Confessions of a First-Time Caregiver - Part 10


Confessions of a First-Time Caregiver - Part 10

chocolate-203276_640Bittersweet Respite

Unlike many caregivers, I have two siblings helping. Helping probably should be in quotes. My sister is my angel. She jumps in, which allows me to go home 48 hours a week. However, she's not very punctual, and sometimes she has to change the times or day she said she would come. Still, she comes. All she might do the whole time is watch Dad, but honestly that's the hardest thing to do. My brother, like myself, has taken up temporary residence in my parents' home, but he's been taking over, making unilateral decisions and driving my mother crazy by not cluing her in on social worker visits, what's being delivered, or what cosmetic changes he's making to her house -- all because he's "been here before" with his mother-in-law.

With all that drama, I'm glad to get out of here for as many hours as I can. However, resuming a life abandoned two days per week presents its challenges.

  1. Housework.
    There's no one at my home. This might sound sublime to a caregiver suddenly living with three other, opinionated, strong-willed adults. Peace. Quiet. Freedom. Control! It also means there's no dinner waiting, no hot bath drawn, and no one to clean up after me. When I get back home I have to do food shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc., etc. In fact, I probably work more when I go home than I do when caregiving at my parents.

  2. Work work.
    My time back home also includes me catching up on client work that I didn't have time to do while caregiving. My brother has taken a full-time job so he's not as available as he has been and Dad has therapy three times a week. My job is also creative in nature. Not only is it difficult to get in a mental space, I also don't have the physical space to work.

  3. Solitude.
    This one is totally my fault, but it's been difficult reconnecting with friends while in town. First off, I'd been working on that "choose your friends wisely" thing you always see memes about. My old "hangout buddies" no longer interest me. I'd invited the new friends to my place for a get-to-know-you-even-better soiree the week Dad had his stroke. Worst. Timing. Ever. I haven't really established a daily communication rapport nor are we Facebook friends, so keeping in touch during the week hasn't happened.

  4. Guilt.
    I only live an hour and thirty minutes from my parents' home. It almost doesn't make sense for me to not to go home, especially when, during the week, I'm pulling more weight. But still, I wonder if someone is thinking I'm abandoning ship, not cut out for this, or the eternal standby for all youngest children: Spoiled.

  5. Anxiety.
    I've been leaving on Friday afternoons, returning Sunday evenings. Sundays are the complete worst! No matter what I'm planning on doing, church, gym, or both, I can hear the deafening sound of that clock ticking -- counting down the seconds until I get back on the road, and back to my caregiving reality.

My spiritual sister had a housewarming party a few weeks ago and I was blessed to be home that weekend. Her home was simply gorgeous. There weren't a whole lot of people there but I was able to dress like me, be around people like me, and listen to the music we loved back in our New York clubbing days. I was me again.

It felt great, but it also felt foreign. Almost like I'd been let out of jail for a few days for a funeral. Mine. The person I was. Maybe that's what I need to do. Mourn who I was and embrace who I am now. Or, perhaps I need to embrace the duality and become all right with wearing different masks on different days of the week. Maybe that's where I'll find happiness.

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I get the guilt. I feel guilty if I'm not spending as much time as I think I should with my parents. Then, if I'm absorbed in something and not thinking about my parents, I feel guilty that I'm not feeling guilty.\r\n\r\nUgh.\r\n\r\nI love the idea that you can be who you are wherever you are. We have to keep our lives going. It's good you are doing that.