Labor and caregiving are not the same. Sometimes #caregiving requires heavy labor — and highly valued labor must usually be done with care. In both cases, one factor changes everything: Love. We work best when we love what we do and when we view caregiving as a labor of love.
Unfortunately, we can’t always be at our best because the job of a #caregiver is so demanding. We are often exhausted even when things are going well. All people who labor should stop and recognize the value of their work on Labor Day. For caregivers, however, ceasing to labor is often impossible. If we rest when there’s no one to back us up, chaos takes over.
Labor Day for Caregivers
My mother needs 24 hour care. Mom’s daily needs cannot be met without me even when she has an aide. However, I have developed certain rules for holidays. These commandments are designed to reduce my stress while I still meet ordinary responsibilities. On Labor Day I refuse to:
- Touch the stove, except to boil water or reheat leftovers
- Turn on the washing machine
- Pull weeds or get anywhere near the lawn mower
- Pay bills or look at medical paperwork of any kind
These tasks are so common, I rarely notice how much of my time they consume. Nevertheless, even while cutting myself a few small breaks, I will still have to:
- Lift my mother in and out of bed
- Measure out medication
- Offer some kind of food contribution at a family barbecue
- Be a hostess to visiting guests
I can relax a bit while fulfilling these tasks because I am determined to do only what’s necessary. I don’t have to be perfect and I refuse to be stressed. The word holiday goes out the window as soon as you get wound up about your responsibilities,
Instead, I plan to put my feet up and do a little remembering. One hundred years ago it was much more dangerous to be a U.S. worker. I’m from the anthracite region of Pennsylvania. Many people in our region died in the mines while trying to feed their families. I can only imagine what it was like to be a caregiver then: wringer washers, wood burning stoves, outhouses! I want a break from caregiving, but I don’t want to travel back in time. Despite the challenges I’m grateful to be a 21st century #caregiver with a passion for my (unpaid) job.