Mornings when I wake, I either feel comforted by facing the same routine or irritation and boredom for the same reason. Policing the choice of clothing: how many days has this shirt been worn? Did he sleep in his long underwear? Checking up on hygiene: a wet bath towel is proof he really got in the shower. Cleaning the whisker shavings out of the sink–again.
This is the life of a caregiver. Spouses, parents, children–all of us can find ourselves in the role. No matter who is caring for whom, we share so many aspects of the job: the worry about our charges’ well-being, the sorrow at the loss of what used-to-be or what could-have-been. We suffer tides of rage. We drown in guilt. We weep for ourselves and our person.
We carry the work and the sorrow. Heavy burdens, both.
Groundhog Day is the caregivers’ movie. The sameness of our days can feel like brewing insanity. It’s a constant challenge to maintain an unruffled response when a question comes around for the third–or fourth–or seventh time in ten minutes. “What are we doing today?” “Where are we going?” “What day is it?” “Should I make the bed?–open the curtains?–close the curtains?”
Every day I fish out a recyclable item from the trash can and move it to where it belongs. Every day I say, “Please take your shoes off and put on your slippers.” Every day.
And yet–and yet–I am so fortunate. Others like me care for individuals who are oppositional or irrational. Some are on constant alert because their people are wanderers, or are belligerently determined to drive the car somewhere with no license, or are packing a bag to go on an imagined trip.
My guy is sweet-tempered and cooperative. He thanks me multiple times for making the most negligible meal, for picking him up from Starbuck’s, for setting out his clothes. It breaks my cracked heart further, rent apart even more by guilt over his good nature and my inner angry monologue.
It all comes down to loss.