I've always been the caretaker, caregiver - since childhood. Currently, in my old age and disability, I am the 24/7 caretaker of my old and disabled husband. We are alone, us two, he is completely dependant on me for everything. I can guess how powerless this makes him feel. I feel for him. I am totally exhausted by mid-afternoon and I have a little meltdown everyday. It helps - this meltdown, the crying, the sitting and sobbing, the overwhelming feeling of aloneness. It passes.
At an early age, having tended to numerous babies and children, while being a child myself, I decided that being a mother was not a role I would ever take on. Not the pregnancy/delivery aspect, and not the 24/7, lifetime commitment of care. Indeed, I am in awe of women who take on that commitment. And even more in awe of women who do it well.
There are varying levels of awesomeness in my mind. And it is easy to build those levels higher and higher -
- Mother with an involved partner
- Working mother with more than one child and a partner
- Working mother with one or more children and no partner
- Working mother with one or more children, one of whom may have special needs, and no partner.
Adults who are the caregivers of other adults - also awesome people. Especially when old and perhaps in need of some caregiving themselves.
My particular situation will resolve itself. My husband will heal and our lives will go back to almost 100% normal. There are others in similar situations where there will never be a positive resolution- life will continue to be hard until life is spent. I feel for them more now than I did before. I admire their devotion and commitment more than ever.
I want to think that love drives this devotion and commitment. Not obligation, not reluctance and resignation but a quiet acceptance that devotion and commitment to the care of another human being is the ultimate grace.
There is joy in this.