My husband was my greatest encourager during the years we were caring for Mother. He was always ready to help me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He carefully guided me through each decision but let me make the final call.
We had spoiled each other—we enjoyed talking, playing, and working together. At first Mother’s care was minimal and my husband and I continued our daily routines. I never realized how our relationship suffered as I gradually spent more time and energy on her needs and less on his. Although this shift was inevitable, I learned some simple tips that made the changes easier. Perhaps these tips will help you in your situation.
Become aware of your specific needs; then act.
#1. Take time to ask your family or friends how the current situation affects them. Do they feel slighted? Are there needs they have you can still provide? Do they feel left out?
#2. Realize you cannot go back to the way it was; life does not stay the same for anyone. The commitment to care for someone means your life and those around you will change.
Grow better or bitter, the choice is ultimately yours.
My husband is precious, but he does not prepare meals, do laundry, or make the beds. That wasn’t an issue with the two of us; or with the children home. After Mom came, I did, however, catch myself envying those whose husbands could help in that way. Note: the Lord has a way of reminding us what really matters, and it’s not that sink of dirty dishes!
#3. Refuse to dwell on what you cannot change. Live in the present and make the most of it. Be open to new ideas, new ways of doing things. If you are set in your ways like I am, this can be a difficult step, but well worth the journey. I remind myself daily, it is people and not things that are important.
#4. Develop a new plan. What is it that you can do to encourage those around you? Does it seem you are pushing them away because of your busy-ness? Can you change your schedule to accommodate some of their needs as well?
#5. Accept help when offered, even when you know the task will not be done “right”. This was difficult for me. I learned it was okay if the towels were folded incorrectly or dishes and groceries were put in the wrong places.
#6. Find a smile and see it reflected time and again on those around you. I am always amazed at the difference a simple smile makes. Try it on yourself—right now. Face a mirror with your eyes closed, smile real big and look at yourself. (Did you chuckle?)
There will always be changes in our lives. Parents, kids, grandkids, other family and friends move in and out of our lives seeking love and nurturing. With God’s help we can learn to look up instead of down and enjoy the journey.