tell her you won't be available to call her for a few days, then don't call her for 2 days and do some things you really enjoy. Spend time with your grandchild! Do a hobby you haven't been able to! Do pleasurable things for you.

When you call her, the guilt tripping will be severe, but you knew that and it's nothing you haven't experienced before.

And one last thing, if you aren't affected by her tripping, of you're like a smooth surface that the hooks she throws at you just slide off, it will be better all around. That's why I suggest a counselor. It might help you step out of the cycle that is so exhausting for you and rewarding for her.

Good luck. You deserve better.
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anonymous432569 May 2019
Excellent information
Keep at the forefront of your mind: you and your husband are not willing to let her live with you.  No.  There is no reason to feel guilty about this. Caring for parents does not mean necessarily hands-on, or living under the same roof.  I believe it would be disastrous to your marriage, as well as your health and sanity.  Spouse comes before parent, every time, IMO.
She says she is lonely? But in relatively good health. So, what is SHE doing about that? You are offering outside help in her home, but she says No. Well, then, guess she doesn't want/need the help. Basically, she is working at guilting, domestic tyranny, emotional abuse. Not a nice person, I think.  You simply have no obligation to put up with this abuse. No reason for guilt.  She should feel guilty for acting this way toward you. Tell her no as often as necessary. No arguing or explaining - the answer is no and that is final.  This is something she doesn't get a say in - she needs to examine her own options for relieving loneliness.
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Oh boy! My mom is 83 and I don't think I could face another 10 years of that behavior. She did live with me for 5 years and we moved her when her docs said she needed 24/7 care. I felt guilty at first and a social worker set me straight. She told me I was entitled to my own life, I was still raising my kids, and I could not give the kind of care Mom needed. Mom did not agree with this assessment. She would have no qualms about sucking up my life and my kids' lives to make hers go more smoothly. Reason won out and Mom is now in a memory care facility. I visit her once a week and take her out for dinner and shopping. I get no end of comments about how much she hates the facility and has to live there because "no one wants her." Every month or so she needs more attention and she "falls" and we have to make our pilgrimage to the local ER. She's never tried the suicide threat on me but that's probably because she just hasn't thought of it yet. It's a lousy situation for the elderly with dementia, but what is the alternative? People are living longer, more people are getting dementia/Alzheimer's, and families have a hard time coping with their safety and social needs. Don't feel guilty about not having your mom live with you. You have a right to your own life. If you don't feel you can provide what she needs, or you simply don't want to rearrange your entire household, marriage, work and family for what she WANTS - not needs - then don't move her in.
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