Dear Auntie Linda, My mother is seventy-four and moved in with me and my husband four years ago. She is in good health, still drives, and is active in her church, though she is slowing down. We enjoy having her live with us, except for the added burden when my brothers visit. She treats our home like hers. When I was growing up, Mother waited on my father and brothers hand and foot. They worked outside. Cooking and cleaning were women’s work. I was responsible for cooking, cleaning, and dishwashing right along with her.
Please understand. My family is and always has been welcome. However, since Mama moved in with us, when my brothers to visit, she holds court for her guests, expecting us to lay out the welcome mat and act the gracious host on her behalf, providing huge meals, providing rooms and housekeeping services just like she always did. I am exhausted by the time company leaves. Mama won’t hear of anyone taking rooms at a hotel or bringing in a sandwich tray, or takeout, or taking us all out to dinner. By the time I have shopped, cooked and served meals for several, as well as tidying up behind them, I am exhausted, not to mention the damage to our budget. I have mentioned this to Mother, but she always reminds me , “They won’t be here but a few days. We can rest up when they’re gone. I just want my family around me as long as I am able……..” I would love it if they invited her to their homes for a few days sometime. She’s often mentioned she’d love to visit. What should I do? Worked to Death.
Dear Worked, Your mother knows how to heave the guilt. If you don’t want to go into this with your mother, certainly your brothers ought to be able to understand that taking care of Mother is a big responsibility. Let them know you and your budget needs a little break. They can reserve a room and help out with meals. They don’t have to discuss their reasons with Mother. If she brings it up with you, don’t waffle. Bring up the subject, “Thanksgiving, let’s get together somewhere else.” You need a break. Auntie Linda
Dear Auntie Linda, My sister and I live a few blocks apart and both have three-year-olds. We used to have coffee and visit several mornings a week, but the children fight so much now we really can’t enjoy a visit for the screaming, toy-snatching, and hitting. If one doesn’t start it, the other does. How in the world can you get children to play without fighting? Sore Ears
Dear Sore Ears, My mother had a little trick that worked wonders, for us and then my kids. Have each of the children sit down with their favorite toy or book several feet apart. Instruct them not to share or play with each other. Remind them that they are not allowed to share or play together when they show interest in the other. After you reinforce this a few times, they will want to play. Relent, but tell them it’s only for a minute. They’ll have to go back to their spots at the first sign of fighting. In a few minutes, they should be anxious to play. After being apart a few minutes, playing together becomes a privilege. Often, a reminder suffices to avoid a battle. Hope it works as well for you. Being separated from a potential sparring partner can help them get along, if you stick with it. At the very least, they’ll learn to avoid fighting in front of you, which is what you really want anyway, isn’t it?