Yk Ruth, I wonder if what you're feeling is based more in Servant Complex than Savior Complex. There is a huge difference: A servant is one perceived as having lesser status, a savior is one who is perceived as having a greater, more knowledgeable status. I know I could be very wrong about this because it's just my perception, but you feeling "more than?" An "expert in..?" It's not that you place yourself above, but that you place yourself below. We can't be a doormat and an steeple concurrently.
It seems when you think of your mother in any situation she is somehow "above" or more powerful than subordinate you. In every situation. She whines, wheedles and otherwise emotionally blackmails to get what she wants. But what would she do if you weren't around? Believe me, she'd be fine. There are plenty of adults who are not able for a variety of reasons (not all nefarious!) to assist their aging parents.
You become in your own words that CHILD once again when she demands something. There are no ceremonies, no Rites of Passage in typical western society that indicate to others and introduce individuals to their communities as an adult. Traditional societies have rituals for major milestones and to some extent we do-except for one exceptionally important change in status: "You are now an adult." And as such we are EQUAL in status to every other adult. No DNA exceptions.
Your relationship to your adult children no doubt has changed over the years. There is an evolution from how we engage with our minor children and how we engage with our adult children. Our relationship becomes far more equal, far more one of peers. One of the most challenging and unexamined areas of my own life was recognizing I *was* an adult. (And I had been one for a decade plus before I finally caught on to that reality.) But it reframed how I viewed myself and the rest of the world radically: Equal status, equally powerful, equally deserving. Those were words, concepts for awhile before they became actions. Do you know, I was too embarrassed (and to some extent still am) to tell anyone that my "mother" was still physically abusing me as an adult? Push, shove, pull, grab etc. But that embarrassment I was wearing? That rightfully was HER dress out of HER closet that she stuck on me. I "felt" the shame because she didn't. Why was I hiding that? Why was SHE? I hope you understand how wearing "Servant" Glad Rags is not, nor was it ever the uniform of YOUR choice. You just never questioned it or shoved it back at it's rightful owner or better yet, cremate the thing!
Anyway, I so get the anxiety, the guilt, all the emotional battering we get into when we're just giving into them (because it'll never be enoug/ the right thing etc.) as short term bandaids and the equally excruciating NOT falling back into those old roles. And of course they unleash lightning bolts and thunder over the word or the behavior that says and does "NO." Please remember, that is SUCH AN ACT as you already know-remember her peeking through her fingers to assess the effect of her behavior? She isn't suffering-but you are. You anguish, she's delighted. Can you imagine getting off on hurting/manipulating your own kids? The inherent dishonesty, the moral bankruptcy...ugh.
I needed TW pointing out how my mother is manipulating me yet again. I checked in with my sister and she reported the differences in how each visitor is treated. For my Dad, she pours on the helplessness-you-have-to-help-me. My brother gets all is great and going well. For me, it is tears and you-are-the-best-thing-that-happened-to-me. When I asked her about Dad visiting she totally dissed him by saying, "He comes everyday." She expects his presents. Full stop. No appreciation or a hint of gratitude. WOW. With TW's insight, I am looking at the situation far differently.
TW pointed out, "We can't be a doormat and an steeple concurrently." But what my mother does do is set me on a pedastal of "Only-you-can-read-my-mind-and-serve-me." I feel special and she uses that to manipulate me to do her bidding. Putting me in the position of steeple to use me as a doormat leaves me reeling and confused. Now if I reexamine her praise in the form of complimenting to manipulate things are put in a very different perspective. She creates the illusion that I am the only one that can 'save-her'. But the reality is she does very well without me.
I also appreciate mulderfan's encouragement. From her I learned so much about setting healthy boundaries with aging parents. It is not an easy task at all. A lot of wear and tear on my soul. Hours spent soul searching to see if I can handle things differently. However, one toe in the pot convinces me she will cook my goose if I get any closer. Thanks mulderfan for teaching me that distance doesn't hurt them.