So, the other day, I took my sister to the podiatrist and someone in the office said something to me that really struck me. They said “You are doing a good job”. At first, I was puzzled. I did not know what the person was referring to, but then the person went on to say that not many people would do what I am doing.
They were referring to the fact that I took such an interest in my sister, taking the time to ensure she was taken care of, etc. This comment made me pause. I did not think much of what I was doing…I mean it’s only logical: if I think my sister needs to see a particular doctor, I take her. Admittedly, depending on the cost, this can be a challenge. But, if it means I need to save a little longer or my parents and other sister have to pitch in, then fine. But we find a way to get it done.
This attitude right here, “the find a way to get it done” thing, was pointed out to me to not be very common. For various reasons, some persons who have loved ones with disabilities, sometimes show little interest in their child. Now this could be due to frustration due to the lack of resources in the country or just feeling overwhelmed as that parent could be all alone with no family support, etc. No judgements here. Everyone has their own story. I just wanted to point out to you that you are trying to do the best that you can for your loved one.
That conversation made me realize something: too often we caregivers (parent/sibling/whatever) judge ourselves too harshly. We do not cut ourselves any slack and so I want to say to you today: Mommy/Daddy/Sister/Brother or whomever you are…honey, you ARE doing a good job.
Often, Guilt Consumes Me
I have cried myself to sleep, wracked with guilt that I am not doing enough to help my sister. This was even before I was an adult, which is ludicrous because let’s be real, as a child…no income, no network, nothing…there is so much and no more I could really do.
Siblings, if you are at this stage, parents I’m talking to you too because sometimes we have income but it’s not a lot and we feel so ashamed that we can’t pay for that art class or whatever for our child…listen to me, do the best with what you have now and work towards building on that. Make friends with other parents and form a support system and help each other out. Little by little you’ll get there…but you must have a plan of where you’re headed.
Take a deep breath…you ARE doing a good job.
Don’t Forget to Live Your Life
My older sister ALWAYS reminds me of this. She will often say “Alicia, you have your own life to live as well”. Why do I bring this up? Guys…we are individuals…we have hopes and dreams independent of the ones we have for our kids/siblings/loved ones.
Gasp! Do we? Yes!!! I know this is hard…most of my time is consumed with plans or just plain worrying for my sister but what I have found out is that the best way to help my sister is to ensure that I have become the best version of myself. It’s like when they tell you on the plane that in case of an emergency, you should put on your mask first before helping anyone else…why…because if you’re dead, who the heck are you gonna help?
If I decided not to go to school or not to start the business, then how on earth am I going to be in a position to help my sister financially? If I do not ensure that I take care of myself emotionally and physically how am I going to be around or be in my right mind to help her?
Assess your life. Can you move things around in your life to go get that degree to get that job that will actually help you to get a decent income? Can you make room in your daily life to learn about entrepreneurship so that you can build that business on the side, so that one day you can walk away from your 9 to 5 and actually get to spend time with your family? Where can you fit some kind of exercise into your life…face it, you need to be alive to do all the things you wish to do.
Take a deep breath my friend…spend some time thinking about you and your needs and how to get them accomplished.
You ARE Doing a Good Job
I just want to pour some love on you right now. I just want to send you a mighty hug and please hear me when I say this: You ARE doing a good job when it comes to your loved one.
You are trying. You are doing what you can to enhance their life. The fact that you are on this website shows that you are willing to learn more so that you can do more for them. Continue pouring out that love. Continue having your loved one’s best interest at heart. When you need a break…take it. Support that other family who has a loved one with a disability and they can support you too. Take care of yourself. Live your life. Have fun!
A very inspiring post thank you very much for the encouragement! You’re right, we do not give ourselves enough credit for what we do for our friends and family. Although they obviously appreciate our help and support, sometimes they do forget to say thank you with a hug or a few grateful words.
I think the same applies when we go through our day. We see many people in our travels, some we know, some we don’t. I often used to think things about people for instance, that lady has lovely hair or that waiter really is very professional. Nice things that these people would appreciate being told. So now, if I see or notice something which is positive about someone, I will tell them.
We regularly use a bar local to us and often have lunch there. There is a young waitress with long blonde hair and she sometimes puts in up away from her face which really makes a difference to how she looks. When ordering our meal the other day, I remarked on how lovely she looked with her hair up. She blushed a little and said thank you. Since then, I haven’t seen her without her hair being up and she always gives us a cheery wave. Great post, thanks. Ches
Hi Ches, I am so happy this post offered you some encouragement. Very happy that you are passing on this encouragement to others. Sometimes we don’t realise the big impact we have on others when we offer a kind word. Take care and you are definitely doing a great job uplifting those around you.
It’s good to read some encouraging words! Thanks for posting and sharing your story. Sometimes we can feel very isolated, but luckily nowadays we can find some community through websites and social media. You’re right, it’s important to pay attention to our own needs, otherwise we just experience burnout and then are no help to our families. And, as you say, it’s about finding that little bit of time each day to start making small changes that over time become big changes. Sometimes it’s difficult to find like-minded community in real space and time – can you suggest any ways to do this?
I am happy we could offer you some encouragement.
In relation to finding “like-minded persons”, I would suggest finding local meet-ups. For example, we have a parents group meeting every two months (parents of persons with DS). So this is a good place to start to find other persons like myself, who understand what I am going through.
Also, there are sometimes Facebook groups that cater to your particular situation. You can join these groups and after a while of getting a sense of the persons in the group you can find out if there are members of the group that live near to you and organize a meeting of sorts.
I hope that helps.
You are actually doing a great job! Seriously.
I always feel like I have to do everything for others and sometimes even forget about living my life. Yeah that happens to me so many times.
Your older sister is so right: you need to live your life too, but that doesn’t mean you forget about your loved ones, it’s just to find the balance, which is quite difficult 🙂
I once heard Will Smith say: “if you’re not making someone else’s life better, you’re wasting your time”, man, was he right!
Thanks for the story, touching and inspiring!
Big hugs and all the best, Alicia!
Indeed, finding balance is the key. Thank you for your encouragement. All the best to you as well.
Thank you. Everyone who is a caregiver of one sort or another who is doing the best they can with what they’ve got and working on a problem which has no quick-fix answers needs to hear this message….often
The fact that they’ve taken it on and are doing what they can as best they can IS doing a good job.
True words Netta!
I was grateful to find your site today and this post just make me feel good and connected reading it. I don’t know you, but you sound like an incredible sister that someone is very lucky to have! I can tell you are a very good person ! You ARE doing a good job! God bless you!
Thank you so much for being so kind with your words.
Hi Alicia! I just fell over your article.
I am the only parent of a son who has some learning difficulties.
He goes to a special school where he is with children in the same category.
One thing that has always meant a lot to me is to be a part of what happens in his life, even when I’m not with him.
I have helped to promote communication at school.
I always have the network a lot with the other parents who are really my like-minded ones.
I do not regard him as a decisive disability.
But I feel he is not quite like other children. Now he knows to be an adult and it certainly gives him some challenges.
He is also becoming more independent.
My doubt is how do I get him to accept that he is not exactly like the other youngsters of his age?
Whenever I ask my sister if she knows what DS is she says no, but when I ask her if she thinks she’s different from others she says yes. So I try to place focus on the things she can do instead of what she can’t and encourage her to carve out her own path in this life. E.g. my sister will not go to college (she really has no interest in doing any more school – sometimes I think this is independent of the Down Syndrome
It is always great to hear one say that we are doing a good job. The word “good” can be taken in many different ways. It can be seen as marvelous or as an ok. However, when someone tells me that sentence, I feel flattered and over joyed. Always look at the positive side.
Hi Linda, thanks for stopping by HappyDowns. You are so right, it is indeed important to look on the positive side of things. Feel free to visit us again soon. Take care.