Caregiver or Mom?

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having just celebrated a great Mother’s Day with my three children and their spouse’s, I couldn’t help but think that although my kids are all now grown, my mothering days are not over. I’m not referring to my status of “once a Mom, always a Mom,” which is certainly true but I’m talking about how being a caregiver is much the same as being a mother.

As a Mom, I did everything I could to keep my kids safe, happy, and well.  As a caregiver, I do the same.  Whenever I’m in the presence of my “child” (Lynn in this case) I watch for signs of danger.  Is he about to run over something with his wheelchair that might topple him over?  Has he allowed his food to sit out too long without being eaten so that I need to throw it out?   I even automatically throw my arm out in front of him when I have to stop quickly!  (He always asks me what I think that will do to protect him since he is bigger than I am but what can I say, it’s an automatic reflex.) I always reach out to protect him from whatever dangers I feel might be lurking around. 

I also protect him from “bullies,” others causing him harm in whatever fashion,  by overseeing his health care, going to bat for him in defending his rights, making sure all his “stuff” is secure and cared for.  I am his “mamma bear” protector in the same way that I was to my children.  When I feel a doctor or other healthcare worker is not paying attention to his needs or missing something that I think is important, I step in. If I think someone is trying to take advantage because of his condition, I’m ready to go to battle.  I am his protector….Just like I did for my kids….

When I was raising my kids, I liked to always see them happy. I do the same for Lynn (and have the same challenges and defeats as I did for my children.)  I try to make sure he has what he wants; that he has entertainment and fun in his life; that he feels comfortable and secure. I try to keep his fears at bay and lighten his load so that he doesn’t worry or become depressed.  I try to keep him “happy.”  Hum, okay, I admit, that’s not always true but it wasn’t always true for taking care of my kids either. There are days that I strike out with my sharp tongue that can be cut like a knife.  I don’t always protect his feelings and I often fight back when I think I’m being taken advantage of but overall, I’m very sensitive to his emotional needs.   I try to help pick up his spirits if sad. I comfort and encourage him when he’s down and discouraged.  I bolster his ego and am his cheerleader.  I’m the proud Mama clapping and shouting for joy when he gets good news about his book promotions or gets a good book review.  I glow with pride when I hear him sing knowing that God gave him that voice to praise him (and praise him, he does).  All these emotions I have for him and give to him; I had and gave to my children as their mother.

Another goal I have is that I strive to keep him well.  Now as a caregiver, I seem to spend most, if not all of my time, in this category.  What I feed him, how I care for his physical needs, where I step in to ensure he has a balanced life; all these actions are done with the goal of keeping him well.  I make sure his food provides the best nutrient balance to fight MS.  I assist with his physical therapy to keep his muscles, respirations, and circulatory system in the best shape possible.  I see that his hygiene is kept up and watch for skin breakdown or discoloration that could indicate a problem.  I try to make sure he rests when he shows signs of being tired and I attempt to keep his life a balance of stress and joy. All this is done for his well-being.  All of this I did for my children and their well-being also.

So being a caregiver is essentially the same job description I had as a mother, EXCEPT as a Mom, I knew I was “growing up” my child to go out on their own.  I was giving them the best start they could have in life and laying a foundation for them to enter their adult life with health, knowledge, abilities, and emotional strength so that they, in turn, could raise their own families and be successful in their own right. 

Not so as a caregiver. 

What I do each day as a caregiver is not to prepare my child for a future to go out on their own but instead to continue in this life at my side and under my care for as long as they live or as long as I am physically and mentally able to do so.  He will not “leave the nest.” If he leaves its for a worse situation; not a better one (except personally, I have a strong belief that heaven is an awesome place and much better than earth could ever be; so in reality, it would be a better place for him; just not the dying part). For us, right now, there is not an end in sight, for which I am fortunate because as a caregiver to someone with an incurable condition, an end means THE END and is not a happy goal to achieve.

So as I reflect on Mother’s Day, I realize, I have my three children, my three children-in-law, my grandchild, and my spouse-child.  I have a house of children and in my opinion there is no better (or harder) job in life than being a Mom. 

Thank you, God for blessing me with my children.

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About mscaregiverdonna

I am a full-time caregiver for my spouse who has Multiple Sclerosis while I try to work full-time, take care of our home, and handle any number of other functions that used to be shared by the two of us. I'm learning that it's amazing what you can do when you have to and when you have God to send you the resources you need to manage moment by moment.
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4 Responses to Caregiver or Mom?

  1. Kathy Risch says:

    I like your on Mothers day and a caregiver I never thought about that way but it is very we try to keep stress down for them and I know I have taken on a lot more since Dan’s MS and I keep my self healthy as a caregiver so I can make things easier for him and to help the MS from progrossing as much as possible but it just keeps progrossing anyway, but if I can make things easier for him I will.So are still Mothers even when our kids are grown, I know Dan will never get better but if I can make life easier for him I will.Happy belated Mothers Day to you

    Date: Wed, 15 May 2013 02:47:47 +0000 To: r_dnk@hotmail.com

    • mscaregiverdonna says:

      Our mothering never stops as long as we don’t. That protective, caring, “them first” attitude we have for our children seems to carry over into whomever we are caring for. I hope you and Dan are doing well today and a happy Mother’s Day to you today, tomorrow, and always.

      On Wed, May 15, 2013 at 12:32 AM, MS Caregiver Sharing wrote:

      > New comment on your post “Caregiver or Mom?” > Author : Kathy Risch (IP: 65.55.90.8 , 65.55.90.8) > E-mail : r_dnk@hotmail.com > URL : > Whois : http://whois.arin.net/rest/ip/65.55.90.8 > Comment: > I like your on Mothers day and a caregiver I never thought about that way > but it is very we try to keep stress down for them and I know I have taken > on a lot more since Dan’s MS and I keep my self healthy as a caregiver so > I can make things easier for him and to help the MS from progrossing as > much as possible but it just keeps progrossing anyway, but if I can make > things easier for him I will.So are still Mothers even when our kids are > grown, I know Dan will never get better but if I can make life easier for > him I will.Happy belated Mothers Day to you >

  2. Although I’ve never been a mom, I think being a caregiver is harder. When you’re a mom, you know that eventually, they’ll grow up, and you won’t have to change diapers, feed, or dress them. When you’re a caregiver, you realize that won’t change until one of you passes on. I was willing to be in it for the long haul with Bill until he started losing strength last fall, and we were compelled to move him to a nursing home. He died a month later. I hope you and Lynn won’t have to make that decision, but that’s a pretty big hope. Happy belated Mother’s Day.

    • mscaregiverdonna says:

      Thank you for your kind words. I also hope that we will not be faced with that decision anytime soon but realize it could happen any day now or many days into the future. With MS, you never really know from day to day what you’ll be facing.

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