I was blessed to have been able to work and help families in need. I faced many difficult moments, while working in the public sector. I saw a lot of abuse and neglect, but also had many success stories from families that became resilient. Although I was able to work with more than twelve different cultures from around the world, I did find myself feeling “guilty” for working and not being at home with my little ones.
When my Mother had congestive heart failure, I took 12 weeks ( as allowed by my employer) to tend to her. Those weeks came to an end and I was faced with having to resign to care for my Mother as well as my Father. The switch from working to being a Caretaker was chaotic. I had 6 professionals that came weekly to help with my Mother’s recovery process. I had to become the Case Manager for her, tend to my Father and my children and be a loving, happy wife. It was very difficult because it drained my energy. My heart goes out to every Caregiver because I now know just how exhausting it is. It’s giving constantly without being able to refuel.
I was pulled in every direction and had no time to plan! I plan everything in life! This threw me off, tremendously! I was used to having a planned calendar, meetings, conferences, meeting with clients and keeping my charts organized. Well, I knew I needed organization fast because it would be the end of me, if I didn’t. First, I prayed and asked God for His help and guidance. Next, I made a detailed calendar of my weekly schedule. I had to do a lot of Case Management on my own and felt very overwhelmed.
The transition was difficult because of my new role. I was an Early Childhood professional that was given this new job description that contained 30 different roles! I learned how to do many new things like ordering oxygen tanks, working a C-Pap machine and ordering supplies when needed. I quickly became a nutrition exist because our household had to be on a low fat, no salt, sugar free and gluten free diet. I had embraced being a personal chef, a therapist, a “parent” to my Mother, a Police officer, a Case Manager, a guardian, choeffer and many other roles because I was on call 24 hours a day.
I had to learn to manage my Mother’s mental struggle before I was even able to think about my own. I had dealt with Mental Health, from a professional perspective, but having it in my own home, was a whole other level of stress. When working, I would release the stress of the day with each traffic light, so that by the time I got home, I didn’t bring it home with me. Now, being home all day, I wasn’t able to do that, I needed to find an outlet.
Having to become a Police officer after my Mother was difficult. I knew she was struggling with the intense diet restrictions, driving restrictions and role reversal. Prayer and God is what got us both through. I had to be my Mom’s cheerleader, but I needed my own! Not having someone to talk to that could relate with what I was going through was very difficult. During the summer, my “therapy” was gardening. I love gardening and it truly helped me to focus on a goal. I had many goals while working that sometimes came with end results that I was aiming for. So, I did the same thing. I planted a seed, watered it, watched it grow and tended to the weeds. The end result would be a harvest that would be plentiful, while the chaos was indoors.
Gardening made me think about God’s process with us. We are the seed and Good is the Gardener. We have chaos, problems and tragedy, but He isn’t focused on that. He’s the Master Gardener and He is focused on our growth the entire time. He waters, prunes our life (even when it’s painful), He removes weeds and makes sure our sunlight is just right. He already knows the end result, but requires that we allow Him to do the gardening. We’re not supposed to focus on the dry days, harsh rains, the pruning nor the bugs in our lives. That’s His job! We’re never closer to Him, than we are in a huge struggle! I was never closest to Jesus than when I was on my knees in tears, begging for help!
God had to redirect my focus because I was clearly focused on the chaos, my emotions and I wasn’t stopping to place God at the center. I had placed all the struggles at the center of my attention. There were many positive things, many things to be thankful for, but illness can truly place blinders on a person’s perspective. I just encourage anyone that is caring for a sick loved one that is completely dependant upon you, to stop and pray. Ask God for direction and guidance. Also, stop to count your blessings. They’re there, it’s just daunting to think about things when you’re drained, stressed and have no time for yourself. Literally, point out your blessings and eye them down. Stop your mind from worrying the second you start to. Jesus Himself said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own” Matthew 6:34. When fear creeps into the mind, it whispers, “but what if this happens?” Faith needs to scream, “even if this happens today…” We give it to God and trust the Master Gardener, let the pain go and give it all to Him.