Yesterday I mentioned a scenario where I hit a new low in bad behavior. I admitted how I emailed the (main) “Underminer/Expert in Everything” and ‘tore her a new asshole so large it could accommodate a watermelon.’ This was a scenario out of public view, which was fortunate for us both because I’ve learned never to argue with arrogance, people watching won’t be able to tell the difference.
As caregivers, we wind up well-trained to foresee potential problems. We weave, bob, duck and dodge potential snags, and minimize damage, collateral and anything else that might come along otherwise. But even with our new athleticism, we are still slammed to the mat hearing the Ref count down from 10.
I want to believe the “Underminers” and “Experts in Everything” stir the pot innocently and ignorantly because of a generous heart - they just want to make our loved one happy because they honestly don’t know what else to do. What they don’t understand is the parental role-flip we caregivers take on, which includes not giving, or giving in, to our loved one’s every wish and want.
Alzheimer’s changes the game, so we have to be our loved one’s advocate in keeping them calm, safe and happy. Sure, saying “no” could easily be construed to the “Underminers” and “Experts in Everything” as selfish on my part – I mean, what better way to keep Mom “calm and happy” than a little dog? But the reality, and bigger picture, would not be a fairy-tale.
Giving in to something like this would be as misguided as believing in the Tooth Fairy at age 97, still putting our dentures under our pillow expecting a quarter by morning.
“Underminers” and “Experts in Everything” don’t understand my job, nor do they want to. It’s easier for them to criticize and consider me the devil incarnate than learn about this disease and take responsible responsibility. I get that and that’s fine. My answer and lesson in the scenario of Mom wanting a little dog, was to make the “Underminers” and “Experts in Everything” 100% responsible and accountable for their “big idea.” It alleviated the burden from my full plate. It was interesting that when I drew a solid line in the sand, they backed off the idea because I made it clear I wasn’t going to be there to handle anything.
So, when you run into these kinds of individuals who undermine your management and care of your loved one, if the situation warrants, make them 100% responsible and see if their suggestion, “big idea,” or opinion, even comes to fruition in the first place. Or, if they’ve already done something you didn’t approve of, make sure they know immediately they get to deal with 100% of the fall-out should one happen. Then let it go.
What Is True For Me:
What others say, or how others feel about me or my care for Mom, is none of my business. I learned to take care of myself while taking care of my loved one, which includes boundaries. Caregiving has been a different challenge than other caregivers in that I had (and still have to some degree) no help – it’s just a fact, not a bid for sympathy. Everything landed in my lap, no one else’s, mine. And that changed me. People don’t know the new me. They don’t know I put back my pieces differently because of this job, and frankly, I’m okay with that. They may not be, but I am.