Monday, October 22, 2012

Birthday Mother Rant

(This was just venting and I wasn't really intending to post it, but hey, warts an' all)

Dear Mum,

I will say your performance last Sunday was quite good, but as R commented later, an actress you are not. Yes you shake, as do I. It is in our genes, but that was a bit over the top and the public display of being too scared to open your electric bill, with shaking hands, half opening it and then then handing it over to R to open was quite pathetic.

Tradie Brother reported back to me that you were somewhat annoyed because I said you need to budget. I suggested that $100 per week put away would cover your bills. You intimated that I did not understand, because you don't have any money and so cannot budget. Mother, that is when you do need to budget. I don't have to now, but I have in the past. When you don't have enough money, that is when you need to budget.

Mother, it was great for the kiddies to attend for my birthday. It wasn't  the best choice of venue. The weather was so lovely, it should have been a picnic. But all in all, you made my birthday a fucking well lousy day.

Do you think your grand kiddies are going to want to continue to see you when all you do is moan on about being lonely, having no money and your medical problems?

I had already put $100 on you bench to cover your plumbing costs, that Tradie Brother spent four hours investigating today, crawling around under your house and working out how the leaking pipe can be fixed.

Then I was presented fait accompli with your electric bill to pay. Ok, you did say you will pay me back at $50 per fortnight, but if you really intend paying the money back, why not borrow the money from ABI Brother who you see daily and who it would be easy to repay? As wonderful as he is to you, he is smart enough to not go down the road of lending you money.

There will be no more Mother. Yes, we agreed to pay council rates, health insurance and pay if a major appliance breaks down and that is it. There will be no more filtering quarterly council rates notices for payment through me either. First notice goes to me, second to you second born and so forth.  Do not pretend you don't understand the connection between the order of your rates notices and the age order of your children and send the rates notices to me to sort out whose turn it is to pay. You worry about passing on to them and not me? Let me assure, you now need to worry about passing them on to me to send on.

Mother, you have never actually had to go out and earn money to live on. Women who stay at home to raise their children, and nowadays often go without extras in life, have my full respect, but it is clearly unreasonable of me to expect you at the age of 78 to start managing your money wisely. Nevertheless, you could give it a shot.

Not only for the reason that I lack oratory skills, I'm afraid I would really struggle to speak of your wonderfulness at your funeral. This is not how I want to remember you. I will have to conjure up much earlier memories when you were much more fun.

(I thank all who have offered advice in the past. Your wise words were seriously noted. Mother is sound of mind and still physically able and makes her own decisions. We children can advise her until the cows come home, but she will do what she does, on her own terms. We are trying to make her 'harden up' as Tradie Brother expresses it, but without a lot of success.





18 comments:

  1. You are heading in the right direction. Torn between duty and reality? Your mother is not the only one who needs to toughen up.

    Ibeen given lots of help over the years, for which I am grateful. I've also passed it on. But the hard reality is this: people who need money will rarely learn if it's handed over too easily, and the people most likely to learn rarely need help.
    I now never provide help unless it comes with a "contract" of sorts. If the contract is broken there will be no more help.

    What if, God forbid, you lose your own income for some reason? Will this mean you are any less caring, responsible, or grateful for what you know she has given you in the past?

    Feelings of guilt are a hint that there is something you can and should change. Only shame is a feeling that you have done something wrong and you have let down your values and become less of a person you can respect.
    Your mother is either manipulating with guilt, or not in touch with reality.

    Finding it hard to reduce the situation to just 2 or three options?
    Hand over your income and we budget for you; Keep your autonomy and the money stops; Or agree to a specific set of rules as a compromise. Family meeting, face to face, and demand a commitment. It will be more productive to be direct than to have brothers conveying messages back and forth.
    Asking for a commitment to an option of her choice will not be the same thing as abandonment, and should be no cause for shame.

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    1. FC, we had a contract. We pay certain things. No one mentioned the extras. She does manipulate, but not by guilt, but by helplessness and she is not in touch with the reality of her income.

      I'm afraid, due in part to distances apart and work commitments, a family meet is impossible. We have only ever had one, and I wasn't there as I was at work.

      I like the idea of handing over her income for us to manage, but she will just continue to book things up at the chemist and elsewhere, as she has done for all of her life.

      I have a budget drawn up for her and I will present it to her.

      Thanks.

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  2. Mothers! Speaking for myself it was, and still is even after her passing on, very much a love/hate relationship.

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    1. Rubye, I guess you must always feel an obligation to your parents when they are older. They spent a lot on you when you were a kid. You should tell us about your mother and more of your history.

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  3. I agree with a lot that FruitCake has said. a family meeting, with discussions of her total income and outgoings and a lesson in budgeting. Put it all down on paper to show her how and where mother can set aside money for utilities & food and a bit for an emergency fund.
    Then explain to her that the amount left over is hers to do as she wishes. If she can't or won't understand a simple system, then I'd suggest the alternative method of taking over the entire budget and handing her an allowance. A generous allowance, but it must be made to last until the next installment.
    78 is not too old to learn and I think she needs to at least try. You have my advance sympathies for the coming weeks/months as you try to sort her out to everyone's satisfaction. Take plenty of tissues along, as there will be tears.
    If mother needs to learn to cut back on things, that will be hard. For everyone.

    My own mum was fantastic at budgeting, I probably get that from her, since my dad was a wastrel. Always paid his bills, but never saved a penny.

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    Replies
    1. Wise words River. I have done a budget already, but not presented it to her. Our family does not do tears, among us.

      Cut back on things? What? Cigs? Chemist? Hair dresser? Expensive cat food for strays?

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  4. P.S. does Mother qualify for any concessions on things such as electric and gas bills?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, she gets those things, but there is more she can get, like a Federal Home Care Package, and she seems like she is going to do it.

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  5. Tell her you'll sign her up to State Trustees and see how she likes that!

    Seriously though, sorry she can be such a pain. Old women can be very painful, I see it in some of my clients. Stubborn and theatrical all at once. She needs firm boundaries.

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  6. Summed her up in two words Fen, stubborn and theatrical. Hmmm, State Trustees, interesting thought.

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  7. Sorry to hear of your troubles. FruitCake, as usual, has summed it up so neatly she has covered everything I thought of while reading the post. The only other thing I could suggest is to enforce the savings. Many utility companies have a weekly/monthly payment facility and if it goes straight there, then it's not missed. Much. OR get the $$ diverted into a Xmas club account (or similar), pay yourselves back at the end of the year and give her the rest to spend. It might be worth doing a search for any other assistance she might be entitled to? In my limited experience, there's not a lot of info on what's available so people don't even know they can access it.

    Good Luck.

    PS Happy Birthday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Red, I think a weekly payment scheme would be a very good idea, for electricity at least. I will contact the electric company.

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    2. I do weekly advance payments for gas and electricity. I looked at my highest $$$ account and divided to see how much per week, then rounded it up to the nearest $5. It's a small enough amount so I don't miss it, but it covers the bills nicely. I've had two gas accounts this year with no payment required.

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    3. That is the sort of thing Mother needs to do, to get past bill shock.

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  8. sympathy and empathy from me. my 88-y-o father is battier though. if I have to do a eulogy it will begin "what a relief ... "

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    1. Isn't it a bit sad about how we feel about our parents when they are older, Ann?

      They have moved on from being frustrating to tedious. Lucky our generation, like us, is not like that.

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  9. Not an easy situation at all Andrew, but you've had some pretty sound advice above..be firm, not easy I know but better for all in the long run. I would love to see your Mum do the right thing so that at least the last memories are a bit fonder...yeh I know, I'm a softie!

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    Replies
    1. Grace, I suppose she has improved a bit with money over the three or so years since she was widowed.

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Whenever I wish I was young again, I am sobered by memories of algebra.