Saturday, October 29, 2011

What judgement weighs

It's probably very easy, if you're not walking in my shoes, to judge the choices I (and others like me) make. I know that in the past, I've wondered about - and judged? - families that chose to put their seniors into care facilities. Let me say now, I wonder no longer. I get it. Completely. Let me say also that any judgement of my choices does not add to the weight I'm currently carrying. I'm already at maximum capacity you see, couldn't carry anymore even if I wanted to, so judgement weighs nothing.

Someone I know is in the unenviable position of having to seriously consider finding an appropriate institution for her aging parent. Of course, she's going through the process as slowly as she possibly can likely because she knows she can only hold out so much longer. It must be a wrenching decision to have to make. From what I can see, she should already be at breaking point and yet she trudges on. She's better than me. I already know the time will come, and have some sense of what signs I'll get from my body and my psyche that it's time to call it a day. The trouble, if you want to call it 'trouble' is that there is always a risk that someone who is not on the inside of the journey with you is going to judge you. My take: judge away. I truly could not care less. I don't have the energy to care.

Anyone who has not cleaned stained bed linen; hunted for an eye patch that was hidden in a shoe; argued/negotiated/wheedled over breakfast, lunch and/or dinner; contemplated and then finally bought an adult bib; had to stop a parent from consuming a teabag; had to force open barricaded doors; or had to deal with that wild-eyed 'I-don't-know-who-you-are' look a time or two, anyone who hasn't dealt with any of these and more, well you're free to judge but really on what authority and basis would you be doing so?

As for us, the caregivers, we have to make choices based on the circumstances in front of us and what's going on in our guts and homes. Our choices are based on hard reality not some romanticized notion of how we should care for our elders. There's a lot to be juggled and kept in balance if we're all to make it to the finish line, wherever that might be.

In my case, I will be asking myself whether I am at my limit. I will be asking myself whether I feel I can do just a little bit more, for just a little while longer. I'm guessing that if I have the energy to ask the question, I'll know I can go on. I'm pretty sure that when I'm tapped out, I won't even need to ask the questions. No one can know the answers to these questions but those of us on the front lines. I appreciate that as an onlooker one might have an opinion, but as an onlooker and not an in-dweller, that's all it is and it doesn't (respectfully) carry a whole lot of weight. This is truly one of those situations where you really can only know if you've walked a mile or two in the moccasins.

No, we're not there yet but the discussion has come up. When this gets to be too much, when it gets to be too hard watching Mummy wander into the kitchen with that purposeless purposefulness, when that starts to grind us down, we'll figure something else out. Until then, we'll plod on. When we do get to that point though, don't waste any energy judging us. We will probably have judged ourselves already.

Copyright © November 2011 L.S. Semper

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