There is no real way to prepare for that moment when you realize you need to begin taking care of your parents. If you add being a new mommy, you will quickly learn that there are things that can be left undone, while taking care of things that cannot wait.
There should be a step by step guide explaining what to do, but even with a written guide, the dynamics of each family is different. No doubt life is about to change drastically for everyone effected, but this can become a wonderful time for you and your family.
There are some situations that are very clear about the need to become a caregiver. While sometimes becoming a caregiver happens quickly, there are also times that it occurs over an extended time. This is how it happened for me.
My mother was diagnosed with COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, in 1997, but I did not consider myself one of her caregivers until 2010. I took her to doctor appointments and fussed over her needs many years before, but I did not see myself as an active caregiver. In the early Spring of 2010, she moved in with my husband and I after being hospitalized for almost a month. She spent almost three weeks in the ICU and a little over a week on a ventilator. This was one of those clear moments that we knew the need and could make a very easy decision.
Leading up to that stay in the hospital were years of declining health. There were times that I wondered what my role would be for her. Would my dad be physically able to care for her as her disease progressed? Would I be able to juggle everything in my life and care for her as well?
You may have plenty of money but not thinking about the emotional side, or you may have the relationship covered but low on finances. However, I must say that caring for someone you love speaks volumes more than words ever will.
When the time comes for you to make a decision about caring for your parents (or guardian), remember it was never in their plans for you to need to care for them. They would never want to need you to spend your days in doctor’s offices or hospital rooms, but we don’t really get to choose those kinds of things in our lives.
Your loved one may be very emotional or grumpy about needing you, but if you can show love through it all, there is a greater reward than you can imagine. You will know that you showed love. There will be no regrets of wishing that you had done something to show your love.
I do understand that the dynamics of a family can sometimes block the ability to be an active caregiver, and you need to understand that it is okay. You may have a wonderful relationship with one parent and barely talking to the other. It’s okay to care for that family member in a different way. Maybe your way to give back to that person is to visit and pray.
This is a time in our lives that creates new challenges, and it can be particularly difficult with small children. While mom was with us during that first year, she worried that she would be in the way, and I worried that I would let her down. I was pregnant, and she was needing more than just emotional support. Honestly though, I would not trade any of that time with her for all the money in the world.
Becoming at mommy at midlife lands many of us in that tough time of caring for our aging parents while caring for our young children. You are not alone. With a little organization and help, you can do it. Just let your love be the fuel for your day, even more than before.
I became a first-time mommy at 37. The timing for starting our family landed us in the middle of becoming a co-caregiver for my mom and at a high point in my career. Our adventure continues as we navigate through this amazing and crazy journey we call life.