I remember so clearly the day I asked my sister if she could stay with our 88 year old mom for just a few hours while I ran some errands and just took some time for a much needed breather. Don’t get me wrong, I love my sister and we have a great relationship, but her response to me that day, “Well, what do you want me to do with her?” almost put me over the edge! Not wanting it to become a family crisis, I offered some suggestions and didn’t look back, at least not until I could compose myself.
Becoming the designated caregiver for our mom was probably written in stone long before I ever realized it, after all my mom also cared for her mother and the cycle just continues. In a family of four children, being single and the oldest daughter clinched it. While everyone else in the family saw it as a perfect situation; I was suddenly thrust into a world that felt restricted and honestly was absolutely resentful. I could no longer call my time my own or have the freedom to get up and go anytime while also feeling so guilty for even thinking this way.
After a few months of wallowing around in all the “why me” ramblings, I took some time for reflection and prayer – realizing that it wasn’t easy for mom either. If she had her way, she would much rather continue to be independent and fully functioning in her own home. But the truth was, she could no longer do this and moving in with me was really the best option for all. Perhaps it was the prayer, or just stepping back to look at the big picture, but whatever it was, I was able to see what I had once seen as burdens, now as blessings. While there were many things mom could no longer do, she certainly worked hard at the skills she could still provide. For instance, her green thumb kept an array of beautiful plants thriving all around our home, and although, due to her diminished eyesight, she had to cut down on cooking, she could certainly sit in the kitchen and offer her culinary expertise to grandchildren and great-grandchildren that benefited greatly from her wisdom.
I often wondered how so many caregivers learn to graciously accept this role in life. While it can be a challenging time, looking at the blessings can often provide the peace and grace of acceptance.
As we all know, caregiving is stressful. Need some support as a caregiver? Go to mmLearn.org for over 200 FREE online videos for caregivers of older adults. Our Prayers for Caregivers series provides a variety of short reflections and prayers from different faith traditions – presented especially for the hurried caregiver who often has little time and always in need of prayer!