I am a dutiful daughter.

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by AndreaP, Aug 27, 2015.

  1. AndreaP

    AndreaP Registered User

    i doubt if I am in a category all to myself here but so far I haven't come across anyone who is prepared to say it. You see I don't like let alone love my mother and can't remember a time when I did. I have spent my entire life trying to please her, trying to get her approval, hoping for encouragement or at least a loving word or gesture. She never gave any affection to her two children but demanded we kiss her goodbye and goodnight. My father despised her and if she made a friend she soon alienated them. She was never on speaking terms with the neighbours and found fault with everybody. She's the type who takes pleasure in others' misfortunes.

    To be fair she took care of our physical needs well; it was our emotional needs that were ignored. We were well fed and clothed and the house was clean. She took us to the doctor when we were ill and we were given Christmas and birthday presents that were reasonably thoughtful. However, Christmas Day would turn into a war zone because she was expected to provide Christmas dinner. Pans would be slammed around in the kitchen as she demonstrated her distaste for "having to do it all". From the day we left school she ceased to buy her kids a present no matter what the occasion; we had money handed to us instead though we were, and still are expected to buy her something delightful.

    So you get the picture I hope. Having grown up in a house where I never felt valued let alone loved it left me as an adult chronically depressed and often suicidal. In my 40s I was finally prescribed an antidepressant which probably saved my life. I distanced myself emotionally from mum but visited her most weeks even though I hated it. And I made sure her grandchildren (whom she does love) visited as well.

    After being told a few years ago that I was the source of all the misery in her life (and not for the first time either) I decided I'd had enough. For 9 months I stayed away and I felt freer and happier than I'd ever felt. And then she needed a triple bypass and I was sucked back into the situation because my brother couldn't cope. He is older, single and has mild Autism.

    Now mum is in the middle stages of AD and I have recently placed her in a CH. it was the best establishment I could find within a 15 mile radius. I would like to say AD has made my mother more mellow but this part of her personality remains intact. She still knows how to cut me to the quick with a single word.

    I know she frets when I go away because she trusts me to make good decisions. She'd sooner die than admit it of course. I worry about her well being, take her things she likes to eat and magazines to read. I am a good and dutiful daughter.

    I suspect there are many of us who have not had wonderful, loving, doting parents and I think I would not be alone in saying that we are sorely tested by the behaviours associated with dementia. When mum wails "why did this happen to me?" I can't help but think "karma" silently to myself. Of course I know karma has nothing to do with it. One day not long ago she actually said "perhaps if I'd been a nicer person this wouldn't have happened". It was the only time I have ever heard my mother say anything self deprecating in her entire life.

    So if I don't have quite the same level of compassion and loving acceptance of my mother's mental challenges as most of the members here demonstrate, please try to understand why.

    I will continue to ensure she gets the best possible care and regular visits because, and I reiterate, I am a dutiful if not loving daughter.
  2. Slugsta

    Slugsta Registered User

    Andrea, I feel for you. As you say, not everyone has a close and loving relationship with their parents. You continue to look after your mum and do the best you can for her, despite they way you feel. I would say that makes you a very good daughter indeed.

    My own relationship with my mother has been better over the past few years but works best when we don't see too much of each other. Which leaves me with a dilemma as she is becoming more dependent...
  3. patsy56

    patsy56 Registered User

    Jan 14, 2015
    Fife Scotland
    Oh Andrea, I'm so sorry how you feel and yes there are many of us who do not have the good relationship with family........but as they say family is family and we have to do out duty . Huggs my dear.
  4. Sianey

    Sianey Registered User

    Mar 23, 2015
    great post. I couldn't of wrote it better myself;) I think also it shows not just how dutiful we are but when the chips are down how empathetic we are and I think brilliant people we are. Well I said it and I think everyone deserves a pat on the back. Hope you get one from someone AndreaP my Mams social worker gives me my pat. I totally understand where you are coming from. X
  5. skaface

    skaface Registered User

    Jul 18, 2011
    AndreaP - you are not alone. I could have written that. My sister actually hates our mother and couldn't care less that she's so ill, I don't blame her as my mother was violent towards her when my sister was a child while mum was pregnant with me. My sister's main concern in this whole situation is me however she lives nearly 200 miles away so she can only help from a distance.

    Growing up I was also a "Daddy's girl" and I was devastated when he died, when I was 13 (he was only 48 and my sister maintains mum drove him to an early grave). I can honestly say I don't remember a single instance when my mum showed me any kind of affection. After I moved out in 1989 I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times she rang me to find out how I was, it would always be me ringing her.

    I have found that my mother has become a much nicer person recently and I'm not so much scared of confrontations with her (my sister, at 60, is still terrified of her) - I hate having to be blunt with her but sometimes she needs to hear it.

    So I can put my hand up and say "I also am doing this out of a sense of duty and not out of love". Though that doesn't stop me worrying when she does daft things like letting strangers into her home or signing up to various shady things on her doorstep. I clear up the poo, I do her housework and her shopping and I sort out the **** that happens when she does stupid things. But I can honestly say I don't love her. I don't hate her but I don't love her either.
  6. cragmaid

    cragmaid Registered User

    Oct 18, 2010
    North East England
    I was the middle daughter of three and an only child. My eldest sister....could never do anything wrong...emigrated thirty years ago. My younger sister.....beloved baby sister. ( well she was when she grew up) ...died 20 years ago. Leaving me.....the least loved middle child. The one who married at 18 to get away from home. The one who couldn't do right for doing wrong. ....It fell to me to care for Mum.....and I did, to the detriment of my health. I gave her 10 years of my life and lost precious time with my family and especially with my husband. We had no holidays, we were on 24/7 call. She died earlier this year. I did my best.
  7. ellejay

    ellejay Registered User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Same here Andrea, I managed to pretty well avoid my mother from age 14 when I was welcomed into my boyfriend's (now my husband ) lovely family.

    Circumstances brought me back & now there's just me (& OH) to visit her in the CH.

    These last few months she's become less spiteful & I feel compassion for her, I will always do my best to make things as right as possible, I too am a dutiful daughter.

    Lin x
  8. skaface

    skaface Registered User

    Jul 18, 2011
    Trouble for me is, because my mum basically poisoned my relationship with my sister (she was nine when I was born and didn't meet me until I was six months old because she'd been sent to live with my nan after the incident while mum was pregnant with me) we didn't get along properly until about two years ago.

    My sister and I didn't speak for over 20 years and only reconciled in 2013 after I started to have real problems with mum's behaviour and made her go to her GP.

    So, that's 49 years wasted when we could have had a real supportive relationship. Still, no point in having regrets now, it happened and can't be made to un-happen.
  9. skaface

    skaface Registered User

    Jul 18, 2011
    There was something on the radio this morning about new mums who were worried that their parenting skills weren't as good as other mums' and who were beating themselves up about it.

    The conclusion was that they were "good enough" and that's the attitude that I'm going to have to cultivate - I may not be the best at looking after my mum, but it's "good enough".
  10. Long-Suffering

    Long-Suffering Registered User

    Jul 6, 2015
    Hi Andrea :)

    There are quite a few of us on here in similar situations to yours, me included. I've had a hell of a time with my mum due to her mental illness right from my early childhood. My dad did nothing, just let her get on with it. Now he has dementia and she's his carer and they both send me totally nuts. I hang in there, like you, out of a sense of duty.

  11. theunknown

    theunknown Registered User

    Apr 17, 2015
    "So if I don't have quite the same level of compassion and loving acceptance of my mother's mental challenges as most of the members here demonstrate, please try to understand why."

    If you carry on interacting with this forum Andrea, I think you'll find you're very far from the only person who feels as you do, and you have absolutely no reason at all to feel bad about it. In fact, I can't help feeling that sometimes it's slightly easier to cope with the circumstances because there's always been that distance in the relationship. God knows what it must be like to deal with this horrendous condition when somebody's only previously experienced a loving, affectionate, close relationship with that individual. Keep posting on here. It doesn't matter how big or small the problem, there always seems to be somebody who can empathise or has experienced the same.
  12. Quilty

    Quilty Registered User

    Aug 28, 2014
    Hello Andrea you are nit alone and in yhe last year i have read lots of posting the same. My mum has borderline personality disorder and my childhood was missing any sort of physical love, acceptance or feeling of self. My mother saw all of us as players in her life. My dad held it all together and was very loving. If you can stay and care then you are bith strong and caring. For many of us blood ties matter more than love. Your doing what you believe to be right. You are doing the best you can. We all salute you and are behind you.
  13. Angela T

    Angela T Registered User

    Jul 13, 2014
    Hello Andrea, no, you are not alone!

    I too have spent my life trying to get over the bad mothering I received from a narcissistic mother who openly preferred her sons and who chose to scapegoat me, the only daughter. Two years ago, she pushed me too far, and I also had a few months' freedom with no contact - and then the diagnosis of Alzheimer's changed the picture - and I have had to make all the decisions regarding my mother's care these past 18 months.

    I agree that it is probably easier to deal with this illness when there is some distance in the relationship. I can't imagine how awful I would feel if my mother had been kind and loving, or if we had had a close relationship. It would really upset me.

    I am doing my best for her health and welfare, because there is no-one else to do it, and I will continue to be there as long as she needs me.
  14. Bod

    Bod Registered User

    Aug 30, 2013
    Responding on behalf of my partner, you are not alone.
    It's a bigger club than you imagine.

  15. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    Big round of applause for Andrea, straight from the heart, well done clapping.gif
  16. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    Amy reporting for duty!

    AndreaP, thank you for your brave and honest post. I really, really appreciate what you posted. Thank you for putting it out there.

    My mother has been struggling with dementia (Alzheimer's) for some time (at least a few years) but I only got a diagnosis in January of this year. She is now in a care home; she'd previously been living alone with no services and was NOT doing well.

    I am an only child. My parents divorced when I was young and my father, to whom I was very close, died about 15 years ago. Although my mother was not physically abusive, or intentionally harmful, suffice it to say she was not an effective parent. Some of it was due to her illnesses (physical and/or mental) and difficult circumstances, but all the same, it wasn't the greatest. I have never had a warm relationship with her and for many years of my adult life, have had no relationship with her. Like others here report, I got "called back to duty" after a few years of minimal/no contact, by this wretched disease.

    My mother is also an only child and had an even worse relationship with her mother, than I do with mine. (Although my maternal grandmother was loving to me, which undoubtedly makes it all more complicated and worse.) My mother was an at-home caregiver for her mother with Alzheimer's for about 5 years, and then another 5 years or so of caregiving while her mother was in a care home. It's all pretty awful. My mother's nearest relative is elderly and infirm (a cousin) and she has no friends; I'm not sure she ever has had any or is capable. Well, not now, but before dementia, I mean.

    Like you, I definitely don't like my mother and I'm not sure I love her (I thought I did, but I'm not sure now). I am doing the best I can, in terms of caring, out of a sense of duty, as you say. Some of the duty is trying to generally do the right thing (despite how I feel about it), some of it is specific to duties I perceive (I have power of attorney for her finances and legally, that obligates me to do the best job possible), some of it is doing what I need to do so I can live with myself and sleep at night, but none of it is...personal. Not in the way that I see others talk about here.

    In some ways, it is easier to be detached, since there was never a warm and caring relationship. I don't have that to mourn, or to miss, and I think maybe it does make it easier to get on with things sometimes. This is not to denigrate anyone else's experience, mind you; I know it's awful for everyone. On the other hand, there's the anger and frustration and...whatever...at the lack of that relationship.

    I first got frustrated early on, when I was reading every book I could get my hands on from the local library, about dementia, Alzheimer's, caregiving, you name it, I read it. Almost every single book talked about "your loved one with dementia" or specifically named family relationships in a warm and loving way. Very few of them mentioned only children at all, and usually just in passing. I found myself yelling at the books, I'm sorry to say. (She's not my loved one! Where is the chapter for only children? There are five chapters on dealing with your siblings and only one paragraph on being an only child???) Then I found TP, and found out that there are quite a lot of only female children caring for mothers with whom they have a difficult (or worse) relationship. More than I would have thought. As with all other issues I've come to TP with, it's amazingly helpful to know I am not alone.

    I do think it's possible to act in a compassionate manner towards someone with whom you don't have a relationship. (Otherwise there wouldn't be all those nice people who help change flat tyres and help me with my luggage on airplanes, right?) I think where it gets complicated, is being able to feel compassion for someone, without that relationship, when by all rights, we have an expectation that we should or could or might have had that relationship, but we don't. I can't quite say what I mean here, but maybe that's close enough for you all to get the idea.

    At any rate, Andrea, you are not alone, come here anytime, and thank you again for your open and honest post.

    (Someone on another thread suggested we need our own sub-board, or a tagline for our posts, and it was very funny...I'll have a look, unless someone else beats me to it.)
  17. AndreaP

    AndreaP Registered User

    Thank you all for understanding. I take your point that it is probably easier to deal with when you don't have that strong emotional attachment. I thought it was more difficult because I didn't have loving memories to sustain me.

    When I insisted that she move into a CH, I wrestled with the notion that I was actually punishing her. I had to get counselling to reassure me that this was the right course to take. However, I still think I would be supporting her at home if I'd felt more compassion for her feelings. Maybe that part of it is karma in a sense. Still I am reassured by the fact that her physical and mental health have both improved in the two weeks she has been there and I know for me it was the right decision.

    Recently I read that distant, narcissistic parents may be on the Autism spectrum. As my brother is and also several of mum's relatives you have to wonder. Self obsessed, routine focused, low stress tolerance and lacking in empathy are Autism traits. Knowing this has made it easier for me. Mum just couldn't help it, nor could she perceive that there was anything amiss with her parenting.

    My heart goes out to all of you who had to cope with a mother who couldn't show love. It can scar you deeply and make you question your self worth. Some of us never reconcile the fact that we weren't unlovable but were born to a parent incapable of showing love.
  18. Pickles53

    Pickles53 Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    Radcliffe on Trent
    AndreaP I too had a difficult relationship with my mother though not as tough as you and other posters have described. For most of my life I felt that I never measured up to her expectations and she was not the person I would have gone to for support with any problems in my adult life. As time went on I learned to appreciate her good qualities and to be grateful for the sacrifices she and dad made to help us all get a great education. She was a lovely grandparent too.

    At times I have envied the close and loving bonds which so many daughters describe on TP and felt bad that I didn't feel that way. While mum was still alive, I was good at sorting all the practical problems but still felt I didn't give her the emotional support she needed. I knew also that there was no way I could have dealt with her personal care. So it was a relief that because of her mobility problems there was no way she could have lived with us (and my brother and sister were certainly not going to offer).

    All this is a long-winded way of saying you are not alone and personally I think that it's harder to care when you don't have that bedrock of a strong and loving relationship to rely on.
  19. Pear trees

    Pear trees Registered User

    Jan 25, 2015
    Andrea, you are definitely not alone, your 1st 2 paragraphs described my relationship with my mother exactly, even down to moaning about cooking Christmas dinner! You are not alone in having a difficult and distant mother.
    My mother has always told us throughout our lives that she never wanted children. She was told she could not have children due to a childhood operation, so did not take precautions even after I was born (which was a very unwelcome surprise as was my brother's arrival!)
    She looked after our physical needs, but only those that were seen outside the house. Cooking and housework did not get done, we lived on fish and chips and sandwiches, and I washed my own clothes from 11 onwards
    She has 3 grandchildren whom she has never been slightly interested in, and 6 greatgrandchildren.
    I was also a disappointment because I went to grammar school against her wishes but my father let me go, wanted to have a career ,don't drink or smoke, and have hobbie and interests which don't involve getting blind drunk every night, unlike my perfect brother who does exactly this! He stole money from her before I got POA and has not seen or spoken to her for over 3 years!
    I visit and telephone regularly, have POA for all her financial and welfare, arrange lunchclubs, cleaners, carers etc, but have never had even one thank you. She simply tells me she never wanted me and I never do anything for her!
    If I could wish her out of my life permanently I would without a second thought
  20. chelsea girl

    chelsea girl Registered User

    Jan 25, 2015
    I am a dutiful daughter

    Hi i am an only child and feel the same as you. My mum has suffered with her nerves since i was 5. My lovely dad gave up work to be with her and he started working self employed so he could go home lunchtimes etc. They had been married 10 years when i was born. It was great when i was small cos she could dress me up and people would comment on how nice i looked. But when i reached 6 or 7 i got chubby and then it started, constantly on at me to sit up straight, hold ur stomach in blah blah. When i was 20 my dad passed away and i promised to look after mum. I got married and had 4 boys but mum was always with us, she would sulk and cause an argument every year on my birthday. Every holiday we had was with mum, she never told me she loved me. I think people who suffer with there nerves are very selfish. I now look after mum who has als and she tells me she hates me, the other day she wanted to hit me with her walker!!. She was so stricked and scary when i was young, i still hold my tongue a lot and am still a little scared of her, silly isnt it? Nice to know others feel the same. Take care x

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