Updates: “Worried Mom” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today, we hear from “Worried Mom” who was concerned that her MIL may be showing signs of Alzheimer’s after she giving her grandbaby a dirty cup to drink from while babysitting recently. Keep reading for an update.

First, thanks so much for your advice. I actually called the Alzheimer’s hotline and discussed my concerns in length with a lady there. She did agree that the cup incident could be a warning sign, but that it wasn’t clear cut. My MIL has gotten increasingly more forgetful and easily confused, which is why I was worried.

I appreciate the advice about finding additional babysitters. We live in a small town and haven’t met many people yet. I have put up ads, but haven’t gotten responses. The daycares here require a weekly deposit to hold your child’s spot, and my mother-in-law has told us before that she would be offended if she were not asked to watch our kids. Your advice has lit a fire under me, though, and I will try harder to find someone.

As an update, my father-in-law told my husband that my MIL discussed it with him and told him I was angry with her. I absolutely was not. I have no idea where she got that idea. She also told him a completely different story which didn’t make sense either. (She said that she knowingly used the dirty cup because there were no clean ones. There were several clean ones in the cupboard).

So today I called her just to check on her and apologize if I had given her the impression that I was upset. At first she was a little prickly, but, after I assured her that I wasn’t mad and that the baby was fine, she was more friendly. She said that my husband had told my FIL that she should have known better and washed the cup. I know this didn’t happen. I was standing beside my husband while they were on the phone. Just to be sure, I asked my husband, and he confirmed that he didn’t say that. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions while talking to her, so I haven’t addressed that… I am not sure if I even should. I kind of think it’s best to just drop it.

I have no idea what is going on, though. I don’t think she would knowingly lie. Now, though, my FIL seems to think we are out to get her, so I don’t know if he will take our concerns seriously.

Also, I seem to have stirred up a debate in your comments section. So, here’s the deal: The dirty dishes in the sink were our breakfast dishes from that morning plus one stock pot that had soaked over night.

As for the dirty cup that had been there all week, I try to salvage things if I can. I am not wasteful–probably to a fault. Never fear, though! That cup is in the trash now!

And last, I technically DO work from home, though my income is paltry at best. I have a hard time calling myself a “work at home mom” when my income is so little.

Feel free to judge. I am aware that I have faults, but my kids are happy and well-loved! That is what is important to me.

In the future, I certainly will do my best to load the dishwasher BEFORE I leave for appointments, because I think you are right. That will help anyone who is watching them.

Thanks, again. I am grateful that you have this site.


Thanks for the update. As for finding a sitter, have you tried word of mouth (asking other neighborhood moms for recommendations)? Or, do you have a neighborhood listserv or Yahoo group or Facebook page where you could put out some feelers? Honestly, it shouldn’t be that hard to find a few additional sitters to add to your roster. Now finding one who is actually available when you need one and doesn’t cancel at the last minute — that could be challenge from time to time.

As for the cup incident and the whole “her story vs. your story,” I’d just drop it at this point. Consider it a warning sign if you want, but I wouldn’t address it further or you really will seem like you’re out to embarrass your MIL, which probably isn’t a wise move.


If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

You can follow me on Facebook here and sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

    Try care.com or the other related sites too. Also if you’re in a mom’s group (or have school age children) I would start askign around for recommendations from other parents you encounter.

    And, grandma doesn’t have to know she isn’t asked to babysit!

    1. Great suggestion. I have worked for a few awesome families through Care.com. As a parent, if you are unable to find a sitter through word of mouth, you can choose sitters on the site who have had a background check for peace of mind (although I don’t know how extensive it is).

  2. Thoughtful update LW! Having been around a lot of family members as they developed Alzheimer’s, I’d be worried about your MIL’s behavior too. Good luck!

  3. kerrycontrary says:

    I would take your MIL’s behavior as alzheimer’s symptoms. Maybe wait a few weeks as things cool off and then approach your FIL about her behavior. Don’t even bring the cup incident up if you know it will get everyone’s panties in a wad. Oh, and ignore everyone’s freak out about your dishes. You were soaking a cup for a week, no big deal.

    As a note—cities and towns may have parent listservs, but small towns usually don’t. These parent listservs are really really common in urban areas but not so much in smaller areas, so I could see if they didn’t have one. Could you look on community bulletin boards?

  4. lets_be_honest says:

    I know a lot of daycares near me, you can ask the workers there to be your sitter too. Maybe try that too?

  5. Avatar photo BriarRose says:

    I can attest to how hard it is to find a babysitter! I’m going through the same thing myself. A lot of people don’t want to tell me who they use, because they don’t want to “share”.

    It’s a little easier for me, because I’m in a fairly big city with several colleges. One of the colleges has an option to post your ad to their listserv, which is sent to all the interested students. I know a lot of parents get sitters that way. My Mom said she used to call the local churches and see if they could recommend anyone. Even if they didn’t have a set list, they usually had a teenager that they knew of and could recommend.

    There are a lot of wesbites these days that you can sign up for and view local sitters. There is a fee involved, but it might be worth it for you. Good luck!

  6. Friend of Beagles says:

    As another small-town mom, I wanted to confirm that yes, it is that hard to find a babysitter (never mind sitters, plural!). If there’s a babysitting class through a nearby YMCA, community center, or hospital, the instructor may be able to either recommend kids to you or pass along your information to interested program graduates.

  7. I agree – small towns have few resources for moms, especially ones who are not connected to the community because they are new in town. I wanted to add another source of information about babysitters. Sometimes small town libraries have activities for small children. At these events, you may be able to meet other caregivers of small children who can give you names of babysitters. And, even if they aren’t willing to share a trusted babysitter’s name, maybe you two could each take turns watching (at least some of) each others kids while you run errands, etc.

  8. Wow. You guys are awesome! I would have never thought to check all of these places. Had I never written in, I wouldn’t have gotten so many ideas of places to check.

    Thanks a million, everyone. I will totally use your ideas!

    1. Thanks for updating so quickly! It sounds to me that you’re doing a really good job looking out for both your kids and your MIL and extended family. Good for you, for juggling all that responsibility! You can do it!

  9. Bittergaymark says:

    Eh, I still think this is much ado about nothing. It’s almost like WANT her to have a disease and won ‘t be happy until she does. Again, the tone is very me. Me! ME!!! Some women are always so obsessed with being “right” — it’s exhausting.

    1. Ah, ah, ah, BGM—you forgot to say “some” women this time ( you were doing so well lately with that 😉 )

    2. Not everyone can be a martyr like you.

    3. kerrycontrary says:

      Clearly you’ve never had a family member with Alzheimers or another degenerative memory-loss disease. Bully for you.

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        Actually. Wrong. I have. Which is precisely WHY I call bullshit on this…

  10. zombeyonce says:

    I’m no doctor, but my grandmother has Alzheimers and this behavior sounds very familiar. She made up stories to cover for nonsensical things she had done (they way your MIL said there were no clean cups and that’s why she uses one she “knew” was dirty). My grandmother is so adamant that certain things happened when it’s very clear they didn’t that I’m pretty sure she believes it herself. She has become increasingly paranoid about family members being “out to get her” and it’s very sad to see.

    LW, please see if you can get her checked by a doctor. It’ll likely be pretty hard (mine fought against it and even after the diagnosis denies her condition) but if you plan to continue to leave your children with her, you need some peace of mind.

  11. LW, nice update. I would let this one go. It is just a cup. Even if your MIL is trying to force her side too much, you are at least 50% to blame for having the cup there. I know it is disconcerting to have someone mess with your system. But I think this proves that just because you know all the hazards in your home and can avoid them, others walking in with no knowledge cannot be held to the same standards.

    Now, here is the line you need to walk. This might be a case of having to be there to truly see what is happening. This also might be an over protective mom vibe that is blowing things out of proportion. Only you can sort through what actually happened and what you perceived to have happened.

    As far as babysitters go. A lot of towns do babysitting certifications for teenagers in the area. you can look up if your local middle school or high school has something. Also, near me, we have care.com that is a great source for babysitters and nannys.

  12. Anecdotes aren’t evidence. But FWIW, this behaviour reminds me of my grandmother before she was diagnosed with dementia. When she didn’t know or couldn’t remember why she had done something, she would make something up, usually something pretty absurd. It was a defense mechanism against admitting to herself that there was something wrong with her.

  13. Maybe there’s an organization around like a church (even if you don’t attend) or something that might have a young person who could babysit? I just know that at my church, there were a few girls who always helped in the nursery or with vacation bible school, and they were also the sort of people who were interested when someone needed a babysitter. They might not see a flyer from a random stranger and respond, but if they hear through someone who tells their parent who mentions it to them, they might be interested.

    1. Not to mention that that’s a good thing about small towns: You can mention something to a few people, and they probably have good connections to other people.

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