If we try to realize that it is literally impossible to perform all of the duties of caring for an elderly person, keep them happy, AND take care of ourselves and our own family unit, shouldn't we then go on to realize that we can ONLY DO THE BEST THAT WE CAN? - and stop beating ourselves up because we are not superheroes.
I think that what is driving my own unhappiness, frustration, and resentment right now is that I know in my heart that I have sacrificed my own time, energy, money (by not being able to work at my at home job because of distractions). My mother doesn't have the ability to realize all of my and my husband's sacrifices, because she's never been at this level of caregiving herself. She doesn't even comprehend that right now we are so anxious to move to a smaller house with my husband starting his retirement. But we are held to this street, because my mother lives here and we take care of her house (and her). She lives in the fantasy that she is an independent lady living in her own house (when she could never be here if it were not for us. When I even suggest that she hire a daily person (even for an hour) just so I can feel free (as she and my father were free at my age), she resents the suggestion, huffily tells me that she feels like a burden, says she doesn't want strangers in, etc. In other words she turns the tables on me and suggests that I am ungrateful, that she should be in control of her own life, etc. Feeling like a BAD DAUGHTER when I have done so much, makes me resentful and we are simmeringly angry at each other - with probably no hope of a compromise. She'll never see my side of the issue.
So my story here in this thread isn't even about my MIL - she's my own mother and I STILL have resentments. I don't know how you all with your MIL's can do it.
Lynn, I know how you feel about your health. I think that another thing that is making me step up to the plate right now and be angry is that I am 58 - I'm realizing that my own health and time is running out - and I wonder if my husband and I will ever have any time to ourselves. My father was only about 10 years older than I when he began to show signs of dementia and that was the end of his freedom. I have begun to have bad bouts of arthritis and in doing research I'm seeing that stress can lead to so many illnesses. Cortisol, I think, is the hormone released by stress and is a bad one. Hopefully, now that you have time to take care of yourself, all will be well. You have to take care of yourself.
Well, we all know now, that it is best to NOT try to do it all alone. Although the elderly seem to choose one adult child to take the brunt of their care, it is more or less consigning that child to a prison (apologies to any cases that are working out well - some of us are not). I think they feel that if one person cares for them, it is kind of like having a mother again. It's too much - it takes many people sharing the care.