The Fallible Caregiver: Why We Need Lazy Days of Gluttony
I tend to burn the candle at both ends and often in the middle. My wife and I started seeing a marriage counselor a couple months back to help us navigate through some tough issues and to help us redeem intimate connections cancer has stolen from us. It’s been helpful. One issue we talk about is my tendency to push myself too hard, take on too much, and burn out. When I burn out, I crash into a bottle of wine–or two… or three. Not good.
We discovered what I’m really seeking when I crash like that is rest and relief. I hate the taste of alcohol and never drink it other than when I’m seeking to escape and find relief. What I’m really after is not to get drunk but to set down all my spinning plates and rest. I suppose I’m also seeking after the ability to not feel fear for a while.
Actual days off
In counseling, I shared how I usually dedicate Mondays and Tuesdays as my days off. I work for myself so I can choose those days. The problem, however, is that I often work through those days too. Even if I’m sitting on the couch with the television on, the computer is in my lap and I’m working on some new project or trying to check off tasks from my weekly list. Um, I’m actually writing this article right now on the couch with the television on at 8:30 in the evening.
We decided I need to make my days off actual days off. It’s not just work I need to set down, it’s everything. Along with work, I also care full time for Rebekah and handle 99% of our life and household responsibilities. This last Monday, I did it. I took the day off from everything. I had a wonderful day of lazy gluttony… and I loved it.
Nope, ask your mother
That Monday, Rebekah told me she needed to go into town to do some Christmas shopping. She needed to hit four to five different stores and normally as her primary and only caregiver, it would just be what we do. Rebekah doesn’t drive anymore since having her craniotomy last February, so I do all the driving. I knew it would take most of the day to do all this shopping, but I decided Monday was my day. It was my day. A day for me. I told her, nope, ask your mother.
Another pressure-relieving tactic we have discussed in counseling is about delegation. I need to learn to delegate some of Rebekah’s care to other people and not always try to do everything for her. Rebekah’s mom thrilled to the idea of shopping all day and the two of them did just that–all day.
3 + 3 = Renewal
Monday morning I still woke up at my normal 4:30 AM, showered, got dressed and I wrote for a couple hours. But then I put my pajamas back on and hit the couch with my pup, Penny. Rebekah left for the day with her mom and Penny and I snuggled together with a couple blankets and some Toaster Strudels. About midday I took her to the park to run some, and I called my mom to chat about life. But other than that, Penny and I were on the couch. We watched three action movies, and I fell asleep three times. For lunch I made a giant plate of nachos with all the toppings.
Rebekah’s arrival home woke me up from my third snooze. Three movies, three naps (and a monster plate of nachos) equaled renewal. I felt great. I felt like my soul-batteries recharged instead of my oft depleted feeling. It was a wonderful day of lazy gluttony and I’m the better because of it. I need that. Caregivers need that. We need not just a day off, but we need a day off just for us. We need days here and there where we focus just on us and do whatever we want–like lay on the couch all day watching our favorite movies and eating terrible but delicious food.
Do you find it easy to advocate for yourself?