I grew up with a similar lack of affection as an only child but my saving grace was a wonderful grandma who taught me compassion and understanding until I was packed off to boarding school at an early age.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.
I later discovered that my Mother had had a miserable childhood herself with various events making it difficult for her to relate emotionally. That helped me to understand and so I managed to move across the bridge and care for her for 4 years - all thanks to my Grandma who died many years ago! often there have been events in the past which make people who they are, events beyond their control - not easy to live with but perhaps a little easier for knowing it was hard for them too.