Thursday, September 17, 2015

Being a Caregiver

I'm a caregiver. It's a specific role/title I was just made aware of but one I've held for a long time.

I'm going to be exploring the role of caregiver because while it may seem like a simple thing

"Hey, I take care of people!"

let me tell you, it isn't.

Caregiving is a full time job and it involves all my energy, will power, imagination, and thought. Caregiving is a rewarding life, but it is the hardest thing I've ever done.

As I said, I've always been a caregiver. From scratching the boy who insulted my sister's name to making sure my college age sister charged her cell phone every night and took it with her every day, to clearing a path to each door so my family could escape the house in case of a fire... those were just when I was a child and teenager.

Now as an adult, I'm a caregiver to a husband and two special needs kids. My husband might react to the statement that I'm his caregiver, but it's true.  I take care of him like no one else can. I support him emotionally, physically (he has cerebral palsy), mentally, and I drive him places. Supporting a husband who deals with depression and anxiety is hard work.

I'm also the caregiver to a son with mental health issues and brain damage. He is in 3rd grade and is close to being a fluent reader. I hope. He hid a knife in his bathroom the other day to protect himself from bad guys. He worries about everything. It's a lot of work to keep him safe and to stay ahead of his mental needs.

I'm also the caregiver to Ilse, our four year old daughter with Smith-Lemli-Opitz. She requires total care- diapering, tube feeding, dressing, everything. She might always require total care.

As I consider what the role of caregiver means for me, I'm also going to be considering how best to take care of myself, too. I grew up thinking the caregiver had to work constantly and never take 'me time'. I don't know who made me think that but it's not correct. If the caregiver does not have respite, she will wither up and will not be able to take care of anyway. Even Jesus took time away.

These are just my beginning thoughts.
Stay tuned.

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