Series: What Have You Done for Yourself Lately? #1

self-care family caregiver mom sandwich generation

So last week, when I rolled out the series, What Have You Done For Yourself Lately?, I promised myself and you that I would do something to begin taking better care of myself. I promised I would report back to you and tell you what worked, what didn’t and how it all felt.

self care family caregiver mom sandwich generation

As a mom and a family caregiver, I hardly ever take any time for myself. It’s taking its toll mentally and I need to do something about it before it affects me physically.

 

I was so excited to start this but boy was it hard to put into motion. I am pretty sure my husband might have been more excited about this than me. He’s worried and has encouraged me to get started. I had many ideas floating around in my head about what I might do. Get a pedicure. Go out to lunch with a friend. Indecision results in no decision.

 

I wrote the intro to this series last Monday, if you didn’t see it you can link over here.

 

Way back then, I thought I had sooo much time until today. Boy did it go by fast and it wasn’t as easy to carry out as I thought.

 

My kids are getting older, they are 14, 10 and 8. They are well versed in what to do in an emergency. My grandmother is actually the problem. She seems to have a sixth sense for when I step out, even if it’s only for a two-minute ride to the post office. Evenings are the worst. So I need to have someone here if I go anywhere.

 

Tuesday

 

My husband worked late. By the time he came home, I wasn’t going anywhere but to the couch.

 

Wednesday

Michael took his boss around looking at apartments. I wasn’t complaining, he’s been on our couch for about 6 weeks. Easy house guest, but really, buh-bye. Worth it, success!

Thursday

Michael came home in a crab ass mood. When he mentioned going out for a bit, all I could think of was “woo-hoo, see ya”. I think I was in bed by 9:30.

Friday

Michael had the day off for Veteran’s Day and we spent the day doing some things around the house. I fell asleep on the couch at 6:30 and woke up at 10, just in time for my nightly bowl of cereal and went to bed.

 

Saturday – Yahoo

I should totally have taken the time on Saturday. The kids and Michael were busy here at home. Gram was of course sleeping. I should have up and sped away. I was totally in the mood to do something. I texted my mom to see if she wanted to work on decluttering some of my grams clothes. Seriously maybe I do these things to procrastinate. I should have known.

Yes I want to get rid of some serious stuff here. I am drowning in 1960 neat-freak, hoarder heaven. Everything is ridiculously neat, but literally is from 1956 from the décor to the clothes.

 

My Dad also mentioned he was stopping by for a visit. Not only did I stay home all day expecting my mom and my Dad, neither of which showed up until 5 and each stayed like 20 minutes. Another day wasted.

 

Now I was starting to panic, not only that I wouldn’t be able to write a post and would lose my integrity with you only one week in. One. Week. Dammit. But just as importantly, I had made a promise to myself. To my family. I need this. And they need me. If I go down, then what.

 

Sunday morning

Even with all of this looming I wasn’t ready to head out the door just yet.

 

Turns out that was for the best. I got a phone call from a friend that needed mew. We are very close and I was thankful to talk to her.

 

After that, I needed to shower and get ready. This past week a friend of my son lost his mother. She was 43 and had battled cancer for about 6 years. She beat breast cancer, only to have it return in her brain.

 

She was such a sweet person and this put my biggest fear front and center. Self care wake up call slap in the face.

 

I have to say how proud I am of my son. One of us planned to go with him to the Celebration of Life, and since it was only around the corner he got there before I did.

 

It was actually a very nice event. Casual clothes and music, I hadn’t been to anything like that before. Sure beats the whole creepy, awkward wake/funeral deal.

 

Seeing that it was relaxed, yet jam-packed and no one I knew had even shown up yet since it was an all afternoon affair, I gave my condolences and scooted back home leaving my son with his friends.

 

Now back home and my gram just finished with lunch, I had to deal with the fact that she had put off taking a shower for too long. I suspect she had done a poor job when she was in the shower before this point. I couldn’t put off the inevitable any longer. I was going to have to go in with her. I was hoping it was going to go smoothly.

 

I suggested it was time to get in that shower. I told her I had everything ready. I had a mental plan and just kept moving. I had the heater on, the towels ready. I put everything in my reach so I could guide everything how it needed to happen.

 

When I walked her into the bathroom, I simply closed the door and said “I’m going to help you today.” In the past, I had offered my help, that only gave her an opportunity to say, “no, I’m all set”.

 

It’s become another way life is like sales, don’t offer a question that they can say “no” to.

 

With dementia, anything requiring multiple steps can confuse them. I believe she was getting in the shower and only doing some of the necessary actions.

 

This turned out to explain so many things. Why we have poop tracked around the bathroom when she is done. Why she doesn’t smell very clean when she comes out. I will leave out the gory details.

I will tell you, as I performed tasks such as giving her shampoo which she then rubbed on her arms or the fact that when I handed her the deodorant and it felt full despite having bought it quite sometime ago, I knew my going into the bathroom with her was now our new normal.

 

Much to my luck as I finished with gram, I find out the dog has rolled all over a dead bird and reeks. Now it would seem the next step is to just move the next contestant into the shower. Small problem with that. First my grandmother has decided she is going to sit in the bathroom, just sitting there fussing with her nails for the next twenty minutes, then move herself to the kitchen table only a few feet away and stay there for the next hour.

 

Why is that a problem you might wonder. Well my grandmother actually has no idea we have a dog. For real. As I mentioned, my husband’s boss spent a few weeks between living arrangements on our couch in our basement family room, along with his lovely, chocolate lab Mae.  My daughter took this pic.  Isn’t she cute?

 

self care family caregiver mom sandwich generation

 

The way into the house is also right near the basement door at one end of the house and my grandmother who sleeps a sick amount of time is at the other end of the house. She didn’t even know they were here.

 

We all fell in love with the dog who would stay with us during the day while the guys were at work. He realized how much love and attention the dog was getting and admitted his lifestyle wasn’t the best for the dog. He’s going. She’s staying. She is amaaazing. No barking, whining, accidents or getting into things. She stays right with us in the yard and listens well.

 

Now it’s been two months and my grandmother still doesn’t know. When she sees the kids playing in the yard with Mae, she comments but assumes the dog lives in the neighborhood. Since my grandmother doesn’t want a bug in a jar as a pet, this is all working quite nicely. Everybody wins.

 

So you can imagine if she’s sitting at the table it might be hard to get the dog into the bathroom for a shower. If she faced the window, which she always does, it would have worked, she also can hardly hear even with her hearing aids at top notch performance. Of course this time she is sitting at an angle.

 

Now I wait another hour before I can get Mae into the shower. After finally getting that done, the bathroom looks like it rained in there.

 

Hey guess what, it’s time for dinner. Luckily, the kids prepped everything for me. This is one thing that I have introduced here at home to help ease my work load. Each kid has taken on a bit more chores to spread the workload. With three kids contributing, most of the housework is off of me, though still requires a bit of management from me. But even that is getting less.

 

When all is said and done it’s seven o’clock. Seriously. I. Still. Haven’t. Done. Anything. For. Me.

 

I thought about a walk since I don’t even have to change clothes or do my hair, but it’s dark.

 

I could take Mae, but she’s still wet, is finally clean and the idea of her tugging on the leash, her one fault we’ve found so far, kind of defeats the purpose.

 

Now what. I have to do this. I don’t even care about my appearance. I pull out of the driveway. It’s 7:17pm. I am nearly in tears, I am tired, but I can’t let myself down. I consider pulling into the church parking lot across the street from our house and just sit in the car with the seat reclined. I think my husband suspects I don’t want to go, he’s waving from the driveway smiling, watching me go.

 

I pass a few stores. All of them dark. Sunday night after 7 in rural America doesn’t leave much. The mall is another twenty minutes away. I haven’t been there in so long that I don’t even know how late they stay open. I do the only thing I can. Go to Wal-Mart.

 

There are hardly any people here. This is good. No crying kids. Music playing. I wander up and down the aisles mindlessly. Mindlessly is good now. Sometimes that’s what I really need. A time and place to allow my thoughts to just turn off instead of rushing full speed.

 

An hour and a half later I pull into the garage with one pair of yoga pants, two pairs of gloves, some Christmas snowflake window clings, a bottle of shampoo, a bottle of conditioner, two gallons of milk and a bunch of bananas.

 

Nothing exciting. No special spa treatments. No moments of deep relaxation or life changing epiphany. But a peace of mind knowing I did it. One baby step towards doing more and the satisfaction of knowing I kept my word to myself. Rocky and lame? Yup. But it’s a start.

 

I told you I would do this. And I did. I knew it might be a challenge. And it was. Now I know I also need to plan something at the beginning of the week. If something else had added to Sunday, it definitely would have ended the whole thing. I also need to try to make it a daytime thing if possible.

 

If I have an opportunity to get out I need to take it. Life happens and it will get in the way.. If I let it. If I don’t take care of me, what kind of life will I have anyway? What will that teach my children?

 

I will make something better happen for myself this week. Something that works for me, but dear God, it won’t be Wal-Mart again.

 

Did you do this with me? Did you do something for yourself or did it flop? Let me know in the comments…What have you done for yourself lately?

self care family caregiver mom sandwich generation

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3 thoughts on “Series: What Have You Done for Yourself Lately? #1

    • Laurie O'Rourke says:

      Catherine you are so right. My husband keeps telling me to do this and he is not even a schedule kind of person, he just knows how bad I need this. I just keep procrastinating..no idea why…it’s sad when it just feels like more work. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  1. I’ll right away grab your rss feed as I can’t find your email subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Please let me know in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

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