Friday, January 09, 2009


I have a new dilemma. My mother called the other day and wanted to know if I would be willing to do some deep cleaning for her. Apparently she is able to keep her apartment generally clean, but moving couches to vacuum underneath and emptying the refrigerator and heavy duty stuff like that is too much for her. I have two immediate objections to this: 1) time and 2) dog. The only time I could really help her are weeknights or Saturday afternoons. Evenings during the week it’s so blasted dark, and the weather’s been bad, making getting back and forth a challenge. And Saturday afternoons I’m so tired. That’s usually when I try to get things done at home. I would have to drive to the temple, complete my shift, drive home, take my nap, change clothes and drive back to help her out. It just doesn’t sound like a relaxing day off.

And most of the reason she needs said deep cleaning is because she has a dog. He’s a stinky, hairy, overweight English bulldog mess and I dislike him immensely.

I already spend a lot of time cleaning my sister's house, and it seems she needs more help now that she’s reached the last few weeks of her pregnancy. And it’s more important to me to keep the place I live clean than to go clean someone else’s mess.

I thought that maybe I could enlist my nieces to help, with money as motivation, but even if I could get that to happen, I’d still have to drive them to there, so I might as well do the work myself.

When it comes right down to it, I don’t want to help her. I do enough for her already. I manage her money and pay her bills, I do her laundry, I take her garbage out, I let her use my credit card for larger expenses like taking the dog to the vet or auto maintenance, and I let her pay me back in payments. I do not deny that she needs this additional deep cleaning, and I don’t know who else could help her. She certainly doesn’t have the money to pay for a cleaning service, and though she offered to pay me to do it, I really don’t know how she could afford that either. How could I take her money anyway when I am intimately familiar with her income and expenses?

When I ask her how she will pay for it, she says she will “go without food,” which is ridiculous. Not that it’s ridiculous to go without food, but it’s ridiculous for my mother to go without food. She cannot. It is her lifeline. She goes to Wal-Mart and can spend $200 for her and her dog in one trip! And then she hits the dollar store and the pharmacy for everything she didn’t get at Wal-Mart. She can spend her entire monthly income in a single day. I try and tell her how much she can spend in a week to make it last the whole month, but she sometimes chooses to completely disregard that information. If she spends more that she has in her checking account, she simply tells me to transfer some from her savings, because she knows I put some money in there each month.

So I’m not sure how to get out of this. If I tell her I don’t want to do it, I don’t know what she will do instead. But I know I will feel guilty.


  1. You will feel guilty because......?

    Do you need her to depend on you that much?? I can understand the bills and money management, but taking out her garbage?? Sorry if this sounds harsh, but COME ON! I know she has problems and issues but does that really prevent her from pushing a vaccuum cleaner around or taking out HER OWN GARBAGE?

    Don't (and forgive me, but I am going to have to use the "e" word) enable the dependency by doing so much. You do a lot for her already. Your sister needs you and you need to live your life too. I'm not saying you shouldn't help out once in awhile (if YOU want to and it works out for YOU). But don't carry the guilt bags around if you choose not to.

    End Sermon.

    PS Hope your doing okay.

  2. I was watching Anywhere but here yesterday and thought of you and your mother. Interesting!

  3. I agree with Afton. Set your own boundaries.
    If she chooses to have a big, messy animal, she gets to clean up after it, etc... She's a grown- up. It's good for her to own her own life.


Your feedback, please...