We’re takin’ it easy this week here at Good Enough Mother and to that end, we’ve got some pieces lined up that you may have missed the first time around. Enjoy this “Retro Rene” post and we’ll be back at full steam at the beginning of the year. Cheers!
I have a lovely husband and three kids and although money is very tight, we are very happy together. For quite some time we’ve been discussing what to do with my mother – she is getting old and unfortunately I don’t have the space/time/means to look after her.
We decided that my mom will live with my older sister and although I agreed with the plan, there’s a part of me that doesn’t like this arrangement.
I feel very jealous that my sister will be spending so much time with my mom but I also worry that all that time together will make my mom feel that she “owes” something to my sister and I will be cut out of the will. My sister is very bad with money and has run up a lot of debt over the years.
I feel really bad by just thinking about it, I know I should be happy for my mom, but I can’t help the way I feel.
How can I make my mom understand – and not end up cut out down the line?
ACK! Sandra, can I be honest? Your letter makes me want to hose off after reading it. Your mom’s not even dead yet and you’re dividing up her cash? Ewww. Okay, let’s take a step back here. I hear three things here. Your money’s tight, your mom’s gonna live with your sister and the issue with the will. If I were you, here’s what I would do:
TALK TO SISTER: But not about the will. Because you see, Sandra, there’s no way for you to say aloud what you wrote in this letter, without it sounding like an ingrate. So you really need to approach your sister with a spirit of gratitude and service. If I were you I’d ask her how you, even with your limited funds and time, could help her. I’m not sure if you know much about caring for elderly people but you can rest assured it will not be easy. Your sister is going to work her tail off for the time that your mother is there and she would welcome whatever help you offer. So let’s start there, shall we?
ENJOY YOUR MOTHER WHILE SHE’S HERE: I know things are tough for you and your family. A bit of extra money from your mother’s will might give you a bit of breathing room. But ask yourself this. How much will you be able to enjoy it knowing you were keeping an eye on the death clock? There is something so terribly unseemly about that and you should stop it right now. You need to focus on the intangibles like quality time and the lessons you and your kids might learn from their grandmother. Yeah it won’t get them any closer to an iPad but it will pay dividends. You know what else? Your mom will enjoy it too.
GET THEE TO A THERAPIST: You need to have a nice long chat with someone, be it a clergy member, a therapist, a good friend, your husband but you’ve got some things to work through. The fact that you are “jealous” that your sister will be spending lot of time with your mother speaks volumes about where your head is. Is there some sibling rivalry or competition going on between you? Has it been that way for a while? How do you plan to resolve it or will you just allow it to eat away at you and poison the remaining time you have with your mother and possibly derail the relationship with your sister? Please, for your sake and everyone else’s, talk to someone.
Sandra, caring for aging parents is costly, in both time and money. This is really a time for all hands on deck, not every man for himself. I wish you the best.
René is the author of Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting and founder of its subsequent website, www.goodenoughmother.com.