I remember a time when my children were very young and I was a stay-at-home Mom. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed. My children were quite needy, my house needed constant upkeep and there just were not enough hours in the day. I often put my own wants and needs on the back burner, to the extent that when I was asked in those days what I wanted or needed, I didn’t even know.
I hear that so often from women and not just because they have small children at home. I think we become so accustomed to taking care of the needs of others (our husbands, children, aging parents), it becomes easier and easier for us to forget ourselves and before you know it, we’re out of shape and/or we’re unhealthy and/or we’re looking “worn out” and feeling invisible.
My husband and I were talking about this the other day and what we decided is that a caretaker needs someone to fight for them; someone to fight for the caretaker's CARE! As they say, “hindsight is 20/20” and although my husband was really good with spending time with our boys, he admits that had he known, he would have fought more for my care by giving me more time for myself; drawn boundaries for the boys to give me a few moments of peace and quiet each day to “regroup”. I told him that had I known, I would’ve asked him to fight more for my care and be my advocate when I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) say no to our sons or any outside demands. Oh what wisdom getting older brings!
This is why I’m bringing it up, because it’s not too late. If you have a spouse, ask him/her to be more aware of your needs and to fight for you when you don’t have the strength or forsight to fight for yourself and agree to do the same for him/her. And don’t be afraid to speak up if your spouse is not picking up your cues at first, especially if you’ve never done this before. If you’re single, be proactive and when you look for a mate, look for one who will fight for you. If you’re a single parent or your spouse is unwilling, see if you can get a friend/parent/sibling/relative to be your advocate and if not, FIGHT FOR YOURSELF as best you can. Remember, no one benefits if you end up feeling invisible and insignificant.
You’re worth taking the time for yourself to look better, feel stronger, and be healthier and happier. And if you find a fellow caretaker who has no one to fight for them, do yourself (and them) a favor and be their champion.
-Tessa L. Charles