My daughter approached me during our vacation and asked if I would be interested in speeding the day with her “escaping” from our caregiving responsibilities and just doing what we wanted to do. She knew I usually worked on the weekends but thought that I should take a break and do something just for myself. She also confessed that she, too, needed that break from caring for her special needs child as well. Falling into the category of “great minds thinking alike,” I told her I had been thinking the same thing. We both needed a “me” day so, of course, I said, “absolutely!”
Well, yesterday, she made it happen. Her husband who works almost every weekend was off. She checked with my step-son, and though he is often busy also with work activities on weekends, he said he, too, could be off. So her husband got baby duty, and my step-son got daddy-duty and my daughter and I got no duty, well mostly. As a caregiver you never completely get a day off unless you go out-of-town, alone. We both had our morning activities to complete with our loved one before we could go but we got away from our homes by 11 which was remarkable. Usually when Lynn and I have somewhere to go, our morning process is anything but smooth but not so yesterday. All was smooth sailing and in fact, I finished up so early, I was even able to do some outside decorating changing my artificial flower display (I do NOT have a green thumb or time to water plants so it’s either fake or nothing) from spring/summer to fall colors.
On my way to her house to pick her up, I stopped and got some more flowers for outside and then strolled into her house to say, “hi,” to my grandson who was absolutely adorable even with nasal congestion from his cold. “Loving” him from a distance, I made contact with smiles and gestures (can’t get close enough to pick up his germs to take home to Lynn) and then I escaped with his Mom for a day of freedom.
We went out to lunch and had dessert, then we decided to go shopping since neither of us ever can just “shop” for ourselves. It was awesome! During our meal, neither of us had to stop to feed anyone else first while our food got cold or clean up spills or do anything other than concentrate on our food. With shopping, we split up knowing that we didn’t need to “be together” to “be together” and each had the freedom to browse or buy as they saw fit. With the use of cell phones we kept up with where each was in the store and we mutually did our own thing. It was relaxing and carefree. We enjoyed good conversation and both bought some things we wanted and needed and actually had time to try on before we bought it.
We lost track of time somewhat and suddenly realized it was getting to be the time we had said we would be back but in reality that wasn’t bad either because we had an estimated time for return rather than a deadline.
I really needed this day. I know I had forgotten how it felt to be able to just take a day off from responsibilities. Sometimes I worry, as I know she does, about what we share with others about our feelings of isolation and being trapped at times. It’s not that we don’t want to be where we are or do what we do. We love the ones we care for and want to take care of them ourselves and don’t regret our decisions associated with making that commitment. But sometimes it just gets overwhelming to do the same thing day in and day out and not see an end in sight. I admit I get selfish a lot. I look only at what meeting his needs does to my agenda and don’t consider the fact that he wouldn’t ask if he could do it himself. I wish I had the patience and compassion I was able to display in the early days of caregiving before I started feeling burned out but I’m getting tired…physically tired, mentally tired, emotionally tired. However, having a day like yesterday helps me to cope with that fatigue and helps to recharge my battery.
Thanks to my stepson and son-in-law for sacrificing their day off to let us have that time. Bless you both for caring and loving us enough to see that we needed that time. Thanks to all my children, their spouses, my parents and in-laws, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts, friends and readers who offer support, encouragement, and hands-on help. I don’t know how I would make it through the day in and day out challenges of our life without you. God has truly blessed me in this life with each of you.