Caregiving is a tough job. Caregiving full-time, as in around the clock, is insanely hard. Doing it with a growing family and a marriage to nurture nearly broke me. There’s one reason I’m glad I was a caregiver and one reason I’d never do it again.
Many of my 2016 posts were about caregiving. It consumed my life and was a pillar of my blog for a year. When caring for my grandmother came to an end, my blog stood at a stand still for a few months while I contemplated what to do.
You can read about that HERE.
Comments from a fellow blogger reminded me that my life was always changing and growing and so too should my blog. Thanks Gretchen.
This got me inspired again and my blog took a new direction. I had always blogged about parenting, since I was a parent and was juggling it as well as caregiving.
In fact, my most popular posts are my oldest ones about parenting. And for sure one of my newest, How to Make an Amazing First Period Survival Kit, which has taken off like gangbusters.
The problem was in my thinking. I was afraid to abandon my caregiver readers.
Then I realized since you probably read my posts because you were juggling both aspects too, you were still in fact parents, and would eventually go through the same changes I was.
Since then, my posts have all focused on new tween happenings in our house. But in the spirit of walking you through the change of going from caregiver to no longer a caregiver, I give you this.
For those of you contemplating caregiving or just starting to dip your toes in, I hope this helps you.
THE ONE REASON I’M GLAD I DID IT
I’m glad because our family motto is family first.
When I say that, I mean the family my husband and I created. It’s said regularly in our house.
We use it to remind the kids that sometimes friendships change but siblings are forever.
That one day, more than likely, my husband and I will be gone, and they will be siblings who continue to share a common bond no one else has.
It’s a reminder that united we stand, divided we fall. That we share in each others triumphs and support each other through disappointment. We’ve got each others backs.
My grandmother desperately wanted to stay in her home at all costs. I made the promise that I would take it as far as I was able. We left our home of 20 years and our kids school system to make that happen.
The five of us stood together. And for most of it we did it alone.
For 3 years around the clock. And for 3 years before moving in. Quite frankly she was my shadow for 15 years. We were her lifeline. My family gave her all the joy she could garner. Though I have to say joy was not her personality.
MY TAKE AWAY – How important is your why? It means everything. It may be the only thing that keeps you going.
MY ONE REASON I’D NEVER DO IT AGAIN
It consumed me. Every part of my being. Call me what you will, empath, sensitive, emotional, Pisces. I feel it all. I absorb everyone’s feeling like a sponge.
As an emotional and incredibly talkative girl raised by women who were or at least appear to be unemotional and indifferent, expecting you to behave just so, you learn to keep your feelings to yourself and be obsessed with being a people pleaser. Not good. Not fun. My poor husband.
So while I’m still incredibly talkative, it’s usually not about my feelings. Though I’m not sure I hide my feelings very well, it’s usually quite represented in my face and posture. * insert eyeroll
Because I’m aware of it, it has helped me to work hard at being a different kind of mom and wife. Though it is a constant struggle to maintain the self-awareness and avoid it.
It also requires me, yes requires, alone time to recharge. Hard to do in a house of 3 kids and someone who can’t leave your side. I was like Superman and Kryptonite or whatever Wonder Woman’s weakness was.
Taking on the masochistic idea of homeschooling at the same time was probably not wise.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still a huge advocate of homeschooling. I have enormous admiration for people who do it. I just became broken.
It had a huge impact on my health that you can read about HERE. Thankfully, it was temporary, and I’m fine. If you need a check up, do it.
All the things still got done, but everything was half-assed and I was a hot mess. The way I left the house is embarrassing.
Slowly since the time she passed away I have been putting myself back together.
I started fixing my hair, putting on make up, actually getting dressed in a fresh outfit everyday. And not just yoga pants.
I began exercising. Not to lose weight. But for strength, both physically and mentally.
My husband loves me regardless, but seeing me not caring about myself was hard on him. My whole demeanor was bringing down the house.
This time I was doing something for me. If it helped others, well that was just gravy.
I have no doubt that I wasn’t really here anymore. I barely maintained any friendships. Relationships with my extended family was strained. And sadly, I wasn’t paying any attention to my marriage.
Oh I thought I was. We still talked. Didn’t fight. I did all the things homemakers and wives do. But I was doing all of them on auto-pilot. No one was home.
Trust me when I say, no one wants to be married to a robot. I was becoming just like the women in my life. Joyless people who get a lot done, but don’t get close to anybody.
Indifference or even just the appearance of it will kill relationships. Whether friendships, marriage, or the ones with your kids.
If you appear not to care. They will take that as real.
Meanwhile you may care very much and they have no idea. It’s more than just saying “I love you”. More than just saying “How was your day?”. It all just sounds like empty words. There needs to be real connection.
So now, with a change in how I feel about myself. I’m becoming alive again. A part of what’s going on around me. It’s made a huge difference in our house in just a few weeks.
MY TAKEAWAY – Know your personality and the personalities of the people involved in the caregiving. People don’t usually change. My grandmother wasn’t going to turn into Betty White. My extended family wasn’t going to suddenly help. And I wasn’t going to become Wonder Woman and be everyone’s everything and still maintain myself.
I can say I am proud of what I did and am thankful it didn’t cost me everything. Glad I woke up in time. But it was close and not a I’m willing to take again, because it truly is this Family First.