Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Caring for the Caregiver: This Year I’m Taking Care of Me

2013 was a hard year for me. What about you? In fact, I’m just now coming up for air. Christmas just came down last weekend. I just didn’t have the energy to take it down earlier. So there…

It seems that Mom has become more difficult this year. Not really sicker, but more needy, more clingy, and worst of all, more unkind. Meanwhile, hubby has had a back injury and almost needed surgery. But he didn’t pass the cardiac clearance, so we are re-thinking that. But for the past several months, he’s been in pain. And you know men in pain… So I reached the end of the year pretty much at the end of me.

Then I saw these caregiver resolutions in a post on and decided I need to implement them (or something like them) this year. Not all of these apply to all of us, but let them be a jumping off point for your own declarations.

Here’s the sample from to start you off.

  • I will organize and dispense all my loved one's meds. . . but not beat myself up for forgetting the occasional dose.
  • I will apologize when I lose my temper, but realize that caregiving is so chock-full of temperature-riling situations that eternal calm is impossible.
  • I will be there for my loved one, but I will continue to run my own life at the same time.
  • I will let myself grieve and cry and feel sad, instead of trying to keep a chipper smile on my face all the time.
  • I will accept or ignore criticism for what it's worth (or not worth) rather than letting it eat at me.
  • I will quit blaming myself when bad things happen. Bad things happen.
  • Finally, I resolve to take care of me this year, not just my loved one. Because eventually I may be the one who needs care, and better it be later than sooner.
  • I resolve. . . not to try to be perfect this year.

How about you? How are you going to take care of YOU this year? Share with us your declarations.

Photo Credit: Peat Bakke

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Related by Chance; Family by Choice: the Critical Mother-in-Law/Daughter-in-Law Relationship

How’s your relationship with your daughter-in-law (DIL)? Or is that too touchy of a subject? I think a lot of moms of sons are surprised by the challenges of adding a new woman to the family, especially if we have a close relationship with our sons.

I was blessed with a friend who was years ahead of me in the mother-in-law (MIL) business. She was so diligent in maintaining a good relationship with her DIL. She pointed out that when a young man marries, the new wife often sees the MIL as competition. At first that didn’t make sense. Don’t we both love the same man? But that’s precisely the point. And to complicate the matter, most families don’t seem to put words or even cognition to that dilemma, so other conflicts arise to express it. Since they aren’t the real issue, they often don’t get resolved. Hurt feelings abound. And the son we love is caught in the middle. Another thing that happens is making the transition from child to adult and developing an adult relationship with your son and his wife rather than a parent/child relationship. If you’ve been close, that’s a hard transition for both parents and son. And here, the new wife gets caught in the middle.

Deb DeArmond has written a wonderful book about this issue.  Related by Chance, Family by Choice: Transforming Mother-in-Law and Daughter-in-Law Relationships (Kregel Publications, 2013) talks to both mothers of sons and wives of those sons, addressing the most common glitches in this vital relationship.  It’s helpful to see both sides of the issue, as well as the side of what she calls “the man in the middle”—your son. The book is easy to read and features questions and personal evaluations at the end of each chapter to help you be more honest with yourself. And who wouldn’t want the goal: a better relationship with the wife of your son and the mother of your grandchildren.

If you’ve felt that your only option in dealing with your adult son and his wife is to “wear beige and keep your mouth shut,” the book is for you. If you’ve had misunderstandings with your DIL, there’s hope for reconciliation. And if you have a good relationship, you’ll learn ways to make it great.

I’m so thankful for the wonderful relationship we have with our DIL. She’s a treasure, and we tell her that regularly. It hasn’t always been easy, and still isn’t. But we’ve both worked hard and continue to find ways to make our family work. I feel like I’ve given and changed a lot, but I’ve also been very aware of the many concessions she has made to include and honor us. And ultimately, that’s what this relationship is about. Each party respecting the other and creating a delightful, God-honoring extended family.