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Will you be a burden to your children because you’ve taught them to view caregiving as burdensome? Make the choice to find joy in caregiving.
Have you ever thought upon hearing someone describe the struggles surrounding caring for an aging parent, “I will never be a burden to my children that way!”? Maybe you’re a caregiver and thought this yourself. My dad has said it to me. My grandmother has said it to her sons.
I get it. Caregiving is not an easy job. But then, neither is parenting. Or marriage. Or life.
It’s so easy to feel burdened by caregiving. Watching other people enjoying their lives, having adventures, living a life that you only dream of can make you feel tethered to your parent. So, how do you find joy in caregiving?
Joy Is A Choice
We put a lot of expectation on our feelings. Our society teaches us what we need to have to experience the emotion called happiness. More money, better jobs, the latest “smart” technology, conflict free relationships, better time management, are all pushed on us as the ultimate providers of happiness.
We see people who have achieved everything but still seem miserable. They have relied on external “things” to bring them happiness.
We forget that we are able to choose to be joyful rather than rely on our situations to give us joy.
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The same principle applies to caregiving. When we look at the difficulties of everyday and focus on what we have given up, we are more likely to view our situation as burdensome.
Life changes and sometimes doesn’t turn out like we planned or even hoped. We see pictures on social media from others who get to go on vacations or have exciting nights out or move to exotic locations. There is a very real feeling that we are missing out on a crucial part of life. We start having resentful thoughts toward our needy parent.
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Why didn’t they plan better? Why is their care my problem? I shouldn’t have to be doing this. They’re causing me to miss out and now I have no life at all.
Would You Be Doing It Anyway?
My brother and SIL travel with their kids a lot. I see their exotic experiences, their kids delving into and experiencing a multitude of cultures.
They are more traveled than I will ever hope to be. I feel jealous of them sometimes and it’s easy to blame caregiving as the reason I’m not getting to experience these things.
But let’s be real here. A lot of their travels are because of my brother’s job. My being a caregiver has nothing to do with me not having those experiences.
I wouldn’t be doing it anyway.
I had an invitation to attend a movie premier for a dear friend. Unfortunately it was on a night that finding a sitter was impossible. As the day of the event approached I started feeling more and more resentful knowing I was going to miss out.
The morning of, I sent my regrets to my group of friends. I was honest and said because of my husband’s growing disability and the difficulty I have finding sitters for my kids and MIL, I would not be joining them.
Related Post:Why Caring for Aging Parents is Easier with Kids
It was easy for me to begin putting the blame on my MIL and her needs. When I thought about it honestly though, it had very little to do with her and more to do with the season of life we are in now.
I wouldn’t be doing it anyway.
Your “Living” Doesn’t Have to End
My husband has some good friends that are in the modeling industry. For a large part of the year, they travel to various states holding fashion shows and auditions. They also took care of an aging parent.
A few years ago, they came to Texas and of course we invited them to our home. Imagine my surprise when they wheeled an elderly lady up to the pool deck. Even though her disease had advanced to the point she was unresponsive, they still included her in their activity. They did not let caregiving hold them back. They had continued success in their careers and found a lot of enjoyment in their travels all while caring for their aging parent.
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Sure, we knew it would present it’s challenges. We knew she wouldn’t remember the trip later. But we didn’t let those things keep us from experiencing a fun vacation and time with family that we don’t often get to see. My MIL’s grandkids were able to build some great memories with her. Every moment, every experience, every “adventure” brought my MIL joy in the moment.
The “Burden” of Parenting
With this knowledge of how difficult parenting is and how much your life must change as a parent do you frequently tell your kids? When you think about the very real possibility that your kids will make a choice to have children of their own do you hope to dissuade them? Probably not.
Parenting can be just as burdensome as caregiving. Most parents don’t describe their children as a burden. They don’t feel like they are wasting their life while caring for their kids. Most don’t regret their children. Why? They make a choice.
Find Joy in Caregiving
It’s an admirable thing for us to not want to burden our children. I challenge you to ask yourself though, will you be a burden because you’ve taught them to view caregiving as burdensome? Yes, it’s hard but it is also so very rewarding. There is joy everywhere when we choose to see it, even in caregiving.
Did you like this post? Do you view caregiving as a burden? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments below!
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