It’s another day of caring when you can’t seem to muster up an ounce more of care.
You’re tired and weary, but there isn’t anyone you can call to take over.
So you get up with your alarm and begin your shift that you’re not sure will ever end.
You’re a caregiver.
But maybe not only a caregiver, which is a fulltime job in itself. You probably have a job on top of all the caring you do so you can pay your way through the caregiving, as nearly 60% of caregivers work outside the home.
Caregiving is often unpaid and goes unnoticed.
But it is there.
It is there in the working 60-year-old woman who works her day job and takes care of her aging parents afterward.
It is there in the mother of three young children who can’t remember a time when she last had a proper shower.
It is there in the spouse who takes care of their chronically, physically, or mentally ill life-partner.
You mostly never complain. First, because you never want to make your loved ones feel like they are a burden.
And second, because you’ve experienced the wave of unhelpful advice that comes after venting.
“Why don’t you just ask for help?”
“You don’t have to do this, you know.”
“They seemed fine yesterday? I’m sure they’d be fine on their own for a while.”
“Why can’t you just take a day off?”
“Isn’t there somebody else who can do this?”
So you keep quiet and fulfill your caregiving duties.
You change the baby—or adult—diapers.
You bathe them with dignity.
You lovingly get them dressed and ready to start the day.
You plan activities, you make a meal, you arrange for social engagements.
You clean up accidents and spills.
You beg them to eat. Beg them to take their medication.
You step away for a moment to cry in the closest closet.
You sit and listen to the same story you’ve heard 20 times before. You smile and laugh in all the right places.
You suggest a nap or quiet time in front of the TV.
That’s when you clean the house, then make another meal.
You listen when they tell you they feel like dying.
Then the cycle repeats. Day after day, night after night.
You manage okay for a while. You’re able to hold up under the weight.
But then, the months set in. Years.
You begin wondering if you have any other intrinsic value outside of being a caregiver.
You berate yourself for being tired, for not wanting to make another meal or change another diaper.
You’ve been superhuman for so long, you forgot you’re still human.
Go easy on yourself, caregiver.
I know you can’t pass this job on to someone else. I know it is your sacred duty and equally your joy.
Still, go easy.
And thank you.
Thank you for doing good work.
I see you. I respect you.
You are a preserver of dignity.
You are a giver of unmeasurable value
With every meal you make, every diaper you change, every bath you give with honor …
… you are telling your loved ones that they are worthy of care.
You are a giver of care.
You are the most good we can hope to be in the world.
Beyond travelling the world, beyond feats that gain applause, beyond any great hope of doing something “great…”
Please know you are not only doing something great. You ARE great.
There is a difference.
So as you continue to do your work, quietly preserving dignity, silently keeping the attention off yourself, graciously giving the care you wish someone would give for you …
… please know you are more than a giver.
You are a gift