Who helps the helper? That is a great question.
As a Primary (1º) caregiver and a mom and a wife, I take care of up to 6 people a day – depending on who is home. Add to that 5 cats and dog that are primarily under my care as well.
Being a “helper” or caregiver is exhausting. Just on a normal day, I have to deal with an adult who is more like a 6 year old – prompt her to do just about everything. I cook 3 meals a day, dole out medicine, be sure there is food for the critters, keep track of doctors appointments, go to swim meets or band concerts or choir concerts, take care of what minimal house cleaning that gets done, wash dirty clothes, help the grown children find things they left here …. the list can go on and on.
Women were created to be helpers. Most women are wired to be helpers. Even in this world of “equality” the woman still does the majority of the helping/caregiving. I have been fortunate enough to be able to stay home to raise the children. And yes, fortunate enough that I am able to care for my mother in my home instead of shoving her in a nursing home. Honestly, I don’t mind most of the work. However…
There are times when the pressure of being squashed between teenagers and dementia gets very overwhelming. So… who is helping me?
Now… there are some of you that would say and/or quote Psalm 28:7 to me: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.” Yeah… maybe… but let’s remember that I struggle with that because that does not actually provide me physical help. I suppose the Lord might send me peace of mind or something to “help” me.
There are many days, when I struggle with the weight of the responsibilities I have.
However, please know that I do have some help. I really do. When my children are in town (3 are either in college or don’t live here) they do/can help with things around the house, or at least take a turn granny-sitting. Even the high school student has been known to granny-sit. Though she prefers it when it is nap time and she just has to be in the house in case Grandma wakes up.
I also have a husband who is working 2 jobs and does try to help when he can. He is much more patient with my mom, so when I am totally fed up with her, he sometimes takes her on errands or just to the other room to give us some space. Additionally, I have mentioned this before, but… I have not washed dishes on a regular basis since 1987. I also don’t generally have to fold laundry nor put it away. Divisions of labor that have been in place for 3 decades.
However, even with the family helpers, I am responsible for so much that isn’t even on a list that I could generate. Things that only my mind knows I need to do, so I just do it.
In fact, I’m not even sure what kind of helper I would want. I find that I can get just as frustrated if someone else does something I usually do and they do it differently or wrong. It is just easier to do it myself. That sounds like something my bossy/leader first born said when she was 4: “Do it myself.”
I think that the kind of helpers I want/need would be ones that just support me and encourage me. Ones that might come visit on occasion and sit a spell. Someone that would just be a friend and understand how overwhelming life can be at times but find little ways to make me smile.
For the few friends that I have, I tried to be that kind of helper. Loving, encouraging, supporting, laughing, ice cream bringing, spider killing, game playing, craft making… that kind of helper/friend! ❤