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Family: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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8 hours ago, hoosier80 said:

  A friend told me, you have a choice, you can be miserable or you can do something about it.  Your mom chooses to be miserable.  That's not your choice. 

Your friend is a wise person.  Good luck honey and you know that all of us here are rooting for you.

Edited by ratgirlagogo
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@hoosier80 - Your mom is a handful to say the least.  Is there no one left that has some influence over her?  Because she probably has physical conditions that are causing her discomfort that have been left untreated and chronic pain can take its toll on even the most pleasant of people.  If you have a difficult person to start out with, well that just amplifies their personality.

Would it be possible to specifically refuse to visit until she has had a check-up and/or go with her to the appointment?  It might appeal to her vanity that her daughter insists she see a doctor (she'll probably still rail at you, but she'll be able to tell other people how concerned you are about her health).

I'm really sorry. 

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It has been about a month. Things between me and my MIL have become ok again. We haven't had any more arguments and she hasn't had any more illnesses (they still don't know what happened when she had to go to the hospital but their theory was some sort of infection). She actually even started cleaning up her room a bit, with some help from my husband, although I saw today that she is letting things go again. For the time being it seems to be a workable situation again. The bird is still the bird but I'm hoping one day there will be some sort of financial compensation in that regard.

It also seems more likely that we will sell the house rather than renovating it. I really hate that area and more importantly, the house would be so much work to renovate and would probably still have lasting problems afterwards, and my husband is not going to have the time or patience for that.

Meanwhile I came to the decision that I never, ever want to have kids. I never had any maternal instinct and I have no experience caring for kids. I also grew up in an abusive household and have disabilities as a result of that. I thought I would get over my disabilities and develop maternal instincts as I got more mature because the societal narrative is "you'll change your mind when you get older!" Or even though I'm not particularly a fan of kids in general that the hormones and stuff would make me automatically want them if they were MY kids. But after doing a lot of research on it and being honest with what I want and have the ability to handle vs. what other people pressured me to want or try to handle, I have realized that the desire is simply not there. Pregnancy terrifies me (I feel nervous even being around pregnant women -- no offense), I hate loud noises, I'm not very patient, and I like my independence. I would probably be a bad parent and it would probably have a devastating effect on my health.

My husband has always wanted kids though so this is something we've been discussing over the past few weeks. It is possible we may have to break up at some point due to this issue but currently we have no plans to break up.

The thing is that it seems like he only wants kids in theory and not in reality. He is even more independent than I am, very ambitious with many hobbies and career goals, and he hates having to put his schedule on hold for anyone else. I don't think he really understands how disruptive having kids is. Someone I know recently had a baby and she is home and her husband is only working part-time and she said they still feel strained. And their baby is healthy and has no special needs or colic or anything like that. She said colic is diagnosed when a baby "cries inconsolably for more than three hours." I asked my husband if he really was ready to deal with something like that. Or if he was willing to get up five times a night to deal with a crying baby, take time off work on the day an important project is due to pick up his sick kid from school, etc. Or what if his kid grows up to be someone who has little in common with him? And I asked him, "What if you have a special needs child that needs 24/7 care for the rest of your life? What happens to your life goals then?"

Then he said "maybe I should only have a kid if I'm rich so I can afford good care for them," and that he would probably only start wanting to spend time with kids when they were 8 or 9 years old because then you can have a real conversation with them. I was like "...but that's not what raising kids is about. You can't just dump them on a nanny (or on your wife). You have to deal with it 24/7 if you chose to make this decision, even on the days that you don't want to. I don't think you have really thought about this." I told him if he really just wants to have that kind of relationship with a kid, he could be in the Big Brothers program or become a tutor of some kind. I advised him that if he REALLY still wants to have kids, he should go visit some of his relatives with young kids and try babysitting for a week. I have a pretty good feeling he will come back realizing that he really wants to be childfree.

These conversations have just solidified my desire to be childfree though. It seems like he had the idea that he would just go off and have his career and leave someone else (ie. me) to do most of the actual parenting, and then show up for the parts that he wants to do like the fun parts and teaching them skills. I'm not really surprised by this considering how he leaves so many messes for me to clean up, but it is disappointing that he's this unconsciously sexist. If I did have a kid with him it would have many parallels to my parents' scenario where my dad would leave most of the parenting and all of the housework to my mom even though they both worked, and my mom had no life to herself and therefore resented us and ended up abusing us and telling us she wished we were never born. My parents hated each other but couldn't even get divorced because they couldn't afford to, because they had us kids. No thanks. That particular cycle ends here.

But this shows how men and women are still not equal. I don't think they ever will be first of all because of the inherent inequality in women having to be the ones that get pregnant. But other than that it is socially acceptable for a man to be a "weekend dad" even if he is still married to his wife, and to have priorities outside of his kids. He gets applause just for showing up. Whereas a mother is expected to put her life on hold and put her kids above all else.

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On 2/12/2019 at 2:27 PM, BuyMoreAndSave said:

The thing is that it seems like he only wants kids in theory and not in reality.

It certainly sounds that way, and I've encountered this among both men and women. It's very easy to want kids when you have this romanticized/unrealistic notion that having kids involves little more than decorating a kid's bedroom, being able to give them nice clothes, toys, and so forth. And yes, those things can be fun, but there is a huge amount of work and energy required to raise a child, and large chunks of it are quite messy and unpleasant. I can sympathize somewhat with your husband's view that he has no interest in kids until they're old enough to carry on a conversation, because I have zero use for kids myself until they're at least 3-4 and can at least communicate a bit using words. But in my case, once I decided I wanted a kid, I had to commit to being a good parent prior to that point of child development. 

I am older than dirt, and have seen way too many people fall into the trap of having children that they didn't really want just because of pressure from spouses, family members, or society at large to have a kid. If you know that you don't want to have a child and have decided that you will not do so, I applaud you for having good judgment. It's your choice, and don't let anyone tell you that oh, once you actually have your own baby, it will be different. Yes, it will be different but not in the way they mean;  you'll be responsible for an infant that you didn't want, and there's zero guarantee that your overall feelings about wanting a child will change. I'm not in any way bashing parenthood; children can be a source of tremendous love and personal growth, but they're not for everyone. Nor are they in any way a panacea for a marriage that's on shaky grounds, despite what various stupid movies/books may have suggested in the past. 

In your situation, given that your husband has expressed the desire to have children and you have decided you don't want them, then it's good you are recognizing that the disagreement on this issue may result in the end of the marriage. Good idea for him to try babysitting for a week, although even a weekend might be more than sufficient for him to see what the reality is of having a kid. But if he does that, then don't enable him by taking care of the kid yourself. If he really thinks he can be just a weekend father, then he should have gotten together with someone willing to accept that very inequitable division of parental responsibilities.

For my own situation, thank goodness I'm not dealing with anything more serious right now other than my mother's total inability to use the damn remote for the TV. At least 4-5 times a day, she needs me to come change the channel for her, or set the TV back to where it's getting the signal correctly, because her solution to not getting it correct the first time is to push every damn button on the remote, and she can't read the small print on those buttons anyway. Today she has somehow managed to fuck up the settings in such a way that I haven't been able to restore the signal; I've tried changing the video source using the remote, and for whatever reason, it's not working. So I am going to be tracking down one of those TV remotes for seniors that has only 5-6 buttons and that you can lock the settings, because while I recognize this is not a major problem in the overall scheme of things, it's annoying as hell to have to keep running into her bedroom every time she wants to flip from some home improvement channel to a cooking channel to a home shopping channel. 

Edited by BookWoman56
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@hoosier80 I’m so sorry you’re still dealing with your miserable mom. Sounds like she’s squarely around that age when older folks(women especially) choose to wallow in their own bitterness and get especially cranky due to a toxic combination of loneliness, discontentment and the physical pain of aging. It’s a damned shame that she’s obviously turned all her friends against her, because that just means she’ll demand yet more of your attention. And frustrate you repeatedly in the process, as usual.

Dare I ask...does she ever show you any true vulnerability? Is she able to open up and truly discuss her fears and concerns with you as she ages?? Because surely by now she has to realize that her bossing you around and being so demanding of your time/effort isn’t strengthening your relationship and is just pushing you further away.

Just curious, but does she show any signs of dementia? Because that might be part of her more irrational behaviors/demands. Does she have any other plans for her care as she ages beyond just demanding you and your brother take care of her? 

You have my sympathy though. My mom can be equally demanding/annoying/toxic/jealous and plays the pout-game like a pro, and she’d love nothing more than for me to drop my entire life and move back in with her too. In typical Boomer fashion, she’s of that generation that felt that grown children were expected to take care of(more like wait on them constantly) their parents later in life. 

Stay strong and don’t let her take over your mindset though. Just because she’s unhappy and miserable doesn’t mean you have to be. 

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On 2/18/2019 at 12:28 AM, Sun-Bun said:

Does she have any other plans for her care as she ages beyond just demanding you and your brother take care of her? 

@hoosier80 - have you looked into getting a social worker involved? With her irrational, abusive behavior it may be a way to help you and your brother deal with her as she ages. They can provide access and support that you two can't. Don't talk with her about calling, just call to get information, make a plan with your brother and stick to your guns. Abuse is never OK, at any age.


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