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The Guilt of Being a Caregiver

Every caregiver had a life long before caregiving started.

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I sometimes forget that other life…Rena… even existed. I’ve talked alot about taking over as mom’s caregiver. What I haven’t talked about are the changes that it has caused in my own life.  I was 19 when I had my son and 22 for my daughter.

In addition to a step-daughter, I also raised my niece for 6 years, I also had her father living with us when he was a teenager. Count them that is 5–yes, 5–kids that I took responsibility for, even if I didn’t actually give birth to them.

I started at 19 years old.  I often think about that now, good Lord, I was so young!  I loved my children dearly, all of them. I did everything a parent was supposed to do.  I wasn’t perfect.  As with caregiving I made plenty of mistakes. There are a lot of things I wish I could do over again but I assume all parents think like I do.  Don’t you wish that you were given practice kids first?  Kind of like a test, if you could keep it alive, then hey you’re doing good!

I want to say that I love my kids to the moon and back but I could not wait until they were grown and I could start my own life. That sounds terrible doesn’t it, but it’s the truth.  I never had the “empty nest” syndrome and the “I don’t know what to do with myself” feelings.  I had a LIST!

I was so ready to have my house to myself.  To not be responsible for another human being.  To find my own way in life.  My husband and I would talk about all the things that we were going to do “after the kids left“.  We wanted to travel and I wanted to finally begin my writing career that I had put on hold for the last 22 years.

They say if you want a good laugh…tell God your plan.

That is the truest thing I think I have ever heard! I was 40 years old when my youngest turned 18.  A mere 3 years later I became Mom’s caregiver. Sometimes I think that I will never get to follow my dreams.  For now, I have quit dreaming because for all of my dreams to come true that would mean that mom is gone.  This is something that I just can’t think about it.  So, for now I have given up dreaming.

I have learned that it is alright to feel angry.  I am angry at Alzheimer’s, not my mom. It is alright to wish things were different. That my own mother would not be forgetting who I am or the wonderful experiences we have had.  I feel guilty all of the time.

Sometimes I am so angry I could punch something.  I would love to give Alzheimer’s a black eye, but it has no eyes, no feelings and not a care in the world. Every single caregiver is going to have these feelings. Then you will feel guilty for having those feelings.

I am trying to learn how to just take things day to day. I don’t look ahead, the future is uncertain.  Will I be a caregiver for another year or another 20 years?  Only time will tell.

Appreciate the good, laugh at the crazy and deal with the rest.  I love you momma!

Read more from Rena McDaniel on her blog, Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Rena McDaniel

Alzheimer Caregiver to my mother, Felty's Syndrome patient, wife, mother and grandmother. Appreciate the good, laugh at the crazy and deal with the rest.

Rena McDaniel

Alzheimer Caregiver to my mother, Felty's Syndrome patient, wife, mother and grandmother. Appreciate the good, laugh at the crazy and deal with the rest.

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Lana

Saturday 9th of August 2014

Another beautiful post! I love how honest you are about the caregiver role - it is very often not an easy one. Remember to take care of yourself too.

marcia @Menopausal Mother

Friday 8th of August 2014

I feel so bad that you never had much of a chance to be an empty nester. I have the utmost respect for you, Rena----you have sacrificed so much of your life. You are a beautiful person with a big heart!

Joan Stommen

Thursday 7th of August 2014

Such a beautiful post, Rena! My heart is both sad and happy for you today; finding out about the boy/girl twins is the greatest of gifts from God right now. And yet your joy fades when you need to care for mom. Love and care for her.....but don't lose your joy. Let this be your reminder to stay healthy......helping with the babies. This is an honest, heartfelt post.....but you know the most important thing is taking care of the caregiver! Been there, Rena....trust me. Sending hugs and prayers for strength and grace to you my friend.

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