GreenChefMom's picture

Unique Situationw/ My Mom ....

Most people in the "sandwich generation" have elderly parents w/ lots of medical concerns, from what I understand. My mother isn't that old (55) and for all intents and purposes SHOULD be able to care for herself. About 2 years ago she retired and started collecting social security due to "mental disability". I have 4 children, ages 9 years to 9 months, and a fifth child due at the end of this year. Unfortunately, I'm an only child and my mother has never been able to maintain any kind of relationship w/ anyone, me included most of the time. She appears to be unable to handle to smallest of social interactions w/o someone by her side. She will sit in her home and starve, eating mustard sandwiches and the like, as an alternative to going to the grocery store unless there is someone to accompany her to the store. I feel a lot of pressure (from her) to send my oldest 2 children to her home to she can run errands or even get her dishes washed. If I choose to keep ALL my kids home on the weekend for family time, I have to deal w/ her feelings of abandonment and rejection. Then the following week she "expects" the kids to come to her home and bring their school books (we home school) to "make up" for the weekend. I call her doctor to discuss her medications or appointments b/c her impatience leads to emotional outbursts and then we have to locate a new doctor. I handle paying her bills and discussing discrepancies w/ the companies. I'm now supposed to help her figure out which medicare plan to choose and I have no idea how to go about education myself on the different types. She's struggled w/ substance abuse my whole life and I have literally always been more of a "parent" than a child to her ... at least since I was 10 or so .... Most ppl that know the details of our situation say they would've walked away from her and never looked back. I tried that a few years ago. Suffice it to say it doesn't work. I'm Christian and morally I don't feel I can just turn my back on my mother. Its not like she has ANYONE else. At the same time, I JUST turned 30, I have 5 kids, a husband, I home school and have a life of my own that needs every ounce of my attention. I've tried so many times to show her examples of how a person her age is SUPPOSED to handle situations .... but she has the emotional maturity of a five year old.

Am I the ONLY one in this situation? Does ANYBODY else have to deal w/ something like this?

SnglDad's picture

Someone who I seldom speak of is my mother. She left when I was young because she was unable to deal with being a parent. Looking back it was the best thing she could have ever done. My sister lives close to her, and has had to cut off all ties from her. She is completely unable to care for herself without someone being right there to give her moral support. She refuses to work, or drive, and lives off of social security even though she is able bodied. Although I live on the other side of the country, there was a time when I tried to help her by paying her bills, but she used the money to go to a casino instead of paying her bills, and then called me the next day to ask for more money. Knowing that this was not going to change, I made her an offer. I offered to pay for her schooling, and to buy her a car so that she could get a good job and become self sufficient. Her reply was that she is unable to work and that she is disabled. My reply was; if you can sit in a casino and spend my family’s money, why can’t you work there and make money? That has been many years ago now, and we have not spoken since then.

In your case the one thing that stands out to me is how you say that while growing up you were more of a parent than the child in the relationship. What I see is that the very situation you describe is repeating itself with your children. I wouldn’t send my kids in to that kind of environment. Making the kids go there is enabling her to become comfortable with this routine, and she has no reason to work to try and help her own self. Don’t kid yourself in to believing that the kids like going to spend time with their grandmother, they are doing it because you ask them to, and they know it will cause a problem if they don’t go. You have to take control of this for your children’s sake, and hopefully your mother will benefit from it.
Just from what I have read, I will tell you what I believe I would do in your situation. First of all I would let her know that the kids will no longer be available to help her deal with her day to day household chores. If she would like to come and visit, that would be great, as long as it does not interfere with their schooling. Every Saturday, if she would like, you would be able to take her to get her groceries and run a few errands, but it cannot take too long because you have the kids to get home to.
At some point she either has to sink or swim. If you are on good terms with her doctor you may want to let him/her know. If she does not take care of herself, then maybe she needs an evaluation to see if she is competent to live on her own. In many areas there are daytime in home care providers who will come and help with errands, cleaning, and preparing meals. The kids need to be kids, not care takers. Your mother needs to stop using you and her grandkids as her personal crutches to limp through life on.

2xstepmom's picture

Very good advice, and oh, so true, SnglDad!

My sister and I have been through a similar situation with our mother. My sister has given her life to our mother, has allowed our mother to keep her from ever getting married, have children or a life of her own. My mother brainwashed her as a child into thinking my mother cannot live without my sister. Consequently, I NEVER allowed either of my children to ever be alone with my mother until they were adults and could make their own decisions.

The last two lines of SnglDad's advice should be followed!! This will be difficult, but you owe it to your children to protect them.