Boo! In honor of Halloween, I’m going to stop scaring you.
Several people who read my blog have told me that I am living their worst nightmare. They are in fear of the day their mother or mother-in-law will have to move in with them. So, let’s talk about this.
Caring for a family member who can no longer care for herself should not be anyone’s worst nightmare. Is it hard? YES. Are there worse things that can happen to a person? DEFINITELY.
Please remember, my sandwich-life is extreme. I live in a household with an age-range of 3 to 90 and we do that in just three generations. This only happens when you have two consecutive generations of “older” parents. Quite regularly, I hear slightly younger women mention that they have a grandparent in their 80s or 90s, but it’s their own parents, who are probably in their 60s, are taking care of them. When these women are my age, their grandparents will probably be dead. Their parents will likely still be living independently, and their children won’t be pre-schoolers.
The other difficulty I face–that you probably won’t–is a language barrier. I studied German in high school and college, but then, married a man whose mother is from Ecuador. ¿Que? Before she fell, my mother-in-law’s English was at least as good as my German, and we still had occasional trouble understanding each other. I remember one time, she asked me if I was going on a family vacation, and I asked her when it would be:
“No! No! NO! Deeees-Soooom-er!”
“Oh, THIS SUMMER? No. I’m not going.”
We had a lot of exchanges like that, and afterward, we would laugh about it. Now, she has days in which she doesn’t speak English at all. It can be very frustrating for us both and sometimes, we just give up trying.
See? I could go on in this manner—listing what makes my particular situation especially challenging, but I won’t. I just want to assure you that while you may find yourself in the role of care-giver in the future, you’ll likely be met with a different set of obstacles—and some may be more taxing than mine, and that’s okay. You WILL be able to handle it—if you want.
I don’t buy into that notion that “God never gives us more than we can handle.” I believe it is a choice. We are put in a situation, and we make a choice as to how we react. You get to say, “I can handle this” or “I fall apart.”
So, as difficult as care-giving is—and for me, it’s been quite the challenge—it shouldn’t scare you. You shouldn’t dread the future. This should NOT be anyone’s worst nightmare.