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Do you find yourself frustrated with the challenges of caregiving? Are you focused on what might have been? Discover the simple solution to finding happiness as a family caregiver.
I first began my role as caregiver in 2014, following the very sudden death of my father-in-law. That first year was one of the worst years of my life. I felt mentally beaten and abused by my MIL. I wanted to quit but felt trapped. Bitterness quickly threatened to swallow me as I mourned the loss of the life I could be living. My greatest desire was to walk away from everything and never look back.
I was tired.
Tired of being needed.
Tired of being unhappy.
But what could I do? I have a husband, three children, and a mother-in-law to love, nurture, and care for. I have a home to keep, food to cook, needs to meet. My circumstances are not going to change.
My life roles are only going to get more complicated. The needs of my MIL are only going to become greater. My children’s lives are just going to become busier.
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I came to such a low point that I stopped caring about pretty much everything. I put all my duties and roles on autopilot and drifted along for a few months. If you were a casual observer of my life you would never guess there was anything wrong but I felt dead on the inside.
This was not the life I wanted to live. This was not how things were supposed to be. But today, I can honestly call my life and everything it includes privileged.
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So what changed?
In the second spring of caregiving my husband and I started attending a support group with the Alzheimer’s Association. I was immediately struck by how angry and bitter the caregivers were. All they could talk about was how miserable life was, how much they hated their role as caregiver, how dismal their futures looked. While their hatred was not directed toward the person they now cared for, it spilled over in the quality of care they provided.
Spending time with these families and hearing them spill their hearts out, week after week, confessing the feelings I held secret made me realize that this was not who I wanted to be.
I made a choice.
I was not going to let this ruin my life. If this was the life I was called to, I was going to make it the best life possible; for me, my husband, my children, and my mother-in-law. When this part of our lives is over, I want to look back with joy and fulfillment not resentment and regret.
I knew I would have to change something to be happy with my life.
The decisions you make as an adult often carry the weight of what could have been. Yes, I do sometimes imagine what my life would be like if it were just my husband and kids. But, when you spend too much time in the “what might have been” you lose out on the joys that are.
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I love that my kids get to spend their lives with their Nana. I love those evenings with my mother-in-law where we’re watching (and sometimes mocking) our reality TV shows. Instead of feeling put out by her questions, her repetition, her lack of reasoning, I now view them as character building for myself. This change did not occur overnight and it is something that I still struggle with sometimes. When you make a sacrifice you want the world to recognize it. You want to tell yourself that you have every right to be angry and unhappy. I no longer let these thoughts take hold and become the foundation of my life. Rather, I choose to be happy, finding joy, purpose, and balance in what are lives are at this moment.
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The Simple Solution to Finding Happiness As A Family Caregiver
Being a caregiver is hard. There are positives and negatives, good parts and bad parts.
When you make a decision to bring a parent into your home to live with you, you will have to change your life. It’s not an easy adjustment for anyone. There are times when you become so frustrated and angry with what is required of you that you will wish it all away. There are times when you will imagine what your life could be. And yes, there are times when your role as caregiver and everything it includes feels like a burden.
Being a caregiver for a parent is hard. The good is not always going to fall in your lap as a neatly wrapped package of happiness. Most often, as a caregiver, you have to search for the joy, purpose, and balance. Just like most things that you have to work for, the view at the end of your journey will be that much greater and you will call yourself privileged for having made it.
Finding happiness as a family caregiver is a choice.
To often we are dissatisfied with life because we don’t feel happy. We are relying on our outside circumstances to dictate our emotions. When we take that power out of the hand of those around us and put them in the hands of God we are making the CHOICE to be happy; to find joy and contentment even in the hardest moments.
Did you like this post? How do you find happiness as a caregiver? Let me know in the comments below!
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