Chat @ Care-giving: Not a Hero for Long

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. One of the most difficult things about being a care-giver is conflicting priorities. When we moved my parents into their apartment, I was allowed to be a hero for about thirty minutes. Then I screwed up.

My long suffering husband put up with a lot as I offered my aunt the last assistance she’d ever need, helped my parents find a retirement center and then moved  them in.  However, his patience ran low.  For months all he’d gotten from me was whatever was left over after I devoted my self to my aunt and parents.  His  sister and her husband stayed with us for several weeks during my ordeal and I’d barely done anything more than open the door to let them in.  After my thirty minutes of glory, he thought it was his turn.

As far as he was concerned, we were through.  He didn’t imagine that the remaining boxes would unpack themselves  or that my parents should unpack them, but he didn’t think I should do anything else for a few days but focus my full and total attention on him.

I’m sure that was a fair assumption on his part, but I handle things serially and all I knew was that there were still boxes to be unpacked.  As I basked in the sunshine of my recent accomplishments, I asked what time everyone wanted to re-convene the next day.  Even as I spoke the words I realized I was in trouble with Bill, but I wasn’t quite sure what rule I’d broken.

In my defense, I knew Larry and Susan had to go back to their work-a-day world on Monday, so Sunday would be the last time I could get any help from them until the next weekend.  I also knew that Mom would fret herself into a frenzy until every last item was stowed away in her new home.  I’d warned Bill for weeks that the whole weekend would be devoted to my parents, but the appearance of the apartment had negated any spoken caveats.  The goal of the last two months was accomplished.  My parents were moved in.  My husband thought it was his turn to be at the top of the pile.

The point of all this is that sometimes there is no right and wrong.  I was absolutely right to understand that my parents, especially my mother, needed me to finish this job as soon as possible and that the best way to do that was utilize Larry and Susan while they were available.  My husband was right to think that enough was enough and it was time for me to put him first.

He thought I should have excused myself for a moment and consulted with him about scheduling the balance of the work that needed to be done.  He wanted to have me to himself on Sunday.  That wasn’t unreasonable, but it was unlikely.  I was dead tired and all I wanted to do was be through with the move.

What happened was ugly.  Larry and Susan agreed to meet me about ten o’clock  to complete the job.  Bill and I went downstairs and each of us drove our own vehicles home, because they were both in the parking lot.  At home we argued. I defended myself and told him he could stay home on Sunday if he wanted to, but that I was going to finish the job.  He stayed home.  I finished the job.

If you are the care-giver, try to keep the needs of everyone in mind.  Your spouse makes some pretty big sacrifices to make your care-giving possible.  If you’re the spouse, try to be patient at least a little while longer.  Sometimes, the end is in sight, it’s just not right now.  If you’ve got a crystal ball to keep me out of this kind of predicament, what would you take for it?  I really need it.

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