Friday, 5 January 2018

Slivers of Time

I've been thinking lately that we caregivers experience our days in slivers of time. The byproduct of giving care is....interruptions.  Maybe our motto should be, "Wait, what?"

When my children were younger and I was in the thick of intensive caregiving, I remember thinking that my idea of real luxury would be to accomplish one task from the beginning, through the middle, to the end at one go. I don't think I ever enjoyed that luxury during the twenty-three years that Nicholas lived with us at home. We managed our very busy household by getting things done in slivers of time. Parents of healthy very young children will relate. The baby cries when you're in the shower, so you shut off the water and climb out, perhaps with only one leg shaved. Or you're feeding an infant while stirring a sauce on the stove just as the phone rings. Caring for Nicholas involved near constant monitoring, 'translating' (he's non-speaking, so understanding his communication requires us to stop, look and listen), and care in the form of re-positioning, medication delivery and helping him with all his activities of daily living. And of course, my husband and I cared for our daughter and for our beloved pets, too. We are and were a family.

Caring for our parents is the same, only different. Perhaps you're at work and a call comes in telling you that there's been an accident.  Your mother has fallen. You clear your desk quickly and drive nervously to meet her in Emergency. Later, an email arrives in your inbox from your Mom's accountant. There are questions about taxes and pension earnings. You begin to search for that information when your Mom takes your hand, tears in her eyes. She says, "I don't know what to do anymore."

Living, working and even loving in slivers of time is exhausting.  But knowing this gives us a chance to carve out time intentionally by making a personal promise to do one thing at a time, or at least try. It's worth a shot, because living in slivers of time chops us up into tiny pieces, too.

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