I’ve been out of touch for a while. My apologies. I’ve added a chapter to my story and I believe it’s an important one to share more frequently so you’ll be hearing more from our tribe.
My father was the full-time caregiver for my grandfather (his father). After he passed and much deliberation, my grandfather decided he wanted me to take care of his affairs. This was a huge task because my hands are quite full with my own nuclear family. However, in the end it was what he was most comfortable with and made the most sense because his affairs were so closely entwined with my fathers and I was trying to close out his estate/businesses (still haven’t completed this almost two years later). It’s amazing the work left behind from death.
Fast forward a year (and hopefully that explains my absence as well) and my grandfather was showing severe signs of dementia. This summer, after many family and close family friends had multiple discussions, it was decided my grandfather would move to Texas and reside with me. My once 6’2″ alpha male grandfather was a mere 150 lbs and completely fragile when he arrived.
The last four months my three girls and I have been adjusting to life as caregivers. When I initially made up my mind to do this I thought it would be like adding a child to the household. We’ve done that before…nothing out of the ordinary for us. Oh, how wrong I was! However, it reminded me of something I say to expectant mothers, “you’ll never have a job so hard, but so rewarding”. Becoming a Caregiver for a loved one is the same.
The ONE thing I’m sure of in this adventure is that it was the right decision (despite the multitude of days I’ve collapsed with exhaustion on the bed thinking this is impossible).
Happy Thanksgiving to all! May you focus on all the ways you’re blessed and forget all the reasons you should be stressed.
I’ve had a rare “opportunity” this week. We survived the great flood of 2016.
To begin, I do not live in a flood zone. Wednesday I left work as normal and the flash flood hit. The street my little people were on had already begun flooding so I parked down the road and waded my way through the knee-deep water and pouring rain to them. I thought the worst was over when we got back to the car and then to my surprise we pull into our subdivision and it was flooding as well!! I backed up and went through a back road and safely made it into our garage. We’ve had a couple of flash floods, but it never made it into our neighborhood. I guess since we’ve been getting so much rain, there was no where for it to go and so it just began rising…and rising…and rising.
By Saturday, the sun came out and it seemed like the water must go down! To our frustration it went up. By now it was up to our garages and front doors, and for a couple of neighbors it was in their homes. The initial flooding hit so fast that we weren’t able to leave to get sandbags or supplies. We definitely did not expect it to continuously rise.
So you ask, what was the “opportunity”? There are so many I don’t know where to begin.
I met neighbors and saw our neighborhood rally together. They helped me lift my fridge and deep freeze to put pavers and wood underneath, they helped me move furniture to my second floor, we all used sand from the girls sandbox to make quick sandbags for our garages, we watched each others kids so others could meet family and friends for supplies, we shared food and groceries and stories, we let our kids play together, and so much more. I loved WHERE we lived before the flood, but now I love my community of neighbors. I don’t have enough words for all the nice things I’d like say and the generosity, civility, and concern we were shown. Especially after all the negative things you hear people say and do now, it’s nice to know the good people are out there. I only wish I would have made more of an effort before the flood to get to know their stories. This was a lesson to me to label less and communicate more.
My “noisy motorcycle” neighbor (you know you have nicknames for your neighbors too) ended up being the one who saved us. Her boyfriend knew some people and was able to get an industrial pump brought in to drain the water. We all pitched in for gas for the machine, but without her we wouldn’t have had it and the county was unconcerned with helping us. She got it Saturday and the water immediately started to recede. Then we had another flash flood and the water just went up to where it was previously. I have no doubt in my mind that it would have been in my home, A/C, etc if it wasn’t for her. I love my “noisy motorcycle” neighbor now. We went to thank her and it turns out she’s actually very sweet. She just has a noisy hobby that as an exhausted mom I found frustrating some late nights. However, never again! 🙂
My “angry, crabby old guy” neighbor helped dig a trench to release some of the water too. Then afterwards he walked about a mile and a half to get more supplies and brought the girls back chocolates as well. “Angry, crabby old guy” neighbor is actually a lonely empty nester. It ends up it was just him and his daughter for a long time, but then she went away to college about a year and a half ago out-of-state. So now it’s just him and his garden. I’ll probably be the “angry, crabby old girl” when my kids go off to college too. We’ll be taking him cookies and such more often.
Also, I realized how lucky I am to work where I do. I love my job truly, but occasionally I wonder if I couldn’t be doing more with my life and my degree. However, throughout this ordeal my coworkers and boss were constantly checking on us and helping me weigh pros and cons (my first flood so it was nice to have some feedback). They sent over pizzas, drinks and formula for me Saturday when the water was at my front door. People I only see from 8-5 waded through 4 blocks of water to get to my house just to drop off supplies. That says a lot about the people I work with and company I work for. I’m forever grateful just for the sheer thoughtfulness.
Lastly, my home is ridiculously clean. After moving all our furniture upstairs we were at a wait-and-see point. This gave me time to clean under and around everything. lol. Forget spring cleaning — I’ve got a full-on summer shine! I had to go through all the boxes in the garage to get them out of there when the water was leaking in (thankfully diapers came in handy for keeping the water at bay). I moved into this house when I was 3 months pregnant and had horrible morning sickness. To say it was an unorganized and unmotivated move would be an understatement. I finally feel like we are “moved in”. It just took a flood to do it!
I could be a negative Nancy and focus on the bad stuff. My backyard still has standing, stinky water, the mosquitos are going to be INSANE now, I missed a couple days of work, and Milla missed her last day of PreK. However, my family is safe, my home is intact, I made some amazing new friends, and we know there is a drainage problem that we can fix before any potential hurricanes. All-in-all, it was a blessing in disguise and Milla didn’t seem too upset about missing school with all her friends and a creek in the front yard. Kids have a way of creating fun where adults can only see predicaments. We could probably all learn a little something from that. 🙂
Life isn’t easy. To be responsible for the livelihood and molding of another person? Shitz hard!
Today I started out at 3:30am, did some laundry and dishes, woke the baby at 4am for breakfast, worked out, then woke the girls at 5am for their breakfast, and then our day was up and running. By 8am severe migraine – possible dehydration. Two meetings and two Gatorade’s later feeling a little more useful. Then the apocalyptic call – I don’t want to babysit your infant anymore. It’s only noon. Dammitalltohell.
A quick rescheduling of meetings and a call to the boss and I’m off. Picking up Baby J on the way to picking up Milla to drop her at school during my lunch break (she’s a half day preK kid). I stop at three places nearby our home to request prices…totally out of our budget. I hit up Craigslist and schedule a couple of interviews. A few drive-bys (too scary to even stop) and a couple of interviews later and I think we have a winner. She’s new to Houston, has a few respectful and sweet kids, lives in a gated community. She gives me a copy of her license and a background check later she’s tentatively hired for a trial week.
Let’s get real. If you had a big bag full of gold you wouldn’t just drop it off at a strangers house and expect to pick it up later. That’s what I feel when I drop my kids off. I’m trusting someone whom is practically a stranger with one of my most priceless possessions! I would literally kill for my kids. I love them more than I’ve ever loved anything in my entire life. I pay more than 1/2 my pay every month to people to care for these little people that I would personally pay just to spend more time with. Truth talk. I’m jealous of SAHMs.
Being a single parent isn’t easy. It’s extremely difficult. I do what I do to the best of my ability so that I may give my wonderful little people the life they deserve. It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s a lot of fun; but it’s ALWAYS a lot of work. Most days I feel extremely blessed and lucky to have these three beautiful little creatures that cuddle and look up to me. However days like today are hard. They make you shed a few tears, ask God why, and then you strum up the courage to say “Okay, I got this”. There’s a quote by Mae West that comes to mind, “I never said it’d be easy, I said it’d be worth it.”
It’s not easy, but it’s totally worth it. Baby J cheering me on at the computer as we search for a new babysitter. Who can resist those eyes!!??