On the days Mom's breathing is good and she feels strong, she tries to help me with the daily chores. Even little things like helping clear the table after dinner allows her to contribute and it is a blessing to me to have the help! As she walked past me at the kitchen sink the other night, she patted me on the shoulder and smiled, "But, who cares for the care-giver?"
It was more of a statement than a question and was prompted by our conversations over dinner regarding my cousin and a friend at church. These two women are both care-givers: my cousin has been taking care of her husband who has heart problems and recently had a stroke, and my friend's mother lives with her and her husband. And both of these ladies were just diagnosed with late stage cancer. Now these care-givers are also care-receivers.
I have been very, very blessed since caring for Mom. Only a couple of times I've been ill and then my husband stepped in and took care of both Mom and me. My two sisters-in-law and my brothers have all been so good about being there when we have needed someone to help with Mom. I am blessed so much more than I deserve!!
But Mom's statement did get me to thinking about how we as care-givers tend to do for them rather than for ourselves. I suppose it's part of that "nurturing" sense that mothers with children do without thinking about it. But something I get reminded of when I take Mom to the doctor is that I need to take care of myself. So I thought I would share a few things here, not just to remind you other care-givers, but more to remind me!
"Mini-vacations", those few minutes when we can focus on something other than the needs of those we love can help re-energize and re-new us. Even Jesus said to His disciples "... Come ye yourselves apart ..., and rest a while:" (Mark 6:31). It doesn't have to be expensive, take a great deal of time, or necessarily involve others ~ it's just a few minutes alone with something enjoyable and distracting.
From personal experience, I have found the following have helped me greatly in recent days to re-focus and to give me a "mini-vacation" from the care-giving ~ and I don't have to leave home or get someone to be with Mom while I rest and relax for a few minutes!
1. I pull out my digital camera and began taking photos of ... well, anything and anyone! For me it's relaxing and enjoyable to capture the moment with the camera, and with the digital format there is no wasting of film: just delete any photos that didn't turn out the way I thought they would! Any few minutes that I play photographer is relaxing for me. And if I do get a good photo and share it with someone that enjoys it, too, that's really special!
2. I love books and love to read, but over the past few years I have found that my reading is almost totally instructional and spiritual. Neither of those in themselves is a bad thing, but sometimes "running away" for a few minutes with the familiar characters in Little Women, Sergeant York and His People, or All Horses Go To Heaven have been a great escape. (Note: I never suggest romance novels to a woman as "escape" reading - it puts the focus on the wrong emotion! The older classics that don't have supposed "adult" themes are a much better choice for guiltless and non-stimulating emotional relaxing!)
3. I have been able to pick-up a new craft that is easy to start and stop. It's been tremendously involving and relaxing, something I can easily lay down when I'm needed and pick back up without losing a stitch! It's also a great place to run-away to when I need to just stop and breathe.
These are good mental and emotional diversions, but there is also the physical health area that needs to be address. Since I am not a health-care provider, I am including below links to several very informative and helpful websites that I have been reading lately that deal with healthy eating, getting enough rest, and getting enough physical activity to keep us alert and able to be the care-givers we so desire to be. Each of these articles is well worth the time to read.
Care-giver, caring for our loved one is certainly as unto the Lord and our labor of love. But, we do need to remember that we are only human, we have physical bodies, and we have our own emotional needs. And the Lord does make a way for us to integrate our needs into caring for our loved ones!
Please remember above all to stay on your knees before our Lord Jesus, and keep looking up! And remember, too, that you are loved with an everlasting love!
Shared in love,
(Note: you will have to block and copy the link and then paste it into your browser address to access the web page - this blog doesn't put the web-link into a click-able format. Sorry! Chris)