Dear Diary

Dear Diary,
I've had a couple of bad weeks and I need your shoulder to cry on. It will be hard to condense down to one paragraph so you better go grab a glass of wine or something. And while your at it, bring me one too.

My husband's ex is a very sweet woman and has been sick for quite awhile. She was finally diagnosed with Cranial Hypotension. The best way I can explain it is that her cranium is leaking fluid somewhere and they can't figure out where. She had one procedure to try and repair the leak but it didn't work. In the meantime she has lost about 50 pounds, cannot take care of herself, needs a walker, and has spent the last 7 weeks in a care facility. She is only 61. One of my step-sons lives in town and the other one lives out of state with his wife. Last weekend her sons moved her into another apartment which will be cheaper for her and will allow some kind of assistance.

The younger son really has his hands full. Before it was really known how bad his mom was, one of her friends turned him in to social and health services for not taking care of his mom. No one knew what was wrong with her so he was doing his best. He now has become her power of attorney to make decisions for her.

We visited her a few times in the care center but my daughter didn't like going there. It can be kind of scary place for a young girl. They have always been close too so it's hard for my daughter to see P. this way.

The problem I am having now is that my oldest step-son's wife is starting to request that we take a part in caring for P. She only gets a few hours of help a day from a service and is asking for friends and family to pick up the slack now that she is in her new apartment. She sends out form-type emails to us and others, and this morning there was an invitation to join a yahoo group to get updates and add your own info about P.'s support care.

First of all I'm upset that she sends out these emails like we are just one of people on the list. She never emails us any other time and we rarely talk on the phone. My husband talks to his son quite regularly though. She has been very instrumental in getting P. the care she needs and I know it's difficult for them to be so far away at a time like this.

But OK, I'm going to say this and I hope it doesn't sound as horrible as I feel saying it: This is my husbands ex wife, I am not responsible for her. There....I said it. Don't I sound like the worst person in the world?

I love my step-sons and we always spend the holidays together with their mom. I feel truly awful for what she is going through but my plate is full. We all have full plates, just full of different crap.

I work days, my husband works nights. Our daughter is a very mature 14 year old but I still don't feel comfortable leaving her alone very long. This ain't Mayberry. Taking her with me is not very possible as her homework load is horrendous and needs the computer for about half of it.

As I am in the care-giving role, for my mom and the elderly couple I work for, I can almost not bear taking on another person to care for. I honestly don't know if my DIL knows that I work or if she thinks I don't work hard enough and I need to work more. I seriously don't know and I have debated writing her and explaining my life to her but I have a feeling no matter what I say or do I will come off sounding like the Wicked Step Mother.

I would be happy to help out P. by stopping by to fix a meal, do laundry, or whatever but I don't feel comfortable in being told that I NEED to do this or to be set up on a schedule.

I feel that getting this apartment was not the best idea and continuing in a care facility might be how it will end up eventually.

Diary, I just can't be the person that everybody wants me to be. If I take on so much then I will start to feel bitter about it. I'm already a crabby old lady, I don't want to be a bitter, crabby, old lady. Then I would be like, mother.


I'm not sure I would be able to help my husband's ex-wife if he had one. You are in a rough spot and have every right to have the feelings you do.
Anonymous said…
Don't feel guilty about it. I've been in that position myself & very quickly realized that the people asking for help usually have no concept of what they are asking for. Stand your ground. Do what you are comfortable with. Take care of yourself & your family. Otherwise, you will end up in the same boat.
fernvalley01 said…
WOW ! that is a unique situation! As a cargiver myself for many years ,and having been caregiver to my mom (at a very young age ) I will tell you you can only do so much , you will be no good to any of them if you become exhausted . Set your limits and stick to them. If the step DIL doesn't understand , that is just too bad . Your imediate family (hubby daghter and mom) have to be your priority right now.
Grumpy said…
I understand your feelings and you should do what you're comfortable doing. I think, just out of compassion, I would try to lend a hand, but on a limited basis. The primary responsibility should fall on her family. Realize that no matter what you do, your daughter-in-law will probably not be satisfied.
ethelmaepotter! said…
Sorry, I have no solution for you, but I do want to let you know you are NOT the evil stepmother, nor are you selfish or a terrible person. Your compassion shows, but you should not be expected to help take care of your husband's ex. Good luck to you, my friend.
Anne said…
I feel awful that she is going through this. Meanwhile, I think you are an exceptional person just maintaining a positive relationship with your husband's ex wife. Could you possibly send her a note explaining the many different things you have happening and that you would be happy to pitch in but can't stick to a regular schedule. It makes perfect sense if you are already caring for your mom and others, that you can't take on more. As far as her contacting you with a general email, I have nothing to say. There is no excuse for that, but some people are peculiar.
kden said…
Thank you everyone for your kind words of advice and friendship. I'm feeling better now and I think the urgency of her care will calm down and I won't feel so pressured to help. I put a lot of on myself, I realize. You all are the bestest ;-)

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