Should I try to convince my mother to move across the country so I can take care of her and improve our relationship?
April 3, 2009 8:51 AM Subscribe
Due to years of my mother’s mental illness, dependency on prescription medication, and wildly varying levels lying leading to all sort of trust issues, I am a 30-year old woman with a very complicated relationship with my aging mom. I feel more than a little guilt and sadness about this, and authentically would like to improve our relationship. There are, of course complications.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I moved to the east coast about 6 years ago and am now happily engaged to a wonderful man who is from here and we have no plans to move to the west coast at any point in the near or foreseeable future. All of my family is in California, and we travel to visit them a few times a year. I do miss my family, but for the most part I feel good about my level of involvement with them as much as I can from a distance. My parents are divorced and my father has been remarried for over 10 years; my brother is a couple years older than I am. Basically, I feel like I have solid relationships with the two of them and though I’d like to see them more, I’m not worried about them in the same way that I am about my mother, because I know she is totally lacking a support system.
My mother has struggled with physical problems, mental illness, and various addictions (primarily to pain medication) for years. Our relationship is not what I would describe as close, but I do love her and care for her and it’s becoming very worrisome for me to think about what will happen to her during the course of the next few years. She does not work (she lives off of alimony and has tried over and over to be accepted for some sort of disability as well) and is constantly in and out of the hospital for her various medical ailments. She lives with her sister currently, but they have a very volatile relationship and I don’t think it’s healthy for her to remain there indefinitely. She recently inherited some money when her own parents passed away, and she has been talking about using the money to buy a mobile home to live in by herself. I do not think this is safe, and I am considering trying to talk her into moving near me.
If I lived in California, I have no doubt that I would be working harder on my relationship with her. Due to the geographic distance between us now, I speak with her occasionally, but my level of involvement in her life is limited. This is both because it is difficult for me to talk to her and hear about her problems over and over, and also because she purposely distances herself from me at times. She knows it upsets me to hear about her medical problems over and over, so when she is going through difficult times she just won’t be in touch. Several times over the past six years when I have been in California visiting family, something has come up with her health where she has said, “I don’t want you to see me like this, don’t come see me.” So, I won’t see her, and then I won’t have opportunity again for several months, and then I feel guilty, etc. etc. I do think that if we lived geographically closer, it would be a little easier to work through these issues.
I know that a lot of the issues between us are very long-standing and would not be solved simply by being closer geographically; however, on a very practical level I also just want to know that someone will be taking care of my mother as she gets older, and I don’t think anyone else is going to tackle this. She has burned a lot of bridges over the years, but now it seems that she is in a place where the addictions are gone and she truly is suffering from physical ailments and mental illness. I know I can’t fix her, but I would like to be able to spend time with her and try to improve our relationship while she’s still here.
Since I know that I will not be moving anytime soon, is it completely crazy to broach the idea of her moving here? Throwaway email is firstname.lastname@example.org