Life lessons are everywhere, and I was recently reminded of what it’s like to be a caregiver by my two dogs–Kismet and Rupert. Kizzy (short for Kismet) is an Alaskan Malamute and her son, Rupert who is part lab. (She had a tryst in the front yard before we could stop her). Miracle was, she only had one puppy–so we had to keep him. Miracle number two was that Rupert was born the very week of the anniversary of my mom’s passing.
Recently, I was sitting outside with the two of them, their leashes attached to my lawn chair (they love to romp the neighborhood if set loose), only Kizzy wanted to go inside. It was a cool, there was a breeze, she had a water fountain next to her to drink out of, I was there to pet her and we had a beautiful lake and birds galore to enjoy–but no–she would have none of that. She wanted inside.
Kizzy strained and strained. Whined. Wouldn’t sit down and relax and enjoy being petted or play ball–nothing. Rupert, on the other hand is less stubborn, more easy going by nature, and so he was sprawled out beside me just as comfortable as he could be.
Both dogs were in the same place, under the same circumstances.
One was miserable. One was content. It was simply an attitude on both of their parts.
As I sat there, I thought of how some caregivers–or care receivers don’t want to be where life has brought them. Whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant isn’t even the point. They simply don’t want to be there. Period. They strain. Whine. Refuse to become a part of their environment and just enjoy the ride.
Others bloom where they’re planted. They adjust, adapt, make new friends, look around, and figure hey, if they’re going to be there they might as well make the most of it.
I’m not saying that caregiving isn’t hard. Lord knows I know how hard it is. My mom had Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s,and in those last three years, I was Kizzy straining on the end of my very short leash.
I know now that I was scared. I was afraid my mother or that caregiving would consume me. I was afraid that if I was okay with it, that I’d never get to leave–or quit. I was afraid I’d never have a moment to myself. I was afraid I was losing my indepence. Afraid. Afraid. Afraid.
Kismet, by the way, means fate.
I know that at times, I made it harder than it needed to be by not asking for and accepting more help, by realizing what a gift caregiving was (ironic gift), and by not seeing the beauty of where I was in my life.?I missed certain opportunities by resisting so hard.
If you’re miserable, edgy, antsy and irratated, ask yourself why.
At first, it’ll seem obvious–you’re exhausted, frustrated, sleep deprived, and perhaps dealing with a fussy loved one or facing death.
Ask yourself again–why are you miserable?
Keep asking until you get at the heart of the matter.
Ask yourself until you run out of excuses.
Why are you where you are?
Because it’s exactly where you need to be.
~Carol D. O’Dell
Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir
available on Amazon
Family Advisor at www.Caring.com