2 min read

We Do So Much. It’s Never Enough.

We Do So Much. It’s Never Enough.

We are told to focus on the journey, not the destination. 

We are told it’s the little things that matter. 

We are told that hard work pays off. 

We are told so much. 

So, we do so much. 

We show up, over and over, for the hardest work – caring for someone who, no matter how grateful and gracious they are, resent needing to be cared for because they are unwell or unable.

We organize our days to make room for the unexpected, yet we still don’t have enough room. 

We pick up the phone to ask for help that’s not forthcoming only to be bombarded with more questions we can’t answer, making us feel more helpless. 

We exhaust every resource and ounce of learning energy remaining at the end of the day in search of the answer, that elusive one thing, which will be the answer to everything. 

We look to spiritual roots for a sign, any sign, that what we are doing is what needs to be done. 

We do so much. 

If the measurement for success is full health for the person we care for, it never feels like we are doing enough.  

You need not be reminded it’s the little things that matter or be promised your hard work will pay off. There are many times I believe caregiving is the perfect refute to Einstein’s statement “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 

As caregivers, routine and ritual are the keys to staying competent and in control, so we do them over and over. The irony is, eventually, inevitably, we receive different results.  

Perhaps we should measure success differently. Rather, we should articulate what “personal” success looks like. Because true success, that restoration to full health accompanied by the elimination of all fear things could change in the future, is impossible. In no way do I want to diminish hope, but hope is not a strategy.  

Hope is a companion and a countermeasure for every caregiver. It is the added dash of “pixie dust” caregivers rely on as we do so much, despite knowing the destination remains unchanged.  

What is changeable is the journey and the timeline, specifically how we evaluate our efforts and against whom, or what, we struggle.  

When I focused on my father and not on fighting his disease, things changed for me

When I realized that every day I saw him was likely the sickest I’d ever seen him, but the healthiest he’d ever be, things changed for me

When I counted the days I had with him in my life instead of predicting the days he might have left, things changed for me.  

Things changed for me when I accepted that everything I did was more than enough, even if it didn’t change anything for him. 

We are told to put our oxygen masks on first and then help others, which directly contrasts our human nature to ensure the safety of others before ourselves. It took the gasping for air because of an anxiety attack to recalibrate. It was my care journey as much as it was my journey to care. 

This realization came to me months too late, but also just in time, by way of a carefully conveyed suggestion from my father’s hospice nurse that implanted in my mind only to wake me up because I couldn’t breathe deeply enough. It was in that moment I realized how vital it was to take the teachings we only seem ready to learn at the conclusion and make them acceptable from the outset. 

I share with you that I see that you are doing so much. 

I also see that it’s not enough if you’re trying to overcome someone else slowly succumbing to an illness or the effects of age. 

But it is enough if you see that what you are doing amounts to so much more than the simple acts that comprise the art of caregiving. It is enough because what you are taking away with you from this journey caring for another will infuse every aspect of the rest of your own life-journey in so many ways. 

Like perspective. 

Which is the purpose of this message.  

There is so much about caregiving we cannot change; our perspective is not one of them. 

You do so much. 

It’s enough.