After Many Years of my Mother being Out of my Life: now She's Back with a Vengence

by Suzanne
(Durham, NC)

My mother, always a selfish and self-centered person, married a man 35 years ago who no one much cared for, moved further and further away from her family and grandchildren and lived her life without thought or consideration for anyone except her husband, whom she elevated to a God and assumed the role of his "Geisha girl." (Wow, that was a long sentence).


The current situation is that over the past 5 years, her husband has declined due to Alzheimer's disease. Since she lived more than 250 miles away from me at this point, there was little I could do except be a sympathetic ear when I spoke to her weekly. Her health has declined as well, as she is a diabetic and her doctor told her a year ago that her diabetes she progressed to the point that had to start dialysis or "die."

She is currently 85 and her husband is 87. I encouraged her to move closer to me, so that I could help out. I told her that this was the time in her life when she needed help and her family was here to help her, but we couldn't do anything when she was so far away.

Well, all I can say is "be careful what you wish for." She did move down here last September and my life has gone to hell ever since. Shortly after moving here from Pennsylvania (to quote my husband, "more complicated than the Normandy invasion"), her husband was placed in a geriatric mental facility with the thought of moving him to a more permanent assisted living home. He's been there for 3 months and I take her weekly to visit him where she insists I am in the room with her and him because she can't hear was he's saying.

She is profoundly deaf and nearly blind. This is torture for me to watch her fawn over him and feed him sweets and hard to chew foods which she insists he likes, although he chokes and is on a "soft food diet" at the facility. She doesn't listen to me when I say I don't think he should be eating these foods. She basically blows me off at anything sane, sensible thing I suggest. I am waiting for the time when he actually does choke and what I will do because she won't know.

She does not drive, so I must take her everywhere. Oh, did I mention I work full-time and have a lot of involvement with my children, all adults now, with two living in the same state as me, but who don't have cars and are unmarried, and depend on my for a lot of things. However, this is a separate issue.

The main problem I have now is my mother and how she has taken over my life since September. Now she has it in her mind that she doesn't like the apartment I picked out for her, which is very nice and which I would live in myself, because it's too dark. She doesn't understand that it's not the apartment that's dark, it's her eyes. She says the same thing about my house. She keeps every light on in the house. She doesn't get information right and then blames other people.

When I call her on the phone and she doesn't answer after multiple attempts, she says something is wrong with the phone. She refused my suggestion to get a phone for people who are hard of hearing.

She continue to think she knows better than everyone, she' impulsive, contradictory, opinionated, controlling, inconsiderate, and a very, very angry women. She doesn't accept that she is old and that her precious husband is not in her life and she cannot have things the way she wants them to be.

This has brought back many issues I had when I was growing up. I always felt like I was the mother and she was the daughter. I basically had to find my own way because she was too wrapped up in her marital problems and doing what she wanted to do. She was not a very good role model to me.

I have a brother, who is a good person. We were raised by the same parents: my mother and his father. My mother divorced my father when I was six, so I never knew him. My step-father, when my mother divorced him to marry her current husband, never had anything to do with me or my brother thereafter because he said we chose my mother over him. We were adults at the time. This was very hurtful to my brother. But, again, that's a separate issue.

I am trying to set boundaries with my mother, but because she is my mother, I feel I have an obligation to her now that she is old and helpless, but does that mean I have to put her #1 in my life?

I am married and my husband has been very, very patient with this whole situation but he tells me I don't have to do everything she tells me to do. Example: she will call at 7:00am in the morning and ask me to go to McDonald's and get her two chicken biscuits and drop them off on my way to work.

She doesn't remember that I tell her I take the bus to work and catch it at 7:15. How am I supposed to do that and still get to work on time? When I refuse to do something, she becomes petulant or cries.

I work, full-time and have a very demanding job. I am 65 and have no plans to retire at this point in my life. My mother keeps saying things like, "you should be retired. You work too hard." I know what she really means is "you should retire so you can be available to me 24-7"

There is a lot more I could say here, about my relationship with my mother, but I'm concerned with the here and now, not all the junk from the past. I want to figure out how I can get my life back while still being a good daughter. Patience is not one of my virtues.

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