The most recent article I read stated that "Respite is a must for family caregivers", and it shared the advice of finding someone - family, friends, volunteers, professional caregivers - to help parents like me be able to 'recharge'. That's the first problem I have - tell me how to find those people to help me. I have no family in the area. My friends either are in the same situation as I, or they would clutch their heart in fear if I asked them to spend an afternoon with my medically fragile children. Volunteers - ha, ha, ha! And then there are the professional caregivers. They should be people you trust, people who would react appropriately in a medical emergency, people who truly care about your children. Unfortunately, I've not had a lot of luck finding such people unless I pay through the nose (which I can't do anyway).
But should a parent be able to find respite, the article suggested using that time for the following:
- Take a break. Take a day or even a week's vacation. Read a book you haven't been able to get to and take naps. Really - a week's vacation. What dream world was the article's author living in?
- Eat well. Plenty of fruits, vegetables and proteins. Oh, you mean eating the scraps of my children's meals isn't enough? Or the cereal I have for dinner because I am too tired to make a meal?
- Keep your medical appointments. After I have taken my work vacation time to get my children to their dozens of medical appointments, do you suggest I take leave without pay to get to mine? Oh wait, when I find a volunteer to help with the children, then I'll be able to see the doctor!
- Indulge. Treat yourself to a foot massage, manicure, nice dinner out, or a concert. Sorry, indulging to me means getting in bed before midnight.
- Work out. Yea, that's right, that's exactly what I want to do after all the lifting, repositioning, bathing, and wrestling with my children.
- Meditate. Sit still and breathe deeply with your mind as quiet as possible when you feel overwhelmed. ROFL, ROLF, ROFL.....
I know the authors of articles such as this mean well. And, I know their suggestions are good ones and things I really need to do. But the reality is that it is impossible most of the time. I would love nothing more than a night out, a movie in a theatre and not on TV, a meal where I am not feeding someone else and can actually remember what I ate. I'm not much for massages and manicures, but a nap would be heaven.
I wouldn't trade my life with my children for anything in the world. Their hearts are joined to mine and always will be, and I will always do everything in my power to ensure their health and happiness. But I do think that the people who insist I must care for myself first need to come spend their week's vacation with me and my family - just in the interest of a reality check.
ATM: When Chip pointed out that the sky was orange and blue the morning of Ronnie's basketball tournament. Orange and blue are the team colors!