More of the personal stuff...
I've been absent from blogland for a good part of the last few weeks. We're going through some serious issues with my mom. First off, She's 71. Not terribly old, but you know the saying that you're only as young as you feel or act? Yeah. She acts the 71 of my grandmother's time, not the 71 of today. For the last several years, she hasn't taken good physical care of herself. As a result, she has a lot of health issues, I'm shocked by her sudden lack of good hygiene, and her mental health has taken some hits as well. She's suffered some memory issues over the last 5-6 years that has me and my siblings very concerned. She refuses to see or acknowledge these issues, however. Add to that, she's a typical Jewish mother. There's an old joke: "How many Jewish mothers does it take to screw in a light bulb? None. I'll just sit here in the dark, dear. Don't worry about me." That describes my mom to a T. She's the perfect martyr.
So about 6 weeks ago, my mom called my siblings and me to let us know that she decided to buy a condo. Since she and my dad sold their home in Arizona and moved back to California in 2003, they (and now she) have been living in an apartment about a mile from both my sister and myself. My brother lives about 15 minutes away. The problem? She didn't let any of us know about this proposed purchase beforehand. She decided to do it, and kept it secret because she knew none of us would approve. She arranged to pull approx $300,000 out of her retirement funds to buy it. Even though she's constantly complaining she can barely make ends meet. She put several offers in at once on short-sales, out of sheer desperation to be a homeowner once again. The reason she finally let us know? It looked like one was going to actually accept her offer and close.
We came to find out that she had kept this secret from her children, but had told my in-laws and my sister's MIL. And sworn them to secrecy. And that her loan officer was my sister's BIL, also sworn to secrecy. Unbelievable.
AND, she won't be saving any money at all on a monthly basis, which was her rationale to us in the first place. Besides the "I miss owning my own home" argument. And the "My apartment is too small" argument. (The condo that she closed on is actually smaller than her apartment, but she saw it without furniture, so she thinks it's larger - square footage means nothing to her.)
My mom doesn't handle stress well. When something goes wrong at her apt right now, she calls maintenance. If they aren't there to fix it ASAP, she gets pretty pissy with them. I can only imagine how it will be as a homeowner. I don't have the time to maintain two homes. Nor does my husband. As it is, we spend an inordinate amount of time over there fixing little things for her. I don't have a problem with that, but now I anticipate it will be expanded to plumbing and other maintenance issues. My brother and BIL are pretty useless when it comes to maintenance (and I say that with love, truly), so their help is out.
Really, truly, the issue is that she needs to keep making changes every couple years because she still hasn't come to terms with my dad's death 5 years ago. She's still making comments like "This isn't how it was supposed to be," or "I can't believe your dad left me to deal with this on my own." And I truly understand her feelings. Even moreso after the last couple weeks. I know that my folks were supposed to grow old together. Nobody anticipated my dad passing away at 70. But buying a home isn't something that she can just change her mind on 2 years from now when she decides she doesn't like it. She's moved apartments twice in the 5 years since my dad passed, trying to find a place that works for her. And each time, she buys a ton of new stuff. That a month earlier she says she can't afford. At some point, I really hope that she will realize that she needs to move on. Spend time with friends. DO something every day. Find joy in life. Because, I imagine that she has a lot of years ahead of her, and I really don't want her to be unhappy all those years.
So, we've been struggling with the big question that's been sitting on the back burner for the past few years. How to handle it when the parent is becoming the child, but isn't ready to acknowledge any diminished capacity? She thinks we're all just treating her like a baby.
Honestly, this is so stressful - I want to treat my mom with the respect that she needs and deserves, but I don't know how far to take my disapproval and concerns. My siblings and I have pretty much sucked it up at this point and are letting her make her own decisions, including this one. But we're asking ourselves more and more often, given her lack of physical care for herself (which isn't yet to the point where we feel she can't live alone) and her lack of stable emotional decision-making, how do we manage a woman whom my dad let have everything in life she wanted? Who almost never heard the word no? And who hasn't a clue, or refuses to see, that she isn't in the best position to be purchasing a home at 71 and in poor physical, financial, and emotional health?
Been a little stressed out lately. Hopefully will get back to bloghopping and writing reviews soon. Thanks for letting me vent.