Mother’s Day Begins with My Caregiver Story
Most people care for someone else at some point. But many of us care for someone constantly. Whether you have small children, a chronically ill loved one, or aging parents, you have likely placed another person’s needs ahead your own. I too share your Mother’s Day story, as I am the mother of two children who have faced significant medical battles across the past 14 years. Doctor appointments, medicines, physical therapy, cooking special diets, etc. can quickly consume a day, week, month, and year. It can sometimes be difficult to thrive when we are actually just trying to survive.
As a caregiver, when asked before a holiday, “What gift do you want this year?”, my thoughts immediately jump to health for my family. I want my children’s health issues to miraculously disappear and my parents to live vibrantly and age slowly. However, because these are wishes beyond my control, I refocus on the next most important thing on my wish list – FREE TIME! ME TIME! I’d love to spend an entire week NOT driving around in circles. I dream of a clean house and fridge full of food, and NOT to have played a role in any of it happening. I simply yearn for the time to be selfish and do what I want, when I want.
How I Learned to Ask for What I Need
Until a few years ago, I never said all this out loud. I was too embarrassed to admit I was overwhelmed and needed help, and ashamed that I was sometimes frustrated and even jealous of other people’s simpler lives. I felt guilty telling people I just wanted to be alone. This changed one day when I read a post on Facebook from another mom. I don’t remember her exact words, but basically her post went like this:
HUSBAND: “What do you want for Mother’s Day?”
MOM: “For you all to clean the house and then get out… like leave me at home for the whole day and don’t come back until bedtime, with full stomachs and a carload of groceries.”
HUSBAND: laughing, “No seriously – what do you want to do with the kids and I for Mother’s Day?”
MOM: “Absolutely nothing. I want to take a break from mothering! To wander around, alone in my own house. I don’t want to care for anyone’s needs but my own for a full day.” – drops the mic
Laughing as I read this, I was impressed and equally horrified by her brazen demand. However, as the night wore on, I couldn’t stop thinking about this post. What would that be like, to be home alone with no responsibilities? I let it fester for a few days and then actually requested “alone time” when my husband asked what I wanted for Mother’s Day.
Taking Steps for Your Self-Care Break
The first Mother’s Day I was gifted alone time, my hubby and kids left for about 2 hours and I spent most of it doing chores and wondering what they were up to. Fast forward several months to my birthday that year and I asked for the same gift again, this time doing a better job of using my time to NOT do chores and instead go for a run and take a long bath. Several years later, that two hour break that was once a special gift is now something I aim to do weekly, which I have named Self-care Sunday. I have learned that the best gift I can give my kids and husband is a rested and relaxed mama. I am a better caregiver when I take care of myself.
So for Mother’s Day this year I encourage you to practice self-care and request “Me Time”. Accept the offer of support from a spouse, friend, neighbor, or family member and let them takeover your responsibilities so you can take a break. If someone is not available, hire a sitter for your kids or a home health nurse if you care for an adult that requires specialized care. Yes this may be expensive, but this is a gift to you both – a rested and happier you.
GIFT YOURSELF A HAPPY DAY & YOUR FAMILY A HAPPY MOTHER
Before you chicken out, find a piece of paper and draw a big heart on it. In the center list three ideas for your “Me Date” and three people you can ask for help with caring for your loved one(s). Next, tape it to your bathroom mirror, so you see it regularly. Each time that you look at yourself and see signs of frustration, tiredness, or even sadness, make trying to set-up plans for your “Me Time” a priority that day.
From one caregiver to another, I ask you to LOVE YOURSELF SO YOU CAN BETTER CARE FOR THOSE YOU LOVE! Please gift yourself and the person you care for a break from each other. You will come back with more energy, patience, and an improved outlook. You will also realize that other people are capable of helping and you don’t have to do it alone. Hopefully you will enjoy it so much that you will make it a priority to schedule more “Me Time” for yourself again in the not too distant future.
|Remember that that loving and taking care of yourself results in a happier, more relaxed you…. so you can do a better job of caring for those you love!|
Happy Mother’s Day!