Mother in law problem

nicolehhhhhhhNovember 27, 2006

My mother in law lost her husband who was my wife's stepfather two years ago.They had moved from the same town we live to a different state 180 miles away 4 years before that due to a job change.My mother in law when she lived here never attended our kids sporting or school events which I always wondered about. Even though she has no relatives just some neighbors she gets along well with she has decided to stay in the house 180 miles away. The problem is that she is 67 years old but doesn't drive more than a couple miles from her house due to a fear of getting lost.So she expects my wife and my wifes sister to go pick her up for every holiday and drive her back even though my wife loses a days back from work to do it.I have suggested the Amtrak train which passes through her town and drops off near by but her sister thinks she is too good for that type of transportation.Is my mother in law being selfish or is it me being a jerk.

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I don't think you are being a jerk. It sounds as if your mil doesn't have a clue. How would she get to the Amtrak train at her end? Could she take a taxi?

I would suggest sending her a train ticket with a nice note saying that your wife was not able to get off work to come get her. Here is taxi fare and an Amtrak ticket. We hope you'll enjoy the ride and we will meet you at the station. We look forward to seeing you this holiday - or words to that effect.

I think that if you make it easy for her to take the Amtrak, she could hardly refuse without seeming to be incredibly selfish. BTW, the train is comfortable and fun (in my experuebce)

At the end of your post you stated that her sister thinks she is too good for that kind of transportation. Is that your mil's sister? I'd just ignore her if that's the case. Or ask HER to drive your mil.
good luck!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2006 at 11:36AM
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I would say I would send her the money but she was left with a lot of money when her husband died and I am barely surviving week to week. Here are two other kickers to go along with this .When my wife and my wifes sister go to get her my mil has them stop at the casino so she can gamble since she has no other way to get there.Before her husband died he was working where we lived and commuting back and forth (180 miles on the weekend) and then driving halfway back on Saturday to take her to the casino and then coming back to their home on Sunday, and then he drove back to work on Monday morning(180 miles).He died of a heart attack at age 55. And I meant my wife's sister doesn't think she should ride the train and my mil wouldn't even try unless one of them came up there and rode with her the first time.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2006 at 12:46PM
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Good grief! (The casino).

It sounds like your wife and her sister first need to get on the same page. How does your wife feel about all this? Can she (nicely) stand up to her mother?

If your wife wants to change things, perhaps she and your mil could come together on the train - then it would be easier for your mil.

If your wife and her sister can't stand up to their mother, there is little you can do.

There are agenciese who can provide paid companionship services. They can send out women who have been carefully screened, and bonded. They can drive your mil anywhere she needs to go, visit with her, etc. Look under "elder care" and look specifically for "companion aide" type of listings. This is different from agencies who sent out nurse's aides.

Best of luck to you!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2006 at 1:24PM
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My wife does what her sister tells her and is afraid of confrontation.Yesterday when my wife called her sister to say she wanted to leave early so she could get back at a decent time her sister said she wanted mil to sleep a little longer.So they didn't leave till noon for a three hour each way trip.One other thing I would like to add my mil has another daughter (28 Years old with college degree paid for by parents) that lives near us that was the stepfathers only child and she wants nothing to do with mil.The problem being the mil sends her money for rent and credit card every month and doesn't give her other three daughters anything except paying for gambling and dinner when they pick her up.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2006 at 2:01PM
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It doesn't sound like your wife really has a problem with it--only you. It appears you would like her to be more assertive. This has to be her decision--after all she isn't asking you to drive her mother. Bullying her into doing it the way you want it done isn't going to boost her self-confidence. Suggest counseling to her.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2006 at 5:04PM
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Yes, your wife needs to put her foot down. family or not, you cannot let them run your life. There are other individuals around that can help out and they need to step up. End of story. Assertiveness counseling may help. I would nix the casino thing altogether. If this is the MILs only social life, then she needs to stop this.

Or you all need to convince her to move closer. Get information on senior services in her town, they can recommend things for you to do.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 4:35PM
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Anxiety should also be considered. My dad, who was a traveling salesman for years, has been phobic of travel of all kinds - and it escalated after 9/11. He is now 70. This seemed to start when he was 63 or 64.

I have been frank with him and want him to discuss it with his doctor, but he's trying to cope with it on his own.

He'd promise to come for visits, only to cancel the day of, for lots of reasons. "I just bought a cantaloupe and I would hate for it to go bad." "I forgot I have a doctor's appointment". "I can't drive because of car problems, but I can't fly because then I would have to pack in a different suitcase". etc etc.

After 4 years of promising to come to DD's spring recitals, and canceling at the last minute for various reasons, he did manage to make it this year!!! It was hard work for him to overcome his feelings but he did it.

He also finds it difficult to come to occasions (like her First Communion last year) where a high number of visitors are present. He seems to hate crowds, too, even if it's family.

At least we're able to discuss it openly and I patiently work through the planning, and try not to overly pressure him. And lately, he's getting better at overcoming his discomfort, and we see him more often.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 9:43AM
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Sounds to me like your MIL is on the fast track to a nursing home!
I would suggest that she move back to the town where you live and she lived for a long time because "she doesn't seem to know how to get around in that other town".
I am somewhat older than she is and drove over 300 miles for Thanksgiving...and I am not "wonder woman"...all of my friends do stuff like that....and if your MIL feels she can't drive 160 miles, she needs to move to somewhere that she knows and where her family lives near.
Linda C

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 11:19PM
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How funny!!! I always pictured you much younger!!!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 8:17AM
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I think your MIL is really asking a lot to be picked up and returned such a long distance. Honestly, it seems selfish and inconsiderate when there is a train. Your wife or the sister could easily accompany her on the train both ways for the first try.

If she cannot drive or figure out how to do the train, she really needs to move closer to you so she can get the help she probably needs for other things too. One thing for sure, your MIL's situation will change in the coming years and she will probably need more and more help.

If your finances are tight, the gas and wear and tear on the car for that drive is no small consideration either.

However, you are in a sensitive position and want to be very diplomatic about this. Could you sit down with your wife and SIL and have a friendly chat about this situation? If they are resistant and want to continue doing as your MIL wishes, I don't think there is much you can do about it without starting a big family squabble.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2006 at 5:16PM
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My mom lives right next door to me. DH gets to keep her yard mowed, the bushes trimmed, do household repairs, outdoor decorations for Christmas. You name it, we do it. He'd probably think it was great if she lived 180 miles away. :) Seriously, though.. she does alot of things for us too, like cooking and pet sitting.

Really.. I don't think you'd want her to change her life to move closer just to make it more convenient for all of you. Apparently your SIL has no problem with picking her up and taking her back. Why can't your wife and her sister take turns?

However, as Socks suggested, if she's beginning to show signs of "age", she might be better off being closer. Would that be a problem for you in the coming years, though? Our elderly parents can need as much from us as we once needed from them.

As far as the Amtrak, she might actually enjoy that ride once it became familiar. Then she could visit basically anytime she would like.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2006 at 10:15AM
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