I work full time from home, been doing so since 2011. In August 2022 my MIL came to live with us after she fell ill, and wore out her welcome with another son. She is very stubborn, hard headed and I want to say lazy but I think that is related to her decline in her health. She doesn't speak english, nor does she know how to read or write. Our decision to bring her home was due to my SIL telling MIL to administer her own meds, which she couldn't since she had several blood pressure, AFIB, and blood thinner meds. We bought pill boxes with a sun and moon and instructed her to take the meds in the sun in the morning and the moon at night. Nope she couldn't do that picking the wrong meds so we administer them
Since she has been with us she has slowly improved, but lately since she is feeling better, she has changed. She refuses to do exercises that her therapist ask her to do, she will not leave her bed, she calls my husband every few minutes to little, pointless things. She asks for things then refuses them, and doesn't listen or respect what we ask. Example, I work in my office across from her room. She hears me on Teams calls and will begin yelling for me, the latest was 10:30 AM and she wanted me to go to Taco Bell and get her tacos. I told her no, then texted my husband telling him of her request and that she pulled me out of a meeting. He talked to her about this activity again. This past Saturday we took her and her friend out for lunch, my husband and I are talking and she begins talking over me talking to him. She does this a lot so I am feeling there is competition. I feel she needs to be the center of attention. Then Saturday evening the four of us went to celebrate my husband's birthday with his siblings. She refused to sit in the car because the leather seat was wet. Husband dried it and she still refused. I finally lost it because husband and her friend were telling her it was dry. I told her sternly to get in the car now. My first time to speak to her that way and she sat quickly. So after I felt regret, I feel mean, like a third wheel, it's my husband and her and I am left outside. We have no privacy, since she has moved in our house is a mess with her and her friend coming over. I have talked to my husband about this telling him I am tired of working 40 hours plus, waiting on and helping her, and then cleaning and doing laundry for all of us. He likes to have people over every weekend and today I told him I wanted a break for the next few weekends, no visitors, no friend over. I am just so frustrated so looking for options I can look at to manage better and learn from. This is my first parent to care for and wow, talk about an entirely new perspective on those that have been doing this, it is very hard and I have new appreciation now.
It’s difficult to believe that your MIL has not had adequate opportunities to learn to read and write, and to learn at least SOME english language. It wouldn’t surprise me if she doesn’t understand how to use the washing machine either. If she has refused to learn or never bothered, it virtually proves that she expects to live life on her terms, and to be waited on by other people in many many ways (even if she was a good manual and domestic worker). That’s a life-time position that you are not going to change. It’s not even ‘learned helplessness', it’s permanent helplessness. You are stuck with it forever, unless you and your husband change yourselves.
My suggestions would be:
1) Tell ‘friend’ that she can take MIL for an outing, but not do a visit inside your house. You are working from home, it’s not convenient. Stick to it.
2) If you had a disagreement with your BIL and SIL when you moved MIL into your place, I’d suggest you go and apologise, and praise them for what they did in the past. Say that you (like them) are not going to be able to cope, and see if all of you as a family can work out a plan that doesn’t involve her living with any of you.
3) I wouldn’t focus on particular annoying aspects of MIL’s behavior. SIL picked the need to deal with the meds, your issues are about being interrupted unnecessarily, but there will always be something. If you get firm about one thing, another will pop up.
4) MIL has chosen to come to the US. That means that ‘the old culture’ is exactly what she has chosen to leave behind. Don’t fall for that (very common) line about the ‘old culture’ and ‘in our family’. Her options now are what is reasonable in this culture.
5) If H won’t change (and he isn’t coping with most of the work or problems), start finding out about hiring an office room where you can work undisturbed. Or a holiday back to ‘the old home’ to see what people think there (perhaps there aren’t too many very elderly people in similar situations). And with you out of the way for a week or two things will change.
Have courage. If H is not happy, it’s even more important to get his B and SIL involved. Don’t let this go on and on. Yours, Margaret
I think she enjoys running everyone around.
She may destroy your marriage & sanity if you let her. Please consider other options that don't include her living with you.
Sending supportive energy.
No! It is a complete sentence and requires no explanation.
These situations only work if they work for everyone, it isn't working for you, time for your MIL to find a different household to suck dry or go to a facility, doesn't matter where she goes, just so she's gone.
Stand up for yourself and tell your husband you can't do this any longer, it's okay to admit defeat.
Use direct language to Describe the Circumstances. Aim to cut through any denial husband has. Use facts.
MIL has these needs: list
Husband can provide: list
I can provide: list
That leaves THIS whopping BIG list of needs over 24 hours, every week that we CANNOT meet.
Then an Action Statement: It is time to change this plan now.
Does she have dementia? If so, you are not going to be able to get her to do much better. I would think about some short term and long term solutions here. Does your husband help with anything??? You work, take care of her, clean, do laundry and entertain. Hmmmmm. Since this is HIS mom, he needs to be working at least as hard as you are. Did you agree to have her move in with you? Was it your idea?
How long was she with her other son?
Right now, she needs to pay for a number of things. A cleaning lady would be a good one to take care of her room and common areas. Then while you are working, so you can actually work, she should have a caregiver at home or go to adult day care. Is she competent? If so, lay out her choices 1) caregiver 2) adult day care 3) nursing home. Unless you and hubby come up with a decision that she needs to leave your house ASAP and if so he has to tell her option 3 is coming her way.
Does she still have a house or an apartment somewhere? How old is she?
My MIL always talks over me to talk to her son. So darn annoying! She's 96 with dementia now, so I just have given up on any meaningful conversation with her. Then she pretends she can't hear me yet she can her my husband just fine. OK then. Yet she claims that she just loves me so much and is so lucky to have me, etc etc. I think she means well but is just so focused on her only child and the rest is dementia. I'm over it.
Good luck with your situation.
So what happens next, dear? Does mom go into senior housing? Assisted Living? Does she qualify for Skilled Nursing? Let's talk about the next step in mom's ongoing care that does not happen HERE in our home. Furthermore, if DH 'likes to have people over every weekend', hopefully HE is doing the cooking, cleaning and entertaining while YOU are lounging on a chaise and holding court with your guests? If not, Dh can go to THEIR homes to be entertained from now on b/c enough is enough!
You need to learn boundaries, I think, and stop allowing others to take advantage of you. That can be a tough thing to grasp b/c we women like to do things for others and be the caregivers to the world. BUT, there comes a point when we're plum worn out, like now, and know that changes need to be made! But how? Pick up a copy of the book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life ,by Cloud & Townsend here:
"Does your life feel like it's out of control? Perhaps you feel like you have to say yes to everyone's requests. Maybe you find yourself readily taking responsibility for others' feelings and problems. Or perhaps you focus so much on being loving and unselfish that you've forgotten your own limits and limitations. Or maybe it's all of the above.
In the New York Times bestseller, Boundaries, Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend help you learn when to say yes and know how to say no in order to take control of your life and set healthy, biblical boundaries with your spouse, children, friends, parents, co-workers, and even yourself.
Now updated and expanded for the digital age, this book continues to help millions of people around the world answer these tough questions:
Can I set limits and still be a loving person?
What are legitimate boundaries?
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What if someone is upset or hurt by my boundaries?
How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy, or money?
Why do I feel guilty or afraid when I consider setting boundaries?
How do boundaries relate to mutual submission within marriage?
Aren’t boundaries selfish?
You don’t have to let your life spiral out of control. Discover how boundaries make life better today!"
Wishing you the best of luck taking back YOUR life today!
Then DH, u and Mom sit down. Tell her the honeymoon is over. If she wants to stay there, she has to do things for herself. You are not her slave. That doing a job at home is just like doing any other job. You report in at a certain hour and clock out at a certain hour. There can be no interruptions in that time. You are being paid to work and be available to your boss. If she cannot care for herself, then maybe she will need to move to an AL where she can get help when she needs it. She is to wash her own clothes, clean up her room and messes. Clean up after her friend. These are not your responsibility. You do all this by looking her in the eye, keeping you voice at one level, no hollering, and being firm like u were with the seat. She needs to know whose house this is and that she is lucky you took her in. And I would say that, she has burned her other bridges so this is her last chance. Being her husbands Mother does not give her the right to run rough shod over u. You owe her nothing.
My daughter works from home. She put a no solicitation sign next to her front door. When her door is closed, family and friends have been told that means she is working. No phone calls during certain times. So far, seems to work.
God, what a mess with your situation! Please tell your husband to place his mother in a facility. Forget about her money that all goes for her care. Your job Your and Own Family is Your priority. If you lose your job, you may lose your house as well.
That person can be paid enough to clean and do laundry, since there is no personal care of MIL involved. Solves a few problems. Let him know that the remaining housework/MIL chores will need to be divided 50-50. Your work is as important to you as his is to him. And it is his Mother.
If he does not like this solution, let him provide a different one. Until then, move your work to a point farthest from MIL’s bedroom even if in the basement or garage. You need some sanity and peace to work.
BTW, you complained about her disturbing you during working hours, yet when she upset you you texted your husband while he worked. Pot, kettle.