I was going to write about how hard it has been, even with help, to take care of Mom since she arrived home. I was going to write about the fact that my stress levels are so high between juggling caregivers, nurses, physical therapy, occupational therapy, doctors appointments, EMT transportation, hoyer lifts, wheelchairs, bedpans and catheters that I have had heart palpitations. Instead I will write about the stuff of the season… love, family, understanding and forgiveness.
I decided to forgive myself. This Christmas is not and will not be like last year. When your loved one comes home after nine weeks and cannot walk or stand, you have to let some things go because you can’t do everything and survive. So I am forgiving myself for not decorating the lovely fraser fir with beautiful white lights glowing in the corner of the living room right now. It is perfect. The stockings will not be filled with little silly gifts this year. My choice, I choose not to stress about stockings, but to enjoy the time I still have with Mom.
I am so grateful for my husband, who has had his house invaded by his mother-in-law for over three years and when watching me handle this, continues to affirm my decisions big and small and encourages me to “let go” of trying to be the “perfect daughter, wife and mother” and only do what I can, not what in my mind I think I should be able to do. Just today, the man who every year wheedles, cajoles or bribes either myself or our children to wrap his Christmas presents (even the ones to ourselves!), quietly wrapped, put bows, ribbons and tags on all the presents I have managed to order and placed them under the tree. That is what love and understanding are all about.
I am thankful that I have fallen accidentally into hiring an agency that has sent two wonderful women to help take care of Mom. Each not only taking care of her, but also being proactive about helping me as much as her. One especially takes care to do things with Mom as I am trying to prepare for Christmas. They even helped her write and address her Christmas cards and wrap her presents.
Both of our children will be home for Christmas. So many families cannot say that. We will have our new tradition that we started a few years ago: Christmas Eve tree decorating. Which was going to be a family affair, and turned into a family watching Mom decorate the tree. So it is now really Christmas Eve together. We make taco dip, drink wine and beer and watch our version of Christmas movies: Scrooged, Bad Santa and The Ice Harvest. Weird I know, but I tried White Christmas on them one year and was booed out of the room! Number 1 Son will fall asleep on the floor, Hubby will wander off to bed and Number 1 Daughter and I will fall asleep on the couch and recliner respectively.
As crazy and yes, terrifying, as it has been for the last week, I still can count my blessings. I get to be with my hubby of 43 years, my mom, my two kids and a cat and a parrot for Christmas. I have friends who understand and support me and are fiercely protective of me and I am lucky enough to have caregivers who can help me with Mom. Sometimes I just have to step back from the craziness and remind myself to be thankful. To be thankful for forgiveness, understanding, my family and most of all love.
My wish for all of you this Christmas Holiday Season is that you will find forgiveness for yourself in your caregiving journey; understanding from friends and relatives; support from your family and most of all love.
- Merry Christmas, Mom! (caregiving.com)
- The Trifecta of Caregiving (caregiving.com)
- Is This Heaven Sent? I Sure Hope So! (caregiving.com)
- What Gifts Should Be Under Every Family Caregiver’s Tree? (caregiving.com)
- The Holidays Don’t Feel Like Holidays This Year! (caregiving.com)
- Little Difference in Caregiving Responsibilities Between Working and Non-Working Family Caregivers (caregiving.com)
- Dementia, Drumsticks and Dressing (caregiving.com)
- How Employers Can Help Their Caregiving Employees (caregiving.com)