Mom is recently widowed

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-14-2014
Mom is recently widowed
Fri, 03-14-2014 - 10:20am


I need someone to read this. My dad passed away last October due to lung cancer. He and Mom were married for 48 years and did a lot of traveling, their house was paid off in the early 1990's, Dad was retired since 1999 and Mom retired in 2005.

I'm thankful that my sister lives with Mom (she's almost 47 never been married and no children) and b/c Mom never drove, my sister is there to help her out with the groceries, helps out with Mom's bills; however, my older sister is unemployed right now; however, she's collecting Unemployment Insurance. I live in another city (3 hours away) and even though I'm not married and/or have children (divorced, I live alone - in a long term relationship), I feel guilty that I can't help contribute more money to help out with their household expenses. My ex-husband left me in a lot of debt and owes me over $6,000 and has only contributed $100. I leave him alone b/c I know it will escalate into a huge fight and he's in enough trouble with the IRS (back taxes owed from 2006 Taxation Year), Child Support Warrants (over 5 of them), I'm just glad I got away from him. I have my own set of bills to pay and I don't make a lot of money (wage freeze at my job - haven't gotten a raise since 2012). My mom keeps telling me to ask my employers for a raise; however, I've asked three times and they haven't said anything - so I decided to leave it alone. Yes, it can be frustrating; however, I'm blessed enough that I have a job at this moment where so many people are in worse predicaments than myself.

As well, my mom keeps bothering me about my body weight. I have gained 50 lbs. in the last 8 years (I used to be a size 8 - now I'm a 12). I had a strong metabolism until I reached my 40s and then I put on some weight; however, I don't look obsese or anything. I'm not a person to be obsessed w/weight and body image (that why people have eating disorders). I speak to mom maybe three times per week; however, she asks me how much food did I eat that day, what am I having for dinner, how many chicken wings did I eat, did I get on the scale, and on and on, it's frustrating and upsetting to me, there are times when I avoid calling b/c she gets on my nerves (and I've told her nicely to stop doing that). I have a few friends in my area I speak to and have joined a Women's Group last year; however, I only go to events that interest me (movies, shopping trips, brunch) and that's enough for me plus I'm in a relationship at the same time. If I can't get together w/friends or my b/f (he's on call b/c of Tax Season at his job), I don't feel lonely. I joined a Zumba class, picked up reading again and rent DVD's - so I'm content. I like getting to know myself more and what I like and don't like. I'm in my early 40s and what really got to me the other day is that my Mom told me to call "Diane" or call "Barbara" like I'm some little kid.

My Mom lost a considerable amount of weight in the past year taking care of my father. She used to travel by bus every single day to go and see him at the hospital and bring reading materials and home cooked food for him. She was so stressed out and stubborn at the same time b/c she didn't even take offers from her neighbors and her own sister who lives across the street from her to help her out - she wanted to be independent; however, when you are in your early 70s, you have to get help. Plus, Mom stresses herself out b/c of her dysfunctional family and their negativity every single day. So, a lot of it gets dumped on me in the interim.

I'm trying my best to cope w/Dad's death; however, I keep reminding myself he's in a better place and before he died, he couldn't walk anymore - the cancer spread to his spine, legs and feet. If he had lived, his chances to live were about 6 months and would not be able to enjoy the last few months of his life at their house, he'd have to stay in hospice.

How can I tell my mom to please stop bothering me about what I do w/my life and/or who I hang around with? I'm not lonely at all - it's just that I have no family in my city and to tell you the truth, I really don't get on Facebook and add my cousins to my Friends list - we have nothing in common and they live negative and miserable lives. I just try to live a simple life and not get too much into what other people do. How do I tell Mom that I'm trying to be as responsible as I can be - I had a bit of a fender-bender last month and I thought it would have cost me nearly $2K; however, I got another estimate and was charged $700 - she offered me to lend me the money; however, I went and got an approved loan from my bank for the repairs and car rental costs - that's how I try to take care of myself first.

Thanks for reading this.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fri, 03-14-2014 - 10:52am

I think you have to be more firm and tell your mother that you are not going to talk to her about your weight or what you ate any more--and you have to stick to that.  If she starts up the conversation on the phone, asking what you ate, remind her that you don't want to talk about ti and change the subject.  If she persists, then you'll have to say goodbye.   I think if you do that a few times and she knows you are serious, then she'll stop if she wants to continue to talk to you.  After all, size 12 definitely is not huge.  Maybe she's just a worrier so she worries about your weight and if you are happy, but if you have a BF & friends, then it seems like you are doing fine.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-14-2014
Fri, 03-14-2014 - 11:28am

I don't really know what my mom expects from me, we've gone through a devastating loss; she starts to worry about my health as well. Mom's always been like that, she took care of others but not herself. I spoke to her sister (Aunt) a couple of weeks ago and she said it's time I start learning to open my mouth and tell her that it's time for her to start taking care of herself.

I forgot to mention that my Mom also sort of makes me feel guilty as to when I am going to visit her at her home. "Heaven only knows when you'll get down here to see me". I only get two weeks of vacation per year and I want to use them sparingly for myself and maybe do a bit of traveling elsewhere. My aunt suggested I tell her "I'll get down there when I can". When Dad was living, he didn't want me to use up too much of my vacation time - he understood that I had bills and other responsibilities to take care of and that it can cost money at the same time.

Dad used to put pressure on me a lot about my weight as well; however, one day, I started to cry over the phone and told him instead of supporting me, he sounded exactly like an ex-b/f of mine - that I felt Dad was calling me ugly - Dad apologized immediately and never brought up the subject again, he felt bad and he said he didn't mean to hurt and/or upset me. I told him that maybe it's best if I don't visit and or call for awhile, that would be one less person to keep putting me down. Dad said he didn't do it to be mean and he was sorry that if it sounded mean - he said it was time for himself to mind his own business. He said he was very proud of me and my other accomplishments, he was just worried that I'd stop taking care of myself once I hit my 40s and that wasn't true. I put on weight b/c of the aftermath of my divorce - finding out devious things about my ex-husband was a lot for me to bear.

I have attended counseling (and still do it to this day) and I know deep down that i have to surround myself with positive and upbeat people.

Thank you for your reply - it was great!

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Sat, 03-15-2014 - 9:18pm

I agree with your aunt, that you need to set boundaries with your mom and speak up when she crosses them. Choose which topics you won't discuss, and let other stuff go. For instance, if she brings up your weight or your finances or your salary then tell her that you don't care to discuss that and change the subject. For the lesser things just kind of humor her, like when she tells you to call somebody. Some of it is just mom-ism, my mother was "reminding" me of things like to send my brother a birthday card when I was in my 40s.

Also don't volunteer information on a topic you don't want to discuss with her. Don't tell her about a needed car repair, or anything that is going to trigger an interrogation that you don't want. Just wondering, if she needs you to help pay her living expenses how could she afford to loan you money to repair your car? Or do you just feel like you "should" be helping her financially?

I'm wondering if your mother is the one who needs more activities, not you? That she has too much time on her hands which means a lot of time to worry about other people's problems and things that she cannot control. There are a lot of activities for seniors that are free or low cost that she could do to stay busy. If you think that she could benefit from grief counseling or a grief support group then you and your aunt should encourage her in that.

Condolences on the loss of your father, and good luck in dealing with these issues with your mom.