Caregiving can seem like an endless slog of tasks to do. It’s hands on care. It’s driving to appointments and waiting for hours to see someone for three minutes. It’s the stacks of indecipherable insurance paperwork.

It’s like all of the creativity and autonomy has been sucked out of my life.

My mom is obsessed with Dr. Oz. I’m not really a fan of him, but I’m a huge fan of my mom parking herself in front of the television for that hour and being totally absorbed in something. It’s the most peace I get all day and it’s on a set schedule. Sometimes it feels like it’s the only predictable thing in my life!

Perhaps I should take this time to shower and clean the house and focus on paperwork while she’s quiet. But I don’t, because she views those tasks as important and will generally leave me be while I do them, unless she actually needs something.

Nope, what I do is selfish. It’s useless. It’s wonderful.

While she watches television, I sneak off to the desk hidden in my upstairs bedroom. She hasn’t seen it in ages, since the stairs got to be too much for her. She has no idea what’s up there and my big secret is that my desk is now covered in craft supplies. Perhaps she thinks I’m doing paperwork, although I’ve never told her that, just that I’ll be at my desk if she needs me. I technically am doing paperwork, I suppose, since I am working with paper.

What I am doing is somethings she would disapprove of: scrapbooking.

It’s such a joy to focus on colors and shapes. To pick out the right pieces cut out of magazines and find the perfect flourishes. To organize things neatly on a page. To feel in control of something for once. To do something that’s just for me.

It also serves as a wonderful reminder of who I am. All of those family photos are making their way from shoeboxes onto beautiful pages. All of these photos of my mother and I in what seems like another world reminds me of why I do this. Of who we once were. Of who we still are, somewhere in there.


A.J.J.