When does it cross into caregiving?

Sometimes it seems like there are only two camps of caregivers: the ones who are martyrs who have served 24/7 for decades and the ones who view any acknowledgement of how difficult caregiving can be as sniveling.

One group will unleash a litany of unending complaints if you’re unwise enough to ask them how they’re doing. But don’t dare suggest they’re complaining or facing any sort of hardship, as every moment is a gift. This is what they’re put on Earth to do, their complaining certainly isn’t complaining.

The other has just about nothing to say about the matter. It’s more a certain huff and a sideways glance that belies their wonderment of what the heck is wrong with you that you are overwhelmed by the tasks of normal life. Yet, somehow, they pop into the caregiver support groups to tell us we’re all idiots to act like this isn’t just a normal part of life everyone deals with.

Where do the rest of us fit in? I don’t think you have to provide 24/7 care for someone who’s totally incapacitated to count as a caregiver. The vitriol I’ve seen unleashed when someone who’s loved one is only partially disabled or is expected to recover suggests I’m an outlier in this view. I imagine this is just who’s most active on the internet, though. And who’s spent so much time in social isolation that they no longer understand that attacking other people is not the way to make friends.

I daresay I even support being welcoming to the so-called long-distance caregiver. The ones who listen to us whine on the phone and transfer money. Who untangle insurance company messes while we provide hands-on care. Who drop in for a few days a year and bumble their way through, trying to replace us and driving us crazy with their well-meaning suggestions.

I can only imagine the hateful comments I’ll get for even suggesting that.

It’s true, caregiving is common. That doesn’t make it any easier. We’re all going through this alone, instead of supporting each other. Instead of coming together to ask for the types of support society provides for childcare, however insufficient those are.

You don’t have to be spending 110% of your life on someone else to deserve support.

You deserve support, no matter what.


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