I’ve heard it called the “Sandwich Generation,” those of us with care responsibilities for our aged parents and our children. Count me in that tribe! My mother is in her eighties, and my daughter in her late teens.
Mom is a recent widow who selflessly cared for my father until death parted them several months ago. During that time, he was the central focus. Diligent as she was with his medical care, she neglected her own. Now she’s struggling to regain her health and is having a hard time.
My daughter is a teen wonder, coming into the flower of her womanhood. She’s exploring and experimenting, looking to express her adulthood and individuality. She’s outgrown the services of the pediatric nurse practitioner she’s seen for years, and is transitioning to a women’s health specialist. My baby’s not a baby anymore!
Physical challenges are impacting their mental/emotional health and well-being right now, and they’re both struggling. Now more than ever they need my support, and I’m happy to give it. But it means being on high alert 24/7, and I’m feeling the stress of trying to hold it all together.
My job–and the job of many sistah’s I’ve been talking with recently–is working hard to help mom maintain her independence, and launch daughter into hers. Sound familiar? Sometimes, maybe even most times, I feel as thought I’m doing my job well. Now is not one of those times. We’re all out of balance. Off kilter. And things are especially challenging.
Today I realized that in the midst of responding to their needs, I’ve forgotten one essential lesson; I can’t give them my best if I’m not at my best. So I got them settled, then unplugged. I turned off my phone, backed away from the mountains of medical forms, and took an hour of me time to refresh and renew. What a difference that made! I was ready for the trenches again.
For those of us in the perpetual caregiver role, it’s hard to keep our own health at its best. But self-care is an essential part of long-term care giving. So my sistahs, it’s important to remind each other about taking time for self.
Pacing myself, listening to my body, keeping up on my own medical appointments, maintaining good nutrition, and getting regular exercise. These are the things I’m trying to do to stay healthy, balanced, and at my best for them. What about you?