Mother of Chaos
Julie Tittler's experience as a caregiver.
My regular readers know my son has a number of special needs. One problem we have struggled with for years is social interactions. He has to go to the school on the other side of town to receive special services. This makes it hard for him to have a social life. Torn between the team-based learning classroom and the full inclusion classroom, he's not in one spot long enough to make social connections. Being "that kid", kids don't seek him out to play. Being weirdly self-aware of his differences, he's afraid to ask to play. The fear of rejection is only magnified by his issues, making it crippling at times. Even if he does make a friend at school, cementing those relationships outside of school is nigh impossible, because all sports placements are based on your local neighborhood school. Since he attends a school outside of our neighborhood, his acquaintances are on the other side of town, and sports are on our side of town. It's a bifurcated social reality that makes it almost impossible to have a social life.
Part of the job of a caregiver is to be a detective. You can’t just handle situations in the heat of the moment without taking a second to think. Why is somebody acting out-of-sorts or not feeling well? Is it something they ate? Did something happen at work or school to set them off? Is there something new in their environment? Are they having a developmental growth spurt? Or, if they have mental disorders, is it a side-effect of their condition(s)?
I'm the primary caregiver in my family. Always have been. Even when on "modified bed-rest" when pregnant each time, they looked to me, as I looked to my husband. I am not used to being the "cared for". But what really does it mean to be "cared for"? Does it mean being loved? Yes. But what I'm talking about here is having others look after your wellness needs either directly or indirectly. We primary caregivers just don't want it. We are the doers. I'll get it myself! I can do it myself! Don't worry about it. I'm good.
I have now been thrust into the opposite role. I don't like it. But here it goes...