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I Should Call My Mother Today...or Should I?


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I posted a little while ago about my mother hurting her back and all the problems she's caused about it. Anyone who'd like a refresher or original reading of the sitch, click here.


I've done everything humanely possible to help my mother. She's managed to get an in-home 24/7 live in nurse while she recouperates, and she IS getting better, from what I've heard. But after the initial flurry of activity, it seems like all of a sudden it I'm booted out of the loop. Except for the occassional frustrated phone calls from social workers telling me my mother is not cooperating with them (and there is nothing I can do about it because it's been deemed my mother is still too mentally with it to go tramping over the law and her rights by giving us control over her care), I hear nothing at all from my relations. My brother has lapsed back into his usual silence, ignoring my existance, and my mother has stopped calling me to give me any kind of update on what's happening.


Occassionally if I poke them with a phone call or e-mail, they will answer, but it seems like once again that I'm just not important enough to bother dropping a line to anymore. It's all up to ME to make contact, and I can only stand so much from them. If I don't, I'm such a bad, uncaring, selfish child. I think my mom's irritated with me that I didn't go rushing to her side more or bowed to her manipulations. That I can't do much about, but oh well.


I just don't know what to do anymore. I don't know what's going on. I have any clear indications on what's right or best for ME anymore. Keeping in contact with this selfish bunch of relatives (I do not have any 'family') hurts me, but trying to cut them off will hurt me as well in the long run (tied up in medical issues, inheritances, debts, and a bunch of other things).


On one hand, I don't want to talk to my mother, because I don't care and I don't like her. On the other, I care a lot that she's hurting and she needs help. She's just a very lonely woman with a great many issues and nothing really to her name.


On one hand, I'm not friends or family with any of these people, on the other, I've got too much invested in them to just cut them off and walk away.


Should I call my mother today...or should I?

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Let sleeping dogs lie, I always say. You know that if anything earth-shattering happens they'll call you. I wouldn't worry and I wouldn't invite more BS into my life if it were me (I have a similar situation with my relatives). No news is good news. Leave it at that.

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My reply would be the same as Celt Cat except for what you say about legal involvements, i.e. "medical issues, inheritances, debts, and a bunch of other things."


You've been so supportive of me when I really needed it re family issues, I wish I'd have an easy answer but I don't. About maintaining contact, you say:


If I don't, I'm such a bad, uncaring, selfish child. I think my mom's irritated with me that I didn't go rushing to her side more or bowed to her manipulations.


Kurari, I don't think it has a thing to do with what you did or didn't do. (Remember, you were sick yourself and you DID rush to her side as best you could.) It's got everything to do with her own unresolved issues--which it seems she has resolved not ever to solve. I remember earlier when I wrote such things about my mother you said she sounds just like your mother. Looks like the identical same pattern from this side of the internet.


It looks to me like the only thing you can do is turn off your heart and let them think and say what they want about you. If your help is needed, do what needs to be done with no thought of so much as a grateful thank you, and much less about gaining anyone's approval. Otherwise, live life your way and forget about their existence. Let them contact you if they want/need your input. It seems they know where you are.


About the social workers. Let them call your brother. He's the cop, right? Let him deal with them. Better be careful, though, if you have any legal ties/obligations with him. He's same generation as you and you will have to live with the consequences if he decides to get back at you. Your parents might die soon but siblings have a habit of living for and during the same chronological periods as oneself.


Another idea re social workers. Tell them your position and let them know that your hands are tied. Don't give them permission or no permission to do or not do anything (this is for your own legal protection). If this woman is capable enough mentally to make her own decisions, let her make those decisions and let her live with the consequences. If she complains that you did or didn't do something, remind her of the decisions she made; don't allow any of the guilt and/or emotional manipulation stick. One consequence will be that no one likes taking care of her.


That might not seem like much. But it is. People needing care can sense if care-givers like them or not. When care-givers don't like their patient they will do the bare minimum for legal requirements and not a bit more. When care-givers love their patients they will do all kinds of things that go well "beyond the call of duty." Difficult patients will also receive the least competent and most politically vulnerable social worker available, such as the newbie who will do whatever required to hold the job because this job is the only defense between herself and her kids and homelessness.


Okay, I went out on a limb there. I don't know too many details about the specific situation. I have read and heard quite a few stories from both sides. My sister worked in an old people's home for about ten years so I heard that side of the story. My mother had eleven babies at the hospital and a few cases of surgery, so I've heard many and many a tale about how badly the nurses take care of her. Last winter I visited her when she was in the hospital with a broken hip.


It was the day after the surgery. She needed to be moved from the comode onto a chair. I was going to help her but some of my sisters who were also visiting said the nurses said to ask for their help if Mom needs to be moved because it was so soon after the surgery. So we got a nurse. She soon had mom on her feet for the move. Mom stood there in pain and trembling, clutching the walker for all she was worth, mumbling away as to why she did not want to do things the way the nurse said. The nurse did not seem able to understand a word of the mumbling. The nurse was telling mom how to move each hand and foot. Mom just stood there doggedly telling her why she shouldn't do it that way.


It was a contest of wills. The nurse had an obligation because of her training and job. Mom was trying to control a situation she was not qualified to control. I saw and understood so much in those few moments. I had grown up with Mom's complaints, but I had in more recent years had opportunity to see the other side of the story. I got so mad at Mom for her stubborn pig-headedness but I kept it all inside as she and the rest of my family had taught me. This led me to suspect she had been equally difficult in her other hospitalizations. It also led me to believe that all the hateful treatment she had given me was as hateful as it seemed to me despite her everlasting proclamations of undying love for me. In other words, it led me to believe that her stories are mostly very narrow self-centered views.


Obeying medical workers seems to be a severe trial for control freaks like these two ladies whom we are at times obligated to own as our mothers. My own experience with medical workers is that they take really good care of me if I do as they tell me. And somehow, unlike my mother, I seldom find myself in a position where I feel the need to challenge their wisdom. They seem to know so much more than I do about what positions are least painful. I presume they treat my mother the same way, if only she would listen. Sounds like your mother is my mother's identical twin, huh? Funny we've never met.


Fortunately, I have a whole batch of siblings who can take care of my parents. If I were responsible, they would probably get the kind of care I described; bare minimum involvement from me for the simple reason that this is all I can give if I want to stay healthy. Take care of yourself and best wishes as you work through the emotional implications of all this. I would just like to take that brother of yours and give him a good shaking-up. And the social workers, lend them your listening ear; let them know you understand. That might be all they need to live through another eight-hour shift. Just knowing that even the kids, kind though they are, can't do it "good enough" can do real wonders for care-givers.

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