One of the greatest struggles I faced, while caring for my mother, was finding the balance between work and her.
At the time, I was working in Public Relations during the day. At night, I was waitressing in one of NYC’s best restaurants. I was doing what all 20 something’s do, burning the candle at both ends and loving every minute of it. As her illness progressed, it became impossible to keep up that schedule. I let the waitressing job go first and watched my regular cash flow go down the tubes with it. My PR job allowed me hours to work from home, but if she had to be driven to a doctor’s appointment or needed me to run an errand, work was pushed to the back burner. Eventually I had to admit that they were paying me to do nothing and I quit. I moved in with her full time and Caregiving became my only job.
I wont lie, I was resentful at first. Everyone I knew was working their way up the career ladder. They were making huge strides in their professional lives and I was home giving injections and cooking. I had lost my outlet to forget about what was happening in my life and she became my only focus. And then I had my own “Aha” moment. I was blessed to be in that situation. I no longer had to work around the clock and then attempt to care for her while tired and cranky. I was being given the chance to love and care for her around the clock. To use those last moments to ask the questions I would want answers to in my later life. I was able to sit and read with her. To watch movies and talk and laugh. She was able to see me as an adult rather than just her child. After day in and day out of nothing but us, I began to see her as my friend and not just my mother. And the truth is, when the days got really bad, I loved that I knew what to do without asking and that she had finally allowed me to truly take care of her and not try to shield me as all loving mothers do.
Working AND caring for someone is an incredibly hard feat. You never get a break. When you are at work you are thinking about your loved one. When you are at home you are panicking about when your boss is going to catch on to the fact that you’re getting paid google the newest medical breakthroughs. Unfortunately, you still have a mortgage and bills and your children still need food and clothes so you push forward. You are incredible and you should tell yourself that often. You should go easy on yourself and cut yourself a few breaks. Maybe this wont be the time in your life to go for that promotion or become the star of your office. Maybe you will be overlooked for a new project. That is okay. Be grateful for the paycheck that is keeping you and your family afloat. Use the time to focus a bit on you and your soul.
If working is becoming more of a burden that it’s worth, know this truth. When it seems like things are not working for you, God is hard at work with you. You are being given the chance to become a complete part of this life process. You now are able to truly focus on your loved one and take solace in the fact that you will never have to feel like you didn’t have the chance to say everything that you needed to. You are being given a gift.
Either path is difficult. But you are equipped. There is a plan for your Caregiving journey. You may not see it yet, but you will reflect later in life and realize that there was an order to the chaos. For now, just live life as best you can. Take care of them and take care of you.