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New Year and New Caregiver Conundrums

This last month has felt semi-dominated by the onboarding of Ri’s new care assistants.

And to be fair, part of that has a lot to do with how much I allow this process to infiltrate my headspace on any given day. But to also be fair, being down a few staff members means that I am the backup, which is only ideal for a limited amount of time. So in order to move me out of that role as quickly as possible and round out his team, Ri and I have both devoted a lot of the beginnings of 2018 to actively refreshing job ads, making phone calls, interviewing, hiring, training, and essentially spending our very early mornings and most evenings with people we don’t really know in some rather intimate scenarios that extend beyond our preferred girlfriend / boyfriend parameters. And we be tired, because change is hard, even though we know that these new changes will no doubt bring vibrant, capable individuals into our home.

So yesterday, I sat down at our kitchen island to cathartically write out my mind thoughts. Knowing that I wanted to blog candidly about the challenges that this complex caregiving topic presents, but also knowing that I wanted to be respectful of Ri’s perspectives, vulnerabilities, role as the employer, boyfriend, and, oh yes, the person actually requiring the care, I could not for the life of me figure out how to convey it all without editing my words through an elaborate filter &/or not, but potentially running the risk of coming across as overly emotional and a wee bit self absorbed. Yikes. That left my head confused and my heart a bit heavy as I wondered – even if I could wholeheartedly express my experience, who could possibly relate?

So I sat. And I stared. And my eyes caught on some smudgy old nearly illegible Andrea scribble schmeared across the dry erase board stuck to our refrigerator door. A quote or some random thought that occurred to me one day a number of months back read:

There is so much change in challenge. 

Ah, yes. So true. And if it were any other day that sentiment alone may have been enough to pump me full of positive vibes and set my head on straight as I very much believe in maintaining a perspective that sees change as auspicious and equates challenge with growth.

But I was tired, you see. I was tired of welcoming new people into our home with no guarantee that they would stick around. And I was tired of modeling hundreds of nuanced care steps because that meant I then had to watch on as unexperienced hands poked and prodded at my boyfriend. Shifting from being a girlfriend that helps with care stuff in ways that make sense within the relationship to a care assisting girlfriend, no matter how temporary, tugs at this delicately fearful place inside that never wants to put the overall health of our relationship at risk.

I was thinking about these things and perhaps shedding a tear or 2 as I walked over to the dry erase board, pushed the side of my fist against it, and somewhat aggressively erased and then ultimately rearranged the quote to read:

There is so much challenge in change.

Also a very true statement, and probably a big reason why people give up on change in favor of just doing whatever they be doing originally. I felt like I wanted to be a giver upper, just for a little bit. So I put a big X through my caregiver hiring task list for the day, hit the backspace button on my blog deleting the 3 sentences I spent an hour typing up, and went to meet up with a dear friend that I have known since middle school.

This friend and I talked about a lot of things, one being our mutal shock that next year is our 20 year high school reunion (irrelevant, except for the fact that being this old didn’t help my mood). After deciding that we still kinda sorta look the same as we did back in 12th grade and have accomplished some ok stuff between then and now, I listened in as she gave me a detailed account of just what it is like to be a working mom of 2 young kids + 1 new puppy. I was momentarily sidetracked by a cute little side story about her little one and thought to myself – oh my gosh a baby – Ri and I should totally have a baby (!!), but came to my senses when she explained just how limited her alone time (and even more importantly, her alone time with her husband) had become. Her life sounded damn difficult and chock with its own set of obstacles, but also completely wonderful in a way that seemed exactly right for her. And what a relief (and by relief I mean I broke down crying in the middle of a crowded restaurant), because I could totally relate to her life challenges, despite the difference in the details. Just connecting (and shedding my tears) with this friend of mine who was also stretched a bit thin and wearing one too many hats made me feel so much lighter, capable, and ready to push through this wave of change.

I spent some time reflecting today, and the truth is that for approximately 28 days each month, I am 99.5% in love with my life. That is some good living, y’all, and I ain’t got the time to forget that fact. It is clear though, that I need to reach out and talk to the people in my life when I need some support. I can be quick to assume they won’t get where I am coming from, but they always do.

In regards to the care stuff, Ri and I may always have a bit of an inner struggle with the fact that I sometimes need to step into that role unexpectedly. But I believe in our ability to work as a team and it seems that moments like these enable us to constantly improve our systems and make positive changes in our work home/work environment. And that helps all of us realize that while this caregiver stuff can sometimes feel like a conundrum, it is actually a truly wonderful gift. In my follow up post, I plan to talk more about some practical changes we have implemented over the years, and what changes may be on the horizon, so please check back in.

 

 

Thanks so much for reading, everyone. And HAPPY 35, Ri!

Drea

 

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3 replies
  1. Pech
    Pech says:

    So glad that you were able to connect and help her and yourself with your honesty of the ups and downs of life and being able to take that break of perspective. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed heads down in the everyday and pushing through it all and this is why it’s so critical to still have that time carved out for just hanging out with friends!

    Reply

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