Caregiving is hard. It can take a toll mentally, physically, financially and change the person forever. I have tried not to beat around that bush.
But what is not talked about often enough is the beauty of caregiving.
When you are a family caregiver, you see your loved one in such a vulnerable place and situation in their life that both of you never expected.
Did I enjoy seeing my dad cry or having to have tough conversations?
But did I enjoy being able to sit down and have a discussion more profound than I ever thought was humanly possible?
Very much so.
Ton and I were in a unique situation together. As a Sandwich Caregiver, I was in a position where I was carrying for my child, months into it also a pregnancy, as well as him.
The similarities between tending to my dad and my toddler were endless, but I think that brought us both comfort.
When my dad first started to need a traditional wheelchair, he felt like such a burden because it was the beginning of him releasing control and relying on others to get from point A to point B.
When he and I would go out together, you could see the pain in his face that his daughter had to do everything I was doing, tending to his needs. Little did I know in those moments that this would be the start of opening the door to vulnerability.
I would try and find the beauty at the moment, reminding him of that season of life I was in as a new parent. His wheelchair is just like a stroller, and that I am already used to using the ramps, finding tables near an exit in case you need to leave quickly, not being out for long periods, and having a bag full of snacks and wipes just in case.
Finding the beauty in the situation comforted both of us as we were both reminded that this was no different from a normal now created.
Here is a quick story that still brings a smile to my face.
My dad, Thor, and I went to the movies one afternoon. A motorized wheelchair, stroller, a packed backpack, and laps full of snacks, and we rolled our way into our theater for Hotel Transylvania.
We were excited to see that they had little wheelchair stations set up with seats next to them that were not obnoxiously close to the screen.
After enjoying the movie Thor and my dad had to go to the bathroom.
So once again, time to find beauty in the beast of a situation.
Ton rolled into the accessible stall, and I stood in the doorway with the door cracked, teaching my three-year-old how to use a urinal for the first time and just praying he would not touch the little blue hockey puck-looking thing that looks way too inviting for a child.
I can still hear Ton’s laugh as I gave Thor the urinal peeing instructions while throwing in “DON’T TOUCH THAT, NO NOT THAT, JUST PEE, LEAVE THAT” into the conversation every two seconds.
Caregiving can be a beast
. A hairy, sweaty, anxiety-filled beast, but finding the beauty in the situation makes the adventure something beautiful.
“for beauty is found within….”
Find the beauty in your beast and make your adventure a great one.