Concerned about my mom

myfampgJuly 9, 2012

Mom and stepdad have been married for 30 years. He is my dad. I do have a 'biological dad' but he was never around and chooses not to be around now. My stepdad and I are close. I was 3 when he entered my life. He walked me down the aisle. He was outside the door for each of the births of my children. He has an amazing relationship with my husband. I would consider them the best of friend's. They do guy things together. Have a lot in common. My dad calls me just about every day. My mom calls me too. There is not a day that goes by that I don't talk to both of my parents. My parents are very close to my children as well. My mom picks up my daughter from school and takes her to dance a couple of times a week for me. In fact my son is with my parents right now for the week and they will have my daughter for a couple of days too. We are just an extremely close family. My mother raised us this way. I'm close to my sister and my brother. I talk to my sister daily and text my brother every couple of days. He lives out of state.

Hope that paints the correct picture of our family. My husband was a little taken aback by our closeness in the beginning of our relationship because he does not have this type of relationship with his parents. They also live 10 hrs away where my parents live about 20 min from us. My parents have never missed a dance recital, a soccer game, a school program. You name it, they are there. Now my husband is used to the closeness of our family but at first he did not really accept it very well. It drives him crazy sometimes because we might see my parents three times a week for dinner. We spend weekends together. We are currently planning next summers vacation to my dad's hometown in south Dakota as a family. We are all going. We are all going camping in August a a huge family. We are all traveling for thanksgiving to see my brother. We enjoy being together.

Well recently my mom has started complaining about my relationship with my dad. She says it's not healthy since he isn't my biological dad. However if I were to seek out my bio dad and attempt a relationship with him, she would flip out. It seems like all of a sudden she doesn't want me to have a dad at all. I am the only one that is this close to him. He never have children of his own. We are it. My sister is close to our real dad. My brother is too far to be close to anyone. And I have my stepdad. I don't think there is anything unhealthy about our relationship as a father and daughter. It is no different than my relationship with my mom. An example of what's been going on is: I'll call my dad and we will decide to meet for dinner. He will say, call your mom and work out the logistics and one of you call me back. I'll call mom and say 'I just talked to dad and we want to meet for dinner, what do you want to do?' her response will be oh my gosh!! He calls you more than he calls me! Why didn't he call ME and ask ME what I want for dinner? So I stopped calling her for him. Now I say 'can you call her and just call me back when you decide?

Then today, I emailed him and her a list of the places I want to see on our vacation next year. He called me becase he hates email. She never responded because she hasn't checked her email yet. When we met for dinner tonight, I asked if she got my email? She said no. So I gave her the gist of it and said well I talked to dad and he suggested... And she said 'why do you always call him so much?' I said I didn't. I emailed you both and he called me!

My dad told me that she has been complaining about us talking all the time but he says he doesn't care. He isn't going to let her jealousy come between us because I'm all he has.

What do I do? I feel like my mom is jealous but yet this is what she always wanted. She wanted us to see him as dad. As Much as that sounds like PAS it kind of was but my real dad has been MIA for so long I made up my own mind no matter what was ever said to me. I am so sad to think I need to put some sort of brakes on my relationship with the only dad I know. Any advice?

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Is it possible that they are having marital problems and if they split up, maybe she is worried you won't be her support because you are so close to him?

I'm just grasping because that's the first thought that popped in my mind. Sorry if I'm totally off base.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 12:34AM
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No that is totally possible. I know a little that is going on but not much. Grandma (87) is living with them. Nuff said right? Lol

My mom is her sole caretaker, with help from my dad sometimes. Grandma has early stage Parkinson's that is managed by medication however she is losing her mind (literally). She mentally abuses my mom on a daily basis. Sometimes I think my mom is 'jealous' that she doesn't have the parents that we have. (Kind of backwards huh?) she's always tried to be the mom that she never had. She is caring for a woman that abandoned her. Was never there for her. Could never be bothered to be a mom or grandmother. That's why my mom is so right in our faces about everything. I let her because I know she needs that. My brother doesn't allow it. He set these clear boundaries of I'm an adult now and I don't need you anymore. That was hurtful to my mom and I made a personal promise to never do that to her. My husband thinks maybe I should give her space. I really don't want to. I love being around my mom. I try to take care of her because I know she is overwhelmed with my grandma and has no help from her siblings. They refuse to help because .... She abandoned them. My mom has guilt. She doesn't want to walk away from her mom because she believes in Karma.

My dad told my husband (in confidence I'm not supposed to know this) that he is worried about their marriage because my grandmother being there put a major strain on them. My husband advised alone time so they are doing that. They are getting up an hour earlier to spend time talking in the mornings before he goes to work. Also they are going on evening walks together.

But it hurts me to think she is taking it out on me. But I guess it's possible.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 2:05AM
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Taking care of an elderly parent is extremely stressful. Add a parent who is losing her mind abilities. Now add in too a parent that abandoned her now caretaker while caretaker needed the parent most in life (caretakers younger years).

Your mother is going to need a huge dose of understanding given her situation. She's frustrated, exhausted (both physically and mentally I'd bank), dealing with a woman who turned a back now very much in need of the very people the back was turned on. It has to be taking an enormous strain. I admire your mother for doing what she feels needs to be done, but I think she needs help and a break. Is your mother willing to do either?

Home assistance caring for elderly is sometimes available through county/state health departments. Sometimes (depending on needs) it is just a trained person who comes in several times a week, other times it can be more involved. Usually things like just 'babysitting' the client and doing some hands on bathing/dressing ect. All times that give your mother a chance to 'let someone else do it' and also give mother some much needed 'me' time.

Perhaps Mom is feeling life is going by without her...yet when you do all get together she's crossed between being too darn tired and/or angry she feels obligated to carry on her usual life with everything else she's trying to deal/cope with.

Mom really does need some 'me' time, some date nights (just Dad and her)and maybe just a shoulder to dump on now and then. Caretaking can actually take down the caretaker. Perhaps an adult daycare center a few days/afternoons a week would give Mom another option if home assistance is not available.

If Gma is not so much in need of 'babysat' maybe it is just a sense of your mother feels like she is losing control of her life. Things she did do and always enjoyed may just feel like a whole lot of extra work and stress. You do need to consult her before making plans as does Dad. I doubt it is something like she does not want to see you and/or spend time, it may just be a lot more additional pressure.

Perhaps you and your husband or you and the kids could offer to take Gma dinner a night a week. Mom and Dad could go for dinner alone and a quiet drive or a movie. Just something simple they need to do as a couple. Yeah, it's different than usual, but it may help release stress/pressure for Mom. It also sounds like Dad and Mom need the 'couple' time.

You don't have to pull back from your stepfather (who you consider your father). He's 'Dad'. Always has been. Always will be. Even if something happened between Mom and Dad, it's unrealistic to think you'd just break ties with Dad. You love them both. Your children love them both. Perhaps right now you and Dad just need to work at letting Mom tkae a bit of control over her daily life. There is nothing 'wrong' in being a very close family. I'm in a very close knit family myself. I also knew though when my Mom needed to have time along, assistance with her hard routines (she caregave for her SO the last few years of his life). I just knew when she needed to have lunch and escape or when she needed to have me 'babysit' so she could rest and recharge.

IDK, maybe I'm way off, but it might be worth a a shot. Your mom loves you, you know that, but she is going through one of the hardest things in her life (caring for her mother who was never much of a mother). Your Mom's feelings have got to be being torn in half a dozen different directions right now. One of them may be simply fear that she herself will lose her mind and be old and in need of care one day.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 9:03AM
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Thank you JMT. I think you are right. I do offer to help with my gma but my mom always declines bc she doesn't want me to be stressed out. I have kept her at my house for a few days so my mom can go out of town w my dad or things like deep cleaning, but she really cannot let someone else take care of her. Part of the problem is that my gma is such a pill, my mom has to call constantly to make sure I've given her her medication and if I remind her to go to the bathroom. I tell mom, relax! I got this. She isn't mean to me and she listens to me. She takes her medicine. Now I did find that she was hiding her medicine on one overnight stay but she took it right after I found it and it wasn't too late. When I told my mom, she felt like 'that's it! I have to come get her! I have to watch her every move!'. When my gma gets mad at my mom, she will refuse to eat. So she's lost a lot of weight recently since she stays angry.

I told my mom she needs to go in to a home. Period. She can't keep fighting her. But my mom will not do that to my gma. She says that it seems like the answer to all her problems is 'send her away'. Mom thinks that we will do this to her. Honestly my mom has such a big generous heart, I can't imagine her ever being like my gma. So this wouldn't be a problem for us. They don't have a mother/daughter relationship like we do. It's completely different.

I'm going to try to talk to my mom again and see about the in home care thing. Maybe twice or three times a week could give mom a break. She's scared to take her to a daycare bc my gma is so mean to others that it is embarrassing for my mom. It's the Parkinson's though. Yes she's always been 'mean' and wasn't a good mom but a lot of her verbal outbursts are the disease. I've tried to tell my mom to treat her like a patient and grow thick skin but she just can't. She cries a lot. I got my mom a massage for christmas. She hasn't gone yet so Im going to remind her of that. And maybe it would help if I spent some one on one time with my mom instead of as a family. Reassure her that I'm here to stay.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 2:29PM
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Your mom is probably getting depressed with the strain she is undertaking. Sometimes people under stress lashes out at those closest to them because they feel comfortable with them. Easy for me to say but she shouldn't be embarrassed about GM's angry outburst (health care professionals have seen it all.) Your mom should really consider a break with adult day care 1 or 2 days to give her a much needed break. If you are there to take care of GM and mom is away & calls you don't admit what goes wrong unless it is an emergency. Taking care of a physically sick elderly parent is tough. Taking care of one with dementia is even worse. Find out if a local nursing home does any respite care for a week or so, if mom is willing she could take the break for a real vacation.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 3:51PM
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I think your mom is definitely taking it out on you because she is so overwhelmed. Add to that the history of her and gma's relationship...that's gotta be really, really tough. And it doesn't sound like your dad is helping, either through not wanting to or not being allowed to by your mom.

Me and my sister are taking care of my dad, who had a stroke in January. He is nowhere near where your gma is, and it's stressful. I can't imagine what your mom is going through. Actually I have another sister who is not helping because she won't forgive my dad for past history. What she refuses to see is that she is hurting US, not dad. By her not pitching in, it's a lot more work/stress on us. But we can't trust her around him because she is mean to him.

Did you know that there is a Caregivers forum here? Maybe post there and link to this thread for advice. Also check for any elder care programs in your city. But be dad is a veteran and we had been talking to a group that says they can help get him vet benefits, but as time went on they wanted a couple grand up front that "the government will reimburse later". Red flag for us, so we stopped talking to them.

Best wishes to you and your mom. Don't "give her space" as your husband suggested - I think she needs you more than ever.

Here is a link that might be useful: Caregivers Forum

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 8:42PM
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You're correct weed30. My dad is some help but not a lot but that is mostly governed by my grandma. She claims that she has never liked him. Has started making up some crazy accusations that he used to spank us and abuse us physically (never ever happened) so he stays far away. But he helps in driving, making dinner, doing household stuff. However, he is a business owner and his company is in busy season. He will sit with my grandma while my mom goes to the store. He helps her with the tv and he will stay in the room and keep her company but then she starts telling him how he is the devil and that she knew when he came in to our lives, we were in real trouble. Lol he actually laughs. He doesn't take it personally but he just isn't real hands on with her.

My mom admitted to me tonight that she saw on a talk show that caregivers are under a lot of stress and it can cause sleeping problems. My mom says she hasn't been sleeping well for the last two years and that he dr prescribed her a sleeping pill. She tried to take herself off if it and found herself counting the ticks on the clock until 4 am!! So ... She said she was going to go back to the dr. Next week to see what more she can do without taking a pill to sleep. I'm thinking an antidepressant.

I am worried about this situation with my dad. I think I'll keep doing what I'm doing and just not 'rub' it in that I talked to him. Not really keep it a secret or anything but just not mention it first. And maybe if I call her first every day instead of calling him. I'm not a real affectionate person but I've really been more conscious of giving my mom lots of hugs and holding her hand which she says she really loves (this is all thanks to dh I just wasn't raised to be affectionate) so I'll keep that up. I can't help but think she is just jealous for a lack of a better word of my relationship with my dad. She was very close to her daddy and he's been gone for about 15 years. I know she misses him. She's even commented that she thinks the wrong parent died too soon. She'd give anything to be the caregiver to her dad. So maybe she just is having a hard time seeing me be so close to my dad because she is missing her dad??

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 11:46PM
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Could well be. And perhaps too she's subconsciously hoping that if she can just get the caregiving right and do it all perfectly, the relationship fairy will wave her magic wand and suddenly your mother and her mother will be reconciled before grandma dies. After all, once grandma is gone there are no more shots at redemption.
But you need to sit down with your Mom and tell her gently that if she insists on keeping on the way she is going, she is going to break down or kill herself through stress. You could point out that she is not the only person who can properly care for her mother, and that if she dropped dead tomorrow from stress and lack of sleep someone would have to anyway.
So she needs to let others help, and when they are helping, to _let go_. Leave them to do things in their way and find out what works for them. When I've asked my DH to help with the dishes or the laundry or whatever, second guessing him and expecting him to do it my way is a fast way of not getting any help :-) As long as it's all right in the end, it does not matter how you got there.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 6:25AM
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So... We had dinner with my folks tonight. Gma actually came along. It just melts my heart how my mom cares for this woman. She helps her in every way. Almost hovers and my gma snaps at her. My mom tells her all the time 'I will be right back, I love you' and my gma will say 'oh stop it I know you do you don't have to say it so much' my Mom says 'I don't know how much longer I will get to say it so I want to say it as much as I can' gma says 'you're making such a big fuss over nothing' my walks away with her tail between her legs. My dad just sits there in disbelief. But I saw something between my parents tonight that was comforting. My dad was holding my mom's hand more through dinner. They flirted a bit which is completely gross! Ha just kidding. My mom was cold so my dad said 'want me to to over to target and get you a sweater' my mom laughed and said no. I said well what if she said yes? My mom said oh he wouldn't do that. He said 'yes I would. You want me to go?' she said no way!! But it's like he is trying more to 'court' her and I'm seeing in her face that she is loving it. He is showing her how much he loves her and she is acting like her MOTHER.... She would die if I told her that.

She also said something that gave me a bit if hope. She said ' do you think you could talk your dad in to..' and I paused because she has never referred to him as my dad. My dad even mentioned it to me when she had walked away. Did you hear that? My husband chimed in and said I DID!! So maybe there is hope. Maybe I'm over analyzing. Maybe it is about her mom and nothing at all to do with me and my dad.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 1:00AM
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